in the NYT today.
Foreign-born, rich parents in NYC are increasingly choosing to send their kids to public school (having the luxury to choose their district), because they actually teach children about class and racial diversity.
It's a piece specifically about the city itself, since affluent foreigners are hardly something found in all districts of the US. But I thought it was interesting.
And, realistically, American public schools need three things very, very badly.
1. They need the funding for small class sizes (both overall and classroom). Schools where teachers can get to know every student (over time) actually perform far better than schools with 700 students, even if class sizes are the same.
2. We need to trust teachers. We assert that teachers are just babysitters in Amaerican culture, but that's really downplaying the issue to the point where it's just wrong. Our problem is that teachers are liable for bad grades and child's behavior, but aren't given any authority to actually address issues. They aren't babysitters so much as scapegoats.
3. We need to stop creating a school environment that isn't conducive to learning. This means making classrooms true safe spaces, it means removing the competitive aspect of schooling, it means letting kids play, it means a serious reduction in the emphasis placed on testing, it means a willingness to actually foster learning over memorization, and it (most importantly) means that equality across schools needs to be truly important.
For example, take Finland
Their schools are amazingly successful, and it's because they don't do any of the crap Americans do. Education isn't a business, it's something they see as an intrinsically valuable and important part of their nation.
Oh, best part? Schools are kept small, and class sizes as well. Everything is publically funded, so disparity between rich districts and poor districts is extremely small. If necessary, students will receive one-on-one teaching, to encourage learning. That means a much higher number of schools, and number of teachers. But their schools systems is also led by educators all the way up. In the US, most superintendents have backgrounds in business, and run schools accordingly. And that's an awful system.
Best part? They spend 30% less per student than we do in the US.
Yes, just throwing money at a school won't help. It WILL help if that money is used and dispensed by educators, and not businessmen. It will help if that goes to building a new school, to halve class sizes.
Another good article
, specifically on why Americans have trouble understanding the Finish model, so they can't see they problem within our own system. Edited, Feb 14th 2012 2:20pm by idiggory