In addition to our financial deficit as a nation, we have an education deficit in America that is further putting our future and economic prosperity as a nation in jeopardy. We are moving deeper into a knowledge economy and information age where more and more good paying jobs are going to require advanced knowledge, degrees, etc. The national education results that we are getting in our K-12 system per the amount of money we are spending are probably the worst in the world. We need to fundamentally rethink and transform education in the United States to change this. We have to get out of the mindset of “this is how we have in the past” and be open to entirely new models of learning and education for our youth as well as continuously globally benchmarking our spending on education versus results. Below are just a couple of transformative ideas.:
1. Khan Academy – http://www.khanacademy.org/ . It is a free educational internet platform that combines videos and over 2000 lessons in such areas as math, physics, finance, and history. Participants can learn at their own pace, anytime, and all year round. Participants are not limited by age to advance to more advanced lessons. There are tutoring platforms around this and many other great features. Again it is free, and as an example, Bill Gates kids are using it.
2. School Choice- If we as taxpayers spend around $10K per student per year in our K-12 public education system, we should give parents vouchers and give them the choice to take that $10K and send their kids to the best schools to give parents and families the highest educational return for our tax dollars that are spent. This creates competition among schools that creates higher performance. Juan Williams shares his perspective here mentioning this is the civil rights issue of our time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lYq2LE6SwM&feature=player_embedded . I also applaud the work of American Federation for Children https://www.facebook.com/#!/SchoolChoiceNow who are working to push this effort.
3. Leverage Corporate Platforms – Corporate America has created many technology platforms, which educators can use for free, that offer a rich technology platform for lessons, storing work, global collaboration, etc. Some examples include: Oracle –Thinkquest http://www.thinkquest.org/en/, Verizon http://www.thinkfinity.org/ . There are many other free learning platforms that are out there that are phenomenal.
Unfortunately, there will be no debt ceiling moment to highlight our education deficit and we risk a gradual education decline until we reach a point where global competitors (i.e., China, India) have distanced themselves so far from us educationally that we can no longer compete in this new world.
Above I offered just a couple of ideas of probably 1000s of other great ideas out there to help us transform our educational system.
What are your thoughts on the urgency by which the United States needs to transform its education system to better compete globally?