We've been living under these reforms for more than 10 years. The first class to graduate since the reforms should be next year's class.
Do you think they're smarter than the class that graduated in 2000?
I agree that our schools are in ruins.
I doubt kids in 2012 are any smarter
than kids in 1812. The question is how educated they are.
One of the most striking aspects of Ken Burns' Civil War series was the literacy displayed by the soldiers on either side in their letter to their families, and loved ones.
We know that, at least in the North, the educated sons of the rich could buy their way out of the war and yet the quality of the writing by Northern soldiers was as striking as that of your opponents.
Of course, the series was a piece of drama and not scholarship. It doesn't prove anything about the relative levels of education between then and now, and yet most of the people who I have discussed this with had a similar reaction. Maybe we were all equally manipulated.
My experience in the business world though suggests to me that the kids graduating from college (as exemplified by those who applied for employment with my companies) at the time the series was first aired (1990) couldn't even come close to writing as well as whomever wrote the letters Burns featured.
Here again, this proves very little. Burns obviously was looking for the most eloquent letters and a far greater percentage of kids graduated from college in 1990 than in any year before the civil war.
However, fast forward 18 years to 2008 when, employed by a company, I was searching for a recent college graduate to fill a slot in our management development program.
I interviewed 18 different kids before finding one.
Believe me, based on their ability to not only write, but even speak, you would never have guessed that they had graduated from High School let alone college.
All but the person I selected were less educated
than the majority of candidates I rejected in the 90's.
This is hardly scientific proof either and I'm sure that all sorts of statistics can be trotted out to support either side of the coin, but I would suggest that it is foolhardy to argue that our kids are not being as well educated as they were in the past.
I've do doubt that there are economic classes of kids who don't receive the same educational opportunities as others, but when the kids in the more privileged classes are less educated than their predecessors it's clear we have a problem.
That problem is
1) Kids are not being taught what they need to know
2) Poor teachers can survive their incompetence much longer than most other occupations and the impact of their incompetence is arguably greater than most other occupations.
The first problem is due in large measure to the increasing politicization of education and the free hand the educational elite have had in forming curricula.
The disastrous rejection of phonics in favor of Whole Language resulted in at least a generation of kids with what can only be described as institutionally imposed semi-illiteracy.
That is but one example.
As for teachers, how can we accept how long an incompetent teacher is permitted to perform poorly?
With each year of poor performance, the education of 20 to 30 of our kids is retarded. Building blocks for continued education are missed and unless parents provide what the teacher should have, the kids are educationally crippled going forward.
Teaching is so important that I have no problem with paying them more if that's what it takes to attract and retain the best. However, the system has to be reformed so that the incompetent ones are quickly flushed, and the only competent ones are not as well rewarded as the superior ones.
Simply raising teacher salaries will only mean that the one who never should have gotten the job in the first place will make more money than the parents of the students they fail