Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pawlenty on Education

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has some new initiatives for the new state budget. The Star Tribune lists one particularly bad idea at the top of its article on Pawlenty's education initiatives from his State of the State speech.

The article states, "Gov. Tim Pawlenty called Wednesday for a modest increase in school funding and bonuses for schools that require students to complete a year of college before they get their high school diploma."

Under Pawlenty's plan, students who have completed their high school degree and met all standard requirements would now be required to complete one year of college before they receive their diploma! This would mean that high school is no longer a four year institution, that there must be oversight and accountability outside of the school district. Colleges and universities will have an expanded role in the education of all students.

This is presumably already happening in some schools in the state. It seems that Pawlenty and others are beginning to recognize that students are no longer learning adequately from public schools, and now colleges will essentially be required to educate all students.

The initiative is optional, but extra funds are promised to schools that increase graduation requirements. It is difficult to imagine school districts disregarding the plan when it means additional funds. The idea is flawed in multiple ways:

  1. Public schools should be held accountable for the inadequacy of what is taught and learned in their school systems. Adding one year of college shifts the responsibility to another party, requiring the student or taxpayer pay for something that shouldn't be a requirement.
  2. Not all students are college material. This flies in the face of the rampant egalitarianism of our culture, but it is undeniable.
  3. The demand for college education will soar, and as demand increases, the cost of college will increase even more rapidly than it already is.
  4. Colleges will become further subsidized by government rather than stand on their own merit in the education marketplace.
  5. A college education is already becoming ubiquitous to the point of near irrelevance and this will further erode the quality of college education.
It is time that public schools, teachers, administrators, and the NEA be held accountable for the inadequacies of our public education system. It is time for real change--not shifting responsibilities.

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