Jay Mathews has it right when it comes to the inadequacy of America’s current method of handling our top students, but I’m not sure I agree with the tilt of his solution:
“There was absolutely no incentive to worry about the achievement of those who had already reached, or were likely to reach, that bar,” the report says. “To put it bluntly, NCLB did some good for America’s struggling pupils, but for high achievers, it mostly hit the education pause button. . . . Those most victimized by this regime were high-achieving poor and minority students — kids who were dependent on the school system to cultivate their potential and accelerate their achievement.”
In keeping with my post earlier today, the broad way of thinking wherein we’ll actually find the solution seems not even to be on the table. Why do we insist that, throughout a given state or from coast to coast, district school systems must be prepared to answer the needs of every single student, no matter his or her specific aptitude or circumstances? Empower families and students to choose their own educational environments, and they’ll find their level, including schools that answer their specific needs — needs that are complex enough for individuals and those close to them to discern and that cannot possibly be considered adequately by distant agencies and boards.
There’s a reason families report more satisfaction across every criterion when their children go to private schools, first, or charter schools, second, and it’s not just because those schools tend to be better. Rather, those schools better answer their students particular needs, whatever they are.
It’s past time for us to acknowledge that our school system’s focus should be placing students where they’ll excel, not on maintaining government control of education.