Education “Reform” Never Happens!

Imagine that a person who fell asleep in 1895 awoke today in America. What would be most familiar to this time traveler in American society? Enter any school in America, the classroom has a blackboard, just like he had, an adult is standing before the students, just like in his classroom, students listen and repeat back to the adult what he said, just like in olden times. Students in American high schools take courses in-Social Studies, English, Math, Biology, and Art and Music, –these courses were created in the 1890s. In other words, what we teach and how we teach has not dramatically changed in over a hundred years.

Arne Duncan, our Secretary of Education, was never a teacher and lacks any sense of how schools function or what should be the goal of education. He is determined to push for testing and evaluate teachers on the basis of how students perform on the tests. I hate to inform Mr. Duncan but his goals are exactly those of 1895. Our contemporary education curriculum is more tuned to prepare students for life in the new industrial era of 1895 than it is to the world of high technology. Oh, talk about issues of “multiculturalism” as creating problems is not a strange issue. In 1914, one hundred years ago: one out of four children in American schools were the children of newly arrived immigrants. Those immigrants were among the poorest people to enter America-most came from eastern and southern Europe.

As the child of east European Jews, I, along with most students in my elementary classes, spoke at least three languages. American educators lack a sense of history, and they lack a sense of what type of education is required for life in the 21st century.

I will address this issue in subsequent pieces.