A reader responds to a post that contained advice from Margaret Haley, written almost a century ago:
It’s truly amazing how little has changed in America’s fundamental view of education in the past century. Despite all the changes in the outward trappings of schooling, i.e., technology and science, we keep clinging to the fantasy that schools are factories that produced “educated” children; and that education can be managed like any other business: Teachers became factory workers, children became workpieces or products, and administrators became floor bosses and executives. All of this was done in the name of “efficiency”, which really meant “on the cheap”, and reduced the idea of education to little more than test taking. The few who tried to remind the nation of what a real education looked like were shouted down by the industrialists and financiers and the popular press that fawned over the captains of industry and fanning the flames of discord among the general population.
So, if our business leaders are now dissatisfied with the quality of education they have no one to blame by themselves. Of course they can’t do that, since that would mean exposing the whole failure of the idea of “managed education”. Also, they now no longer want to lower their taxes; they want to start taking tax revenues themselves. So, again we return to the same invectives and lies that worked so well a century ago.
We desperately need a real debate in America about a definition of public education that supports our democracy, provides a strong foundation for adult success, and can be reliably supported by the public. Sadly, we continue to move forward into the past.