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View Diary: A response to Tom Vilsack (148 comments)

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  •  Kids who ask... (none)
    "is this going to be on the test?", turn into employees who ask "is this going to be on the test?" Their answers invariably add up to "not my problem", "not my job", and "who cares?"

    This analogy tends to wake up business-people who pine for the silver bullet of SOL tests and, at the same time, lament the loss of independent and resourceful employees who can self-direct and add value.

    A teacher's day, as imagined through this lens might be:

    How I would feel if I was forced to hire every applicant that approached me for a job? No critical evaluation allowed, no screening, no firing. Then, as the recipient of that bell-curved bundle of pathologies, bad habits, poor parenting, ethnic tension, sub-par nutrition and health, I was also required to attempt to ameliorate all those deficits while still trying to maintain a profit. ("Growth" seems a tad optimistic in this scenario.) In addition, once a month, my boardroom gets filled to overflowing with hordes of people--parents, workers, interested parties and social gadflies, government types, other business people--all come to tell me what I'm doing wrong. While noshing my hors d'oeurves and O.J., they scream at me: You're a leech. A cultural reprobate and a failure. Do it better for less money.

     Luckily, once all the free food is gone, they leave. But not before they toss me an additional list of things to tackle when I'm done handling the last 600 monthly lists they left me.

    Take it away, Ian Jukes: [pdf]

       Our schools have tried to adapt to massive social change over the course of the past 50 years, and in doing so, they have become very confused. For hundreds of years all that our schools were responsible for was teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Then we began to add things to the list

        * reading
        * writing
        * arithmetic

        * immunization
        * nutrition
        * health

        * citizenship

        * vocational arts
        * practical arts
        * physical education
        * school lunch

        * safety education
        * driver's education
        * foreign language education
        * sex education

        * consumer education
        * career education
        * peace education
        * traffic safety education
        * leisure education

        * special education mandated
        * drug & alcohol abuse education
        * electrical safety education
        * parent education
        * character education
        * environmental education
        * school breakfasts

        * keyboarding
        * computer education
        * global education, ethnic education
        * multicultural education
        * non-sexist education
        * ESL education
        * full day kindergarten
        * pre-school programs for at-risk students
        * after school programs for children of working parents
        * stranger danger education
        * sexual abuse prevention education
        * child abuse monitoring.....

        * state standards
        · career education
        · HIV AIDS education
        * bus safety education
        * gang education
        · death education

        2000+ ?

        Yet it's the same school day and school year as 1950. When America had the longest school day and school year in the entire Industrial World - now in the new millennium, we have the shortest. We've not added a single minute to the school day or school year in decades. Consequently schools can't do it. Schools were not designed to rear America's children.

        And yet, in even our best towns, we know that there are parents who are parenting by remote control. They drop them off for Pre-K or Kindergarten and expect to pick up 13 years later and find fully developed human beings. But they didn't play a role in the process.

        What's the problem?

        The system is trying to be all things to all people and it can't work. It must be changed. And if you say to me "change to what?" we suggest that part of the conversation with the community is just that question:

        What is the role of school in the new millennium?

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