School reform over: Try something new

December 15, 2006

If we continue to get education wrong, a new report argues, America’s decline will follow.  So, the report urges radical changes in U.S. education.

The report of the New Commission on Skills of the American Workforce departs from other recent reports in a number of interesting ways, including advocating a national system of teachers, with higher pay.  It urges abandoning requirements for four years of high school, moving instead to a more European model where students may leave after 10 years for junior college.  It is titled Tough Choices or Tough Times, published by Jossey-Bass for $19.95.

An earlier commission in 1990 issued a report titled  High Skills or Low Wages.  The new report continues in that vein, warning that international competition and automation threaten all low skill jobs in the U.S.

This commission was assembled with funding from the Gates Foundation and other sources.

Some details are available in The New York Times.   A longer, much different view in in the Chicago Tribune.  From the Tribune’s summary of how testing would allow 10th graders to get out of high school early:

How the testing would work


In 10th grade, students would take a rigorous test.

With a passing grade, the student and parents would choose between two options:

OPTION 1: Stay in high school for junior and senior years to prepare for elite 4-year university or to enter state university with college credit.

OPTION 2: Enroll at community college with possibility of moving on to 4-year university.


If the student fails, he or she would stay in high school to take remedial courses and retake test until he/she passes it.

The executive summary is available here in 28 pages.  The report is the cover story for the December 18 edition of Time magazine.  You’ll probably see it in your local newspaper today.

More to come, surely.

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