“Where Do We Go From Here?” A Last Gasp of Idea Vomiting

As the class ends, and we get ready for [gulp] finals, a question comes at me from this course and all we’ve talked about so far.

Where do we go from here?

We’ve talked all semester about the problems with the policies involving education, the problems with high-stakes testing, the problems with the No Child Left Behind Act, and how they’ve been detrimental to the education system and the students who go through it, but now we’re done.

So what do we do now?

What can we do different in order to improve our schools? What can we do different to asses how well our students our doing in the education system? Is there an alternative to one-size-fits-all schooling?

I recently read an article from Larry Cuban’s blog about how charter schools are changing how parents look at education. A point that really stood out to me was how many charter schools change their curriculum to emphasize different things, such as the arts, or the sciences, etc.

The way these charter schools tailored their curricula to match different types of students, while still maintaining general standards of central subjects, seems to be a step in the right direction. While these charter schools may not attract the largest number of students, they allow for students to “find themselves” in the subjects that they teach. They also give parents choice in finding the school that will best suit their children. Could this be a glimpse of the eventual solution?

I’m sick and tired of educators in the policy blogs we read and the reports we read who do nothing but complain about the awfulness of No Child Left Behind, and how bad testing is, but never offer tangible solutions. Sure, we could get rid of the policies that cause problems in the education system, and we most certainly should, but what would we replace them with? We need to increase literacy among children, and we need to get them motivated to start reading, but that generally ends up as a responsibility of the teachers, not in the hands of policy makers. That being said, assessing how teachers teach is the only way to figure out if they are doing their best to combat illiteracy. How are we to assess their performance in such a way that students are not penalized? Testing obviously doesn’t work, so what will? Is testing the only viable and effective way to accurately measure how well our students are doing in schools, and therefore, how good of a job teachers are doing in inspiring them to read? Is it even possible to inspire a kid to read when he/she just doesn’t want to?

As of right now, we have way too many questions and not enough answers to continually bemoan the ineffectiveness of current policy regarding education.

Now, I understand that these issues can’t be fixed overnight, but they’ll never be fixed if all we do is complain about what has happened in the past and what has occurred because of past mistakes like NCLB. We need to look to the future and continually ask ourselves the question that has driven progress in this country ever since its founding:

“Where do we go from here?”

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