How to Improve Public Education

Posted: February 8, 2012 in Education
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I read a recent report on Finland’s education success.  It reinforced my own beliefs about how to improve public education.  Finland’s emphasis is not on excellence, but equity.  Yet  this emphasis on equity has rendered them one of the most outstanding educational systems in the world today.  You see, Finland has NO PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

If we outlawed private schools, there would be a sudden national interest in making our public schools excellent.  It is just a simple application of what some call “Market Forces” that all the people who show interest in education, sending their kids to private schools to get a superior education would suddenly be interested in making our public schools excellent and that would include spending a lot more money on education — just like those who are willing to pay big bucks for private schools know needs to be done.

In the public school settings, funds frequently run short.  When that happens, decision makers THINK they are making wise use of funds by cutting programs like chorus, band, and physical education.  What they accomplish is cutting the programs that emphasize cooperative behavior.  That is not learned in the classroom where each student is graded as an individual in competition with other students.  Then, when people enter the working world, they can become individual greedy people, not caring about society as a whole,  because they have not learned the importance of cooperation and fairness.

I was once a manager of a computer center in a small college.  I had a lot of student aides that helped other students in the computer lab.  I also had some students who were working on computer programming problems.  Once, I had a student come to me that had scored a perfect score on the SAT test, said he was good at math and computer programming.  I asked him if he had ever been assigned a task that he could not accomplish.  He said no.  So I assigned him one.  He had to develop a computer program as team leader of a group of other students and he was not allowed to write or suggest a single line of code to address the assigned problem.  He failed.  He had never learned the skill of cooperative behavior, working with a team, being a supportive person.  It may have been the only failure he ever experiences, but demonstrated to him that he could not be successful unless he learned more about cooperation.  Our proponents of private schools also need to learn more about cooperative behavior and societal responsibility.

So, I say, do away with PRIVATE SCHOOLS and let the “market forces” of all those who are using them help us make ALL schools become examples of excellence for all children and youth and help us emphasize the importance of equity in making our society a better place to live.

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