- Vermonters for Better Education
Home - David Kirkpatrick's pages
School Questions Rarely Answered,
or Even Asked
By David W. Kirkpatrick (June 26, 2008)
Senior Education Fellow
U.S. Freedom Foundation www.freedomfoundation.us
WHY is it that significant reform is opposed with the claim that research is needed, yet proposals to conduct such research are also opposed?
WHY does the present system not only lack a research base but much of it functions in direct contradiction to research findings?
WHY, for example, do we educate students by building a box called a school, inside of which are little boxes called classrooms, occupied by students in rows facing the front of the room, where an adult talks 75-80% of the time; that is, the adult talks three to four times as much as all of the students combined?
WHY does secondary schooling use arbitrary time blocks after each of which students move to another room for a separate subject of instruction?
WHY are these time blocks not only arbitrary but in, say, a high school with a seven-period day, consistent regardless of the academic subject, the topic, the teaching method, the types of students, etc.?
WHY is it said that each student is "taken from where he or she is to where they need to go" when, in fact, they move in groups, from class to class or grade to grade, based essentially upon age with little regard to where each is or needs to go.
WHY are school districts so large? Studies indicate a direct relation between a district's size and the cost per student; and an inverse relationship between district size and student achievement.
WHY, in contradiction to many studies, are so many public schools built for thousands of students? Schools for a few hundred, at most, are more effective at educating students and developing their potential. For example, see Roger Barker and Paul Gump's book Big School, Small School, which, published as long ago as 1964, cited extensive evidence supporting smaller schools.
WHY, when youngsters from violent and dysfunctional neighborhoods or families, who lack order and self-discipline in their lives, are placed in large schools with many from similar circumstances, are we surprised that those schools are violent and dysfunctional?
WHY, if large schools are economical and effective, are nonpublic schools smaller? Nationally, the average public school has about 550 students, amidst proposals for further school consolidation; the average nonpublic school has about 200, and the average new charter school a few years ago had only 137. Do they know something traditional educators do not?
WHY is it that rarely, if ever, is a consolidated school called for, or supported, by students, parents, the general public, or teachers?
WHY, despite the foregoing, do public school boards and administrators insist on building large schools anyway?
WHY, in short, if the research, the community, and most educators agree that small schools are better, do so many superintendents and school boards have an "edifice complex?"
WHY is there an increasing trend, and continual efforts, to increase the state share of education funding when studies indicate that higher state funding is related to higher per pupil costs and lower student achievement?
WHY does the largely mythical belief in local control persist in the face of the fact that basic control of, and responsibility for, local schools is constitutionally assigned to the states?
WHY is it only in education that those who are public employees feel the need to attack and denigrate those who are privately employed? Do doctors and nurses in public hospitals or departments of health regard those in private practice as enemies? Do lawyers in district attorneys' offices or departments of justice regard lawyers in private practice as unqualified or unprofessional? Do the police, who are public employees and unionized, oppose or try to restrict private security forces?
WHY are public school teachers referred to as professionals when they are told where, when, what, sometimes even how, to teach, who and with whom to teach, rather than like the public employees/hired hands they are.
WHY do so many public school teachers, who almost unanimously object to the above conditions, resist reforms, such as school choice, that would eliminate most of these restrictions and permit them to work directly with their students, as do doctors with patients, lawyers with clients, and other professionals. Are they that insecure?
# # # # #
Copyright 2008 David W. Kirkpatrick
108 Highland Court,
Douglassville, Pennsylvania 19518-9240
Phone: (610) 689-0633