Friday, September 05, 2008

David Kirkpatrick writes about The Difficulty of School Reform

I enjoyed David Kirkpatrick's column The Difficulty of School Reform. He writes about why it will be impossible to fix government schools:

It should be obvious by now, as more than one person has concluded, that the public school system cannot be reformed. At the very least it might be recognized that logic has nothing to do with the way it is organized. If the process by which students are educated was based on logic, the public school system would not exist.

I am afraid David is right. The current school system is broken, probably beyond repair. Over the years thousands of people have tried to fix public schools, and things have gotten worse. Albert Einstein is reported to have said that "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Hopefully more and more parents will pull their children out of the government schools. They can put them in private schools or homeschool them. Either way the children will have a much better chance at getting a decent education.

Technorati tags: children, government schools, public school, public education, education


Curt said...

It's true; the public school system is the major trouble. But, when you talk about a solution, you have to look at all the reasons that are behind its failure. Like the increase in immigration, the teachers unions, new government regulations, the decline in morality do to the removal of the bible, prayer and the teaching of humanism, evolution and sex education. Homeschooling is a great solution for many students, but we will still need some type of public educational system to education the many students that don't have parents that are capable or available to home school.
Perhaps the best plan is to set long term goals and then make incremental changed to reach the goals.

Henry Cate said...

I hear what you are saying on setting long term goals, but my feal is I don't think you could get a random hundred people to agree on long term goals, let along all the politicians and government bureaucracies.

And it isn't clear to me that there is one, right goal. Different children have different needs.

Maybe if we had some kind of school choice where each parent could select schools they felt were appropriate for their children. I think we'd be much better off than with what we have now.

christinemm said...

I was reading an old book I have (from 1906) in which they lament the terrible state of public schools and the need for reform.

I thought public schools were decent when I was in them in 1970s to mid 1980s but as an adult interested in education I was shocked to find a big ed reform movement in the 1960s. Gasp.

Also while on the net I found the superintendent of schools in my hometown, who worked when I was in school, today is writing of the terrible state of schools and telling stories from when he was working. You can't get more proof than that that the schools I attended were problematic right when I was in them.

I think our only hope for change in education is to add new schools as alternatives. I mean the way that Bill and Melissa Gates opened some new schools that are radically different than the typical model. The more magnet type schools or charter schools that open the more options there will be for people to opt out of the regular schools and maybe then there will be change.

I am doing a lot of reading of right brained learners, visual learners and how our technology and even our parenting today is making children's brains reinforce neural pathways that program them to be more right-brained visual learners. Yet our public schools keep teaching the old left brained way. For more info see "Right Brained Chidren in a Left Brained World" by Jeffrey Freed. He also says that some right brained learners are misdiagnosed as having ADD and that also ADD kids whose learning strategies change to use more right brained techniques drop some of their negative ADD symptoms. Interesting.

Also in "Discover your child's learning style" the authors (two school teachers) say that despite all the new info on learning styles the American public schools have not changed. They say they teach to the 10-15% of kids who learn best in that way. Does that not seem bizarre?

For many reasons it seems that a major overhaul of all public schools in one fell swoop will never ever happen.

Henry Cate said...

One of the things I got from Diane Ravitch's Left Back: A Century of Battles over School Reform is exactly what you are saying, there have always been problems with public schools.

But it is also clear things have gotten worse the last couple decades.

Jon said...

This article is right on target. My wife and I homeschool all 5 of our children and we have been very blessed in the process. I speak to this very issue as well at