March 17, 2013
The modern American public school system is a product of the late 19th and early 20th century transformations of American society. An agricultural society based on small farmers became a manufacturing society in which most people lived in cities. And the great flood of immigration between 1880 and 1923 filled America’s burgeoning cities with tens of millions of people who didn’t speak English and didn’t know much about the country to which they had moved.
The educational system was a way of helping kids adjust to a world that was radically different than the world many parents understood or could prepare them for. Teachers were professionals with knowledge not available to the average person—and they were considerably better educated than the parents of most of their pupils.
That is no longer true; many parents these days have just as much education as teachers if not more. The progressive era model of a bureaucratic school organization staff by life-tenured employees is no longer a good fit for our increasingly entrepreneurial and job-hopping society; it prepares kids (badly) at great expense for a world that no longer exists.
Our society is becoming more diverse, and different families need very different things when it comes to educating the kids. Uneducated single moms in crime ridden inner city neighborhoods need one kind of help when it comes to helping their kids get a good start in life; families where both parents have been to college want something quite different.
American education is going to change far more than most of us expect; Glenn Reynolds has done a magnificent job of showing just how urgently change is needed and how sweeping it is likely to be.
Read the whole thing. Then buy a copy and send it to your school board — and your congressman.