Public school reformers are like a fellow who scoops a bucket of water from one end of a swimming pool, carries it to the other end, dumps it back in, and then repeats the sequence endlessly, convinced he is making the latter end deeper.
In the meantime, his labor causes the cost of the water to skyrocket as it becomes progressively (no pun intended) more contaminated. Our reformer is obviously suffering from some learning disability because despite the fact he's been at this for years, he seems incapable of understanding that he is accomplishing nothing and causing problems in the process.
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Nonetheless, he can be heard constantly complaining that he needs more money with which to increase the pool's water level and improve the quality of the water.
The bankruptcy of the reformer's argument, as well as his myopia, is easily exposed. One of his objectives is to reduce the student/teacher ratio. He maintains that smaller class size improves learning.
Oh, really? In the 1950s, when class size was much larger than it is today, and the student/teacher ratio was larger still, children at all socioeconomic levels achieved at much higher levels than their contemporary counterparts. And many of those kids – including yours truly – came to first grade not even knowing their ABCs.
Since the 1960s, reformers have succeeded at bringing about significant reductions in both class size and the student/teacher ratio. Their efforts have coincided with dramatic declines in student achievement. Yet, they continue to carry water from one end of the pool to the other.
The reason 1950s kids could be successfully taught in overcrowded classrooms is because they had been and were being properly disciplined in the home. They were not the center of parental attention in their homes; rather, they were expected to pay attention to their parents.
They were not the object of great doing on their parents' parts; rather, they were expected to do, to carry their share of the weight. They were expected to do at school what they had been trained to do at home – pay attention and do what they were told. This training obviously paid off. The good news is that this same training will pay the same dividends today.
The problem, of course, is that few parents realize the solution to American's education woes lies in their hands. They have been persuaded that the reformers, given enough money, will solve the problems. When his efforts fail, they demand that he carry water faster, to which he responds with demands for even more money. And the beat goes on.
The problems in American education will be solved through home reform, not school reform.