The Educator's Room, which I follow on Facebook, had an interesting article about how students are entering college unprepared, often needing remedial courses. Some of the article and comments reflected opinions that support the "schools are doing worse and worse" point of view, ignoring the fact that the demands on schools are "more and more". Here are my comments:
Two-fifths not prepared? I think the structure of the society that awaits students should be considered. The contrast between the 1-2% of the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the population is not actually disconnected from how schools function. We can't all be in that 1-2%. We can't all be CEO's, Wall Street lawyers, investors/hedge-fund managers, doctors, lawyers, physicists...even simple, humble school teachers. We will always need students to follow paths and grow into jobs they are suited for and hopefully pursue. When will we NOT need construction workers, butchers, truck drivers, cashiers...? There are many essential jobs that could be filled through internships, apprenticeships, and alternative education/training rather than demanding that all students be "college/career ready" when they leave high school. Critics of American public education ignore the fact that public schools are being mandated to move ALL students to a more standardized end, despite the fact that students can't be standardized.
Along those lines, what is called "watering down the curriculum" might be the result of pushing public schools to serve ALL students, expect them to ALL meet standard requirements, but still knowing that any progress is success in some situations and with some students. Instead of mandating, policy should ALLOW public schools to serve ALL students, and use professional judgment and collaboration (not test-n-punish/demands for college readiness) to form curriculum and course. Public schools for all: Resources for the most capable and high-achieving will appear. Watch it happen.