What do those institutions “get right”? According to the post:
- In college, students learn at their own pace, advancing quickly or moving slowly to best fit their abilities.
- In college, students and/or their parents pay the cost tuition, providing both a greater stake in outcomes.
- In college, students choose their college based upon qualifications, perceived value, and ability to pay.
- In college, professors have been schooled in subject matter with degrees in a particular field of expertise not teaching.
- In college, pay is merit-based as professors earn different salaries based upon performance.
Yes, the contrasts identified are factual and, taken at face value, would appear to be applicable to the problems with many of the nation's public schools. Yet, these facts do not mean those contrasts are appropriate when it comes to an authentic education reform agenda. For example:
- The fact that professors are subject matter specialists does not necessarily mean they are good teachers. There are many highly-educated professors who definitely would benefit by learning more about sound pedagogical techniques. Just ask their frustrated students. High school students need good teachers who know know and understand the content of their academic discipline.
- The fact that colleges compete for students does not mean that public schools should compete likewise. For a very long time, parents have selected a residence based solely upon the school district in which the residence is located. The problem has been for those parents who do not have that option and whose local schools are miserable failures. Given the option to select a different school for their children, research indicates that many of those parents would.
- The fact that students and parents who seek the best-value colleges feel more invested in their success does not necessarily mean that parents who send their children to public schools are any less invested in their success. The problem is a monopolistic system of public education that resists parental involvement, even in many of the nation’s best school districts. Try arrranging for a meeting with a principal to register a complaint about a teacher, program, or policy. Personal investment does not always correlate with personal $$$s invested.
The Motley Monk believes authentic education reform is a national imperative and that will only happen by breaking the public school monopoly as well as the teachers’ unions. However, proponents of that reform agenda do themselves no favor by comparing apples to oranges while at the same time overlooking the inherent weaknesses of the argument they are putting forth.
Let the discussion begin…
To read the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy document, click on the following link:
"5 things American colleges and universities get right."