On this unusual day of mourning for another country’s Queen, who ruled for 70 years, the tension between tradition and modernity naturally arises. Monarchy, democracy, and autocracy all seem to be under consideration for policymakers, rulers, and politicians who represent people in more than 200 countries around the world. In this transitional time, the U.S. transformation as a country is underway and our school system is therefore challenged to evolve in a parallel way. It is a very powerful transformational period because this moment can be felt everywhere. The question is, can we rise to this new challenge perhaps before we are even ready?
Reimagining K-12 Education in America
As readers react (New York Times, on September 17, 2022), to a dozen essays trying to answer “What Is School For?” (New York Times, on September 1, 2022), the question of what form our K-12 education system should take is foundational to their comments, to the dozen essays that kicked off this discussion, and to school reformers everywhere. Lurking in the background is the feeling that for forty years of the current reform era are over. The era that was kicked off by A Nation At Risk in 1983, and may well be over in 2023, despite sincere plans and large systemic reforms, has not moved the measured outcomes of reading literacy and SAT scores one inch higher.
Underlying Problems Need New Approach
And perhaps the real reason for this failure is the traditional acceptance that higher test scores were the driver of reform and the intended result was accountability for progress. But accountability did not result in success. And as the testing approach got more intense, the scores did not move and the gap between those who have and those who do not have got wider. Everyone recognizes the outlines of this problem and therefore it is time to propose a new approach for the current state of educational improvement.
The Future of Education is Quality, Equity, and Creativity
The future of U.S. Education K-12 is take quality, equity, and creativity as the driving goals in order to develop a quality experience for every child that is engaging. Many schools currently do this well, but many schools do not do these things well. As we move towards these goals, new ideas for the social emotional well-being will have to be foundational pillars of the future success, especially in light of the pandemic, and the gap between rich and poor. If we can re-establish the legitimacy of our school system through new ideas that actually address the lived experience of our students, we will be able to start the new era of reform.