My idea about education reform
Posted by Meg Bear on December 16, 2009
Those of you with long memories know that I had my innocence taken from me about the California public school system. Ever since, I’ve been wondering about what I think needs to change about public schools.
About once or twice a year, I manage to watch Sir Ken Robinson’s TED presentation, and realize that we need to think in terms of the education that our children need for the future. A future we cannot even imagine today.
I’ve got two very concrete ideas that I think we should pursue for education reform. Both, of course, are expensive, but I think they are important.
The first is really Gladwell’s idea and that is year round school. We all know that an entire summer off doesn’t really make sense anymore, at least in the US. We are not a farm-based economy and no child needs summers off to help with the crops. In addition, the family norm is now two working parents, and I can tell you first hand, having summers off is an inconvenience for working parents. According to Gladwell having long summer breaks also causes a sizable education gap between those kids who are economically fortunate and those who are not.
My second idea I believe to be my own, or at least I don’t remember anyone else suggesting it to me. I think that the public school system should move past high school and into junior college. I know that local junior colleges are basically public, but the problem I have is that they are optional and require kids to apply.
I believe that kids who do not have a plan of their own, should be automatically enrolled in their local community college and attendance should be required. Alternate plans that kids could make would include such ideas as trade schools, armed forces, universities or some kind of public service. This would mean that the default result for kids would be to achieve an associates degree.
I think that having 18 year-olds trying to figure out a plan for their continued education is just too risky for society and our economy. Most 18 year-olds I know, have a hard time getting a plan figured out for lunch, let alone their future.
I have heard people discuss increasing the minimum age for a drivers license and I wonder why no one is discussing a change to the minimum age for a “basic” education. Of course, I know we can’t afford this with our current system structure, but I also believe we cannot afford to continue to leave our kids without the education they need to have a productive future.