Very informative from Tom Pauken.
The solution is simple, if not easy.
We need to allow for multiple pathways to a high school degree. One academic pathway would emphasize math and science. Another, the humanities and fine arts. A third would focus on career and technical education. All students would get the basics, but there would be greater flexibility than under the “one size fits all” existing system which pushes everyone towards a university degree.
For the full read, see: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/texas-vs-no-child-left-behind/
S. Thomas Summers
Author of Private Hercules McGraw: Poems of the American Civil War
My question is who decides what the “basics” are? Will they include math and science, or fine arts and humanities, or career and technical education in all instances mentioned? If not, what do you suggest is a well-rounded education prior to college? Are you really expecting students as young as 12 or 13 to decide where they will go for secondary education? I think it’s much too young! Are you advocating that they be segregated by test scores or proclivities? I don’t think we have any idea how to education our children to be good citizens, to be able to think critically, and to have a world view sufficient to be flexible and understand that they must buy into lifelong learning in order to compete and have a happy, productive life.
Thank you for the response, and I appreciate your interest as your questions indicate. As I try to answer your questions, please realize the attempts are mine and are in no way related to Tom Pauken, the author of the article your read on my blog.
Who decides what the “basics” are? In Texas, the State Board of Education decides what students should be taught in all grades across all disciplines, including all core courses as well as career and technical courses.
What do you suggest is a well-rounded education prior to college? The general consensus among educators throughout history is that the best foundational education is just what you described – well rounded, which means the curriculum must consist of language arts, math, science, social sciences, and career and technology courses. I also happen to agree with you that a civics course or two would be ideal!
Are you really expecting students as young as 12 or 13 to decide where they will go for secondary education? I am strictly speculating here, but I think Mr. Pauken was referring to 9th-12th grades where students begin building their graduation plan. 6th, 7th, and 8th grades have far fewer choices in their course selections. Their electives are usually general courses like key boarding, art, journalism, etc.
Are you advocating that they be segregated by test scores or proclivities? I would be the last person who would suggest using test scores to limit any student’s choices in education. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve enhanced course work for a student who needs to be in my advanced college class but was refused the opportunity because he/she did not have the test scores. I advocate for a curriculum with rich choices that enhance the understanding of core subjects (math, science, history, English).
I hope this answers some of your questions, and again, thank you for your interest. Nothing motivates a teacher more!
Thank you for your response, Lisa! I’m still at a loss why anyone would suggest that we would have a high school for arts and humanities, another one for career/technical, and one for math and science. But I do appreciate that the Boards of Education set curricula. Given that in North Carolina where I live, the new GOP majority in the Legislature and in the Governor’s Office are completely revamping and appointing large donors to boards and commissions, I don’t have much faith in what will be coming out of that body.
Setting that aside, the reason I mentioned the 12 or 13 year olds, if there are three high schools that lead to different diplomas, wouldn’t the child, the parent or the faculty have to determine which school any given child would attend by the 8th grade or age 13-14?
I’m glad to hear that test scores would not be your choice, but I do think that some guidance counselors use those scores to recommend where and how the child progresses.
I am also concerned that, if there are separate high schools, the social interaction through extracurricular activities would be greatly limited, and would definitely limit the students later on in life when confronted with others of different intelligence, skills, even vocabulary.
Thanks again! This has been very informative, and has helped me form a better understanding of where the education discussion is today! Best wishes!
This is why I think it is great to have conversation across states. We all assume all states work like our own and fail to paint a complete picture when we explain our ideas. I should have clarified that I was speaking of one high school with several diploma plans leading to graduation.
I completely agree! Have you read One Size Does Not Fit All, Nikhil Goyal? Check out my blog on the very same subject! http://mirrormuses.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/not-giving-up-on-education/
He proposes something very similar. I’ve purchased the book for each of my administrators– hoping they’ll pass it on.