When you hear the words “education reform” what do you think of? Ensuring that there is equity in schooling? That kids are becoming proficient in foundational subjects like reading, math, and science? That they are being prepared for 21st century challenges? That they learn to be critical and creative thinkers ready for a rapidly changing world? That they have excellent, inspiring teachers whom they respect and admire? That they graduate as compassionate, honest, knowledgeable, thoughtful global citizens ready and able to be solutionaries no matter what careers they pursue?
I think most of us would say yes to all of these goals.
Yet education reform in the U.S. has become so polarized, with many camps pitted against one another, as if our purposes were terribly divergent. What feeds this divergence and conflict among so many fair-minded, caring people? I believe it’s a too narrow focus on one or two of the above goals, which prevents crafting better solutions that help to achieve the whole.
Imagine someone coming to an emergency room having been in a car accident. Her bones are broken; she’s bleeding internally; she’s gone into shock; her wounds are in danger of infection. Imagine that instead of being treated comprehensively, the doctor addresses just one of the problems. The trauma specialist stabilizes her with fluids and transfusions and stops there. The orthopedist decides only to set her broken bones. The infectious disease doctor simply prescribes antibiotics. The surgeon tackles solely the internal bleeding. None of these actions on its own would be good enough.
Addressing the myriad problems we face in education without a comprehensive approach isn’t good enough either. A focus on one area may inadvertently delay progress in another. There are numerous impediments to achieving the educational goals mentioned above and they must be addressed simultaneously. Here are a few:
What are the Impediments?
Next page: solutions!
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