When Bernie Sanders talks about education in this country he points out that today a college education is equivalent to a high school education from the 40’s, 50,s and early 60’s in this country. Bernie advocates college for everyone; no I should say “free” college for everyone in our country. My question is why not double down on grade, middle and high school in this country and “fix” that broken program before we spend money we don’t have on “college” education for everyone.
Bernie seems to favor European countries with socialist or semi-socialist governments as models for our country. As I recall it Germany and the Scandinavian country used to have a policy that measured performances in grade and middle school to determined whether or not a student was offered a “higher” education in high school. These countries offered as an alternative vocational schooling in lieu of high school for those who had not qualified for the higher education opportunity. If the students did not pass muster for vocational school they were urged to seek non-technical jobs such as manual labor or service jobs. Why not impose this type of program in this country but first address why our grade and middle schools performances have failed our country in recent decades.
First, in the high demand high performance years of the 40,s, 50’s and early 60’s what made the schools successful? The family was key to inspiring and forcing the students to perform well and achieve educational goals. There is no program that can force families to commit to the kind of discipline needed for high performance at the grade and middle school levels. If our citizens want to bring back high levels of performance by our children they must commit to strong ethics and discipline programs.
Secondly as a country we must recommit to a curriculum that emphases math and sciences and passes on social sciences that do not produce long term careers for our children. We must pass on common core because like socialism it is appealing idea that cannot be implemented by the Federal government. The Feds will turn educational goals and objectives into social or political actions to support political parties political objectives.
Third, we cannot “spend, spend, and spend” on teachers and educational programs unless the level of expertise demonstrated by the teachers will achieve the clear objectives I’ve outlined in point two. There are too many examples of paying teachers outrageously high pay in Detroit, NYC and Chicago to name just a few, providing tenure protection and getting terrible performances as these teachers “retired” in their jobs. Teaching should not be the job you take when your college degree in some social science program did not produce a living wage for you and your family. Education should be a clear career objective supported financially by the state and requiring rigorous performance and continuing educational program performances.
Finally I must make the point that no matter how we look at Bernie’s educational objectives we cannot realistically see a way to pay for these lofty objectives. Rather if we can correct the education programs in the grade, middle and high school to be disciplined and math and science and recommit the family to supporting these students we will correct a major shortage in educated talent and bring pride back to America.