Sunday, February 4, 2007

Public Education

This is the result of just about thirteen years in public school (because yes, Kindergarten counts), and almost one year of some community college. Also, a life spent trying to figure out the point of school, and a good chunk of time spent trying to make education seem meaningful. Enough disclaimers.

There is no ideal solution for everyone - totalitarianism works really well for the dictator, and gets progressively worse as you go down. Once that is accepted, the only path that makes sense is one that empowers all people to make choices equally. Sure, being emperor would be fun, but it makes much more sense to manage one's own affairs, and let others manage theirs.

Currently, high schools offer electives, a limited variety dependent on the resources available at a given school. The credits from these are to be matched with required credits, classes in topics that has been deemed necessary (generally by the school board) for people to know to function in the world. While this certainly makes sense, it's both a nanny-state and a totalitarian model. You must have four years of English and two and a half years of history and three years of math to be considered proficient in this world. now, I personally believe that everyone should know who Hamilcar Barca is, but I can't force that as a standard upon people. It isn't necessary for life, and who am I to say that it is?

A meaningful education would, instead, have everyone leaving high school with a knowledge set that would be valuable to the individual. Now, knowing about Hamilcar Barca would make sense if the student was going on to study, in depth, ancient history, with an emphasis in Carthage. Given the millions of high schoolers, I think that as a requirement something like that would make absolutely no sense. Knowing, however, the very basics of an intended field of college study, or having the vocational skills necessary for entering the job market at a pay level where a small family could be sustained (until further education or promotion) would be an immensely valuable situation. Likewise, having German, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian, and Latin offered at public school make sense, but having them offered at every school is a waste of resources. APS has already seen the potential problem this could pose, and so some language classes (Chinese and Japanese) are available to all of APS high schoolers at CEC. This is a good use of resources, and helps to ensure that the classes are sizable, and the students can take the languages they want. It's a step in the right direction.

Now, the right direction, the huge, sweeping change, is fun. With something close to 90,000 students, surely a class can be drawn for almost every conceivable subject. With eleven high-school campuses, there is enough room to house all the classes that could be formed. And really, with the tax base of a sizable city, the resources of a university, and the experience with dual-credit programs at the local community college, it should be entirely possible to change the way High School works in Albuquerque.

My vision is this - a vast, multi-campus school, where upperclassmen especially (and maybe lower classmen) are allowed to either pursue the standard educational path, a more specialized course that will let them graduate with some college credit, to the point even of maybe a minor degree, or to get job training and job experience that will make dropping out foolish, because the kids would be paid and improving while attending school.

It'd be a huge undertaking, and a transportation nightmare, but it's the dream...

Friday, February 2, 2007

Groundhog's Day Revolution

This is not the immediate following post I'd promised about schools. that will come later. Now, instead, to commemorate this great holiday in this great nation, I have this: a groundhog's day Overcompensating

Yes, it is awesome. The blog's regular high standards and sporadic updates will continue after this.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Public Education

I'd been developing this idea for a while, and the fully-fleshed out version will be here soon as I'm rested. The basic premise is this - change APS from 14 separate high schools with a lot of redundancy into one 14-campus high-school system, that could function more as a very large-scale community college, and less as a high school.

Feedback would be appreciated, but that'd require both readers and probably the full post.