Here’s one: Our education system should be about learning, not job credentialing. Schools and universities should teach Americans to be critical thinkers, not automatically believing whatever they heard from a friend or favorite news source. They should make sure Americans have enough understanding of economics, history and science to be good citizens, able to discern which candidate in an election has a better plan to, say, deal with a deadly pandemic. They should foster interest and appreciation of music, arts and literature.
Perry Bacon Jr. : ‘Education reform’ is dying. Now we can actually reform education.
In the Washington Post, columnist Perry Bacon Jr puts the long history of the modern ed reform movement, “defined by an obsession with test scores and by viewing education largely as a tool for getting people higher-paying jobs,” in context. It’s a masterful summary of that chapter, but the column also includes a summary of what education should be.
I certainly prefer the “teachers, professors and public schools are good” perspective (the Democratic one) over “teachers, professors and public schools are bad” (the Republican one). But neither is a real vision for American education.
They should be places where people meet and learn from others who might not share their race, class, religion or ideology. Our schools and universities should of course also provide people the core skills for jobs that actually require higher education. They should provide a path to becoming a doctor, lawyer, professor or any profession that requires specialized training without going into debt.
What our education system should not be is 16 years of required drudgery to make sure that you can get a job with stable hours and decent benefits — or a punching bag for politicians who have failed to do their jobs in reducing racial and economic inequality.