, Gloucester, MA


October 5, 2012

Letter: The 'flaw' in the schools debate

To the Editor:

I thank Mr. Romney in Wednesday night’s presidential discussion session for mentioning the same flaw about education that has been popular here.

That flaw is that “schools need to be competitive.”

What we need are schools that promote and enhance the competence of teachers and staff so that they can achieve their goals of helping students become educated and help them find ways to enjoy learning. That is not what we can expect from competitive schools.

Passing tests in pre-collegiate classes correlate well with grades in upper levels of education. Passing those tests does not adequately predict employment competence or work satisfaction.

We do not need students who score higher on a series of tests. We need, and should want, children who are educated and will work the rest of their lives to remain educated.

I managed a team of 20 people on a programming project with individuals whose academic qualifications ranged from High School graduates to Ph.D.’s. Each worked where he or she excelled. The intellectual fire mattered, not the degree, not the test scores. The ability to seriously consider ideas from others mattered.

The willingness to think others just might have a great idea mattered more than a concern about a pet idea. The humility and the resulting team strength was fabulous. Out of the 20, only three were educated in this country.



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