Sunday, January 07, 2007

Education Reform

Here is the promised post
Romanoff favors adopting landmark education overhaul
By Jennifer Brown
Denver Post Staff Writer

Colorado should take the lead in major education reform, borrowing from a landmark national report that calls for high school exit exams and dramatic increases in teacher pay, state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff said Thursday.

The report, heard by a bipartisan panel of lawmakers and educators in Washington, D.C., says America is failing to prepare its students to compete in a global economy.

It calls for ending high school for most students after 10th grade, when they would take "rigorous state board exams." Those who pass could choose to go directly to technical colleges, and the best students could stay in high school to prepare for entrance into elite universities.

The change would save nearly $60 billion nationwide, a third of which would pay for preschool for all 4-year-olds and low-income 3-year-olds, the report says.

The savings also would go toward training and deploying teachers recruited from the top third of high school students going to college.

The report, from The New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, also calls for a complete revamping of education funding.

Independent contractors, operating under contracts managed by local school districts, would run public schools.

Romanoff, D-Denver, a panel member, said he plans to set up a task force of educators and parents to develop a Colorado version of the plan, which would require constitutional and legislative changes.

Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver, said he would push for an audit of the state's public-school system and propose plans to address the national report.
The report can be downloaded as a PDF here.

While our international counterparts are increasingly getting more education, their young people are getting a better education as well. American students and young adults place anywhere from the middle to the bottom of the pack in all three continuing comparative studies of achievement in mathematics, science and general literacy in the advanced industrial nations.

A swiftly rising number of American workers at every level are in direct competition with workers in every corner of the globe. So it matters very much that, increasingly, it is easier and easier for employers everywhere to get workers who are better skilled at lower cost than American workers.

In this environment, it makes sense to ask how American workers can possibly maintain, to say nothing of improve their current standard of living. Today, Indian engineers make $7,500 a year against $45,000 for an American engineer with the same qualifications. If we succeed in matching the very high levels of mastery of mathematics and science of these Indian engineers - an enormous challenge for this country - why would the world's employers pas us more than they have to pay the Indians to do their work? They would be willing to do that only if we could offer something that the Chinese and Indians, and others, cannot.

If we continue on our current course, and the number of nations outpacing us in the education race continues to grow at its current rate, the American standard of living will steadily fall relative to those nations, rich and poor, that are doing a better job. If the gap gets to a certain - but unknowable - point, the world's investors will conclude that they can get a better return on their funds elsewhere, and it will be almost impossible to reverse course. Although it is possible to construct a scenario for improving our standard of living, the clear and present danger is that it will fall for most Americans.

The above is excepted from the document linked to above. I have not had the time to get thru the entire work but I recommend reading it. These are NOT the typical recommendations that are given by the usual suspects (teachers unions etc.) These are in essence an entire overhaul of the education system. Included in the report is the need to start recruiting from the top 3rd of college students, rather than the bottom 3rd where we get them now. As enticement to those students they recommend increasing pay by lowering the retirement benefits to that which is offered by the large firms and taking that money and giving it as pay instead.

Good stuff and I will write more on it later. (Education seems to be becoming the topic of this least for now)