Education fads offer lesson
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 8, 2007
Harper's September issue includes an excellent article listing most of the
American education fads during the past several decades. The list is long, often
repetitive, and embarrassing to review.
"New" math, compensatory education, Head Start, expanded kindergarten, magnet
schools, computer-assisted instruction, open schools, team-teaching, class-size
reduction (27 in 1950 to 17 in the 1990s), special-education, bilingualism,
bigger high schools, smaller high schools, more homework, less homework, laptops
for all students, merit pay and more pay for teachers, accountability for
administrators, voucher plans, charter schools, high-stakes testing, phonics,
whole language instruction, more education courses for teachers, teacher
testing, "No Child Left Behind" - most were listed, and all have been tried
"Has any of this made a difference?" asks the article's author, Peter Schrag.
The short answer, he says, lies somewhere between "not sure" and "not much."
U.S. performance vs. other nations' continues to sag, the number of
high-performing U.S. SAT-takers on the verbal portion declined nearly 25 percent
from 73 to 90 (the test has since been revised, precluding further long-term
comparisons), small gains in SAT math have been made since the mid-1960s, but
17-year-olds' National Assessment of Educational Progress scores have remained
Three important implications:
1.Roughly two-thirds of our $500 billion-plus per year in public school
expenditures is wasted.
2.Much of the money spent within colleges of education is also wasted.
3.It's time to try something Asian schools have found to be very important -
substantial parental involvement. - Loyd Eskildson,Scottsdale