Posts Tagged 'education reform'

Goodwin on the Freedom to Fail (Response)

I think that Mr. Goodwin makes some good points, but he bases his whole argument on this notion of “Social Promotion” that he thinks is occurring in our primary schools around the country. What Mr. Goodwin fails to examine is the lack of resources (e.g. teachers, books, and computers) available to the districts that are passing students who have not “mastered” the material. The teachers that I know have never defended passing a student without merit. However, I have also been in countless discussions with them on how the student to teacher ratio has increased to the point that they are physically unable to teach each student to the level of mastery.

So who is to blame? Is it the teachers, parents, administrators, or even the students themselves who have failed? Mr. Goodwin seems to think that it is some social or political attitude that subjects our educational system. We as a society have accepted that our students are “dumber” than other countries so we collectively “boost the students’ self-esteem” by pushing them along to a high school diploma that they do not deserve. These are good talking points on cable television, but the fact is, to the extent that it is occurring, it probably affects less than two percent of high school graduates. I base this on the abysmally low graduation rates (68 percent, as low as 50 percent in some groups) and the high dropout rates (eight percent, as high as 16 percent in some groups) around the country. For graduation rates alone, the United States has experienced a ten percent decline in the past three decades. If “Social Promotion” is taking place in America and it is ruining our Country by not giving our children the “Freedom to Fail,” then how do you explain the figures I mentioned above?

Let us now look at the after graduation statistics: If we determine that a certain number of students are being allowed to graduate high school without merit, then their lack of basic math, science and reading skills will affect the way they behave in adulthood. Essentially, the United States workforce will be woefully under-educated in comparison to other countries. This does not translate in the real world. While it is true that some foreign students study more than Americans, America has more entrepreneurs and patents per capita than China and India combined. Even at this stage, Americans still have the freedom to fail, but it is not as bad as what is often reported. The SBA most recently said that roughly 70 percent of new businesses survive for more than two years and 50 percent last more than four years.

In conclusion, any criticisms levied against the United States educational system without an equal discussion of solutions for improvement, are not productive and should be taken with a grain of salt. Unless a concentrated effort is undertaken by all stakeholders, no progress will ever be achieved.