This is the first in a series of posts that will focus on America’s education system and how to improve it.
Falling test scores, rising dropout rates, corruption, drugs, gangs, teacher strikes, cash shortages, it does not take a college educated person to tell you that there are major problems with the education system today. It will, however, take a serious and objective debate to determine what needs to be done to fix it. Possible solutions are as varied as the problems, ranging from complete privatization to almost total standardization. Requiring “school of choice” to banning it. As a Conservative, I think there are many on my side who view schools as outposts of the Democratic and Atheist agendas. There is a widespread, and perhaps growing view, that schools are doing more to diluting young minds than to expand them. Below I have listed just a few of the smaller debates that must take place before we can come up with a major overhaul package:
Privatize OR Standardize? : Right now, education is a complicated and messy bureaucracy, with departments and standards at the national, state, county, and district levels (this may be slightly different between states). The vast majority of American Children attend public,
government taxpayer funded schools. Curriculum is partially set at the various levels, but there are still major differences in between different locals. For example, in the county I live in, the best-scoring district and the lowest-scoring district are extremely close, I live in the city with the worst test scores, but attend school in the city with the fifth-best scores in the county. This shaking difference between areas brings up the question: Should we move towards privatization or standardization or our schools? Should we adopt nearly-universal standards for schools, or should we move towards pritatizing schools? Should we perhaps consider applying the free-market theory to education, allowing private organizations to run their own programs? Obviously, each arguement whould have its own pros and cons, in theory and practice.
LCLF OR Retain more students? : As it is today, I think many schools operate according to the “LCLF theory”, or Lowest Common Learning Factor. Simply put, if, in fifth grade, one child is learning at a third-grade level, then everyone is taught at a third grade level. The practicality behind this approach is that no child falls behind, and self-confidence is always maintained. The problem is, it damages all the students, becuase all lose out. The only other solution seems to be to retain students until they can pass some kind of exam or test that would grant them admittance to the next level or grade. This too, has it problems, as you end up with more retention, and, potentially, increased class sizes.
Controversial issues : Not every topic in school is as uncontroversial as algebra or geography – some topics have caused large rifts. For example, how should schools approach topics like evolution, creationism, intelligent design, and sex education? Should schools avoid these issues, or should we teach all major views, and welcome debate and discussion on the merits and faults of each approach?
School of Choice : In some areas of the country, children are not necessairily bound by their residence. In some states, such as Michigan, where I live, districts can be “schools of choice”, where they allow children from other districts to attend. This allows parents to send their children to better-performing districts, but it can also negatively impact the districts that are losing students.
These are just a few of the issues surrounding schools – there are many more, but I think this is a good place to start. Comment and discuss. I am also open to anyone who wants to guest-blog on this issue, as well as other blogs who may want to work to get a wider forum going on this issue. Let me (and all of my other readers) know how you feel.