Foreign comparisons on education are invalid

Some 30 years ago, when I was a teacher, the report on American education, “A Nation at Risk,” was released. It seemed like everybody accepted the conclusion that we were falling behind, as well as the recommended reforms, such as longer times at school and tougher standards. I believed that the report missed too many things, and that the proposed reforms, like asking local taxpayers to pick up most of the costs, would fail. And I believe the same today.

Foreign comparisons to our education system are not valid. We educate our students differently, and more equally. Other countries send their best students to higher preparation schools and technical schools. Many students go into occupational training. Some children, such as in Asia, are given menial jobs.

We are dealing with young people, not machines. Quantity does not make up for quality. We shouldn’t take much stock from bankers, lawyers, business people and politicians about education; they are looking out for their own self-interests.

Students have to learn the basics first as a foundation for future growth. Learning is a lifelong experience. We are not all the same. We must meet the needs of the students first. Work on their potentials and develop their skills. Don’t negate the arts and sports. They shouldn’t be forced to learn, and they should retain what they are learning. Students should learn at their own pace, and be evaluated by their growth.

We have outstanding universities. American soldiers, with their intelligence and ingenuity, are among the best – and train others all over the world. One way or another, I believe that we will always have enough trained and educated people for this country’s needs.

Joel LaPlaca