Introducing new education blogs is fun (except when they disappear). So I was thrilled to discover The Karl Frank Jr. Communicator, which covers vouchers, NCLB, the Mehlville school district, and other good stuff. Unfortunately for me, it’s not actually a new blog and I’ve been missing out on a few years of interesting discussion.
One topic he’s currently writing about is public education success. I quote:
Can it get better? Sure. Accountability and performance are paramount. But to say that public education needs to be outright reformed is nothing more than silly, regressive, cave-man rhetoric.
He provides evidence, too. School enrollment is way up, compared to several decades ago, and the student-teacher ratio is way down. There are lots more school librarians. In short, more people are in public schools than ever before.
I am sympathetic to the "let’s stop thinking about test scores for a second" idea. I enjoyed reading this article about Japan’s fear that India’s schools are outperforming its own. The dilemma seems crazy from an American’s point of view, because both countries are way ahead of the U.S. in international math and science exams. And here an MICDS student writes about why the extracurriculars that defy measurement are just as important as traditional subjects. But both Japanese students and MICDS students are doing well by the traditional measures of achievement. It makes sense for them to pay more attention to creativity or extracurriculars, because they’ve already learned the basics.
On the other hand, not even half of Mehlville’s eighth-graders score at least "proficient" on the MAP communication arts test. When we talk about reforming public education, we’re not considering whether elite high-achievers should focus more attention on their debate team or study for the SATs instead. We’re trying to find a system that can bring most students up to a working level of literacy. And the current, largely monopolistic traditional public school system has failed, not just in the inner cities but in "better" districts like Mehlville too.