Can we “race to the top”?
Across the United States, 7,000 students drop out of school each day. Less than 70% finished high school. In 2009, there were 6,900 dropouts in West
Four decades ago, America was first among nations in educational achievement. Today, we rank 35th in math and 29th in science. The U.S. has slipped from first to 17th in the world in college graduation rates.
Overall, less than 40% of American youth have a college degree. Of those, less than 20% of African Americans and Hispanics have a college degree.
How do we race to the top?
“Race to the Top,” a new education program from the Obama Administration, has too much similarity to “No Child Left Behind.” Charter schools, tying teachers to student’s test results, closing failing schools and
competing for funds are too similar to the failed “No Child Left Behind” program.
The better portions of “Race to the Top” include higher academic standards, uniform curricula and testing, research for teacher evaluation, and funding for implementation.
The real race involves knowing goals and possibilities. Education and career training are intimately connected. To be competitive in the world again requires a real revolution in education. Europe and Asia began revolutionalizing education and are reaping the benefits. We need to meet the demands of the 21st century.
How do we do it?
With practical steps that include: making education a top national priority; job training; changing how we fund education; higher academic standards including uniform and problem solving curricula; choosing comprehensive assessments instead of multiple choice tests; teaching critical thinking skills and empowering learners of all ages to use knowledge in inventive ways; using multi-sensory learning techniques and cutting edge technology; safe learning environments; emphasizing health and nutrition; equal opportunities for continual learning; partnering with higher education institutions, industries and research centers; and making available government-sponsored research for teacher evaluation and improvement.
Virginia Lynch Graf