Universal, compulsory education did much during the 20th Century to improve the lives of our people and to propel the United States to a position of world leadership. But as the old commercial asks, "What have you done for me lately?"
Sadly, many of our students, especially those in our inner-cities, are missing out on the benefits of a good education. The Department of Education was begun back in the days of Jimmy Carter. It was vaunted as the cure for ailing educational systems. What we have seen in the decades that followed is billions of dollars spent through the federal government forcing whatever sparkling trinket of educational wisdom might be in vogue at the time. Standardized testing? We got it. Multicuturalism? We got it. No Child Left Behind? We got it. Better educated students? Well, not so much. Sadly, literacy is down, SAT scores are down, the feelings of safety and well-being on our campuses are down. Only the number of parents opting to home school their children seems to be up!
I would advocate for greater local control of the schools. After all of the experimentation that has been done throughout my lifetime, I am convinced that when it comes to education, nothing should be done at the state level that can be done at the local level, and the federal government should get out of the education business.
Parents, families and peers are the solution, and should not be treated as the problem. The goal of education should be to prepare young people to be good citizens, able to earn a decent living for themselves and their families, and dedicated to being a positive force in their community, their state and their nation.
For some, this will mean college. For others it will mean some form of apprenticeship or technical training. I am a founding member of a non-proft dedicated to fostering a relationship between local colleges, school districts, the public library and computer-based education. The Nexus Urban Media Center seeks to provide a modular online education in the form of tutoring, GED, college prep, and technical training.
Hopefully, for many it will lead to lives of entrepreneurial endeavor. In every case, we desire that students become life-time learners and earners!