It’s All About Jobs! (First thoughts on the hearing)

Michigan held its third sub-committee on the Common Core today.    From MLive,

Prominent business leaders and education advocates butted heads at a Michigan House subcommittee hearing about proposed Common Core State Standards that went beyond five hours.

The full committee was in attendance at the start of the hearing, when representatives from Steelcase and DTE Energy joined Business Leaders for Michigan President Doug Rothwell to lend their support to the standards.

Doug Rothwell said that to have “economic success” Michigan needs “well-educated” people to fill good jobs.

But is filling “good jobs” the purpose of Michigan’s public education system?

The stated goal of the Constitution says, “Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”  

If the Catholic church needed to fill “good jobs” for priests would lawmakers change public education to help meet their demand?  If military enlistment were down would lawmakers shift  the focus of public education to fill those “good jobs?”   But somehow when Steelcase and DTE executives lobby lawmakers and tell them they need workers to fill “good jobs” lawmakers bow down and change tgoal of education to college and career readiness to meet corporate demands.    But at what cost?

In our urgency to standardize children in order to create workers to compete in the global economy, America will lose the unique qualities of our educational system that differentiate us from other countries.

In 2006, Newsweek reporter Fareed Zakaria asked Tharman Shanmugaratnam the Education Minister in Singapore how to explain the fact that even though Singapore’s students do so brilliantly on these tests, when you look at these same students 10 or 20 years later, few of them are movers and shakers in their industries. Quoting from Zakaria’s article

Q. Singapore has few truly top-ranked scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, business executives or academics. American kids, by contrast, test much worse in the fourth and eighth grades but seem to do better later in life and in the real world. Why?

A.  “We both have meritocracies,” Shanmugaratnam said. “Yours is a talent meritocracy, ours is an exam meritocracy. There are some parts of the intellect that we are not able to test well—like creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, ambition. Most of all, America has a culture of learning that challenges conventional wisdom, even if it means challenging authority. These are the areas where Singapore must learn from America.”

It is all about what we measure.  If we lose our edge in creativity, curiosity, and challenging conventional wisdom just t to get a better test score, our country has lost something VERY valuable that gives our student’s the creative edge they need to compete in global economy.

If lawmakers are going to move forward with this workfoce development scheme, we must first revise the Michigan Constitution.  I propose the following,

“We the State of Michigan, in order to form a more perfect worker, establish “common” standards to insure domestic conformity, provide for common tests, promote general dependency, and secure the tyranny of stupidity for its citizens, do ordain and establish Common Core Standards for the public schools of Michigan.”