"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012


John Lennon asked us, through music, to Imagine. As long as we're looking to reform education, let's follow his suggestion and imagine what could be in public education.

Imagine how much less school would cost if we didn't have to subscribe to, practice for and administer standardized assessments.

Imagine how much could be saved if teachers were given a not-to-exceed classroom budget that they could spend any way they chose, without having to buy a specific set of materials from a specific supplier and, were also given a bonus for not spending the full amount. One teacher noted that the reading system she wanted was $600 from the school's approved vendor, but could be purchased on e-bay for $260. Another noted that they were required to purchase 10-book bundles from a text publisher when they only needed one book, but found (through a call to the publisher) that they could get a single replacement book for free. School districts regularly require teachers to purchase a particular text book which many refuse to use because it actually makes the subject more difficult to teach. Thousands of such forced texts go unused every year.

Imagine how much would be saved if students were allowed or even encouraged to proceed at their own pace, not forced to remain in a fixed age cohort. Many students would complete school months or, in some cases, years sooner at an overall lower cost to the state.

Imagine a curriculum that didn't tell students what to learn but, rather, how to learn.  The amount of information available is growing exponentially and new curricula try to keep up with this ever increasing database. If we expect schools to cover all of this with children, they may never leave school. What costs could be reduced by finding a logical place where the state's obligation to teach ends and the personal responsibility to learn begins.

Imagine if we promoted students getting an AAS (Career Associates) degree instead of  a four year bachelor degree as the president and others want to do. Students who either lack the aptitude, fortitude or financial resources for a four year program, or who simply want to start working sooner, could achieve their goal with less debt. They would become contributors to the state coffers rather than recipients that much sooner.

Imagine how much we would save on education if we followed the lead of these tech guru families in Los Altos, CA [NYTimes] who send their kids to a Waldorf school that pointedly does not use technology to teach. Technology, these parents say, is so user friendly now that kids can learn it at any time so there is no rush to use it at an early age.  And where technology is not spoon feeding kids someone else's creativity, they can develop their own. Students who are weaned on technology find it hard to break from later. One Waldorf student ,who recently went to visit cousins, found himself surrounded by kids with their heads buried in gadgets, not paying attention to him or each other. He was ready to play.  They were ready to sit and be passively entertained.

Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans. Think of all the other programs we have to create (and pay for) as separate entities, the more we rely on computers in the classroom.

Imagine if public school focused on teaching the basics, what they call core classes, paid for by all the tax payers, and parents with children in school voted on assessments for the other courses they would like the school to offer. Your overall tax bill would go down and would only experience a slight bump for the period of time you had kids in school.

What would you imagine for public education?


  1. Imagine how much money you would save if the board was'nt full of cronies manipulated by a "project manager" who was quoted by his own son as saying it's easy to get money from schools because no one is watching. What specifically did the "program manager" do for his millions???? And for his free office space???

  2. Imagine how much could be saved if ineffective were not kept on the payroll because of tenure. Imagine a government school that did not serve the union by indoctrinating the students with their leftist ideas.
    Imagine a government school that allowed the parents to choose a school that they thought would be the most appropriate for their child. Imagine a school that did not put a calculator and computer in the hands of children before they had the ability to "reason."


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