“World class public education?”

It seems like schools are constantly buried under reminders that we’re in a competition with developing nations like China and India to produce tomorrow’s workforce, doesn’t it?  That is, after all, how Friedman made some serious cabbage!

And let’s not forget Compton’s Two Million Minutes?

Poke through articles on the “crisis,” and you’ll find quotes like these:

U.S. students spend too little time and effort on academics in high school, compared with harder-working young people in China and India. (Ed Week)

China’s efforts to develop entrepreneurship among its young is no less
than scary for many in the US. The US is also in awe with the education
system India. (The Business Standard)

Stating that parents both in China and India contribute their might to
shape their children’s career keenly, Mr Compton said this was,
however, gradually dwindling in U.S. (Web India)

“The Indian education system is more rigorous than the US and students
and their family are more dedicated towards an academic pursuit than in
the US,” said Compton. (India Info)

In our sports-crazed society, Compton uses a sports analogy to drive home his point. The U.S., he says, ranks 23rd or 24th in global academic performance. “If our Olympic team finished 24th, the president and Congress would mobilize our country and never allow it to happen again.”  (The Memphis Flyer)

While their peers in China and India study longer hours to sharpen their math and science skills, top students from one of the best high schools in the U.S. are playing video games and watching Greys Anatomy during a group study session.  (US News and World Report)

Now that we’ve firmly established that the sky is indeed falling, that American schools are failures and that the time for change is now, I guess it’s time to ask one simple question:  What, exactly, would students be doing in a school that was delivering a world class education?

I mean, aren’t we just spinning our wheels until we can describe the kinds of learning experiences that can prepare our kids for this “competition” that everyone keeps talking about?  Heck, I’m willing to listen:  What does a ‘world class public education‘ look like?

Is it grounded in basic skills?  Does it promote math, science and engineering above all else?  Would it put creativity and innovation at the center of the school experience?  Should it be globally centered, designed to build awareness of the world?  Must it prepare kids to create, communicate, collaborate and manage information?

And don’t tell me that it must do all of these things!

I’ve only got 2 million minutes to spend.

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