Monday, January 24, 2011

Schools Need to Fix More than What is Broken

The U.S. system of public education is not broken. Not broken.

Our system provides the United States with the highest standard of living on Earth. The United Nations in November released its Human Development Report for 2010. The Human Development Index (HDI) places the United States well ahead of all the nations whose students may have scored higher than ours on standardized tests. Our nation is the envy of the world, and it is our system of public education that helped to create it.

There is an expression: "If it's not broken, don't fix it." I heard this as a boy and thought it clever, "That makes sense. Why do we try to fix things that don't need fixing?"

I now loathe the words. I have heard the expression as a continuous mantra from those who wish to maintain the status quo. We have a good system, yes. But it could be better. It must be made better.

We can do this by moving our schools into 21st Century learning institutions. We need to reduce our drop-out rate by individualizing instruction. We need to develop students who are both independent problem solvers and cooperative team players. We need to teach our students to teach themselves by utilizing Inquiry Learning and Active Learning. We need to foster the use of technology in achieving our educational objectives.

Most importantly and immediately, we need to get on with the work at hand. Yes, our budgets are handicapping us, but we must stop fixating on finances. The economic conditions are what they are. We must also remember we have seen good times too. We have to adapt our services to the resources at hand and realize that the world is changing. Schools must evolve and get better.

Our students need schools focused on the future of our world, not the present school budget. Our work of building a brighter tomorrow cannot be slowed by trying to maintain schools as we have known them or by using our financial resources as an excuse. This work is just too important.

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