In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, Harold O. Levy proposes Five Ways to Fix America’s Schools.
Here is a brief summary of Levy’s suggestions, with a minimum of commentary from me. I’ll leave it mostly up to the reader to ponder the coherence and joint compatibility of these proposals.
#1 – Raise the age of compulsory education to 19, and require every student to complete at least one year of college.
Make kids stay in school until they’re 19 years old. And force them to go to college, whether they like it or not.
#2 – Fight truancy using high-pressure sales tactics “to compel parents to ensure that their children go to school every day.”
After reading Levy’s first proposal, I was relieved to see that he’s at least thought about truancy. ‘Cause after #1, there’s going to be a lot of truancy.
#3 – “Advertise creatively and aggressively to encourage college enrollment.”
I tend to think that legally forcing kids to take a year of college is all the encouragement they’ll need. Don’t you?
#4 – Make accreditation information public, so that the Department of Education can rank colleges and universities instead of U.S. News & World Report.
According to Levy, what we have now are “rankings that are skewed by colleges, which contort their marketing efforts to maximize the number of applicants whom they already know they will never accept, just to improve their selectivity rankings.” OK … and according to #3, the way to make things better is for colleges to advertise and market themselves more “creatively” and “aggressively”?
But why bother to rank colleges and universities at all? Everyone is going to college. Right?
#5 – According to Levy, “the biggest improvement” we could make with respect to higher education: “produce more qualified candidates.”
This one takes the cake. What can we do to fix schools? Produce better students.
At this time, it is morally obligatory for the reader to slap his or her forehead.
This editorial is, without a doubt, one of the most disappointing things I’ve read all summer, given that it was written by a former school administrator and college trustee. Indeed, and setting aside the viable utility of any one of these proposals: Levy’s essay represents intellectual standards (and, thus, of educational leadership) so low, it’s disturbing.