The problem with those statistics is that they're from 2007 and a lot can happen in 8 years. Unfortunately, progress hasn't evidenced itself, in general, since the 1980s and, some would argue, since the 1960s.
Why the "flatline"?
In a blog posted at the Friedman Foundation, John Merrifield, provides a summary of the six reasons that researchers have offered:
- Weak, often poorly targeted, incentives for educator effectiveness and parental involvement.
- Classroom composition policies that minimize student engagement.
- High rates of out-of-subject-field teaching.
- The micro-management of professional educators.
- Teacher tenure, combined with high rates of teacher burnout.
- Misleading, boring curricula and textbooks.
- Discipline problems coupled with related regulation and lawsuit fear among educators.
Merrifield suggests that policymakers (ahem, "politicians") need to reduce the instructional challenges confronting teachers by creating tangible incentives for teachers to deliver the highest quality, correctly targeted instruction. How? By allowing parents to decide the schools where public funding will be used to support their children's educational programs.
READ: "School choice." "Vouchers." "Charter schools." It's already working in Louisiana and 24 others states and will soon be working in Nevada.
Merrifield believes this approach would be far more effective because parents are closer than politicians to both classrooms and their children. Armed with accurate information and full control of the public money that's earmarked for their children's education, parents can work with principals and teachers to provide localized incentives, identify appropriate tracks to advance their children's education, and choose the teachers who are skilled in the instructional approaches that best fit their children's needs.
While Merrifield's proposal makes eminent sense and The Motley Monk concurs with it, the sad truth is that all of the public money that has been and currently is being spent may be helping some students in some schools, especially those found in suburban school districts. But, that money isn't helping many of those students who need it the most: The inner city and rural poor. Hence, the flatline.
What's needed is something creative, daring, and most of all, caring: A Marshall Plan for Inner City and Rural Education designed by the best educational leaders, psychologists/psychiatarists, law enforcement/military leaders, architects, and parents. Let these people bang their heads together and formulate what's needed most to educate their children.
Notice who's left out: Politicians.
Ever notice that something goes terribly awry when they get involved in "education reform"? This time around, let's try having the politicians do what they're elected to do: Be responsive to the public's will...for the sake of the children.
Let the discussion begin...
To read John Merrifield's post, click on the following link:
"Improving America's Classrooms Through School Choice."
To read about Nevada's school choice program, click on the following link: