Is public education in a death spiral?

by Steve Wyckoff on February 8, 2010


I fear it is. It’s slow, almost imperceptible, but things are either standing dead still, which is the same as getting worse, or getting worse. But for me the most depressing part is we aren’t even dealing with the  most important educational issues. The only discussion going on among mainstream educators is about money, the lack of money, and what cuts to make because of the lack of money. Don’t get me wrong money is necessary but it is not sufficient. Even before the financial crisis when we had more money the only discussion was “we need more money.”

In any discussion about improving, we almost always  focus on how we get better at what we’ve always done. So I do agree, if we are going to get better at what we’ve always done it will absolutely take more money, lots more money. The problem is, even if we reach our goal, our kids aren’t prepared for the world they’ll be living in.

For years I have believed that when conditions changed dramatically, for whatever reason, schools would finally make real systemic change to improve the educational experiences of all kids. Well, conditions have changed dramatically. We’ve never experienced the kind of financial issues we are facing today. Yet, there are no conversations of significance about changing the paradigm of public education.

Are we in a death spiral? I’m afraid so. I hope I’m proven to be wrong, we have a lot to lose.  But there is no law that says the United States of America has to be the most dominant country in the world. Our dominant position in the world is not guaranteed. 100 years ago the most dominant country in the world was Great Britain. As the saying went, the sun never set on the British Empire. The British Empire lost that lofty status. So can we. The sun can set on us also.- Steve Wyckoff

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