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It's time to revamp our antiquated school system


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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
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Date published: 4/6/2014

THE UNITED STATES of America pioneered universal education. In the late 1800s, we opened a new high school almost every day. Horace Mann established that public schools benefit all people; therefore, all people should share in the costs. Not only has the U.S. created a great K-12 education system, under the federal land-grant college program we have a great higher education program, as well.

The struggle for universal education has not been easy. Each generation has had to fight to enter the schoolhouse door.

Many children of color had unequal opportunities. In 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down segregated schools. Unfortunately, there are those who still fight this decision and send their children to charter, church and/or private schools.

We do not like to admit our racial biases, but they remain. Unfortunately, there are those today who would eliminate our great public school system and replace it with an elite, private, for-profit system.

The political infrastructure is convinced that good test scores are the only measures of achievement. A more accurate measure of achievement would be portfolios of students' work. Quality-assessment programs cost more than we are willing to pay.

We are not interested in creating a modern year-round digital education system because it will cost more. We remain prisoners of time, bound by an agrarian society's model of schools.

In a modern system, testing must be an integral part of the learning process. There are examples of virtual high schools where a learner takes a French literature class online from France, an art class from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a civics class from the U.S. Congress and Advanced Placement mathematics courses from NASA astronauts. The same student plays the oboe in his school's orchestra, is on the varsity basketball team and is an actor in the school's drama club.

The federal Star School program demonstrated the effectiveness of distance learning systems. Virtual high schools have demonstrated their ability to provide high quality e-learning content in schools and homes. Home-schooling parents and children have proven the effectiveness of digital-based learning.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS


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