Education and Obama

Stop torturing our children with more schooling
For educational reform to succeed, we need the rigor of the discipline that standardized tests brings to the class room, but let us also give them- our kids- a chance to dream and be creative.

I know something about education having been been professor at several universities for more than 3 decades. Let us first look at it from a common sense perspective: What cannot be achieved in 9 months will not be magically achieved in 10 months.
Educational reform will work only when these 3 key things are in place: a good curriculum, good teachers and good support at home. The reform does not address this last issue, which President Obama correctly points out is important. My suggestion is that schools provide after hours “tutoring” to students whose home environments are not conducive to learning.

And please, do not make standardized test scores the holy grail of educational reform. These tests scores comprise only one aspect of learning. It does not measure creativity. Indian K-12 education, which I know from personal experience, is evaluated solely on standard test scores. There is little creativity.

Docs don’t study much about drugs either when in med school

Teaching Doctors About Nutrition and Diet

Physicians are almost always consulted by the media about drug related issues. It is well known among “pharmacy” circles that the medical curriculum has been de-emphasizing subjects such as pharmacology and therapeutics – topics that deal with the safe and effective use of drugs -over the last several last decades. Imagine – they are the ones that get to write the prescriptions!

USA Today Article: Education Secretary and Hoops

Education Secretary Duncan: Ban NCAA teams with low grad rates

You want schools with less than 40% graduation rate be banned from NCAA post-season play. Very wimpy, Respected Mr. Secretary. What will that really do, for the athlete, if that is who you are worried about?

Why not 80, 90, or, can we get bold and say even a 100% rate? While you are at it, how about a decent quality of education, so that these athletes can get a decent job, when they graduate in a good economy. I have been in university academia long enough to know that, if you pass that rule, there will be a 40% graduation rate overnight in all NCAA schools- sort of the Lake Woebegone effect- where all children are above average. Or being in Washington, would you prefer the “smoke and mirror” analogy?

I looked at some graduation rate numbers- only your neighbor Maryland with an 8% (USA Today is my source for this and other numbers I provide) is well below your expectation; next is CA with 20%; others AR-Pine Bluff (29%), Baylor (36%), Clemson (37%), GA Tech (38%), KY (31%), Louisville (38%), Missouri (36%), Tennessee (30%), and Washington (29%) are close. So, a bump in graduation rate to 40% would be “statistically” insignificant.

Your turn.

By the way, that 40%, where did it come from? baseball – Ted Williams batting average?

“Obama Calls for Sweeping Overhaul in Education” NYTimes 3/14/10

1. Education has too many “moving” parts for the Feds to fix. It is like trying to mold jello with your hands.
2. The Feds ability to fix anything has been dismal, especially of late.
3. The more “touchy feely” the mandate is, the more elusive is its successful implementation. Here is partial quote from this NY Times piece: “In addition, President Obama would replace the law’s requirement that every American child reach proficiency in reading and math, which administration officials have called utopian, with a new national target that could prove equally elusive: that all students should graduate from high school prepared for college and a career. “ (emphasis added).

I have been an university educator for more than 30 years.