In a previous thread, JP posted: "We need a national debate about what we expect public education to accomplish."
Well, folks, we may not represent a "National Debate", but the gang here debates well. I agree with JP. When you ask the question of what K-12 education should accomplish, you are most often provided with vague outcome descriptions.
Now, for starters, let's look at one aspect of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), testing. NCLB says that in order to receive a diploma attesting to satisfactory achievement in a 12 year curriculum, you must test satisfactorily during the 10th year! So, the standard for a HS diploma is based upon a test of slightly less than 10 years of that schooling. Is there something wrong with this picture?
And, what do we want these students to learn? Well, that shifts from edubabble fad to edubabble fad. Has anyone wondered what the lack of long term internal discipline and consistency in the field of education has done to the effectiveness of that education?
Lastly, and sorrowfully, I have to admit that I do not accept that every child in the US is capable of earning a meaningful diploma in 12 years. And, gasp - gasp -gasp, there are some who are incapable of earning one at all. There are a variety of reasons (both voluntary and involuntary) for this, but the reasons (causes) are inescapable and most likely incurable.
But first and foremost, JP's question must be answered, and what a "diploma" means must be narrowly and fully defined. And the debate has nothing to do with the expectations of students and their parents. What does our society need? We've spent a few decades catering to the students, and it doesn't seem to have benefited the greater society that much.