Not Cease from Exploration...a blog by Steve Albert

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A comment I made to Tom Borthwick's pots on NEPArtisan.  You can read the original posting HERE.

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Nice posting Tom, although I think the traditional ways of thinking about public education have to change, as the model we have is simply unsustainable.  Costs over time simply can't rise faster than the ability to pay for them.  In keeping with this, you commented that taxes haven't been raised in five years, which is commendable.  However, if you take it for granted that taxes have to rise in order to pay for education, where does it end?  There simply isn't an unending supply of money.  Once taxes are increased, they are increased, for all intensive purposes, forever.

Yes, I realize that there are budget shortfalls during downturns in the economy & I realize also that Governor Tom Corbett is a short-sighted putz...but...we need to think beyond the "spend more, tax more" model.

I'd start at the basic premise of public education.

What is the mission of public schools?  What value does it seek to provide society?

From there, I'd critically evaluate/create/add programs that support that mission.  Everything...be it educational programs or policies (such as the length/timing of the school year).  If something doesn't directly support the mission, then I say it shouldn't be part of the public school system. Period.  Build public schools from scratch, no assumptions, no other rules, just a passion for achieving the essential to society mission they need to perform.

Simply rehashing the same "tried but failed" policies...be they old (traditional school years that are really tied to agriculture...exactly how many of your students have to work in the fields over the summer Tom?) or new (teaching to tests, a-la No Child Left Behind)...is nothing short of insanity.

The saddest part?  Our leaders...be they on school boards OR union heads...don't want to think this way about public education.  There is too much invested in the status quo.  I'm particularly harsh when it comes to school board members, most of whom are unqualified to do their jobs and only do it for sake of political/personal power.

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