Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sanity in education.

The president-elect could do a lot worse than consider the advice of two columnists, Meredith Baker and Mike Feinberg, in today's editorial section.

Ms. Baker's point is that the needs of the nation are currently poorly served in several areas of government policy, one of which is education. Our secondary schools, she says, don't produce graduates ready to lead in the world community; other nations far exceed what we ask of our graduates. Only 13 percent have taken Calculus upon graduation; the ratio of students in American schools who have studied Chinese versus students in Chinese schools who study English is 1 to 10,000. Ouch. She concludes:
My generation won't be able to effectively govern and keep the economy running strong (or at least help it recover) if we don't have a well-educated workforce and technically strong citizenry.

Mr. Feinberg, one of the founders of the KIPP academies, covers the familiar basics of education policy, including a strong appeal for freedom of choice:
Pick a secretary of education committed to accountability and public school choice: When Obama picks his Cabinet, he will make a strong statement about the direction of his administration. President-elect Obama should pick a secretary of education who deeply understands the issues of funding and accountability on the federal, state and local levels, and who is passionate about student achievement and growth. Having one national test with one rigorous set of national standards will ensure our children can compete in the global marketplace as well as help parents know how well their children are progressing in school. The secretary of education must also support the growth of public charter schools, which give educators freedom in exchange for increased accountability. Families will benefit from the healthy competition resulting when multiple high-quality public schools serve the same community.

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