March 2012

Failing Public Schools a "National Security" Liability?

A task for from the Council on Foreign Relations has us flashing back to Reagan's "A Nation At Risk", and not in a good way.

In a Presidential election that, so far, has been devoid of any specific educational policy ideas, the recent release of a new report may force President Obama and the Republican nominee onto an educational platform. The report is entitled U.S. Education Reform and National Security, and is a product of an independent task force from the Council on Foreign Relations, chaired by former head of the New York City public schools Joel Klein, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The findings of the report conclude that the state of U.S. public education right now threatens the future of our national security and ability to compete globally. The report states that, "Educational failure puts the United States' future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk.”

Public Education Inc.: It's Not Privatized, but It Might As Well Be

The corporate culture is driving deep into public education, and even education advocates are adopting the corporate mindset.

Gene Carter, Executive Director of ASCD, an educational leadership organization, writes eloquently about the purpose of schools in the 21st century, and the poor policies that are guiding current education reform. However, he does one thing that I think is symptomatic of the shallow way that we address education today; he puts the premium on global competition. Schools in the 21st century are to build students with skills that can contribute meaningfully not to society, and not even the democratic process, but to the workforce. In that way we’re bringing corporate culture to our schools, framing education as job training and making every school a trade school.

The Demoralization of the American Teacher

Standardization, budget cuts, layoffs, and public outcry are leading to a severely demoralized education work force.

There’s a crisis within public education that is outside of the concerns of pro-privatization billionaires and educational reformists in Washington. Teachers are coming to work more demoralized and broken down than ever; struggling to teach kids that don’t have a home, or food in the refrigerator; facing year after year of salary freezes and lay-offs due to state and district budget-cuts, and attempting to give kids real-life skills despite spreadsheet–style standardization. We are facing the corporatization of our childrens’ education, and it’s leading to the lowest teacher job satisfaction rating in decades.

The Politics of Homeschooling: A Conversation

The insights on homeschooling of two journalists with opposite politics

Whether or not to homeschool has been a controversial topic since K-12 public education became a legal mandate in the 20th century. In the past several decades, however, we’ve seen a movement from home-schooling as the province of religious fundamentalists and anti-government extremists to that of individuals with no home-schooling background themselves concerned over the present national education reform debate. A recent article in Slate by education journalist Dana Goldstein, and a subsequent rebuttal in Atlantic Monthly by Conor Friedersdorf highlights the rift between educational traditionalists and reformers and the emerging liberal ethic of holistic education.