Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Education Reform

My mother Gayle Ann Brosnahan is one of the finest 3rd-grade teachers ever. In a conversation about education, she made the following observations and suggestions.

The education system in the US is failing a large majority of our population. Many inner-city schools have unacceptable drop-out rates. Some lay the blame on the teachers, or parents, or the students themselves, but maybe the system itself is not meeting the needs of our students. What do I mean?

Over the past 30 years, technical training in US high schools has been cut until it has become nonexistent. Part of this is because its expensive to maintain auto-, woodworking, and metal shop. What states have done instead is to invest all this money in technical colleges. It's much cheaper to pay for one well-equipped technical college than 12 minimally equipped high schools. While this saves money, many high school students have long since dropped out of school before they are eligible for the technical college. In many cases, high school students are forced to drop out because of their family financial situation. Many teens go into the full-time service and unskilled labor industry as soon as they are employable at 16.

What do I suggest? Fund a well-equipped technical college in every area and allow high schoolers to attend as early as 14 years old. By that age students will have the basic reading, and math skills and they can start learning a trade as a plumber, electrician, auto mechanics, and med techs etc. Then at 16, let them work days and take night classes or work nights and take day classes.

Our current education system is tailored for those going on to traditional 4-year Universities. Additionally, our current education system has been greatly feminized. I am sure its tough for many being expected to read "Pride and Prejudice" and "Wuthering Heights" when your family has been hit with the financial stress of an expensive medical bill or home foreclosure.

My father was raised in poverty but was able to work as an apprentice electrician through high school. He eventually went on to college and graduate school, but had he remained an electrician, he would have had a marketable skill that would have provided a decent living for his future family.