The high school graduate who cannot read his diploma is a favorite cliché among education reformers.
But like all clichés, it holds a lot of truth. Difficult as it may be to believe, there are high school graduates who are barely able to read and write and do basic math. Their schools hand them a worthless piece of paper and send them out into the world. These kids are totally unprepared to handle life and the workaday world.
How is this possible? How can a child spend 13 years inside a classroom and have so few skills?
A big part of the reason is the automobile assembly line mentality that infiltrated schools decades ago.
Consider a typical day in our public schools: a bell rings (bringing the learning process to a screeching halt), kids get out of their seat and shuffle off to their next class to do it all over again -- like an assembly line.
And like many factories, the teachers are part of a union in which work responsibilities are narrowly-defined, innovation and initiative are stymied and penalized, and excellence is treated no differently than mediocrity.
Add to it layers of inefficient bureaucracy, unaccountable leadership and a monopoly in the market place and, voilà, you’re left with a public school that graduates illiterate and ill-prepared students.
The parallels between auto manufacturers and public schools are obvious, but there’s one key difference: kids aren't cars.
Henry Ford did great things for the automobile industry, but it hasn’t worked well for our public schools. According to international studies, American kids are 25th globally in math scores and 24th in science, behind counties like Iceland and Hungary. No disrespect to those countries, but America shouldn’t be 25th in anything. We’ve gotten fat and lazy, and the results show it.
But don’t simply take our word for it. Watch "Kids Aren't Cars" Episode 1: Assembly Line Education, and hear first-hand accounts from teachers, administrators and community leaders of how this system is failing our children.