If you had $100 billion to spend on improving the American education system, what would you spend it on?
That’s the question Jay Mathews asks in his Class Struggle column this week (as well as in the dead tree edition of this morning’s Post).
He also includes five suggestions (along with his grades for them) from “Smart Options: Investing the Recovery Funds for Student Success“, another report with the fingerprints of the Gates foundation all over it.
- Develop common American standards (my grade, C-minus)
- Provide data and information that educators, policymakers and parents can use (A-minus)
- Conduct meaningful teacher evaluations (C-plus)
- Turn around low-performing schools (A-plus)
- Help struggling students (A-plus)
Of course, both the recommendations of the panel that wrote the report (wonder how many actual teachers were included) and Mathews grades presume that nothing about the basic framework of American education will change.
We’ll still use the same archaic calendar (with a few extra days).
Teachers will still be responsible for the distribution of information as well as providing the learning structure for their students.
Students will still be assessed using large batteries of increasingly meaningless standardized tests.
And we’ll continue to assume that schools can be completely and totally divorced from the society outside the classroom walls, that individual teachers can work largely in isolation and overcome those problems.
Unless we plan to reconsider the entire concept of teaching and learning, that $100 billion is a
hypothetical waste of money.