June 8, 2009

Five Ways to Fix America's Schools by Harold O. Levy

Pardon me, Harold. Here's my list:
Make schools smaller.
Make the day shorter.
Make the year shorter.
Have fewer years in school.
Teach fewer subjects.
Why? On what might I presume such an opinion? Going back, as Bernice Regan has said, to the last place you were when things worked well. To the one room school house of the last generation. Children graduated, often in 1/2 the time, with a solid core of the basics. They were ready for college.

There is plenty of media hype about the state of our educational system these days. Money, says Obama, is about to flow into the system. The goal, to return United States citizens to leadership in math and science, in the world. That's right, benevolent democratic world domination. And the hype can get me panicked, thinking my kids are failing the country with a lack of math or science worksheets.

Then I remember my ethics. I don't really care if the United States dominates math and science research. I think we'd do better to pour that money into health care and parenting classes. I am not raising Drones of Super Power. I am raising human beings. And I am raising them on French Fries, not those idiotic and imbecilic "Freedom Fries." (Remember those?) Give us this day our calm responsible life, give me liberty and the good sense to mind my own business, just like France. And please, remember the definition of insanity: to repeat the same behavior again and again, each time expecting a different result. Because, if the schools are not working, I ask you, Harold O. Levy, how can you suggest more of the same with a straight face?


Annie said...

Make schools smaller. Yes.
Make the day shorter. Yes.
Make the year shorter. Yes.
Have fewer years in school. Yes.
Teach fewer subjects. Yes.

Yes, Yes, Yes.

Thanks, as always for sharing your valued opinion.

Mommylion said...

I always clench my teeth at articles that call for longer school days/years/more homework. It is like the people speaking have NO actual memory of what school actually was.

What he's basically saying is, wouldn't it be cool if the kid school schedule matched the adult work schedule?

And - another mandatory year added onto the end of the school career? Seems like it is just adding another year of stalling before 'adulthood'. More kids joining the military, just to get out of that extra year sitting in a desk.

Katherine said...

I know, right? What kind of fool looks at a system that isn't working and says, "Let's do more of that!"

Katherine said...

Oh snap! Check out Connecticut teachers trying something new, er, old. Now that's what I'm talking about:
WESTPORT, Conn. — Math students in this high-performing school district used to rush through their Algebra I textbooks only to spend the first few months of Algebra II relearning everything they forgot or failed to grasp the first time.

So the district’s frustrated math teachers decided to rewrite the algebra curriculum, limiting it to about half of the 90 concepts typically covered in a high school course in hopes of developing a deeper understanding of key topics. Last year, they began replacing 1,000-plus-page math textbooks with their own custom-designed online curriculum; the lessons are typically written in Westport and then sent to a program in India, called HeyMath!, to jazz up the algorithms and problem sets with animation and sounds.

“In America, we run through chapters like a speeding train,” said John Dodig, the principal of the 1,728-student Staples High School here. “Schools in Singapore and India spend more time on each topic, and their kids do better. We’re boiling down math to the essentials.”... (in nytimes.com most emailed)

Anonymous said...

I love what the CT teacher has to say...hmmmm, more time on topics and that works? And Mr. Levy? I could NOT read his article and think he was serious? Huh? More of the same? It truly is the definition of insanity, K. Great post.t

Anonymous said...

For the record, I've now reached the end of my (mandatory) schooling and with it all perfectly fresh in my mind, I can say in total certainty that it was a complete waste of my time and of the time of everyone else involved: taxpayers, "teachers" and other "education professionals," classmates, legislators, and parents. I hope you were being purely facetious here, but if not: please, please, please, don't ever worry that Henry and Riley are missing out on something good or necessary. They aren't.

Potatoes used to be bred for taste, which meant that in effect they were selected for nutrient content, because we crave what nourishes us. Once upon a time you could get all the vitamin E you needed just by eating your French fries. Yield is what's important in the modern market, though, and today varieties are bred for quantity over quality. There's nothing in them but empty carbs. It's the same thing.