This week's must read comes from the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. While I'm wary of business interests helping shape education policy (Chambers of Commerce come to mind) I am certainly willing to at least give their POV a listen/read. I do frame their comments with the fact that their interest is in obtaining worker bees and consumers. Yes, that's a very narrow description but this study group's own site states something similar:
The final report proposes a restructuring that America’s economic preeminence hinges on the preeminence of our educational system. Skills Commission.orgThere are certainly some things in this report that I can support and would encourage others to seriously consider. The first being to dump what I call 'time in seat'. Too often the educrats are appalled at the mere mention of the fact that it is possible for a child to obtain a normal K-12 education in less than 13 years. I've advocated for years that these children be allowed to take the appropriate tests to prove their skill level and then be released to go on and get the skills/education they and their parents determine is best for them. There are many children out there that consider K-12 a jail sentence. If they knew that it was possible to shorten the jail term I believe they'd be energized and encouraged to pass those tests in exchange for their freedom. This report echoes my thoughts this way:
One of the biggest proposed changes - the state board examinations that would allow qualified 10th graders to move on to college - would eventually add up to $67 billion in savings that could be reallocated elsewhere, the report estimates. Christian Science MonitorFurther they suggest:
Improve school salaries in exchange for reducing secure pension benefits, and pay teachers more to work with at-risk kids, for longer hours, or for high performance.I've always advocated for paying great teachers great wages. And I'm all behind allowing people to handle their own pensions. I certainly think that some sort of 'combat' pay to reward teachers for successfully taking on the really hard jobs is right.
The article on this study goes on--
"We've squeezed everything we can out of a system that was designed a century ago," says Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, and vice chairman of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, which produced the report. "We've not only put in lots more money and not gotten significantly better results, we've also tried every program we can think of and not gotten significantly better results at scale. This is the sign of a system that has reached its limits."He's right. It's been some 100 years since those industrial giants created our current education system for an economy that hardly exists anymore. The trick will be to persuade those whose livelihood or political power depend on the current system continuing as is to put the needs of the children at the forefront.
I do not agree with their recommendation to scrap local school funding for state-wide funding. I am a firm believer in local control of schools. See "Local Control is a Must" regarding our own Tennessee Comptroller's reach.
You can order the entire study here for about $20.
We've got some Nashville mayoral candidates who've already made the education of the children here part of their political platforms--let's hope they're willing to use that bully pulpit to encourage some legitimate reform.
Update: This was done before.
The commission is the second of the same name. In 1990 the first commission released a report similarly detailing the failings of American education, and its influence helped advance the standards movement that culminated in the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which became law in 2002. Stateline.org