The Future of Education

Mark Roosevelt President Antioch College GLI Breakfast speaker Kentucky education IndianaThe team attended Greater Louisville Inc’s Business at Breakfast program this morning where we heard from Mark Roosevelt, President of Ohio’s Antioch College and former Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Roosevelt spoke about “The Future of Education.” He offered a sobering perspective about the state of education saying it is the single greatest threat to our nation’s future, a premise first put forth in the findings of the 1983 Report — “The Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform” – published by President Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education.

Roosevelt’s solutions, that he readily acknowledges will upset many, center around five key areas:

  1. Time – extending the school day and school year. He said that by the time a Korean student finishes high school, he will have been in school four years longer than an American High School graduate.
  2. Money – While not a proponent of throwing more money at the problem, he said funding needs to be stabilized and protected regardless of the current economic conditions.
  3. Systems – We need a systematic approach to education on a national level. As a country, he noted that we are generally hostile to national planning and national systems. Roosevelt sited Germany as an example. He said they are “cleaning our clock.”
  4. Human Resources – We must attract our best talent to the teaching profession. In Finland, only 1 out of every 7 applicants to education schools is accepted. It is a profession with great status and honor. That’s not the case in America.
  5. Governance – there are 15,120 boards of education in America, each with their own curriculum, their own school to work program, etc. He said this localized approach doesn’t work and contributes to our failure.

Roosevelt didn’t limit his criticism to just K-12 and indicated that in general our colleges are academically adrift and lack the necessary rigor.
He said that ultimately it will take everyone’s involvement and attention – a cultural shift where we redefine what a hero is and to “stop celebrating swagger over work.”

Roosevelt shared a quote from Antioch College founder Horace Mann – “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

A harsh assessment, perhaps, but one that should serve to inspire us all to take action. And many in our region already are taking on the challenge.

What are your thoughts?