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Daniel Powell

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Why isn't REAL reform taking place in our education systems? Education is broken, but do any of the current reforms really change anything?

Of the 34 developed countries in the OECD, the United States ranks in the bottom one-third in math and science scores and graduation rate. Our nation isn’t catching up, either, it’s falling further behind. At least 11 countries are making academic gains at double and even triple the rate of American students. Despite nearly 30 years of reform efforts, little has changed. None of the proposed reforms by President Obama (listed on the White House page for education reform) fundamentally change the educational system.

“…overall, the United States has the same teachers, in the same roles, with the same level of knowledge, teaching in the same schools, with the school day organized the same way, with much the same set of tracked courses, with the same materials, and much the same level of parental support.” –Jal Mehta, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In making this comment, Mehta urges us to look at educational reforms that will upend the current system. Education reform is needed, we all agree. If we’re going to change education in America, then we need to be serious about making real changes that fundamentally reshape our educational institutions. I challenge educators in America to join the conversation, and to propose profound changes to the system that will disrupt the status quo and challenge traditional education.


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    Jul 19 2013: I think the main problem is that we cannot agree which of the alternatives to choose from or start to agree upon to implement...
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      Jul 19 2013: Christophe,

      I agree!

      The big problem is that the solution is going to involve a complex web of programs, funding, legislation, restructuring and training. There is not solution that includes a one step plan, and each individual piece of the process could be debated. We need to tackle this problem first, to get SOMETHING started so that we can begin this long process. I wonder if anyone has any good recommendations??
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      Jul 19 2013: "Political consensus to educate all children together in a common school system" seems to be where Finland started. If we all could agree on that it may be possible to start the movement! What are your thoughts?
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        Jul 20 2013: I don't know.
        As children have different interests and capacities and ways of learning... maybe we need to take that into account, although a kid's interest is strongly dependent on the interests of parents and later peers...

        We organised a TEDx Salon around education, and there were a lot of teachers there. I think that they want to have some extra space to try things out.
        Some complained that administration and testing got too much of them, as the rules require a lot of paperwork when it comes to inspection. I suggested leaving the paperwork out and film the classroom instead. As such, the inspection can see how effective they teach and they didn't have to fill out the paperwork. No that they really liked to be filmed, or that our laws allow for it, but I can't imagine that there are no solutions to decrease the overhead time of a teacher while not needing extra investments.

        Giving a broader freedom of teaching and rewarding the good ones (now they all get the same wage) might be a step in the right direction.

        And a constant evaluation of the content we wish to learn... maybe we need to ask "what would I want my children to learn or know?"

        As for movements: they also exist already. Maybe trying to connect the different movements and initiatives together to generate strength in number might be a good next step.
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          Jul 20 2013: I appreciate your participation as someone who has gotten into this at some depth, including looking at what is really happening to improve education on the ground. Indeed there is no scarcity of movements in action in this terrain! There are huge numbers of people, both within schools and involved in auxiliary services and associated programs, working tirelessly to try to provide all children with a quality education focused on critical thinking and the tools of independent learning.

          It is not static.

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