The governors are getting together to shake their wise, governmental heads over the sad state of affairs of American high schools, which need major repair. Bill Gates, the drop-out, showed up and opined that high schools are "obsolete."
In my opinion, not much of any worth is going to come out of this unless the political
establishment intends to take on the educationist establishment. And that isn't going to happen, as each pack feels it is beholden to the other. From top to bottom, the educationists need a serious smack-down, to eliminate people teaching out of their specialty, or teaching without a specialty, or teaching nonsense using untested faddish methodologies proposed by morons with degrees and adopted on faith by aspiring morons.
The sad spectacle of the current Ward Churchill blogging frenzy fits right in here. The shame of it isn't Ward Churchill. He's just another unprincipled opportunist and if it wasn't this, it would be some other scam probably involving making money at home by stuffing envelopes. No, the shame of it is that U.C. hired him and gave him tenure in the first place. Higher education. Right.
People don't recognize that America has a product that is in demand world wide -- higher education. Students come from all over the world to go to our graduate schools. I bet that many of our own college graduates can't compete effectively in those same graduate schools. (Maybe because their undergraduate degrees are in gender studies or protest literature, and not calculus. Lord knows, we've had at least 40 years of higher education where it wasn't necessary to have any math or foreign languages. I know; I did it.) Nevertheless, the achievement requirements necessary to get into college keep dropping as the educationist establishment needs to fill up classroom seats. So, colleges offer remedial courses to incoming freshmen. You can call it serving those who are "under-advantaged" all you want, but it amounts to filling up college classroom seats that can't be sold otherwise than by lowering admission standards. And it shows the problem. Keep it up, and our graduate schools will lose their effectiveness and appeal, with the possible exception of medical schools. (To date, medical schools still worry about brain surgeons having learned their basic science from people who idealize the earth as a living, concious, single organizm. )
Until the political will develops to get in there and flush the problems away, we are going to continue down the same sad path. People must be fired and expelled from the system. Start with any instructor who has ever, in a high school class, spread a lot of poster paper, paste, markers, and picture magazines on the floor and instructed the students to make collages about world hunger, or discrimination, or homelessness, or global warming, or, well, anything! And if it turns out that the students truly weren't capable to doing anything more challenging than making collages, then fire every instructor they had in the lower classes.
To be fair, lots of dedicated, intelligent people go into education to become teachers. They mostly leave teaching after a few years to go to law school, or sell real estate or insurance, or sign up for military service.
Maybe Mr. Gates is right. Don't fix high schools. Call them obsolete and install replacements.
A long time ago, a wealthy man saw a problem and used his personal wealth to support literacy. You know. Carnegie libraries. Maybe . . . . . . . Microsoft Academies?