The Problem With Schools
Why do most people seem to understand that our public school system is failing, but nothing is really being done about it? We're throwing dumptrucks full of money at it, and short of a few experimental programs here and there, not doing much else. The price of gas goes up a buck, and Things Must Be Done, but we slip behind countries like India, and no real political will is brought to bear. I can't think of another topic that the whole United States, young/old, black/white, left/right all agree on, where so little is actually done.
Is it the teacher's unions? The auto unions certainly seem like dead weight for the Big 3 in Detroit, so I don't have much problem viewing the teacher's unions in the same light. It's not really clear to me how the teacher's union benefits from the schools doing well, or gets punished for them doing bad. That's a recipe for mediocrity, and the best teacher's I've had always came from the real world, and taught in spite of the usual route to becoming a teacher. So I can definitely see a union stranglehold being a large factor, but I'm not sure it's the whole enchilada.
Are teacher's salaries not high enough? According to the union itself, I wouldn't think so. Where else does a person get that kinda schedule and security for that kinda dough?
Are the classrooms too crowded? If that's the case, wouldn't you be able to easily test it by doing an experiment where class sizes are under whatever the magic number is? Seems like that'd be easy as hell to prove, and then we'd build a boatload of schools to hit that ratio, and our streets would be paved with gold in no time. If anything, I see schools shutting down and consolidating into big SuperWalMart editions.
I think the reason we're stuck is because we don't know what a quality education is. Like an army of capable soldiers with a dolt for a commander, this is a top-down problem, where having the wrong top contaminates everything below it. In this case, the top would be a guiding and uniform idea of what the ideal education is. The Greeks knew it, the Romans knew it, revolutionary America knew it, but we don't have a clue. I dare say that the countries that are whipping us now, like India, know it too. I'll bet they know just what a good education consists of, what it's good for, and don't fret over hurt feelings in pursuit of it.