A few nights ago I finally watched the documentary "Waiting For Superman". It's about the experiences of several families who are trying to get their kids out of failing or sub-standard public schools, and into charter schools, magnet schools, or other experiments.
The critique of the current system is devastating. Principals and superintendants can't fire teachers (without devoting their lives to the process, anyway), some kids run wild, and a lot of the kids get put on the public school-to-prison-pipeline.
Here's the trailer for the documentary. It has seen some vicious attacks by the unions, but the fundamental premise of the film remains intact: Give people a choice, and the people and systems will improve.
And boy-howdy, do we now have some choices. If you're the type of person likely to read the blog of a redneck shipping manager, you're probably the type of person who was bored out of his freakin' mind during school. You had to learn at the pace of the slowest person in your class. You despised the busy-work designed to keep you quiet while the teacher graded papers.
Look at the amazing stuff that is now out there.....
Several years ago, MIT's Salman Khan was trying to tutor his cousin in math. He got frustrated with the crap handed out by the schools, and started making math videos. He's now made FOUR THOUSAND OF THEM. Yes. FOUR THOUSAND. Visit Khan Academy. Prepare to be amazed. Still a work in progress, but look at the effort that has gone into this thing. A kid can watch the video whenever he wants, take the tests, and pass on to something new. No waiting around. (I'm brushing up in a few areas where I was the slowest kid that everyone else had to wait on.)
Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok have done something similar with MRUniversity (Marginal Revolution). I'm taking the Development Economics course. If you can hit this link without wanting to take a course, then watching American Idol just might be why God made you. People pay tens of thousands of dollars for this info. I'm just sayin'.....
And for the true-believers out there, you can always Learn Liberty.
We have a lot of kids, especially minorities, who are being forced to sit in a cinderblock room all day without accomplishing anything.
Let's give them a choice. Let's turn them loose in another environment and see if they don't do better. Absolute loyalty to petrified opinions about education has never broken a single chain or freed a single human to a better life.
This is almost a solved problem. Great time to be alive, if we'll just let it happen.