March 28, 2012

We Can Fix the K-12 Educational System

"The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions"

Some good-intentioned, but misinformed, folks in our state legislature, on the editorial board of the Seattle Times, among the very rich, and in some major foundations are now hell-bent to "solve" the education problem with a devilish brew of charter schools, teacher assessments, union bashing, and "ed reform" ideas.  These folks are well meaning but don't address the real problems, and their solutions will quickly fail while crippling efforts to make real improvements. (In fact, the jury is already in for a number of their failed panaceas--like charter schools and small high schools).  The Seattle Times has reported and opinionated about the conflict over "ed reform" including the debate in the state legislature and the unhappiness of the frustrated ultra wealthy (e.g., Nick Hanauer) in getting their way:  see this article as an example.

We can solve the K-12 education problem, but we need to throw away ideas that quick fixes and "market reforms" will do the trick.  We need to get down to basics and become willing to learn from countries that are successful.  This blog will describe a different approach, one based on fundamentals.  Some basic tenets I believe are important, include:

1.  No more jumping from one edufad to another
2. We need to define exactly what we want kids to know
3.  We must insure that teachers have deep subject knowledge of what they teach.
4.  Teachers must be respected and given substantial autonomy
5.  Education approaches must be guided by empirical testing and research
6. Ed schools need to be reformed and improved.
7.  Pre-school education is a critical component of future learning.
 8.  All kids are NOT going to college, and that is NOT a problem. K-12 education should be flexible to allow varied directions.
9.   Good education costs money

So lets talk about these points:

 1.  Enough of edufads
Education seems to be full of snake-oil salesman, promising a miracle cure that doesn't take a lot of hard work.  Charters schools, Teach for America, new math, whole language reading, discovery math, integrated math, assessment-centered teaching, small high schools...the list is endless.  What virtually all of these have in common is that they are adopted or applied before there is robust evidence of their value.   We wouldn't do that with medicines, why are we willing to try out unproven remedies on our children's education?  Many of these edufads are pushed by the ultra wealthy.  Just because someone is rich as Midas, that does not mean they know anything about education.  And the editorial board of certain newspapers (hint:  Seattle T---S) is particularly irresponsible in pushing fads (and bashing teachers).

2. We need to agree upon and define what we want kids to know

Our state and the nation require clear, well-thought-out standards and curricula that describe with great specificity the knowledge and skills we expect our children to possess upon graduation.  Many states lack this.  In Washington State we have made great progress in some areas (like our new math standards), but we still have a long way to go.   University educators and businesses in our state should have substantial input to these standards; in the end they are the ones that will have to deal with K-12 graduates.  Today, a new edufad is taking hold in the standards/curriculum domain:  the Common Core standards devised by an independent commission under the auspices of the National Governor's association.   They are generally poorly written. The math standards of Common Core are inferior to our state standards, but State leadership is jumping on board in the hope of getting Race to the Top cash. (see my previous blog on Common Core)

3.   We must insure that teachers have deep subject knowledge of what they teach.
This sounds obvious but is not true in many cases.  We must insure that all teachers know the subjects they teach at a far deeper level than they are providing instruction.  Elementary school teachers must be competent in middle school math, middle school teachers should be competent in high school math, and high school math teachers need to have college level competence (such as being a math major in college).  Same for other subjects.  You can only teach well when you have subject-area knowledge well beyond your instructional level.  There is a fixation on assessing teachers among some "ed reform" types.   Ok, why don't we begin by testing teacher competence in the subjects they will be teaching, before they enter the classroom and when they move to different grades/subjects?  I can't imagine the teacher's unions objecting to this!  Ed-reform advocates don't seem interested in teacher knowledge, and even push ideas like Teach for America, in which essentially untrained teachers (5-weeks!) are thrown into the classroom

4.   Teachers must be respected and given substantial autonomy

The "ed reform" folks, including the Seattle Times, The Gates Foundation, and the Ed-Reform lobbyists (Alliance for Education, League of Education Voters, etc) are really big on assessing teachers by measuring student progress.  Many of them are into micromanaging what a teacher does in the classroom (Bellevue's past superintendent Riley was particularly excessive in this domain).  Teachers that don't improve student progress are given more training or let go.  Many of these assessment activities are blatantly disrespectful of teachers and ill-informed.  Some are obvious attempts to weaken the teacher's unions.  I am acquainted with a lot of teachers and they are some of the most altruistic people I know, working long hours for modest pay.  The percentage of incompetent teachers are small.  And considering the substantial correlation between student background and their progress in school, no assessment program that I know of is viable.  Teachers need the flexibility to do the best they can and adapt approaches for the varying students for which they are responsible for.   The leading nations in education (e.g., Finland) follow such an approach.

5.  Education approaches must be guided by empirical testing and research

   Education must be guided by scientific, empirical methodology, rigorously testing various approaches (curricula, teaching methods). In contrast, current teaching approaches bounce from fad to fad and education "research" is not rigorous and is highly subjective.  The National Academy of Sciences evaluated education research on math teaching methodologies and found that none (repeat none) of them met basic standards of statistical rigor.  The Academy also suggested that schools of education begin teaching their students proper statistical methodologies.  Lets say there is a debate on how to teach math.  Fine, try various approaches in classrooms with kids of identical demographics and see what works.  Then adopt the best approach system wide.  Keep this testing and replacement going and eventually schools will get much better.  Here in Seattle the administration seems content to squash experimentation.

6. Ed schools need to be reformed and improved.
 A major part of the problem lies in U.S. education schools. Many fill their curricula with theoretical concepts and material that is more appropriate for a social work program than for education.  Many see their role not as educators, but as agents for social change.  I have direct experience with this:  my wife went through two local education school programs.  In addition, I have had many reports from local teachers saying the same thing. Relatively little time is given to classroom management and subject mastery.  And what ed schools call research, would not be considered research in most university departments of science and engineering.

7.  Pre-school education is a critical component of future learning.
 The educational establishment likes to suppress a basic fact of education--the highest correlative with student performance has nothing to do with the has to do with the family backgrounds and demographics of the kids.   The educational and family situation before they enter Kindergarten or first grade has a huge impact on their performance in school.  It is thus critical that we do all we can as a society to provide less privileged kids with substantial support and enrichment before they enter school (WAY BEFORE), insuring their basic health needs and that they receive the intellectual stimulation and advantages that their peers in wealthier families enjoy.  There is substantial evidence that Head Start and similar programs have a positive and lasting influence on disadvantaged students (e.g., here)

8.  All kids are NOT going to college, and that is NOT a problem. K-12 education should be flexible to allow varied directions.

There is a lot of talk about college prep and that all students should be given an education the will prepare them for college work.  But the majority of students are not going to college, and our K-12 system must recognize that. There are so many good jobs in building our society and maintaining the complex technology upon which we depend--and many do not require a college degree.  We are not serving these students well today.  We have stripped technical and job-skills training from our schools, and we are failing to provide many of our students with general skills (essential math and communication skills for example) needed in many jobs.  So many times I have heard from master carpenters and tradesman who complain that new employees lack the basic math skills needed for such work.  And in many districts that ideas of tracks, in which more motivated or gifted students are allowed to move ahead faster, is considered to be some kind of right-wing, fascist plot.

9.  Good education costs money, but we need to spend it wisely.

 Quality education is not cheap.  Ask any teacher: smaller class sizes make a real difference, one reason well-to-do folks send their kids to private schools.  We need to pay our teachers salaries that reflect the highly educated professionals we expect them to be.  And our schools must be safe, positive surroundings that are properly equipped.  And the number of children in classrooms need to be reduced.

Here in Washington we are 38th in per capita spending among the states, while we have one of the most educated populations, with many employed in high technology industries.  Not good.

But to be fair, our state and the U.S. on average spends far more per pupil than nearly every country in the world...even countries doing far better than we in educating their kids (e.g., Finland).  Part of this is certainly our varied demographics, but quite frankly we waste a huge amount of that could have been spent in the classroom.  Seattle is a prime case in point.  First there is the loss from extensive corruption and mismanagement (which led to the exit of several superintendents over the past few years).  Then there was the multi-decadal waste on busing, which only succeeded in permanently damaging the district and sending families to the suburbs and private schools.   We have wasted HUGE amounts of money on thick, colorful textbooks that often had little pedagogical value (sometime I will blog about the corrupt textbook publishing industry).  The district has had a large bureaucracy of highly paid middle managers and "curriculum specialists"  and nearly worthless "math coaches."  And on the state level we wasted a billion dollars on a useless WASL exam and hundreds of millions on questionable training programs for teachers in the latest "research-based pedagogy."  

So let K-12 education clean up its financial house, reduce waste, and then our society much insure that the necessary funding for a first-class education is in place.

We can either deal with the fundamentals of our suggested above...or keep chasing the latest edufad.  To use a meteorological metaphor, edufads are similar to getting rich by finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow--sounds good and is awfully appealing....but you can never get to the end of a rainbow.  And we won't properly educate our children unless we are willing to do the hard work, guided by facts, with sufficient resources.

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  1. Thank you.
    I've been teaching for 25 years, and I have thought many of those things, but haven't put them into words or such an eloquent list.
    You are absolutely correct, and I thank you.

  2. I agree too much about all students NOT going to college. I have three degrees, including a doctorate. What am I doing now? Self-employed with a skill I learned in VOCATIONAL school. Now, I think there is HUGE room for improvement in vocational schools, but they actually give people...vocations.

  3. I can't speak for other schools in the state, but up here at WWU, math ed majors have to take nearly as many math classes as actual math majors (at least, math BAs) -- I believe it's 2-3 math classes less, with those being replaced by math ed classes. This is, of course, in addition to the normal education requirements. It makes it tremendously hard to finish a math ed degree with all of the education requirements in four years, but it means that people graduating with such a degree are well-trained.

    The only other difference I am aware of is that the math ed degree has a stronger focus on practical math than does the standard math degree.

    It is much the same in other fields. A former coworker recently graduated with an English education degree, and it sounds like in the English department, the faculty advisor for the program very strongly urges students to finish a degree in English, then do a master's or post-bac in education.

    I think you are correct, though, Cliff, about vocational training, and I think that may be the most significant failing in our educational system right now. Certainly, there are other problems of similar importance, but the lack of vocational training and associated focus on college preparatory work is, I think, a cause of many of the other failings.

    I have wondered for some time about how we would implement this sort of training, though: If we were to implement "tracks," would they be forced? In many countries -- I know this is true in both Germany and Japan -- you really need to do well in middle school in order to go to the high school intended for college preparatory work. And if you don't go to the good high school (or, in some countries, to high school at all), you might find yourself unable to progress much, educationally -- certainly it is much more difficult. Yet, there is a certain contingent of students who are quite capable, and may do very well in college, yet fail to perform for any number of reasons in either middle school or high school. I say this as one of them -- I failed my first classes in middle school, and failed a full 25% of my classes in high school, yet succeeded in college, and was urged by some of my professors to pursue a graduate degree. Where, in a vocation-oriented educational system, do you make room for these sorts of students? Or is the assumption that, once things are separated out, the subject matter, peers, and approaches in the college preparatory tracks will inspire such students to perform better than they might otherwise?

  4. It would really be worthwhile if School Districts attempted to actually solve problems by intelligently applying relevant data. Instead most are trying to put a great political spin on their actions and introduce some bizarre statistics.

    Try this spin job on middle school math in Seattle.

    The Seattle Schools issue school report cards.... there is a percent of 8th grade students ready for High School math the 9th grade year. It bears little relationship to the 8th grade Math MSP results which measure what 8th graders should know.

    Here are the ratios when MSP percent passing is divided by percent ready for high school math:

    The 2011 Middle School cohorts

    Reliability ratio :: followed by School

    1.00 C Blaine K8
    0.84 Washington
    0.83 Hamilton
    0.83 Eckstein
    0.77 Whitman
    0.73 Denny
    0.70 Mercer
    0.67 McClure
    0.67 Madison
    0.63 Salmon B K8
    0.58 TOPS K8
    0.47 Aki Kurose
    0.46 J Adams K8
    0.42 Pinehurst K8
    0.41 So Shore K8
    0.39 Pathfinder K8
    0.36 Madrona K8
    0.25 Orca K8

    How about fixing the problem .... rather than trying to snow the public with bogus numbers on ready for high school math.

    More on this can be found HERE.

  5. Well said Cliff. I would agree with pretty much everything you have said but as someone who has been in the system for more than three decades I don't hold much hope that the people pushing the edufads will ever come to their senses.

    Most successful countries allow outside competition from private or something equivalent to charter schools. Our university system is the best in the world at least in part because our best universities compete for the best students and because universities exalt excellence in all that they do.

    If universities ignored excellence and focused on the lowest common denominator of their students we would see the end of our worldwide leadership in advanced education.

    Unfortunately our monopolistic k-12 system has become a system where the goal is to treat all students the same regardless of their diverse interests and abilities. No one else in the world is foolish enough to go down this path because it is built around political ideology not sound educational practices. I see no major change until the monopoly is broken.

  6. Add this to your list!

  7. Speaking of testing: my third grade daughter came home all excited because she got a 230 on a MAP test for reading. My fifth grade son had taken the same test a few days earlier and only had a score of 227. Sorry, I just lost confidence that the test means very much. My fifth grader has had higher scores in the past and there's no way my daughter can outread him.

    Also, another testing comment: there are various aspects to doing well in a subject like math. One part is being able to organize one's work and read one's writing when doing complex multiplication. I am involved in a math club and there are many students who have done well on the computerized tests, but have major problems getting the right answer with pencil and paper.

  8. In the Netherlands there is a two-track system in high school where students decide to follow either an academic curriculum or a vocational one. By the time they leave high school they are prepared to either continue on to higher education or enter a trade.

    I think one of the things that bedevils education in this country is a cultural one. Families do not seem to value education or support it in the home the way they do in Europe and Japan. There is even outright hostility towards knowledge in some communities as witnessed by the global warming and creationism debates and other anti-science trends.

  9. One of the best most substantive essays about education I've read. I would challenge Seattle Times to print it. The Weekly might.

    I am not in the education field but have been amazed at what appears to be an unwarranted war on teachers. Tying teacher pay and advancement to student performance is a little like tying a doctors pay to suvival of patients regardless if the patient load is full of cancer patients or healthy adolescents.

    I am in health services and have had teachers talk about having to make "education plans" for inidividual students to address problems that in my estimation are health and or mental health problems. This is not education but being forced to practice medicine without a license.

    Also had a educator friend in Spokane say that a full quarter of their year was spent testing students, thereby reducing class time for actual teaching. What a shocking time ratio.

    So thanks for sane, well thought out post. Excellent.

  10. Some years ago I heard an article on Public Radio about school funding. An inner New York City educator was complaining about their budget, only $11K per student, vice $22K per student in nearby suburban Long Island. Our local school district (#49, Chimacum) has less than $4K per student. Outcomes have _not_ been good. Test scores are low, and that includes the alternative school kids (Pi program) raising the average.

    Good education is costly. A badly educated society is even more costly.


  11. As a science teacher in one of the poorest districts in the state, I can't agree more with you Cliff.

  12. Your point 8 is the most critical. Few if any students really need the last two years of academics. The ones who currently benefit from those years would be better off starting 4-year college, and the others would be better off in specialized tech schools. 10th grade should be the end of compulsory ed.

    I doubt that the ed departments are fixable. My dad taught in ed schools in the '50s and constantly complained about the triviality; I went through an ed school in the '70s and experienced the same triviality. They're permanently hopeless and should be replaced by a year of well-supervised apprenticeship for beginning teachers.

  13. I am a supporter of 'tracking'.

    My son has been in an accelerated program (Quest - which is as close to tracking as our school system will get) through elementary and middle school in the Lake Washington School District. He and his classmates will be going to high school next year - and after attending numerous information nights around the district, almost all of his fellow Quest students have chosen not to go to their neighborhood schools, but rather to 'choice schools' either a new STEM school or into the Cambridge Program hosted by one of the high schools.

    They are called 'Choice Schools or Programs', but essentially fall under the category of 'Charter Schools' - both highly academic and rigorous. Are you opposed to these?

    One of the main reasons my son opted out of the neighborhood school is because of their stated policy of trying to insure that all the classrooms have a mix of academic levels (antithesis of tracking), his fear being that the classes would be taught below his level and at a slower pace than he has been used to.

    These Choice schools, though technically a lottery, are only attractive to those students who consider academics to be a high priority, who are willing to undergo rigorous work, and for whom college is a given - a sort of self imposed 'track'. In my son's case STEM was a perfect match - heavy on science, math, technology and art. For high school in LWSD about as much of a 'track' as one can get.

    Would love to know your opinion of these rigorously academic types of 'Charter/Choice' schools.

  14. Glenn,

    You wrote: Our local school district (#49, Chimacum) has less than $4K per student.

    OSPI says Chimicum spent $10,218.

    Your NY City figures need some serious updating.

    NY state was a winner in the same type of legal action brought in the NEWS lawsuit "McCleary v State". In NY State the judge determined the cost to adequately educate a student and then ordered the state to come up with the money. I am still scratching my head as to how the WA supreme court found that Judge Erlick made the correct ruling but then decided the State could keep on violating the constitutional rights of students for another six years.

    Note the following figures on annual spending per student from OSPI.

    Chimicum SD $10,218

    Seattle $11,848

    Olympia $9327

  15. 1) If there isn't a firmly-entrenched system of Head Start/some sort of preschool edudational experience available to all children who need it, then having tracks in public schools will simply further disadvantage those needy children because they will regard themselves and be regarded by others as failures. That's what was happening 50 years ago; it will happen again.
    2) Unfortunately, as vocational training has been dropped by high schools in the "everyone goes to college" push, the for-profit DeVrys and others have gobbled up that market, and young people are "graduating" from those courses with high debt and no jobs. They're actually worse off than 50 years ago when they graduated from high school with some sort of manual or technical skills. (And of course there are less of such jobs now, so their debt is even more crippling.)

  16. I don't think it will make a difference until parents make reading and interacting with their kids a priority.

    TV is so darn easy.....

  17. My father was principal of an elementary school that had a lot of poor children from migrant worker families. The governor came to his school one time to recognize a special program that was supposed to be better for teaching kids. I asked my Dad if the program was really a better way to teach kids. His response was that the main benefit of programs like that was that it kept the teachers motivated and involved. He told me that kids almost always learn if you have a motivated teacher and a parent that actively cares if the kid learns. The biggest problem he had were parents that didn’t show their kids that it was really important and valuable to learn.

  18. I think 2 and 4 are dichotomous. You can't have extremely specific standards and allow teachers autonomy. I prefer emphasizing #4.

    Allowing teachers to evaluate their specific students, what is most applicable to them, and what they are interested in, would provide IMO a more valuable education. Problem solving, research, cooperation, communication, work ethic, are all things that can be practiced in a wide variety of topics and can be applied to a wide variety of topics, and are timeless in their usefulness. Allowing students to follow their interests almost guarantees that the material will actually be remembered instead of just regurgitated and forgotten. More importantly they practice the processes of learning, so that when they need any type of knowledge, they know how to learn it--especially useful in the internet age where information is so prevalent.

    Math is a tough one because so many people seem to struggle with it--including many elementary teachers. Math is definitely something that requires scaffolding. If the underlying concepts are not understood, there is no chance for the more complicated ones to be understood. If the teachers don't understand the concepts, then they will just cause more confusion as math is very specific and a badly worded explanation can cause major problems. Thus I am for having specifically trained math teachers for all ages (not just middle school and up).

    There is also ample research that play and exercise correlate with learning, but especially math. Math concepts should be targeted towards preschool-2nd graders. Lots of measuring, weighing, timing, counting, comparing, contrasting.

    My children and I love to repeatedly time how long it takes them to run from one spot to another. They measure and compare time, distance, speed, acceleration all while flooding their brains with BDNF the protein that cause neurons to connect.

  19. The Feds and State testing every kid is like taking all the blood out to get a red cell count.

    Teachers should be ranking kids, especially in reading, arithmetic, mathematics, and writing.

    Principals should be spot checking the students to ensure that the teacher's rankings are accurate

    The State should be testing some students on a statistically sound basis to ensure prinipals are doing their job.

    Preferably there will be lots of test, and they should be non-stress. State and any Fed testing should not be assessing student learning, but principal and state effectiveness in ranking.

  20. I disagree that a small percentage of teachers are incompetent. My three children have had very few great teachers, and many mediocre ones. As in any career, sadly there are individuals who are not suited to teaching for various reasons, and even though it's sad that they have chosen the wrong path, that's no reason the children should be subjected to them. Also, currently there is no good mechanism that allows for students and families to give constructive feedback about schools and teachers, and I would argue that as the most important stakeholders in education, their opinions and goals ought to be actively solicited in a neutral, professional, anonymous way.

  21. Education does not take place in a vacuum,(or just a classroom.) The greater context is critical, for producing young adults who know how to take charge of their own learning (for their entire lives)and have a passion for engagement with this magical world. Until our society changes, and sincerely cares about raising people out of poverty, thereby creating families with a basic level of dignity and security, the family concerns will be more fear based survival oriented. Trying to force better education in classrooms, in a society which is moving rapidly toward putting working people in the "third world" is somewhat like beating an old tired animal because it won't get up. Children are born curious and incredibly eager to learn. We adults have created, in our culture, the circumstances which tend to destroy this natural quality.In other words, the problem is much greater than the classroom and the teachers.

  22. Have to disagree about #2 and #4 being dichotomous. Autonomy is easiest when standards are clear.

    Classroom autonomy in the absence of clear standards too often leads to aimlessness.

    Classroom autonomy with clear standards for outcomes gives every teacher and student clear expectations for the ends, while allowing great flexibility on tailoring the means to suit each teacher/student situation.

  23. If "Teach For a while" is good, why not "Surgery for a while", or "plumbing for a while", or "stock broker for a while".. after all inexperience should be no problem for any other job.

  24. What do people think of this description of the Finland educational system?

    I'm a high school junior this year and I'm glad that I only have one year left considering that state tests are being shoved into health, PE, and art classes now.

  25. There are no data standards or systems which can be applied in the classroom which will entirely compensate for a failed society or culture. To some degree we have an economic system which operates- in place of- a system of values and ethics which effectively integrates human reality with the natural world. We are largely in denial of the fact that we are an (innocently?) greedy overpopulated organism which is approaching the limits of basic resources to maintain our economic system and way of life. Although the official monolog propagated by the media continues to promote the myth that we will return to the USA abundance of the 1950's, with a little tweak here and there, and a few techno fixes, and if you vote in the next election, YOUNG PEOPLE ARE NOT STUPID -yet. They haven't been fully educated. If only on an unconscious level, they know that their future is being stolen as we debate foolish details. They feel in their bones the stress their parents are living under. They know something is not right. As they head into high school they know they are surrounded by people who are living in denial. They are starved to be allowed and encouraged to honestly and collaboratively engage with real existence, NOT some orthodoxy.

  26. Many good points Cliff. And kudos to you for daring to raise the issue with the establishment. But you are kidding yourself if you think that unions, ed schools and the NEA are not all inextricably linked. If you truly want teachers trained in content instead of professional indoctrination, then you have to take a stand against teacher's unions and the education establishment that pushed top down indoctrination instead of bottom up teaching.

    I'm not really for charter schools, but at this point, they might be the only thing that can offer an alternative to the edu alliance. If public schools are forced to compete because parents leave the public school system in large numbers, that will send an effective message that a new approach is needed.

    And you missed another major problem. The educational establishment is a product of the university establishment. Another completely broken and out of control racket with a lot of mediocre actors who have guaranteed protection for life, much like a union protected poor grade school teachers.

    If you want a meritocracy in primary and secondary schools, you should be willing to also question the university system which has done a lot to kill the vocational schooling in this country and is a major force in churning out the masters in edudoctrination majors that then go on to lead the NEA, run the teachers unions and damage the younger students through their edu fad policies.

  27. "assessing teachers by measuring student progress."

    Just ask the designers of the tests that are used to evaluate student performance. They will all say one thing...their tests are designed to measure students, not teachers.

    "And considering the substantial correlation between student background and their progress in school, no assessment program that I know of is viable."

    If you look at which students are from low-income families (like kids that receive free or reduced school lunches), those are the students that are likely to under-perform. If one wants to impact education positively, then one needs to impact issues of poverty positively. Parental involvement in a student's education is very important to that student succeeding, and many parents in the working poor class unfortunately simply don't have the time to dedicate to their children.

  28. I agree with this. But this is the blog I have been waiting for to really add this.

    Here is the consequence of the push "all kids go to college" : Student Loan debt is now #2 of personal national debt ahead of all credit card debt. 1.2 Trillion Dollars. The funny thing is that we tell all the kids to go to college, but when they do and have to take loans out, we "The taxpayers" BLAME them for making bad choices if they default with signing Loan papers. Some of these kids are pushed into doing it without the consequences of default. Which is far worse than a bankruptcy on a house and a car. Your credit is permanently destroyed upon default. I have heard of felons having an easier time getting housing with their felony than a defaulted student loan individual with bad credit. Not only are we pushing "all kids to go to college" we are also punishing the ones if they cannot pay for it as well.
    At this point in my life, I could of actually been better off as a high school drop out. We do really need to offer different tracks of education and not push every kid into going to college. Assess them for their interests and performance (if they want to go the college route) in terms of what classes they will take.

    As for other things, I found this video to be quite good! RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms


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