Once society valued our public school educational Institution. It prepared our children for the future. Respect of the institution was translated into students and parents who supported high standards and valued behavior that was conducive to learning. This is no longer true. Schools with metal detectors at the entrance, cameras monitoring corridors, security personnel, teaching to the test, administrators micro-managing teachers, union busting, disruptive students, and politicized school systems is the norm.
The privatization of public schools is the direction we are moving. The standardized tests that determine a school's status and whether it will receive funding or require probationary intervention, only measure one or two of the multiple intelligences necessary for success. Certainly our graduates need to be able to communicate with people from diverse cultures, be capable of solving problems, and be technologically proficient. What standardized test reflects success at this? And since none do, schools are forced to focus less time and energy on these skills than on the skills measured by the standardized tests.
Educators who have returned to the classroom in the past decade for an advanced degree know that the teacher is no longer the center of the classroom, and owner of the information. The teacher is a facilitator of information that is readily available through the Internet. Learning must include more than absorbing information; it must reflect using the information in practical ways, ways that standardized tests do not measure. And this does not require a walled-in room, a 45 minute period every day, nor a factory model of teaching to develop life-long learners. The conundrum is what do we do with the Institution, which is outmoded and how do we reshape it to reflect not just the anticipated future, but the present?
Raise your hands if you think the answer lies in creating more charter schools.