Changing a Stagnant Education System

Tub in Spain, by Larry DerdeynThe National Center on Education and the Economy say we must change the education system if we do not want to continue on our path to becoming a thirdworld country.  Before we can do this, they say we must first face these 11 facts about our current situation.

  1. We recruit a disproportionate share of teachers from among the less able of the high school students who go to college.
  2. We tolerate waste, not spending $ in the early years and wasting too much $ on remediation of our initial failures in the later years.
  3. The system is becoming inherently inefficient.
  4. The growing inequity of family incomes is contributing heavily to the growing disparities in student achievement.
  5. We fail to motivate most of our students to take tough courses and work hard.
  6. Teacher compensation is designed to reward time in service, not the best teachers, not attracting the best and brightest college students.
  7. The testing system rewards routine work, not creative or innovative work. 
  8. The bureaucracy of skills mandates that the people who have responsibilities to not have power, and those few with the power do not have the responsibility.
  9. Most of the people who will be in our workforce are already in it, and if they cannot master the new literacy at high levels, it will not matter what we do in our schools.
  10. We have an elaborate funding mechanism to provide funds to send young people to college, but we have done a very poor job of making this a possibility for adults who have full-time jobs and family responsibilities to get the continuing ed, or training to survive in the world that is coming.
  11. This is deemed the most important by the group:  We do not need new programs, reform, more money, or new educators.  We need a new system, and leadership with the courage to facilitate this change.
I have highlighted those I agree with the most :).


  1. Again, you have hit the nail on the head! I don’t even know if I could pick one that I agree with MOST. High school drop-out rate in major US cities is at nearly 50 percent (higher where I teach). I feel as if all we are doing in terms of school reform is rearranging the chairs on the Titanic! Most of us teaching in urban school are dancing as fast as we can with little to no resources.

    Here’s a little food for thought … A couple of year’s ago I researched how much our district was spending on standardized testing and found that it was around $4000 per child, which is about half of what we get from the Federal Govenment per child. I find that un·con·scion·a·ble! I think of many things I could do to facilitate learning and to empower children with that amount of money!

    I enjoy reading your posts!

    • Wow! 4 grand is ridiculous! I worked in an urban school too, loved the kids. I remember feeling like 12 people were standing on my shoulders, telling me what I should/shouldn’t do, could/couldn’t do. Everyone had their ideas, from the superintendent to the school board to the principal to politicians–but we teachers were the interface between the students and those-who-told-us-how to teach the students. I felt like there was no way I could make everyone happy. I felt like there was no way to adequately satisfy all the demands being placed on me, without working 60 hours a week, which I did. I like your analogy of rearranging chairs on the Titanic. Here is an illustration I made, considering the incredible burden teachers carry: It’s a different town, but it’s the same everywhere. Sorry to respond so late, I just saw this comment :).

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