What’s worse is we will have a labor force that will be increasingly inexperienced and of more advanced age as we continue to propagate the false narrative that all American students must go to college. The truth is college is not a necessity for all students, provided they are made to be competent in areas which cater to their inherent talents and interests. In decades past these programs were not only available in the public education system, but components of them where weighted as indispensable to the culmination of a proper education. The programs to which I refer are vocational training programs—which have been progressively phased out as the success rate of our system has dropped progressively. There is no reason that motivated and interested American students can’t graduate high school as journeymen in a skilled labor field, as A-rated mechanics, and as college ready students depending on their desire and drive. Preparedness to enter the workforce is not entirely owed to a college education. Though I believe all people can benefit from the personal elucidation higher education may provide, not all people are receptive to the process, much as not all students can be equally assessed by standardized assessment. Every one should be rigorously challenged by their education in a way that broadens their mind and sharpens their ability to use their God given talents to build a life that is rich both in materials and happiness but setting one path for everyone dooms most failure because their individuality is not respected. Individuality is the heart of the American Spirit of self-determination and personal manifest destiny in a chosen field.
Finally, I feel that the culmination of these “reforms” towards standardization and the public misconception about what a quality education in fact does in order to prepare students for fruitful lives we have begun a detrimental abdication of our public responsibility to provide a leveling tool in our dynamic capitalist society. The passing of the reigns of our public school systems to privately run charter schools will inevitably lead to the privatization of public education in whole. In conjunction with the push for school vouchers which aim either by design or by side-effect to defund the system we will invariably find ourselves with a Dickensian parochial school system, which is not accountable by the communities they service…indeed they will not service communities any longer, only customers and patrons capable of meeting the tuition (which vouchers generally fail to meet in total). Would that the charter schools only show some national measurement to greater success than the public schools they aim to replace I couldn’t argue on that merit…however since they don’t perform statistically any better (the statistics that are, incidentally, measured by the same standardized exams that closed their wholly public predecessors) I can only say that it is a shame.
It is my belief that public education is the responsibility of the state, however at this point Federal funding dollars are so integral to the provision of education under any foreseeable budget structure that it remains incumbent on the Federal Government to take point in steering the system into a viable and productive direction as it seems to have taken point in steering it in the doomed direction it is now going.
In the course of this election I have found that, for the most part, both of your positions have both been misplaced and ill-advised in the reforms you might attempt to put forward to education in the coming term. Furthermore, they seem to be essentially the same—more standardized assessments, more charter schools, less individualization, no major or overt mention of vocational training.
In 2008 President Obama promised to offer more funding to Charter Schools provided that States could better support them. This kind of promise, which has been in effect and carried out to a large degree, is frustrating because this funding support should be going to the public school structures that already exist; anything else is just a subsidy to the privatization of our public responsibility. If there are companies that are “too big to fail” and countries that, despite their historical opposition to our ventures, we can continue to send billions of dollars in aid to for their education programs and operational costs, while we run at a deficit, then we should be at least as committed to fixing our own failing public education structures. Our children are too important to fail.
Additionally in 2012 the President has pledged to offer reforms that keep K-12 teachers from “teaching students how to simply bubble in tests”, however this is lip service as it only aims to fully fund the No Child Left Behind Act as opposed to replace it with effective legislation that doesn’t hinge on inherently discriminatory testing results. Race to the Top offers more money for a more standardized approach and adopting the Common Core Standards which are useful, but ultimately service to make the development of boxed curriculum and examinations easier rather than transforming education for the better.