This is a short but must read Washington Post piece
by Stanford's Linda Darling Hammond . Her insightful take on the International Summit on Teaching calls America to task. She exposes how America’s teaching system is light years apart from those of the highest performing nations. Where we talk about firing teachers, Singapore pays a salary to teaching students during their training.
Why not in the US? Why can’t we find the political will to make vast changes and transform our education? President Obama can’t speak about education without mentioning America’s receding place internationally in educational outcomes. Yet, amazingly, our policies in no way emulate what’s working abroad. It calls into question his, and the country’s real intentions and commitment to educating us all. But really that may be the elephant in the room. Educating us all. What’s the big difference between the United States and the rest of these high performing countries? Well, they actually care about the outcomes of ALL their children.
We’re so busy Racing to the Top, we haven’t taken a moment to question the very fundamentals of our educational system. Why don’t we have a federal funding system for education (as the highest performing countries do)? Why don’t we have a national system to train teachers and equitably distribute them around the nation?
For years America’s latent social, economic and institutional racism have survived in the realm of education. It’s been perfectly OK for full swaths of Black and Brown children to go underserved. We could throw them away and still outperform other countries. Well, now the chicken has come home to roost. If only for selfish economic reasons we can no longer tolerate the status quo. Yet, even with that reality shinning before us, old habits die hard. We still have no political will (or heart) to start caring for children we once deemed insignificant.
As a nation we often define the Civil War as America’s great race test. African slavery was ultimately determined to be incompatible with American ideals. Well, sadly, and perhaps more subtly education may be our true watershed issue on racism in America. To successfully solve our educational inequities may be our national savior. And conversely, our heartlessness and underlying racism in educating our children may well be the undoing of the nation.