11 October 2010

If it's broken, how can we fix it? (a Dirty Dozen without Telly Savalas)

Greetings, loyal reader, and also to you, first time visitor to the Blaze of Competence!

For the next two weeks, I have an "October Break", one of those things that makes teachers revel in being teachers. Most of my peers in education don't have quite this long off, but I do, so I'm going to bask in the glory of actually having time to do the work I need to do, and perhaps getting caught up on this project. And by project, I mean blog. And by caught up, I mean spewing forth my rants on education as I see it.

I envision using my time over the next 14 days to lay out and explain, in my simple and un-researched way, what I think is wrong with American education, what I think is right with American education, and how it can be "fixed".

Now, please note, I've put "fixed" in quotes, and that should signal something to you the reader. It should signal that I might not entirely believe that education should or can be repaired. It could also indicate that I might not think that education needs to be "fixed".

See, those quotation marks may have signaled any of those ideas, and that's something you learned in an English class. However, since there are multiple possible interpretations of what I my have meant by using those quotation marks, this is the kind of question that so-called achievement tests avoid asking. Thus, this is the kind of question/skill that many average students can't answer.

The sad part is that it isn't their faults.

No, it's the fault of the American education system, which has become so chained to testing to figure out how "advanced" it's students are that it stopped testing practical skills. But that's not for right now, that'll come later. (did that get your attention? I hope so)

For now, I'd like to outline the basic problems that I think face American education, then using my cartoon-villain sized brain, I'll lead you through these problems, and then explain how I think they can be fixed.

If we aren't careful, I'll be running for office......

Without further ado, the list of the things that I think are wrong with American education:

1. Everyone takes achievement tests in America

2. Those tests make us dumber

3. We have to take the test to get the pittance of federal money set aside for us

4. Society has changed, and not for the better

5. Society tells us that everybody needs to go to college

6. Parents (and the fact that 15% of them should be institutionalized)

7. Charter and Online schools

8. Public School Unions

9. Schools that won't change

10. Schools that change too often

11. Money

12. Teacher education programs

I'll be back tomorrow, and that's when I'll unleash a whole can of common sense on why the death of the American educational system may be greatly exaggerated.

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