When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers —Kikuyu proverb
For Many Students, the Education System is Broken
All during my career, I have been concerned by the increasing numbers of students not prepared for continued study and work preparation after high school. That fact, coupled with an increasingly technology-dependent society and the decline in manufacturing jobs, means the critical demand for a skilled and educated workforce is growing while our success in student preparation declines. A calamitous train wreck for sure.
We’re Stuck While the World Moves On
The world is moving forward, and students from the United States are falling behind. Perhaps most distressing, in a time of global competition, is the practice of relying on local communities for the preparation of a world-class workforce. Over fourteen thousand school districts exist in the United States. Many have gotten to be little kingdoms, each with their own ways of doing things. Yet education and training is a national interest with global consequences. Given the outcomes and serious dysfunction at some local levels, thoughtful examination of our fundamental approach to education and training in the United States needs to occur.
More Students, Parents and Those Who Care About Them Need to Take Matters into Their Own Hands
The competition for the attention, and dollars, of prospective students is intense. And the motives of some schools, colleges, and training programs are neither equal nor readily apparent. One would think that, given the number of choices students have, we would enjoy more success than we are currently experiencing in the United States. Certainly it is not a stretch to contend that the staggering rates of failure and low skills attainment, especially among African American, Spanish-speaking and American Indian students, should not be occurring. But it is!
These days, the free-market and highly political system of education and training in the United States makes national or even regional standards and strategies for student achievement almost impossible. Students themselves, as well as their parents and other people who care, must rise to the challenge. My fear is that unless students, parents and others step in to improve the situation for themselves, a significant number of high school students will continue to be unprepared for the world that exists now, much less the one that will exist in the future.