Monday, September 15, 2008

Real Education reform

There is a National Education Summit being broadcast on CSPAN, where many good people who work within the Educational world are discussing various ways to improve our performance as a country. They are talking about setting and raising standards both nationwide and in the states, about innovation in the schools, raising teacher pay, etc.

To be honest there is a sense of urgency in the discussions and they are trying to fall into the same conventional thinking, but the problem is really simple:


THE PROBLEM IS THIS GROUP OF PEOPLE! and others like them.

By this I mean people who are well educated who have thought about the various deficiencies in our educational system, and now THEY have the answer.

In fact, the answers are countless and in the minds of millions of parents, teachers, and students. The answers lie with thousands of Principals who should be responsible for their schools 100% without excuses or exceptions.

What we need is a total re-organization of how we deliver education in America.

1. A High Quality Education is a civil right that should be guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

2. Each individual parent should determine whether their child has/has not received a high quality education. Not a teacher, not a principal, not a superintendent, not a test score, not an evaluation result.

3. Every parent should be given a voucher for the amount of money each state/federal government plans to spend that year on that child. The Parent then has numerous options and one mandate:

They must educate their child onto a proficient level (as defined by a national test in science, math, reading, writing, social studies)

The parent can:
-home school their child
-work with others in their neighborhood and create a home school network
-send their child to any private school where education is the main focus (including religious)
-send their child to any public school
-or any option not listed but is preferred by the parent.

4. The government's job is to ensure any purported educational setting is whatever it says it is, and is getting better results than the current public school set-up. The government should develop rigorous tests in the above areas, and use public schools and other testing centers to make sure every child is tested at least on a minimal level from K - 12.

If/when a child is not reaching adequate yearly progress in any given subject, then the government would indicate to the parent that something needs to change within a given time period. For instance if a student is not proficient in science for a 3rd grader, the parent would have to show what they were doing to aid the student. If the problem continues, then the parent would have to choose another schooling option from above.

Notice, the government is here for testing, for setting standards, and making sure people are receiving the educational benefits they contracted for. The Government should not be in the business of planning the curriculum for millions or even thousands of students.

Every public school that is open now should remain open, but be transformed into an independent Charter School that must accept any neighborhood child. The Principal and the PTA should be in complete control over the educational curriculum at that school.

The city government.
The county government.
The state government.
The federal government.

All should stay out of the educational business.
They should make sure every child gets some kind of education, not necessarily what kind.
They should make sure people are committing waste, fraud and/or abuse.

The government should do the research as to what works best and publish the results.
The government should offer to buy equipment, supplies for schools that wish to have them.
The government can be a resource center for all things educational but not a mandate center for any group of professionals.

We would end up with a decentralized system of education with national standards so we can measure who/what is working best.

When one particular model is working better/best then we can highlight, incentivize it through bonuses or other means, but still as a government stay out of education. This is important because Human education is always going to be a mystery in terms of what works best for whom, with whom. What worked so well today, might be horrible tomorrow. Or it might be that what is working did so because of parental involvement, or parents staying out of it.
The combinations are endless.

If we stay true to the bests of America which are High Standards, and Freedom, we can develop a world class educational system throughout our great land.

More Money.
More Freedom.
More Standards.
More Accountability.

Craig Farmer
making the word "liberal" safe again!

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