Unsustainable: A Strategy for Making Public Schooling More Productive, Effective, and Affordable

 

Unsustainable cover imageThis Education|Evolving book punches hard from its first pages. “This
country’s current system of K-12 schooling is not financially viable and is
becoming more inefficient year by year,” it tells us. But that’s not all. “When
[rethinking education], it is necessary to divide the goals society has for
public schooling from the particular system set up to pursue them.” To stem the
tide of American K-12 overspending (and underachieving), the volume argues for
a modular, customized approach to education, pulling ideas from Christensen’s,
Horn’s, and Johnson’s Disruptive
Innovation
(but not going quite as far as Hess and Manno in Customized Schooling). The author’s
suggestions are bountiful, including: Open doors to research and development,
improve the “net labor” output through improved student productivity, and put
teachers in charge of school budgets. One of its major tenets—that reformers
shouldn’t seek a single solution that works today, but create conditions that
allow the system to innovate and grow—is indeed central to successful education
policy. There is plenty to ponder here and those ready to wrap their brains
around a radical restructuring of the process of education delivery would be
wise to give it a close read.

Tim R. McDonald, Unsustainable:
A Strategy for Making Public Schooling More Productive, Effective, and
Affordable
(Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2011).

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