– No, we didn’t say that
The Bluegrass Institute gets accused in some quarters of being overly negative about our public education system.
But, the quote above didn’t come from us.
That quote is from Bill Gates, former head of Microsoft and current head of a major, privately funded effort to improve education.
Gates was discussing some of the things his education foundation is doing to try to improve education in the United States.
Gates also said, “We’re doing all kinds of experiments that are different. The Race To The Top (the federal department of education’s new stimulus funding program) is going to do many different ones.”
After several years of working with education programs, Gates is figuring it out.
Despite educators’ claims that they know how kids learn and that they have the “research that shows,” the truth is that most education research isn’t very reliable. As a consequence, education ideas that are often presented to the public as proven programs are really just experiments. No one has credible research on a lot of those fad ideas.
The real, scientifically researched knowledge base about what truly works for kids is very thin. In fact, such scientific research that does exist often shows none of the current fad programs in use perform for kids. For example, here is the rather uninspiring report about a reading program called “Accelerated Reader” from the federal government’s What Works Clearinghouse.
Anyway, it is absolutely essential, this time, for us to establish some very solid metrics to see if the next educational experiments with our kids really perform, or not.
Kentuckians need to keep this in mind as we work on Senate Bill 1 and other efforts to really try to improve our education system.
Our new education commissioner, Dr. Terry Holliday, looks like a good man to spearhead this effort. His Baldrige award (see the comprehensive application here) for the education reform work he did in North Carolina shows Holliday should be able to set up a good program to evaluate what does, and does not, work for Kentucky’s public school students. We need to give Dr. Holliday a chance to work some magic in Kentucky without a lot of self-important education types who think they know, but don’t, getting in the commissioner’s way.