Monday, August 29, 2005

Knowledge Production is Not Sexy

Crisis? Oh, I don't know. The trouble with education across the board is that it is an antiquated delivery system that people seem to want to invest most heavily in the oldest standard of measure - testing - as opposed to pedagogical experimentation and innovation. Kids, in a capitalistic society, understandably are driven to high-status, high-pay aspirations and the limelight certainly only shines dimly on most academics. In fact, the number of famous academics that can serve as role models is vacuous. Can you name one that is alive today? The pursuit of fame and fortune is not harmonious with the pursuit of new knowledge.

An education task force established by the center and the institute noted the following:

"Young low-income and minority children are more likely to start school without having gained important school readiness skills, such as recognizing letters and counting. ... By the fourth grade, low-income students read about three grade levels behind nonpoor students. Across the nation, only 15 percent of low-income fourth graders achieved proficiency in reading in 2003, compared to 41 percent of nonpoor students."

How's that for a disturbing passage? Not only is the picture horribly bleak for low-income and minority kids, but we find that only 41 percent of nonpoor fourth graders can read proficiently.

I respectfully suggest that we may be looking at a crisis here.

The report, titled "Getting Smarter, Becoming Fairer," restates a point that by now should be clear to most thoughtful Americans: too many American kids are ill equipped educationally to compete successfully in an ever-more competitive global environment.

Cartoonish characters like Snoop Dogg and Paris Hilton may be good for a laugh, but they're useless as role models. It's the kids who are logging long hours in the college labs, libraries and lecture halls who will most easily remain afloat in the tremendous waves of competition that have already engulfed large segments of the American work force.

1 comment:

Ken Grandlund said...

An apt post as we begin another school year. My daughter has started 1st grade today-public school- I want to see how things go.

She's been in private kindergarten already and I fear she'll be bored by what may be remedial education to her. Dropping her off, it was sad to note how many parents didn't speak English when asked a simple question by the teacher.

I support the concept of public education in general, but its looking like I'll have to get my hands dirty before too long and try to help bring some Common Sense into play.