Friday, November 23, 2007

When Will the Experts Learn?

The New York Times Magazine ran an article by Ann Hulbert, "What Every Child Needs." The article presents another way to spend money on education: universal pre-kindergarten education.

The idea is not new. Rob Reiner has pushed it for years. Here's a link to an article about how he was in Pennsylvania back in 2001 promoting it.

I keep hoping that the so-called experts will one day stumble across the solution to the education problem. Here is the solution, in a simple 3 point plan: family, family, and family.

1. The family needs to make it clear to the children that their education is important.

2. The family needs to actively help the children with school work and scholastic activities: helping them learn math facts and reading, for example.

3. The family needs to work with the teachers in a team effort to help their children succeed in school. Parents must be supportive of the teachers.

You could spend a million dollars in one year to educate a child, but if that child knows the parents do not believe in education, that money will accomplish nothing.

I keep hoping that some day the experts will wise up.

the article was in the Oct. 28, 2007 issue, page 11

Saturday, November 10, 2007

How Do We Measure Progress in Education?

The Wall Street Journal, 11/7/07, ran an Op-Ed piece entitled, "Educational Rewards." I was surprised and disturbed. The authors were declaring a for-profit school superior to non-profit schools by saying the students were 6 months ahead of the public schools in Math and 2 months ahead in Reading. Interpreting these numbers as a success is over reaching.

What if the public schools are 2 years behind of where they ought to be? Then the for-profit schools are 18 months behind. And how do you measure exactly where students should be on a month by month basis? Do they all work from the exact same curriculum? And who says the curriculum is any good anyway? The conclusions endorsed by these alleged experts are highly suspect.

The attitude of the authors makes them appear to have started with a conclusion, for-profit schools produce the best results, and then to have sifted data until they found some data, any data, to support their opinion.

The authors wrote, "...for-profit management will work anytime, and anywhere." The authors are biased. Who are they? Paul E. Peterson, senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, and Matthew M. Chingos, a research fellow at the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance. They sound like paid spokesmen for big business. I would say we cannot trust people from the Hoover Institute and from Harvard.

When I ran for school board I was disappointed that the people most interested in the election were people who hoped to get money from the school district (jobs or higher pay). American business is staggering from unbridled corruption that is costing the country untold billions in bankruptcies and losses from swindles. The last thing we all need is for crooks to get their hooks into the money intended for education.

We must be careful on how alleged experts measure progress in education. We must have the right goals for education. Making great progress in something meaningless is not real progress.