What would George, TJ, Abe, Teddy, Ike, and the gang say?
Past presidents might not be too happy with the current state of education.
Photo by William Andrus.
This is not the time for federal intervention is what they would say. But I would imagine most of our great presidents would be somewhat appalled by the barnacled bureaucracy that now counts as our public education system. I would love to hear what they had to say about these four recent stories:
- Not to be missed. Scot Simon’s report for National Public Radio on Kansas City’s failed school system is a needed reminder about the delusional thinking of those who defend the current American public education system. K.C. is part of a long-line—think Detroit, Newark, Chicago, New Orleans—of failed city school systems. One simply cannot take the attacks on school reformers seriously when seen through the prism of reports like Simons’.
- Embracing Common Core. This is a wonderful symposium by Fordham's Ohio team about the meaning of the Common Core and how to implement it. See also Education Next’s debate on the math part of the CCCS. And, of course, always interesting, if somewhat predictable, is Jay Greene’s take: here come the commies.
- You want to know where we went wrong? You need go no farther than Valerie Strauss’s bizarre “seven myths about how students learn.” First myth: “Basic Facts Come Before Deep Learning.” This piece should be read and studied as the seven reasons American schools are in such distress. Even the normally temperate Joanne Jacobs takes a few good swipes at Strauss.
- Remaking federalism. Though this essay by Bruce Katz at Brookings is about remaking the American economy, it has some lessons for our education governance folks. “Given global competition, the next president should adopt a vision of collaborative federalism,” writes Katz. Though not as sensible as Koret’s recent suggestions or Checker and Mike’s “too manycooks, too many kitchens” take, I like Katz’s suggestion that “states and metropolitan areas innovate where they should to design and implement bottom-up economic [education?] strategies that fully align with their distinctive competitive assets and advantages…”
P.S. And a tantalizing excerpt from Jefferson’s first inaugural address that may provide some orienting purpose in these times:
[E]very difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.
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About the Editor
Peter Meyer is an adjunct fellow with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Since 1991, Meyer has focused his attentions on education reform in the United States, an interest joined while writing a profile of education reformer E.D. Hirsch for Life. Meyer subsequently helped found a charter school, served on his local Board of Education (twice) and, for the last eight years, has been an editor at Education Next.
May 16, 2013
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