13.2.12

A DISSENTING VIEW ON SCHOOL FAILURE.

Historiann suggests that the failure of the common schools to do their job might reflect a lack of funding, accompanied by a lack of respect, from public officials.
When I read stories like this b!tching about the low 4-year graduation rates at universities in my state, and at the same time the high rate of remediation our high school graduates require, why doesn’t anyone point out that hack politicians and businessmen have made war on K-16+ education for years, attacking public education at all levels in particular as wasteful and ideologically suspect, and in general doing their best to withdraw public sympathy and taxpayer support for any kind of education?  At the same time, they’ve also conspired to pass laws that offer incentives to corporations for taking their money and their jobs offshore to chase the cheapest labor around the planet.   Now, all of a sudden, they’ve seized on the idea that College for Everyone is the way to save the U.S. economy–because the factory and manufacturing jobs are gone and because construction is in the toilet, everyone needs to be a knowledge worker now.  So whose responsibility is it to turn everyone into knowledge workers?  The K-16+ teachers and proffies, of course, who need to be tested, monitored, and surveilled at every turn to prove that what they’re doing works.  They also must take on the burden of saving the U.S. economy without any more resources, because as “we” all know, “you can’t just throw money at the problem!”  No, money solves all manner of business problems, but it can never, ever be used to solve problems with education.
The challenge is in obtaining more potential knowledge workers from more potential sources.  The Ivies and the other claimants to be the twenty or fifty best institutions of higher learning do not produce enough people to staff all the currently-existing high-end knowledge worker jobs, and that would not be changed if all the graduates of those institutions switched their concentrations to FIRE or STEM fields.  The way forward, however, is to devote more resources to teaching and scholarship, and fewer resources to monitoring and assessing.  I predict, however, that administrators will see in legislative pressures for greater accountability (or whatever the next fad word will be) reasons to add more to the ranks of deanlets and deanlings.

2 comments:

Historiann said...

Thanks for the link, Stephen--I agree with your assessment of assessment, of course.

I wonder if our unis could just get some state funding to pay for the dealets, deanlings, and Assistant and Associate Vice Provosts for the Incentivization of Learning, etc., who are in the compliance business. That *might* just free up some coin for the instructional faculty who are carrying out what I've always understood to be the core mission of the university.

But my prediction is: more unfunded mandates. The beatings will continue until compliance improves.

David said...

Historiann..."I wonder if our unis could just get some state funding to pay for the dealets, deanlings, and Assistant and Associate Vice Provosts for the Incentivization of Learning, etc., who are in the compliance business."

If these people are not adding any value, shouldn't the response be to **get rid of them** (including whatever regulatory changes would be required to do so) rather than just shifting the cost burden??

Also, the idea that "manufacturing" and "knowledge work" are different things is common but misleading. There is plenty of knowledge work in manufacturing, and plenty of low-skilled work in services industries. See my post myths of the knowledge society.