Sunday, May 28, 2023

The Dark Side of Education Reform


Let's Face It: It's All Dark.

Praise the Lord!  In  my county in West Virginia, the end of the year testing (the big test, the General Summative Assessment) and iReady benchmark testing are finished for the 2022-2023 school year.  Hallelujah!  This coming week students who have missed more than five days or more than one unexcused absence will take semester exams. Looking at it like this, we have spent the better part of the 4th quarter in tests.  Our testing began the last week of April and has taken place at least two days of every week since.  That's a lot of time that could be spent learning, investigating, writing. learning new math concepts. How did we get here?

I was graduated from high school in 1978.  I matriculated from West Virginia University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in secondary education, with certifications in library media, journalism and social studies. I was green as grass when President Ronald Reagan proclaimed that all students should have a college education. Even in my naivete, I knew that was BS. Every child did not need a college education.  Certainly those in skill positions would need additional training to embark upon their careers, but this training was most often conducted on the job or through union apprentice programs In both of these cases, the student would be paid for learning. Most of those going to college would have to rely on federal student aid, often in the form of government subsidised student loans. Your government at work.

Am I complaining about the government backing loans for those in need?  Not at all.  I think doors should be opened to those who have a sincere desire to learn and seek coursework that will prepare them for their futures.  Unfortunately, that is not everybody, and the frivolous manner in which these loans were dispatched to almost anyone that applied was a guaranteed way of creating a workforce that was indebted not just to the banks and the federal government but to their employers who knew the graduates would rely on their jobs to pay those loans back.

And thus began what I cynically call the first step in creating a working class that is compelled to work under any circumstances with little to no protest or in jobs lower than their educational creditentials imply. Why?  Students are in debt to the United States government or their subsidiaries before they even begin their careers.  This is perhaps one of the best laid traps to ensure the U.S. has a wealth of well-educated labor to work in service industries for little pay.  What does this do to the people who chose not to pursue higher education?  Well, I guess these people end up in the unemployment line. 

There are other coexisting theories I have concocted that align strongly with this theory, but this is enough for today.  Is this theory well researched ?  No. These are views based on my observations after watching the fallout 40 years years later.

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