I always take note when education topics manage to bubble up to national media: it does not happen that often. Imagine my surprise with not only the presence, but also the content of a New York Time op-ed contributor piece today entitled Failing the Wrong Grades. Diane Ravitch therein points out some shortcomings in current well-intentioned efforts to improve public High Schools and lays much of the blame for the current state of affairs at the feet of the lower schools.
Those of you who have read here for a while will recognize one of my proposals from a while back in my piece entitled beginning at the middle. I have argued for many years that High School in its present form makes no sense and that we should transform it into a more flexible program that assists both college bound and trade bound students.
My hunch is that Ravitch’s op-ed and the book she is promoting therein will get less attention than the Alvin and the Chipmunks revival tour. Unlike the rest of the World, Americans do not care about quality education.
The general public’s lack of concern about the education of the next generation will undoubtedly puzzle me to the day I die. It just seems to me that even if I did not possess a quality education that I would still want that opportunity for my children and the children of society as a whole. What this reinforces is the truth of my claims that the selfishness permeating our whole society is truly pervasive and not just a matter of rhetorical excess on my part.
Education is relatively expensive as public works go and it is obvious that as a society we have decided that gravel roads will suffice because of the expense of asphalt. And I do not use the word “expense” to just mean financial capital, but to also include the personal cost extracted by dedication and concern. Education is indeed not one of the areas where I think the problem is primarily one of funding, but one of an even scarcer resource: genuine commitment to excellence.
While this sad state of affairs could cause one to lose hope and abandon the discussion, I am in no way more curmudgeonly than in my stubbornness, so you can expect these rants to reoccur.