It’s just a racket to justify failing system
By John Conlin
POSTED: 08/23/2014 05:01:00 PM in The Denver Post
Original Link: http://www.denverpost.com/Opinion/ci_26388089/Will-Common-Core-work?-No
It was just reported that scientists have developed robots that can work together without any guiding central intelligence, and someday may explore the galaxy. A spacecraft just rendezvoused with a comet on a mission that may reveal secrets about the origin of the solar system, Earth and even the origin of life.
The same day the robot story broke, it was also reported that almost half of Colorado’s fifth-graders are not proficient in writing. In five years of instruction, the public school system can’t teach children of average intelligence to write. Results for reading and math are not much better.
For my entire adult life, I have heard the calls to improve, reform and change public education. And after 40 years of these efforts, and half the entire state’s annual budget, half the kids in Colorado can’t write. These never-ending reforms have become a racket to justify a failing system and an excuse to experiment on other people’s children with other people’s money (remember New Math?).
Now it’s Common Core. How long will we allow this charade to continue? Almost every life opportunity a person will have is either expanded or restricted by the K-12 education he receives. And this is the best we can do?
Please don’t blame the teachers. A real solution starts by focusing on why, not who. And the “why” analysis leads to a simple yet disturbing discovery. A fundamental problem with the education system is that it is not results-oriented. In a results-oriented system, things that work are built upon and things that don’t work are either changed or tossed in the trash.
Almost every aspect of your life is better because of results-oriented systems. Medicine, pretty much every product you purchase, and even those self-communicating robots are all the outcome of results-oriented design.
Yet public education moves in the opposite direction. As an example, the entire curriculum for public schools, teaching methods included, is being rewritten by Common Core. Is Common Core based on proven classroom results? Nope. It was designed by “experts” sitting in offices far away from the first-graders whose lives they hope to shape. Any bets on what the outcomes will be? A generation of American lives is put at risk by this willful blindness and idiotic adherence to a failed dogma.
The only way to fix a broken system is to change the system. Public education can experience a renaissance like the world has never seen if we just change it to a results-oriented system. This is easily accomplished. Let’s stop funding the education establishment and instead fund parents and children. In a state-regulated environment, let’s give parents the power to determine how and where the money used to educate their children is spent.
Making this one change won’t cost a dime, but it will transform public education. Rather than being passive users of a government-provided service, this change transforms parents and children into consumers with competitive choices. It turns K-12 education into a results-oriented system.
Funding children unleashes the wisdom of millions. Freedom, and the results-orientation it drives, will create a tsunami of improvement. Every student will win, whether rich or poor, urban or rural. Freedom and the choices it allows have improved every product on the face of the planet. It will do the same for public education.
John Conlin is a management consultant in Littleton. He is founder of End the Education Plantation (EndtheEducationPlantation.org).