A Washington Post Opinion piece this morning makes two things plain: the leaders of massive failing USA public schools have no new ideas, and any kid can tell you what is really needed.
This WaPo featured article is actually titled: “How to fix our schools,” and signed by the top individuals running the biggest districts where 2.5 million children attend and school failures are rampant. We are getting here, a “manifesto” from the heads of school districts in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston and others.
If you are the parent of young children whose schooling will play out over the next decade, how could you read this article and fail be crushed by what it means for your kids? There is nothing new suggested. What is suggested has been tried and proven virtually impossible to accomplish. The theme is we need to get rid of bad teachers and attract good teachers. There is no whisper of blame for the bureaucratic and vested interests who control the schools (and control the jobs of the authors of the article).
The video interview embedded above of Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the D.C. Public School system, accompanies the article. Extremely revealing, in the interview at 3.40, is her description of taking her daughters, ages 8 and 11, to see the “Waiting for Superman” movie about American public schools. Rhee says that after seeing the movie — which features five students combatting problems with public schools — the Rhee daughters reacted by worrying about the specific kids, not the system. They kept saying, their mother reports: “What are we going to do about Daisy? Can somebody help Daisy?” Rhee tried, she goes on to say, to explain to her daughters that each individual child in the movie represents millions of real kids. How does that answer her daughter’s question?
Out of the mouths of babes: “Why not help Daisy?”
The theme of this blog is to advocate that Daisy take schooling into her own hands. Here is how to help Daisy right now:
1. Get her a mobile browser that is her own device and that has 24/7 wireless connectivity to the internet. A laptop, tablet, or smart phone accomplish this step.
2. Give her some assistance on learning how to use the open online websites and networks to learn real knowledge. Force her school to let her use her mobile as she wishes at school, as long as it is not disruptive.
These two steps are something we could actually accomplish very quickly and cheaply for millions of kids — while those power people at the schools go around the teachers-need-to-be-better circle once again. It is even possible that the pressure of having students able to learn using sources outside of school may actually pressure the education establishment into making real changes.