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Diverse Schools For a Diverse Country

by Hickory Jackson (Principles: Freedom and Privacy) - 1 year ago

Betsy DeVos couldn’t answer the traditional questions asked of Education Secretaries because they are the wrong questions. That makes her the right person to fix our failing education system.

In America, we are blessed to have the greatest public school teachers. They’re smart, they’re creative, and they care about our children.  Unfortunately, though, they are being dragged sown by a system that has the wrong goals, the wrong measurements and is focused on the wrong solution.

Wrong Goals: Under George W. Bush, our Federal government came up with “No Child Left Behind.” Under Obama, we had a “Race to the top.” The names of both of these conjure a picture of everyone moving single file in the same direction.  They assume, absurdly, that all of us have the same goals and the purpose of education is to get us to that finish line.  The reality, as even liberals will tell you, is that Americans are the most diverse people in the world and each one of us has a different finish line.

Wrong Measurements: Betsy DeVos was skewered by liberals because she wouldn’t render an opinion as to whether “growth” or “proficiency” was more important. Who cares? Our schools should be measured by whether or not each student learns the skills needed to achieve his or her own life objectives. Students should grow and be proficient in the areas that matter to them – not to some bureaucrat in Washington.

Wrong Solution: We know that schools are failing, not because test scores are low, but because too many young people are ending up on drugs, in jail, and without the skills needed to get a job. The solution proposed from the liberal education community, however is to make college tuition free. This makes little sense because by the time students reach college age, many are already so discouraged and beaten down that it's already too late.  

No, the answer is that we must focus on what happens during those first 18 years of life and that is where Education Secretary Betsy DeVos comes in. She recognizes that school choice is not simply about allowing children to avoid going to failing schools. It is about empowering them to go to the school that best fits their own learning style and career goals.  

For some students, the traditional system is fine. We need doctors and when they mess up, we need lawyers. Scientists are great and even MBAs have a place when they’re creating jobs rather than crashing the economy.  We absolutely should have schools that focus on maximizing the potential of our most brilliant academic minds. However, we need to pay equal attention to the needs of those whose talents and interests take them in a different direction.  

Betsy DeVos speaks my language when she says that we need to move away from the “one size fits all” model of education. Our schools should be as diverse as the people they are trying to teach. There are many jobs for which the required basic skills can be learned by the time a child graduates from High School. For those who would like to start their adult lives at age 18 without student debt, there should be schools that teach them those skills.

I don’t really care whether you call those schools “Public Schools” or “Charter Schools” as long as all children have the right to attend the school which is best for them.  Donald Trump agrees and that’s why he chose Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education. I wish her luck.

Comments and Responses (5)

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By  Jayef Kennedy - 1 year ago
I see the appeal of the message but you've picked the wrong messenger. Betsy DeVos couldn't answer the Senate panel's questions because she doesn't know anything about public education. She's a Republican operative whose goal is precisely the opposite of the diverse schools you want. What she is really promoting are religious schools which teach the same Christian bible to everyone.
Discussion Leader's Response : This comment is interesting but not directly relevant. (It might be a good topic for a new discussion)
Discussion Leader's Explanation : That is your cynicism and mistrust speaking. It is not what Ms. DeVos said at her confirmation hearing. By all means, call her out if she does promote religious schools over public schools. Until I have proof to the contrary, I'll take her at her word.
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By  U.N. Owen - 1 year ago
I agree that having a single-stream education system where all students have to learn the same things and are tested on the same metrics is not ideal. Tailoring education to match each students individual learning styles and career goals is a nice idea, but implementing such a system sounds impractical. I'd be curious to hear the author's thoughts on how such a system would work.
Discussion Leader's Response : This comment is relevant to the discussion. (Commenter's rating is increased.)
Discussion Leader's Explanation : Thank you for the question. First we get rid of the government mandates that require every local school district to cater to every need. That allows school districts to specialize and economic factors will then come into play. If for, example, there is a large area where "learning challenged" students are not being served, it will become financially viable for either a public school or a private school to serve that need. Government would only interfere where there was clear evidence that a need wasn't being served. We also need a change in mindset toward individualized instruction in elementary school. Those students who learn early how to read and do math should not be in the same class with those who struggle. It's bad for both groups. It's not necessarily a matter of one group being smarter - it may just be that some students are better equipped to learn how to read when they are 8 rather than 6. Therefore, when they're 6, let them develop some other talent.
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By  Facebook Commenter - 1 year ago
Where do students go who are rejected by their choice diverse school?
Discussion Leader's Response : This comment is relevant to the discussion. (Commenter's rating is increased.)
Discussion Leader's Explanation : Setting aside financial considerations, why would they be rejected? The only reason I can think of would be that their "choice school" would come to the conclusion that the student or family made the wrong choice. In retrospect, for example, I wish the college I went to had rejected me. Sometimes the professionals in the school know better than the student whether their school is the right place. Add back financial considerations and the new system is no worse than the old one. Elite private schools cannot and will not be forced to take students they don't want.
General Comments
By  Facebook Commenter - 1 year ago
In high school my grandson is in they don't seem to have basic business course, music, basic math. Cursive he has never been taught since 1st grade he prints everything, I taught him how to sign his name. We didn't realize it till he was in 8th grade none of the kids today, probably wouldn't be able to read the constitution, or maybe that's their goal. He has important classes every other day but his elective, drama everyday, does this make sense? Not to me.
Discussion Leader's Response : This comment is relevant to the discussion. (Commenter's rating is increased.)
Discussion Leader's Explanation : If your grandson is a talented actor, this may not be as bad a situation as you make it out to be. Obviously, the school should teach basic life skills and since acting is such a highly competitive field where few succeed, the school must also prepare him for other possible careers. If it isn't doing those things then a complaint should certainly be registered with the local board of ed and, if that gets nowhere, then go to the state.
General Comments
By  Facebook Commenter - 1 year ago
I live in a state where we essentially have school choice. Our public school system is open boundary, you may shop every school and any one can attend. In some cases they even provide out of boundary transportation. We also have an array of charter schools with no admission fees. My daughter will attend a high ranked high school and most likely attend college on scholarship. It's wonderful. For us. Here's the problem, school choice is complicated and the people who benefit from it are those who are already educated and understand why school choice is important. Our most highly successful schools are comprised of Whites, Asians, and Indians. African Americans and Hispanics are suspiciously missing. And there is no remedy for this in place. School choice benefits those who are already benefiting and does little to reach those who need help the most.
Discussion Leader's Response : This comment is relevant to the discussion. (Commenter's rating is increased.)
Discussion Leader's Explanation : Thank you for this interesting explanation. It sounds like your state is 90% of the way toward where we need to be. You've developed a competitive environment where schools seek different areas in which to achieve excellence and students can freely choose between them. You are now at the point where a small amount of state or possibly federal intervention can seal the deal. If the problem is lack of knowledge concerning the available options, funds should be allocated to provide counseling services to all students and families so that they can make the best choice. If the problem is that elementary schools serving minority districts are underfunded, then that imbalance must be addressed. All government can do is level the playing field. From there, it's up to the students and their parents to make it work.