Fix Schools or Grow Learners?

In the July 6, 2008, edition of PARADE Magazine, Fixing Our Schools, former Labor Secretary William Brock was interviewed regarding solutions to the school dilemma — mainly how to repair our schools.  The reporter began with the question “how can we fix American education?”   The Secretary provided pertinent statistics but his more potent insight was found in the warning not to allow “standardized tests of rote knowledge to drive education away from the very things that have made America special:  critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and teamwork.”  Spot on from the labor perspective.

The old adage in teaching is “what gets tested gets taught.”  Indeed, today’s public schools spend significant amounts of time, resources, and especially the talents of teachers and students preparing to perform well on tests required by state and federal governments.  Is this what we want – citizens who can answer questions prescribed by the government?  Is this how we want our children, grandchildren, their teachers and principals spending their time?  And the persistent question:  does this investment in required testing yield citizens ready for the work-place and perhaps more importantly ready to participate in the global economy?   In reality do we leave every child behind?