Are we really interested in education?
The well being and prosperity of our future generations?
An informed citizenry of self governing individuals?
The correct answer to each of those questions, of course, is yes. That's what has defined America for the past two hundred plus years.
But the news today is sobering with respect to our nation's education system.
Two Opposite Education Systems Ranked on Top has the summary:
"Finland and South Korea, two countries that are almost as far apart in teaching styles as they are geographically, topped a new ranking published last week by Pearson and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment, which ranks nations based on a combination of international test scores, literacy and graduation rates, put Finland and South Korea alone in the top category.
“It is hard to find two education systems more different,” the report said. South Korea emphasizes exams, rote learning, discipline and long hours for students, most of whom also attend private cram schools. Finland has short school days, little homework and a focus on “helping children understand and apply knowledge, not merely repeat it,” the report said.
Also in the top 10 were Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada. Ireland came in at No. 11, Australia at No. 13, Germany at No. 15, the United States at No. 17, Russia at No. 20 and France at No. 25. China and India, Asia’s developing giants, were not ranked. Brazil and Indonesia came in at the bottom of the listing of 40 states and nations."
We're ranked #17 in a competition where China isn't even entered.
Wouldn't it be a good idea for us to begin have a serious and objective nationwide conversation about what to do about our schools, their costs, their quality, the difference between urban, suburban and rural areas, online and onsite schools, K-12 and college, trade school and university, matching skills taught with job requirements, and so on?
I sure think it's time to do so.
How about the politicians, educators, teachers unions, civic leaders, parents and students? What do they thnk?
Meanwhile, we keep fiddling while Rome burns.