A Question for the Reader

I posed a comment on FB this evening, and I would like to post it here as well as a question and get some feedback from you, the reader.  Please respond to the question below in the comments section:

Is public education a failed experiment?  Why or why not?  



8 thoughts on “A Question for the Reader

  1. Public education, while it does not get the results it wants or expects, does get results. I’m quite happy with it actually. We need better teachers to achieve better results. And that means that teachers have to like their jobs enough to keep them for more than a year or two. No teacher is really good until they’ve been at it for at least 3 years. And the demand for results is a high pressure situation. It can lead to teachers feeling unappreciated, and without proper support from administrators and communities, teachers will quit. However, I’ve seen schools with bad ratings pull together and make a real effort to further the education of their students – successfully. I’m lucky to be working at a fantastic school. I would say that there are certain schools – far more than I would like – that are failures. But public education as a whole is not.

    • I understand where Amanda is coming from but wonder about the idea of “results.” As we continue to institutionalize testing, we come to a place where we can no longer value ourselves as teachers apart from prescribed results. It’s tough, but we need to realize that NO GRADE–not the ones we give our students, not the ones we give ourselves–are objective. Some human being (not unlike the men who canonized scripture for the Bible a gazillion years ago) is deciding what to measure based upon commerce, economy, and some bias she/he has about intellect. In another country, it would be a different bias altogether. And corporate propaganda has done an amazing job selling its agenda by reducing the value of teachers overall, and to the degree that we chase validation in such a culture, we validate the corporate agenda and keep their profits high. They’ve done well for themselves.

      It used to be that education resisted and challenged culture in noble ways, but it seems to me that corporations have done such a fine job forcing us to chase our tails that we are no longer the institution of thoughtful challenge that we once were… no longer are we asking students to read deeply or question critically. My principal recently said that we are now a “customer service industry.” Really? That’s the best we’ve got. Our customers eat at McDonalds. I don’t trust our customers for shit. But I believe every day that they/we can be better human beings if we ask the right questions, expect more, and refuse to settle for the dregs of testing. We have made of ourselves pawns of the status quo.

      • I love how you think you know exactly what I mean by results when I myself left that term intentionally vague. You assume by results I mean test results. You assume that by testing my students, I’m not challenging them to think critically. You’re wrong on both accounts.

  2. It depends on the kid. For some students who know how to play the game and are supported at home, public education works out great. For students who don’t learn well sitting in a room full of other students and don’t have a lot of support at home, it doesn’t work well at all. I think the problem is that education is not one size fits all. We need to find multiple ways to educate students. Online public education is a start. Homeschooling is a start (but not practical for a lot of people). We need to keep working at it until we find a way to educate all students.

  3. I do not feel like the public education system, in itself, is a failed experiment. I think the apparent failure of our education system to keep up with the rest of the developed world is a symptom of failure on a grander scale, i.e. the misappropriation of governmental funds to sectors that should be less important than education, the abysmal NCLB Act and all of its ludicrosity (is that a word?), and the apparent shunting of responsibility for the child’s educational outcomes onto the education system by increasingly lazy parents who do not have the will, want, or mental prowess to supplement and support the teachers’ efforts. I could go into increasingly lazy parenting in general (failure to hold children accountable, for example), but that might be branching out just a bit. Just my opinion on the matter.

  4. I think so. Sometimes, because I think so, it really bugs me that I’m a teacher. But I think in order to fix it, we need to tear down the system and start all over again. We need teachers who are better trained, a society that values education, parents who read to their children and are more apt to spend money on “needs” than “wants.” We need to ditch standardization so that our students and their parents aren’t seen as “customers” and methods that reduce the number of teachers who fear their students’ parents. We need a model based on ability rather than same-age grouping and a community who looks at public education as the best option rather than as a free form of day care. Everyone needs to value all subjects and we need to be able to buy and provide the right equipment to make each of those subjects authentic. Maybe it has something to do with me teaching The Enlightenment right now, but I feel like we need an educational revolution in America and the law makers are getting it all wrong.

  5. It’s no failure, yet, as the experiment is still going on. How many new things are you required to fit in each year to see if they are the solutions to this great hypothesis?

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