17.6.06

QUESTION OF THE DAY. Professor Tufte, discovering "P-16":
Is it just me, or does our public education oligarchy have enough trouble running K-12 without adopting a bunch of years on either side?
He's reacting to a bit of special pleading by the president of Buffalo, a university that decided to become yet another Upward Bound by investing heavily in sports to become the laughingstock of the Mid-American. His fears are well-founded.
I hadn't heard this term before, but it shows how far down the path towards colleges as remedial institutions, and willing partners in the failure of public education, we may already be.
Perhaps so, but the onus is on the faculty to get involved and say NO. Some responsibility for this remedial stuff becoming the default university policy rests with the research faculty who default on participating in curriculum committees, leaving the time-servers and diversity boondogglers free to write the catalogs.

It does not have to be so. Focus on the following passage from the Northern Illinois University P-20 page.
Imagine a system of education where every child enters school ready to learn, where all 3rd graders read at or above grade level, where all students have taken algebra by the end of the 8th grade, where high school exit exams test students at the 12th grade level and are aligned with college expectations, where all young people graduate from high school prepared for college or work, where every student who enters colleges finishes, where every educator renews the knowledge and professional skills needed to continuously improve the system, and where interdisciplinary faculty teams bring research into the reality of today’s classrooms.
In some ways, that was the tradition of public schools in the 1950s and early 1960s, before Summerhill and busing and "bourgeois" becoming a dirty word. To implement it requires, simply, university admission boards letting the high schools know that hereafter they will neither admit unprepared students nor offer no-credit repeats of high school courses. It also requires the common schools to once again socialize the young into the work habits of the upper-middle classes. Simple ideas, hard work. Not much potential for grants and studies and collecting facilitator fees for cultural competency workshops or walls of oppression or the panoply of Therapeutic U. But it's worth doing. Here's Professor Banian with an encouraging word.
Many schools, it turns out, do not require their students to take math as a core subject to graduate from college. But most schools are recognizing that particular lacuna in general education and are beefing up their curricula.
But it will take faculty involvement, if only to let the time-servers and the faddists know, over, and over, until they grasp the significance of "We have been doing things your way for the past thirty or forty years with worsening results. Enough."

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