Sunday, November 13, 2005

America's Being Left Behind

In a New York Times article titled: Are U.S. Innovators Losing Their Competitive Edge? by Timothy L. O'Brien published: onNovember 13, 2005, we are being warned about what is happening to our country as a result of the current administration of this country.


"A COMMITTEE of leading scientists, corporate executives and educators oversaw the drafting of the report, entitled "Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future." To spur American innovation, it recommends enhanced math and science education in grade school and high school, a more hospitable environment for scientific research and training at the college and graduate levels, an increase in federal funds for basic scientific research and a mix of tax incentives and other measures to foster high-paying jobs in groundbreaking industries. The report cites China and India among a number of economically promising countries that may be poised to usurp America's leadership in innovation and job growth.

"For the first time in generations, the nation's children could face poorer prospects than their parents and grandparents did," the report said. "We owe our current prosperity, security and good health to the investments of past generations, and we are obliged to renew those commitments.""

This is important information. Technology leadership is often measured in just a matter of weeks or months. This concern about the threats that China, India, and other even less friendly countries pose is very real in the software community that I work in and software is just one field of many in danger.

The article goes on to say,

"Mr. Flemings said that private and public capital was not being adequately funneled to the kinds of projects and people that foster invention. The study of science is not valued in enough homes, he observed, and science education in grade school and high school is sorely lacking.

But quantitative goals, he said, are not enough. Singapore posts high national scores in mathematics, he said, but does not have a reputation for churning out new inventions. In fact, he added, researchers from Singapore have studied school systems in America to try to glean the source of something ineffable and not really quantifiable: creativity.

"In addition to openness, tolerance is essential in an inventive modern society," a report sponsored by the Lemelson-M.I.T. Program said last year. "Creative people, whether artists or inventive engineers, are often nonconformists and rebels. Indeed, invention itself can be perceived as an act of rebellion against the status quo.""

Let's emphasize something important here. For all the phony rhetoric about American education falling behind the rest of the world, we find out over and over that that hasn't been true. The rest of the world is very good at administering perfunctory education but they look this way to figure out why it isn't working.

We know why. We have got to take back the education system from those who would turn our kids into test-taking-automotons and return it to the individual development of our children.

Instead of a Boston Tea Party, let's send these unnecessary tests to FEMA until they fill in the New Orleans low land. We have got to celebrate Yankee ingenuity all over again. This is not a time to politely debate nonsensical arguments, it's a time to free the schools of unnecessary testing and fraudulent school accountability exercises - it is killing the country.

[All bolded text is due to my editorial emphasis. The original article has none.]


Anonymous said...

No better place for Yankee ingenuity than Connecticut. Robotic test preparation and robotic test taking is no substitute for learning. I love your phrase "fraudulent school accountability exercises". How true!

Frank Krasicki said...

Thanks, Dave.

The evidence is compelling and overwhelming that we are being scammed into believing that all this testing is measuring the health of our schools and our education system. It is not.

I have spoken with dedicated teachers who are telling us loudly and clearly that the constant test environment is preventing our students from learning what is more appropriate material. One has even expressed the despairing opinion that our kids don't know how to think any more because education has become so regimented.

And based on private conversations, I know very well that students who score poorly on standardized tests aren't lazy, or victims of indifference, or whatever else the talk radio crowd is selling.

Every student is an individual on an individual's life mission. Some learn faster or slower than another. And often, they are better in one thing than another. The job of education mustn't be to force them into an intellectual zoot suit that doesn't fit - our parents never did that to us.

And furthermore our parents never blamed the schools for who we were. It's an insult to the teachers and administrators of these schools to diminish their expertise and experience with our teenagers by defaulting our measure of their success to somebody else's idea.

The inventors, artists, orators, and others who we so often celebrate never passed a standardized test meant to coerce them into being like Jane and John Doe next door.

Who sold us this steaming heap of nonsense? Oh, yeah. The same guys who sold us that other steaming heap.

We have got to start identifying the politicians and bureacracies that are corrupting our ability to exert local control over our education system. We have to vote them out of office, reassign their duties, and end their budgets. Accountability has to be a two-way street.

Our limited resources cannot continue to be squandered on conforming to standardized test cirriculums that profit the test industry and fiscally impoversh taxpayers, intellectually impoversh our kids, and professionally disregard and marginalize our professional educators and administrators.