At last week’s session, one of our participants suggested that we discuss when throwing money at a problem can and cannot work. (He put it more eloquently.)
So we decided to try it out on education in the U.S.
- Is this a case where more money can solve the issues with lackluster educational performance? Or is performance driven primarily by other factors?
- If more money can make a big difference, how should it be spent? Teachers, school buildings, tutoring, class materials, extracurriculars? All of the above?
- What other societal factors are holding us back? (There is a lot of anecdotal discussion about the social safety net and kids “ready to learn.”)
- How can the charter school (public and private) experience and track record inform our discussion?
- What is the goal of a U.S. education? The three R’s? Civics? Vocational training? College prep? Everything to everyone?
- With a wide range of goals, how do we define, and then measure, “excellence?”
- And will more clarity of definition and measurement motivate educators to “teach to the test?” Is that what we want?
This is a subject with a lot of anecdotes. But there have also been quite a few studies examining many of these questions. I encourage participants to spend a bit of time looking for research on the subject.