Speaking as a motivational psychologist with a Masters in education who has been working in the adult development space (in business, not academia) his whole career, most of the people posting here have no idea what they are talking about, and are therefore posting “ideas” that are simplistic at best, wrongheaded at worst. However, this is what a lot of people are saying, so they may not know the real issues.First: education is a lot more complex than it used to be. Second: if you look at what kids are learning, you might be surprised. Challenging schools are teaching college-level courses in high school now. But those schools require resources not available to all.Third: the amount of homework expected is vastly greater than when I was a kid — and I went from a top parochial school to Harvard, so I can’t have been that much of a slacker.Fourth: The “teach to the test” mentality is a curse on American learning. It has been moving us from a country where innovation and creativity was valued and developed to a “rote learning” country where passing the test is all-important, whether or not the test matters. And generally they don’t. There’s a reason why the SAT and AP exams are no longer required by a lot of top schools: they don’t do what they claim. But schools without Ivy League dollars and resources (and students) rely on the tests as a shortcut.Fifth: you don’t need longer school days, full-year schools, or anything else. Finland has the best education in the world, and the kids spend less time than they do here — but learn a helluva lot more. But it is part of a larger system. Teachers are developed, supported, well-paid professionals. The country invests in its future by investing in its schools.
I could go on at some length, e.g., the science into how people learn most effectively is generally a basis for curricula elsewhere in the world (e.g., the UK designs courses based on Kolb’s learning cycle), but not in the US. But when low-paid teachers and public schools are seen as the enemy, you aren’t going to be able to address this the best way. So our educational system will continue its slow, painful collapse, which is exactly what many Republicans want. Vouchers don’t guarantee good schooling — they are less efficient than good public schools, and often just allow narrowly credentialed religious schools to take over education, thus undermining our ability to compete in areas of science.Thank God for the central curriculum under development, which can help break the hammerlock Texas has on the development of public school textbooks!