If you haven't had a chance to read Louis Gerstner's compelling piece from the Dec 1 Wall Street Journal, entitled Lessons from 40 Years of Education 'Reform,' here is the link. Mr. Gerstner is the former CEO of IBM and Chairman of the Teaching Commission from 2003-2006.
I'll leave it to the readers of this blog to decide if some of Mr. Gerstner's major suggestions echo the positions taken by this blog for the past two years.
Mr. Gerstner's article is not just another set of opinions -- it is a call for drastic change and immediate action. It will surely be controversial. I do not necessarily agree with all of his statements and/or recommendations but I agree with the 'core.'
Perhaps, the time for change has come to American Education...
Here are some excerpts -- I strongly urge you to read the entire piece:
I believe the problem lies with the structure and corporate governance of our public schools. We have over 15,000 school districts in America; each of them, in its own way, is involved in standards, curriculum, teacher selection, classroom rules and so on. This unbelievably unwieldy structure is incapable of executing a program of fundamental change. While we have islands of excellence as a result of great reform programs, we continually fail to scale up systemic change.
This is a complex problem, but countless experiments and analyses have clearly indicated we need to do four straightforward things to bring fundamental changes to K-12 education:
1) Set high academic standards for all of our kids, supported by a rigorous curriculum.
2) Greatly improve the quality of teaching in our classrooms, supported by substantially higher compensation for our best teachers.
3) Measure student and teacher performance on a systematic basis, supported by tests and assessments.
4) Increase "time on task" for all students; this means more time in school each day, and a longer school year.
Therefore, I recommend that President-elect Barack Obama convene a meeting of our nation's governors and seek agreement to the following:
- Abolish all local school districts, save 70 (50 states; 20 largest cities). Some states may choose to leave some of the rest as community service organizations, but they would have no direct involvement in the critical task of establishing standards, selecting teachers, and developing curricula.
- Establish a set of national standards for a core curriculum. I would suggest we start with four subjects: reading, math, science and social studies.
- Establish a National Skills Day on which every third, sixth, ninth and 12th-grader would be tested against the national standards. Results would be published nationwide for every school in America.
- Establish national standards for teacher certification and require regular re-evaluations of teacher skills. Increase teacher compensation to permit the best teachers (as measured by advances in student learning) to earn well in excess of $100,000 per year, and allow school leaders to remove underperforming teachers.
- Extend the school day and the school year to effectively add 20 more days of schooling for all K-12 students.