Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another Education Idea?

I pay attention to many people who speak about K-12 education. As a parent, I recognize that the topic touches many of us--most as parents, and more as taxpayers.  Because almost all adults have experienced at least some of the K-12 Amercian education adventure, most people have an opinion on education. Without digging in on a particular side, I would say that parents want a good education for their kids. What defines a good education is very subjective, depending on your view. Different people want different things that are usually better fit for some, but not all kids. I'd prefer that the discussions have some common, easy to understand points that we all can look at during the evaluation of these ideas.

Once we work through the schools, school boards, local & state politicians, parents, communities, & local businesses, there isn't much space left for the advocacy of 5, 10, & 15 year olds that don't have jobs or vote. We have to do right for them, not take advantage of them. If you expect retirement money in your 70s, someone has to keep the economy moving in a positive direction. The generations of students that grew up after you will have to fuel the future economy.

I would ask those that push an agenda to help the average person understand basic things in the educational pitches for the ideas you advocate.

  1. How does it help the students? Which students? (All, elementary only, disabled, economically disadvantaged, etc.)
  2. Where do the consumers of those students weigh in? (employers, colleges, next level of K-12 education)
  3. What do you expect of the parents & K-12 schools to get your proposal done?
  4. How long to implement?
  5. What's the cost? How do we pay for it?

As I see news that highlights lack of preparation for college or the work force, I have to question--are we doing the right things to help our kids succeed? When I see proposals that tell us to do more testing, but the results seem more impactful to the principals & teachers than the kids--I question the focus on testing. When school budgets continue to get cut and we lose certain subject areas, I ask, why these? Were they the least valuable? When it takes 5 years to make a change, what happens to the kids that will graduate in the next 4 years? As schools lose funding due to loss of property taxes, how do we afford anything new? Should there be a different way to fund schools? I see lot's of controversy around charter schools. Is the competition good? Should the competitor (local school board) determine if you can exist? Can local schools take ideas from charters & implement them in ways that help some students?

Answering the 5 questions will help us understand the next education proposal.