More school, less education Instead

More school, less education
Instead of perpetual remedial education, why not teach ’em right the first time. Chester Finn riffs on the possibilities on Education Gadfly:

American education is so expensive in large measure because we pay for it twice. We send kids to high school to pick up the knowledge and skills they ought to have learned in elementary school. We send them to college to acquire a decent secondary education. And if we really need someone with a “higher” education, we’re apt to look for people with postgraduate degrees.

How incredibly more efficient and economical it would be to get it right the first time — to expect people to have a proper elementary education by the conclusion of eighth grade, a serious secondary education by the end of 12th, and a bona fide college education by the time they collect their sheepskins.

In such a world — dream on, you say — fewer people would feel compelled to attend college because fewer employers would require college degrees, knowing that a high school diploma signified a full measure of knowledge, skills, and work habits. And if fewer people went to college, education wouldn’t cost society as much, even though everyone would wind up knowing as much as (or more than) they do today. Better still, the savings might be used to improve teaching, invest in new technologies, make pre-school universal, and other education desiderata that we can’t today afford because so many billions are needed for each level of the system to backfill what the previous level ought to have done.

Look at all the high school students who can’t get a 60 percent on a multiple-choice graduation exam measuring — at most — 10th grade skills. They haven’t learned high school skills, but they all seem to want to go to college.

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