Latest posts by Bruno Behrend (see all)
- Heartland Daily Podcast – Bruno Behrend: Homeschooling Blazing the Trail for Education Choice - April 14, 2016
- Heartland Daily Podcast – Bruno Behrend: Common Core - May 19, 2015
- The Insanity of Federalized Teacher Evaluations - February 21, 2012
I was reading some weak apologetics from an academic who was crunching PISA scores until he could make America’s performance look better. This got me to thinking just how awful it is that so many smart people are engaged in “debating” education when we could just be educating our nation. That cascaded into a process of asking some random questions in no particular order.
* What if…
…education was provided by a large, independent network of content providers, each using varying methods?
* What if parents who wanted to groom their kids to be football stars and parents who wanted to raise the next Einstein (and the vast majority in between) where free to do so with out the interference of the state?
* What if tests were on-line, and allowed for the testing of specific content, the passage of which earned you “merit badges” to go on the next topic and direction of the parents’/child’s choosing?
* What if we got rid of school districts? Of what use is a school district or a superintendent? What do they do to connect neurons in a child’s head?
* On what planet would a rational civilization create a LAUSD or a CPS, or even a small district?
* What if we had REAL neighborhood schools? How can there be a “neighborhood school” when the entire public apparatus is run by a conglomerate of protected (essentially “privatized”) interests who churn bonds, taxes, and contracts for their own financial gain?
I could go on for days with these vignettes, but they all revolve around a simple truth that no one wants to admit. Education is an industry regulated by those who have captured the regulatory apparatus. This has created mini-industries (reform, measurement, building, consulting, curriculum, transportation, etc.), all of which are playgrounds for academics and adults to bruit about never-ending debates that accomplish exactly nothing.
The actual education of the child has become an afterthought (if that).
Given that we have this system of “controlled chaos,” where no amount of money, “reform,” or other aspect of government force shows any significant improvement, why not allow for a system of “spontaneous order?”
How might that look?
1. Pick a state (nothing is going to happen nationally).
2. Set up some rigorous, broad, sequenced standards, and create a testing system completely independent from the content providers. Give strong incentives to move testing on-line. (tech is getting good enough to allow for live coaching, oral exams, and even review of art/visual content) This should take 5-10% of the current ed budget.
3. Take the remaining 90+% and have it follow the child to any content provider/educational institution that succeeds at training/educating the child up to the testing standards.
4. Free up the entire system to design 100s, if not 1000s, of ways to meet standards. This means dissolving the massive political and bureaucratic apparatus currently spending entire states into bankruptcy with out showing that they can educate every child.
Would such a system be perfect? No. Would some fall through some cracks? Yes, but nowhere near the number currently being utterly failed by the current system.
Would there be political resistance to this transformation? Surely, but if educating such as large, diverse, nation is the goal, then it is time to ignore and/or defeat this political coalition.
It doesn’t have to be this way. To begin the process of transformation, all you have to do is withdraw all political support from the existing system. It will rapidly start to collapse of its own weight.