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Salvaging Public Schooling

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/02/22/salvaging-public-schooling

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Hire the right (natural and properly educated–in their subjects) teachers, let them develop their own lesson plans, pay them well, greatly reduce standardized testing, and encourage individuality. Oh, and don’t subsidize Christian madrasas passing as charter schools via vouchers. Public funds are part and parcel of the commons, not the stuff of fairy-tale pushers.

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Your emphasis on learning to relate information vs the over valuing of “recall” perfectly describes what should be education’s superordinate goal. “Recall” has shoved this value aside, probably because it is easy to measure, easy to evaluate or quantify, and just as important because it matches the skill sets that too many teachers have acquired and bring to the majority of our classrooms. You have described the goal, and next steps would be to identify the means to get there. These means might be listed under a descriptor like “True Professionalization of the Work Force.” And the means would include teacher recruitment, increased pay, ample and truly effective mentoring opportunities, as well as careful screening of instructional leaders (often merely administrators) who are charged with seeing to it that the school program delivers on such excellent promises.

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Hysterical --if it weren’t so tragic.

What Brady is proposing is to in a way bring a level of understanding(a mindset) that one needs(or should need anyway) to suceed in college down to the lower grades. I wish him well in his quest as unlikely as it is to suceed. Too much work for teachers who have grown lazy and only teach to the test and a testing regime that has a headlock on the political system. The notion of ‘independent thinking’ is just too “new age” for an already brainwashed general populace to accept while the elites would despise it and oppose it tooth and nail.

Bernie famously proposed free higher education in publicly-funded colleges. Why? Would that be a good investment for tax dollars? You bet! Scotland would not have had the Scottish Enlightenment without starting her first-ever-in-the-world public schools and colleges. Without them, we would not have had the ideals and ideas on which our own American Revolution rely, nor electric light, train engine, the telephone and much else. Think about our society without those ideas. Best investment the tight-fisted Scots ever made.
Another thing. Our era is too taxing on the brain for a high school education. You can survive with it, but you won’t strive. The lies we get from Trump and Obama need critical thinking to see through, the Wall Street robbers require economic analysis of facts and figures to catch them in the act, energy sources to replace polluting extraction industries need technical knowledge, the neoliberal ‘me-first’ world view masquerading as an economic model need historical data to rebut. Higher education is no longer ‘higher’, but middling. We need it as a minimum to run a modern thriving democracy. Forcing college grads to incur a life-long tuition debt is stupid. Making an education free to the worthy student is the least we must do. Not so much for the students as for everyone else.

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