U.S. public schools should be run by private contractors who would graduate most students by 10th grade, concluded an expert commission sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The plan also calls for state funding to replace local property taxes, free pre-kindergarten and higher teacher pay on a merit-based system. The Gates Foundation and other sponsoring groups may pay states to help implement it, organizers said.
I don’t know if this is the answer to improving our education system but I can already tell that it will never be given serious consideration.
The nation’s largest teachers union, the 3.2 million-member National Education Association, said that recommendations such as state funding and private control of schools “could potentially disenfranchise poorer communities and eliminate community voices.”
With everyone trying to meet NCLB mandates, what community voices are we talking about? Whether or not we pay a football coach $150,000?
The 1.3 million-member American Federation of Teachers warned of “enormous upheaval” from allowing private control of schools and from graduating students early.
Never mind that most of the rest of the world seems to be able to graduate students at 16, they don’t have the senior prom.
I think the biggest impediment to education reform is the mythology we as a culture have developed for our schools. Any reform that would undermine that myth, state financing (no local control) or early graduation (the best years of our lives), will never see the light of day. Think about it. For all the changes in education since 1900, the school’s place in the community has changed little.
I’m not talking about changes from the one room school house that doubled as a church on Sunday to mega high schools. I’m talking about how the community sees and values the school. We see school as the soul and heart of the community rather than a tool by which to educate the population. So when we talk about doing away with things like football or the prom, we are challenging the very identity of a community. At this point, academics are irrelevant. This is why we will tolerate testing until it begins to interfere with the mythology of the school. As soon as testing or reform keeps us from going to the Friday night game or the prom, reform transforms quickly into outside interference.