Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The American School System as We Know it, is Severely Broken

A friend forwarded the NYTimes editorial that reflects comments made by Bill Gates (yes, of MicroSoft fame) to some of our leaders in Washington DC. In it, we know that Mr. Gates firmly denounced the American Educational system as obsolete.

Go to Gate's web location and you can find the transcript of his talk. Here's a slice:

Yet – the more we looked at the data, the more we came to see that there is more than one barrier to college. There’s the barrier of being able to pay for college; and there’s the barrier of being prepared for it.

When we looked at the millions of students that our high schools are not preparing for higher education – and we looked at the damaging impact that has on their lives – we came to a painful conclusion:

America’s high schools are obsolete.

By obsolete, I don’t just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed, and under-funded – though a case could be made for every one of those points.

By obsolete, I mean that our high schools – even when they’re working exactly as designed – cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.

End of slice:

Essentially, Gates is right. In a day where teachers have to stop assigning homework as leverage to gain a fair contract, our high schools are obsolete and the system in its entirety is broken. And, more of us should be completely pissed off that this is the case. Our youth, teachers, and parents are continually being underserved by a system that is antiquated and broken. Created close to 150 years ago, in an agrarian society, the students of today in no way reflect the kinds of students our children are today. Nor does our society and its needs get appropriately addressed by the schools of today.

We need a complete overhaul, and a system redesign. Unfortunately, the school system hinges on a broken administrative structure that involves districts, state governments and has a heavy burden of administrative pay outs to superintendents who accomplish next to nothing for the student they serve - particularly on a daily basis. The "system" has never been much of a system unto itself, nor has the Secretary of Education had anything more than a titular and policy making function, only marginally affecting the education of students today.

I have a lot more to write about this subject and some ideas on how to fix the broken system, but I'll have to write more when I don't have a 10 month old boy grabbing at my keyboard. Got to run and wake up the three year old before he sleeps the day away.

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