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The solution, of course, is choice in education

by: Eric B.

Wed May 02, 2012 at 10:22:06 AM EDT

Michigan's schools are graduating class after class of dumbasses. The solution, by action taken and by rhetoric offered, of the likes who run the Legislature is that lifting the cap on charter and cyber schools will magically make kids learn things.

An analysis of Michigan college readiness data by Bridge Magazine and Public Sector Consultants reveals a troubling track record. Almost half of the state’s public school districts score poorly in at least one measure of college preparation. The share of Michigan teens enrolling in college and earning degrees is barely budging. Tens of thousands are taking high school-level courses in college and dropping out even before becoming sophomores.

Let me offer the first inconvenient suggestion here, which is that part of the problem is that parents think that their kids ought to believe that they are entitled to good grades for merely showing up rather than earned by learning and grasping core concepts.  This is especially acute at the college level, where students are treated not like people who need to be taught but like customers who get a degree after shoveling money down the coal shute of our state's many fine institutions of higher learning. This is a predictable outcome of regarding education as a money-making racket rather than a process by which Junior's horizons are broadened about life, the world and how the arts inform us about the human condition.

But, that's a meta problem, something that affects not just Michigan but the entire nation.

As for Michigan specifically, the solution proposed to this by benevolent overlord Rick Michigan is to double down on that by tying funding to graduation rates.  That is, further engrain the idea that students are customers to be pleased and pushed out with little pieces of paper on the other end, and that a student who doesn't graduate represents not a failure on the part of that student to work and achieve but on the part of the education system itself to not reward someone's monetary investment in an education. That's, as the poet says, just dumb.

But, we're talking about secondary schools here, right? We approach education the same way across the board. Of course we need to invest in better early learning (what you and I used to call preschool), just as we need to properly invest in primary, secondary, and colleges and universities. More important, however, is to stop regarding an education as a means to making more money, which feeds into the idea that students are a consumer of an educational product, which feeds into the idea that looking good on paper is more important than internalizing things like what it is that Beethoven was on about in Ode to Joy.

The Legislature, whose members by and large I suspect don't give a hoot about educating people (in fact, they appear downright hostile to knowledge and the use of it to inform policy making), have struck upon the solution that choice in education will magically create founts of knowledge upon which the little chillin's of Michigan will drink deeply. In other words, the way to prepare students for college isn't to insist that they learn concepts that will prove important when they sit down to write college-level papers, but to have choice in education.

How does choice improve education? The same way the Underpants Gnomes turn a profit. The irony here, for everyone not attuned to its most delicious nature, is that that episode of South Park was a rousing defense of free market capitalism, which is the thing the Underpants Gnomes approach to education fetishists claim to revere so deeply.

Eric B. :: The solution, of course, is choice in education
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Parental engagement
I'm really starting to get a little bit angry that in all of this discussion I have not heard ONE WORD about doing anything to encourage parental engagement.  

The absolute complete lack of any mention of this at all fron EITHER SIDE shows that the lawmakers have no clue what they are talking about.  

Both sides
Both sides, really, are engaging big government, big liberal approaches to education.  If the kiddos aren't learning, then the problem is with the state and not with the parents.

In this case, I think the problem is that parents want good grades because they think it is genuinely more important to look good on paper than it is for the kiddos to learn how to think.  If the kiddos get bad grades, it reflects poorly on the parents, and parents really aren't interested in that.

Among the Trees

[ Parent ]
The map is not the territory
It's like our whole society is eating the menu instead of the meal!  

It's like buying a membership at a health club, never going and then suing because you aren't getting into shape!

[ Parent ]
You elitist....
They won't stop until they totally eliminate public education.   When it's all private and deregulated, just like the airlines and the banks, then they'll start raising their fees and K-12 will become just like the universities.  The good schools will only accept a few and their cost be out of the reach of the majority of people.    You'll get your voucher/Pell grant - until they resent even that -  and shown the door.   The rest will come out of the pocket of the parents, and we'll create even more inequity in the system then there is.  

Studies show the biggest attraction for companies is an educated workforce - not tax cuts or tax incentives.  Instead of squandering our taxes and eliminating jobs, they need to be investing in our kids.   We should offer a free education for K-16.   Companies would comes, and so would parents.  Maybe we'd even gain population instead of losing it.

Joanna VanRaaphorst is running against the slug, Tom McMillin.   Please give her some support.  http://www.joannaforrochester....

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