A brief rant (Day 138/365)

I’m still sick, so this will be short.

The National Center on Education and the Economy is one of those purportedly “non-partisan” groups that weighs in every now and then on what we’re doing wrong in our schools. This last week, they trumpeted their New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce’s report: Tough Choices or Tough Times.

Newspaper and online articles breathlessly conveyed the meat of the matter: we have to totally revamp the way we’re teaching our kids, or the U.S. will fall behind in the economic race. Our students have to become team workers, globally aware, and creative. Bare bones testing is killing our schools and our nation. Report to be released Thursday.

Well, okay, I think, about time someone sees the light. I’ll withhold judgment until I see the report, but this could be good.

So on Thursday I track down their site to read the report, or to download it and read it if it’s not all online.

Go ahead, go take a look at the report. I’ll wait for you here.

That didn’t take long, did it? Yep, it’s true: the latest saviors of our schools want you to buy their report. It’s not available for free.

Now I certainly can understand that you would have to pay for your own nicely printed and bound copy, but putting a PDF file online costs nothing. In fact, I would have expected a PDF copy to have shown up in my school email on Thursday morning, wouldn’t you? If you’re looking to scrap the way we teach our kids, wouldn’t you want to get the new model out to the very people who will have to make that change?

Even more than that, wouldn’t you want it in the hands of everyone? Wouldn’t you want the whole nation reading and debating whether you wanted to turn our schools into free-enterprise zones, run by privatized agencies (“helping agencies,” the Executive Summary, which is available in PDF, intones) and subject to the vagaries of the market?

I’m too weary to absorb the report’s summary at the moment, but I guess my main reaction is something to the effect of questioning the Commission: Is your plan something you’ve seen work in other nations? Or is this just another pony scheme?

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