Education: More of the same isn't the answer
On Tuesday, a couple of local radio talk show guys were discussing the recent move by some Colorado school districts to start the school year a week or ten days earlier, presumably to increase standardized test scores. I wrote a note to the talk show, which follows, but then also happened to see the following interesting article which says that 25% of Americans read no books last year: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070821/ap_on_re_us/reading_habits_ap_poll It struck me that this sort of news is another reason it's not surprising to see American K-12 educational performance lag behind other countries (not that I know whether people elsewhere read more.) Digging into the details of the above article, I note that a significant percentage of the people who do read are older, i.e. too old to be involved with the education of a young person. Furthermore, and to no surprise, a large percentage of those who read no books in the past year are "less educated, lower income, minorities..." In other words, the people whose children are doing worst by educational measurement standards are apparently completely unable or unwilling to be of any help in their children's education, or even in their children's interest in learning. This fits in nicely to the point I had made to the radio guys even before finding the reading news:
Hi guys, I would suggest that just as increased expenditures on public education have not helped improve outcomes, more months in school won't either. The problem with our children's educational performance has to do more than anything with the lack of involvement with parents. It's much more about our culture and the kids' home environment than about anything a school can do. Also, there's a lot more to life, especially for a child, than being inside a building. Childhood is for learning all sorts of things, not just things in books. It's also for play and just enjoying life. Making school years longer not only won't help kids' test scores, but it will also harm the beauty of childhood.
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