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Posts Tagged ‘College and Career Readiness’

The NYTimes Thomas Friedman Offers a Bold Vision for the Future of Education… But Neither Political Party is On Board

October 21, 2020 Leave a comment

In his op ed column “After the Pandemic, a Revolution in Education and Work Awaits”, Thomas Friedman describes his and Ravi Kumar’s vision for the future of the workplace and education… and it is nothing like what we have in place today. Instead of valuing the accumulation of static information, Mr. Friedman’s future schools will inculcate a joy for learning. Instead of preparing students for a specific strand of work, they will prepare students who are flexible and who can change quickly.

I was heartened to see Mr. Friedman advocating a shift to experiential learning, but I don’t see either political party advocating the kinds of structural changes to schools that are needed to make this kind of change a reality. The GOP wants to gut funding for “government schools” and the Democrats want to provide more robust funding for the paradigm we have in place— the paradigm that Mr. Kumar righty sees as outmoded. If our country is to move in the direction Mr. Friedman and Mr. Kumar describe we need to stop measuring K-12 schooling based on standardized tests that compel teachers to focus on a narrow curriculum and stop measuring post-secondary schools based on ROI. We need to use technology to restore the joy for learning described in A.S. Neill’s Summerhill and to create the links to mentors described in Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society. Instead we are using technology to replicate traditional instruction on platforms like Zoom, to gather meaningless test data, and, most chillingly, to monitor students 24/7.

I tend to disagree with many of Mr. Friedman’s methods for implementing changes. He ascribes to the neoliberal notion that the global marketplace will ultimately sort out the best way forward while I believe enlightened leadership in the government is often needed to set a direction and tone and put safeguards in place. But I do share his optimism that we will eventually muddle our way forward… and I DO see the possibility for the kind of positive outcomes both he and Mr. Kumar envision for the future.

Rhode Island Coalition of Aggrieved School Districts Considering Appeal of Civics Education Case… and I Have a Solution to the Problem

October 17, 2020 Leave a comment

The Columbia Teachers College e-Newsletter featured an interview with  one of their professors, Michael Rebell, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Cook v. Raimondo, a federal lawsuit against the State of Rhode for failing to provide children in that state with the education they need to become informed voters. In the interview, this question was posed:

What if you win on appeal, and there is a financial remedy from the legislature? That is, if the state were to put money into civic education?

It would depend not only on how much money, but also on how well they might reform civic education and make it a true priority.  But the Rhode Island legislature hasn’t come through in the past. It’s a question of whether it’s a sufficient priority for these schools to provide what’s needed. States have regulations on the books, but if they don’t follow up and hold schools and districts accountable, it doesn’t mean anything. For example, Rhode needs to require a mandatory civics course, which New York has. Rhode Island has no such requirement.

Without that kind of requirement, kids are under the gun to meet standardized test requirements, so they neglect social studies and other courses and topics that would help prepare them for civic participation.

A later question delved into the issue of how much detail the court would provide in rendering it’s decision, and Mr. Rebell indicated that he did NOT expect the courts to issue a prescriptive response. Rather than “asking the courts to be super legislatures or super school boards” Rebell was “looking for the Court to make it a priority that a state has to focus on“. He expected that “…at the end of the day, local school boards and state legislatures and maybe the federal Congress will have to do the implementation.”

Given the current President’s desire to “reform” social studies education and the current means of “reform” (i.e. the administration of a standardized test in a multiple choice format), I shudder to think what students will be asked to know.

I do, however, have an easy response to this whole issue: as part of a graduation requirement mandate that all students are capable of passing the US Citizenship Test and mandate that every graduate from high school has voted in at least three of the student government elections during their time in high school.

Plunging Freshman Enrollments, Challenges for Working Women = Worsening Inequality in All Levels of Schooling

October 16, 2020 Leave a comment

Today’s NYTimes education section aggregates a series of reports from various sources and they all indicate that Freshman enrollments across the country are plummeting… but especially in the schools that serve the students with the greatest financial challenges. As this article by Shawn Hubler indicates, Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported Thursday is stunned at the effect on community colleges:

Undergraduate enrollment, he said, was down in every region and at every type of institution except four-year, for-profit colleges, with first-time students accounting for 69 percent of the drop.

But the “staggering” news, he said, was from community colleges, where the 22.7 percent enrollment decline from last year eliminated what had been “one of higher education’s bright spots.” In the 2008, recession, he said, community college enrollment went up.

Compounding the problem is the fact that with no government sponsored child care for working parents, the shift to remote learning is having an adverse impact on women who work. Times reporter Jessica Grose offers this summary of the problem:

Though we can’t be sure that what’s going on is entirely because of parental status, both economists I spoke to thought the dire situation for women was related to remote learning and the lack of child care availability.

“The drop in female labor-force participation was quite dismal and not surprising with the return back to school not happening,” said Betsey Stevenson, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, as most of the biggest school districts are fully remote, and even many hybrid models provide a paucity of in-person learning….

Because of the outrageous expense of child care in the United States, even before the pandemic, “women with young kids in many cases pay to work,” said Stevenson, which is to say, they’re paying more for care and other work-related expenses than they’re making in salary.

So now Mom isn’t making ANY money… which hardly seems like a good trade off in a time when rent and credit forbearance are about to come to an end…

The pandemic is making it clearer and clearer that several agreeable fantasies the MAGA voters were sold are not true at all…. and the children in K-12 schools and those striving to improve themselves by going to college are paying the cost.