No other advanced nation in the world evaluates its teachers on test scores or subjects it children to relentless testing and calls it "education"! Why, then, does America? The answer is simple -- there's money in it!
Affectionately nicknamed "Ms. Sunshine" by her students, 2015 Fishman Prize winner Stephanie Sun brings joy and a sharp sense of focus to her fifth-grade English classroom at Achievement First Brownsville Middle School, in Brooklyn, NY.
Many years ago, when I was a special education teacher, I had a summer job at a residential school for emotionally disturbed children. The school happened to be located in a former tuberculosis sanitarium.
Why, in this era of global technology, are we using the same teaching methodology as that of the Industrial Revolution, when public education began? They need to see a world full of wonder and possibilities without shirking at the thought of digging deeper to come up with their own solutions.
The tragic irony in education is that the policies and practices enacted in response to concerns over low achievement will further disable a generation of children already hobbled by poverty. Education reform is disproportionally affecting young girls and boys of color in the least privileged communities.
Improving outcomes requires action that reaches across racial, ethnic and political lines. It must galvanize African Americans and rally our non-Black allies. And it must be handled with a sense of urgency. Every day headlines remind us that we have no time to waste.
Why do American students lack so much motivation? "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink," reflects the teacher's primary concern when motivating a student.
Scholars remind us that courses within the humanities that connect current sociopolitical concerns juxtaposed with the need to educate an increasingly diverse student population is key to the future of higher education.
Arts education is making a difference in improving struggling schools by increasing student engagement and positively changing young lives in countries all over the world.
America, our education system needs an enema -- not literally, but in the literature, the narrative we tell ourselves. We need to rid ourselves of the waste within that has clogged up any means for open thought, and open minds.
While active skepticism of government is healthy, unwavering condemnation can be corrosive to a democracy that depends on participation. Fortunately, we see a glimmer of effective governance that contradicts the narrative of congressional incompetence as an embedded feature of our democracy.
In a country where marriage equality itself is a victory, this decision shines light on the fact that we are far from the mark of LGBT equality. Our youth need and deserve our movement's attention.
We are a hugely wealthy country, and we can afford to go to Pluto and to educate our children to a much higher standard than we do. In fact, the way we became a hugely wealthy country, and the only way we can maintain our wealth into the future, is by investing in education, science, technology and invention.
Teachers, of course, can lead the way, not toward some false utopia embodied in the privatizing, anti-union, agenda of the testing moguls but in education's humanistic roots -- providing young people with multiple pathways to success.
The world has become a very uncertain place due to rapid technological and cultural change. We are reminded of change when we remember iconic companies that each employed thousands of people such as Enron, Pan Am, MCI Worldcom and Arthur Anderson. Those companies no longer exist.
America is doubling down on a losing hand. Education reform policy is destined to fail because it is based on a fundamentally flawed understanding of human motivation.