Issues 2004 – Education

Jeff posted his take on the education debate last thursday and I am only now getting around to replying. I took my “no child left behind due to blogging act” seriously this weekend.

Education is a huge deal. We have a great education system in this country. Our K-12 education system has its challenges, but our college and university system in this country is outstanding.

I think that one of our great strengths versus other countries and other societies is that we have not turned eduction into some kind of rote learning experience. Our kids come out of our education systems, both K-12 and collegiate level, with a better ability to create, innovate, and respond to the changing dynamics of the work place.

I am not a fan of the No Child Left Behind Act and the reliance on testing that our country is turning to in an effort to improve our schools. This will take us in the direction of other countries who treat education like mass production and we’ll be a weaker world competitor as a result.

I posted last week on progressive education and although it was not meant to be a reply to Jeff’s Eduction post, it serves that purpose pretty well. It outlines what I think is the best way to educate a kid.

I would like to see these techniques encouraged in our public schools. And I would like to increase the compensation levels for public school teachers. I ran into a guy running for Congress the other morning on the way to my kids school. He was campaigning by the West 4th Street Subway stop. I forget his name but I took his flyer. Most of his positions were forgettable, but one was not. He proposed making public school teachers’ salaries tax free at the federal, state, and local levels. That would instantly produce a 30-40% increase in teacher compensation. I like that idea a lot.

Another thing we must do in our public schools is reduce class sizes. You can not teach to each kid as an individual with 30-40 kids per class. We need to reduce public school class sizes to below 30 and ideally below 25. That will require an investment in additional teachers and school facilities. But its a must if we really intend to improve our public schools.

There are those who would eliminate our public school system and rely instead on a for-profit system. I think that would be a terrible mistake. Our public school system has served our country incredibly well for a very long time. It’s not time to scrap it. It’s time to improve it and invest in it for the next century.