One, in particular, was a gimmick known as “Whole Language” that was resulting in about one quarter of our children not mastering the skill of reading. I believe there is no skill more important than having the ability to read because if a student cannot read ˆ a student cannot learn. All of these gimmicks and fads are causing our children to fall behind in a world fast becoming more and more competitive every day.
These harmful fads and gimmicks have ultimately led to a serious disconnect between two groups who have competing visions of what the role of education should be. On one hand, parents, employers and community leaders believe the purpose of education is to develop and prepare students to be productive citizens and possess the skills and knowledge to compete in the global marketplace. One the other hand, the elite educational establishment which includes education theorists, union bosses, education bureaucrats and high priced consultants believe the purpose of education is to foster equality, diversity, social justice and self-esteem.
Unfortunately, the education elite have become successful in pushing their agenda and meeting their goals while parents, community leaders and employers have been left out of the equation. Education has become an act of social engineering with an emphasis on driving social policy at the expense of having students master the skills of reading, writing, math and science. Educating our children is no longer an academic endeavor ˆ it often seems more of a social experiment.
I firmly believe that Iowa has a wonderful educational heritage and we need to get back to the basics of focusing on reading, writing, math and science instead of focusing on social engineering in our schools. When we get back to the basics, we will again be able to put our students first by preparing them to be productive citizens who possess the necessary skills and knowledge to compete with any one else in the world. As it stands now, the rest of the world is leaving America behind and the rest of America is starting to leave Iowa behind. Simply spending more money is not the answer.