Trending among governors: education reform

ImageGovernor Bobby Jindal signed his public education reform plan into law earlier this month and the media is abuzz about it. Some opinionated columnists have noted that there is still too much bureaucracy in education and that governors and presidents are not suited to running schools because they lack expertise in the field. Others have been inspired by Louisiana’s drastic and sweeping changes. In Michigan, for example, Governor Rick Snyder has just proposed transformational education reforms aimed at progressing the education system from days of farmers to one that prepares students for the digital age. The Governor believes that education is the long-term key to revitalizing the economy in Michigan.

Gov. Snyder’s plan includes a model called “Any Time, Any Place, Any Way, Any Pace,” which allows for a wide variety of learning experiences for students including school choice, blended learning and online education. School districts will have more control over the length of the school day, week, and year and more flexibility in instruction and classroom configuration. The plan includes removing the cap on the number of charter schools in a district with at least one failing school, offering college credit opportunities to high school students, rating schools and reevaluating teachers.

Through studies, interviews, testing, and documentaries, it has become very clear that effective teaching is not always what happens in the average public school classroom. In fact, almost half of America’s K-12 teachers graduated in the bottom third of their college classes. While in model education system countries like Finland, requires teachers to have master’s degrees and only 10 percent of applicants are accepted to teacher training. Another point made by critics of the U.S. system is that teachers don’t have enough autonomy. P.L. Thomas, associate professor at Furman University, wrote in The Atlantic that “teachers and principals must feel free to act on their best instincts.” This sentiment is felt elsewhere as well. Marc Tucker, the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy says that the reason Finland strategies are working is because, “they have created a set of policies that are producing teacher they can trust, while we here in the U.S., we are basically pursuing a set of policies that are designed for teachers we don’t trust.”

Posted by: Devon Thorsell

Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlantic, Michigan.gov

Photo credit: Governor Rick Snyder courtesy of flickr user Frankenmuth Fun

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