High schools should leave ineffective reforms behind
Regarding the Feb. 28 article "Governors take aim at high school": How many more kids will have to drop out of high school before our nation's bureaucrats realize that the public education system is fundamentally flawed? Answer me this: If the unemployment rate in this country were as high as the dropout rate (30 percent) and rising, would we continue to operate our economy without issuing some serious reforms? I should hope not.
I'm a senior in a public school, and I believe democratization, not standardization, is the way to keep kids - to keep us - from dropping out. If we're allowed to study what we like rather than what we don't like, what reason could we possibly have to give up?
Seal Harbor, Maine
What education needs is not school reform, but rather parental reform. "No Child Left Behind" is a disaster holding schools responsible for parents' failure to instill respect and a thirst for knowledge in their undisciplined kids before shipping them off to school.
We are seeing more kids show up for school each year who are dysfunctional, disinterested, or disruptive - or a combination of all three. Parents need to present children better primed for education; expecting schools to do a parent's job is not working.
Unfortunately, perhaps some kids need to be left behind so the schools can better teach those willing and able to receive. As it is now, our once-bright kids are being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator so no one gets left behind.
Our children are learning that school is not where you learn to think but where you learn to pass tests. Bill Gates should do a little research into graduation rates in other nations before once again slamming our public education system.
In many countries, only students who are thought to be able to earn an advanced degree are put into appropriate courses. Vocational students are tracked similarly and are not tested by the same standards as would be the case in this country.
Given that not all jobs require a college education, why do we feel the need to make everyone go through college prep courses? Clearly many students will not make it. Unfortunately, children aren't robots and they all do not perform the same, regardless of how much we would like to think that is the case.
Maybe our dropout rate is so high because of the ridiculous testing children must endure before they even get to high school. I am all for accountability, but how about doing entrance and exit testing to show progress, rather than having a one-test-fits-all standard?
As one who received his graduate training at Harvard, I take issue with the central thrust of the March 1 article "In media age, role of college president evolves." The focus always must be on the message, not the media, and in Harvard's case we must ask: What is the message?
In my view, the message is that Harvard should not cave to self-serving political agendas with the consequential and costly triumph of political correctness over scientific correctness. And, while Harvard is sometimes imperious in its view of its place in the world, there is some truth to the expression, "As goes Harvard, so goes the nation."
As a nation, do we really wish to go the way of political correctness and the buggy whip?
Prof. Gordon E. Finley
Florida International University
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