The single biggest problem in American education is that no one agrees on why we educate. Faced with this lack of consensus, policy makers define good education as higher test scores. But higher test scores are not a definition of good education. Students can get higher scores in reading and mathematics yet remain completely ignorant of science, the arts, civics, history, literature and foreign languages.
Why do we educate? We educate because we want citizens who are capable of taking responsibility for their lives and for our democracy. We want citizens who understand how their government works, who are knowledgeable about the history of their nation and other nations. We need citizens who are thoroughly educated in science. We need people who can communicate in other languages. We must ensure that every young person has the chance to engage in the arts.
But because of our narrow-minded utilitarianism, we have forgotten what good education is.
DIANE RAVITCH Ravitch is a historian. Her book ‘‘The Death and Life of the Great American School System’’ will be published in February.
Amen! And I look forward to reading her book.
NOTE: for those of you who are over here from the Daily Worcesteria bloglog (and thanks for the mention, guys!), the above pithy quote is INDEED a quote from Ravitch from the Sunday New York Times Sunday Magazine. The "amen" is mine! Blog style over here is serifs if it's me, sans if it isn't.