Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Toward a Plan for Radical Education Reform


None of the major presidential candidates has set forth a plan of action for the improvement of public education for K-12. “No Child Left Behind” has failed in its efforts due to lack of funding, unrealistic performance indicators and the absence of a genuine commitment to education reform on the part of government officials, schools and community leaders.

Sound education reform will create learning communities where critical thinking, rather than the regurgitation of socially irrelevant information is the guiding principle. At present, rather than making genuine efforts toward radical reform, systems focus on school uniforms, school vouchers and incentive programs that bribe students into coming to school. It matters not that little if any real learning is taking place.

A presidential candidate with a real plan for education will set forth a multi- centric approach based on shared leadership among policy makers, teachers, students, parents and the broader community. Genuine reform calls for a return to basic educational philosophies, including character building, life skills development, art, music, and culture; married to and integrally linked to the 3R’s of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Students must be encouraged to critically think and evaluate the myriad of information and concepts that are thrown at them through popular media. Practical application of learning concepts into daily life is more important than ever. Focus must be given to the individual learning styles of students and educational learning models must be developed that address the needs of the whole child.

Trained, license social workers and other human service delivery professionals must play an active role in the daily lives of students. Teachers should be freed up to teach rather than burdened with administrative and social service responsibilities.
It is time for us to move from the “paralysis of analysis” toward a plan of action with a division of labor that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders. Never has the need for radical change and reform been greater. Our children deserve better than our present system.