To bring success to the American Educational System requires a rigorous non-political and non-union in- depth study lasting two to three years. Such a study needs to be done globally, state by state, town by town, city by city, and school system by school system. There are no overnight fixes, getting rid of teachers, pouring more money into the system doesn’t solve the problems. Certainly, creating school systems within schools systems with relative little supervision compounds the issues. Standardized testing does nothing other than cost the local school systems millions and millions of dollars. Going electronic does not insure success. What then, is the real challenge?
The challenge is to identify, honestly, the specific areas of failure. To do this America must be open, to envision how it can assure a higher level of student success in its schools, and hopefully, assure their chances of becoming productive citizens. Can we, as a nation, do this? We can and we must.
We need to make sure that we do not continue to spend time on unproven experimentation, change in school organization patterns, inadequate teacher preparation, and poorly constructed teacher-evaluation tools. The avoid the pitfall of repetition, the following process is recommended.
• Prioritize that which is most important in the continuation of our culture. (What are schools supposed to do?)
• Analyze the failure of those aspects of the education system that have denied the achievement of the prioritized list. (Why don’t students learn to read and to read with comprehension?)
• Recommend solutions that are long-range with built-in cyclic re-evaluation.
• Prioritize again with emphasis on those areas within the educational community that are most important to work on.
An excellent example of the use of failure analysis comes to us from NTSB. Whenever an airplane crashes every aspect of the involved plane, pilots, ground crews, service, fuel, weather, and mechanics receive painstaking analysis. Piece by piece the parts are examined. It is this type of scrutiny the American Educational System must undergo if achievable solutions are the goal.
What is the fundamental road block to this approach? It’s our social system. As a society, we discourage this kind of painstaking examination. No one likes to be put under the microscope. No one likes to admit failure. We, as a nation, have a definite mind-set to put mistakes behind us, to move on. Move on? To what? More failures?
Norman W Wilson, PhD