Hi Scott. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I absolutely agree that education must adapt to the seemingly accelerating rate of change in our work environment. We’re not alone in this… A common refrain heard from education leaders is that we must adapt education for the jobs of tomorrow. There is more emphasis on this than ever, but resource constraints are common and limit efficacy of efforts. Also, efforts to modernize education tend to be concentrated in more affluent areas.
I also agree that needs of education vary depending on the student/family/locale. That being said, children do not belong only to their parents, and it’s in all of our interests to educate our children holistically in a way that supports both the individual interests of the child/family/community, and our nation as a whole.
This is where having a set of common standards for the nation has been helpful. Prior to Common Core, each state had its own standards and the result was confusion and gross inequity. How could it be fair that 4th graders in California would expected to master arithmetic while kids in Mississippi aren’t expected to master arithmetic until 6th grade? How could we ever say a school was ‘failing’ if there was no set metric we could use to determine what failing is?
This is not to say that we should have common curriculum and pedagogy, or that different schools couldn’t emphasize or add on curriculum that supports the interests of the student/family/locale. Quite the opposite. I believe data would show that students flourish when provided with an education that is built around their needs and interests.
So, while there is broad agreement that it is good to have baseline standards for what children are expected to learn, there should also be agreement for baseline standards for what resources should be provided to learning environments. Expecting students to meet learning standards without providing adequate resources is a recipe for failure.
I have no interest in homogenizing schools, but certainly we could agree that schools should be in good repair, meet standards for HVAC, nutrition, water quality, teacher experience, etc.
Using nutrition services as an example, I am not suggesting that every school should feature Teriyaki Chicken Bowls on Mondays, and Pasta Bar on Tuesdays. I’m simply suggesting that every school should have a menu of options similar to the one I feature in the post from Gunn High School in Los Altos — similar in that it has a wide variety of options that are organic and locally-sourced.
I’m not suggesting that every school have a $63,000,000 football stadium, but that if we agree that a high school should be provided with such a large sum of money, then every high school of similar size should be provided the same amount of funding to use as they see fit.
Because students can’t choose where they live, locale should not be a determinant for availability of resources. There is no good reason why a school in a poor neighborhood struggles with dilapidated buildings, pests, mold, crumbling textbooks, etc., while another school in an affluent neighborhood is in such good shape that they can afford to build a world-class performing arts center for Drama Club.