Monday, November 7, 2016

Announcement of my interest in becoming US Secretary of Education

Stephen Krashen  November 7, 2016.

According to the BAT organization's poll, I was one of those mentioned as a possible candidate for the position of Secretary of Education. If appointed, here is some of my platform. Most of the ideas are not my own, and I will supply full documentation if my candidacy develops.

Focus on poverty

By far the most consistent and powerful predictor of school achievement is poverty.  In fact, when researchers control for the effect of poverty, American students rank near the top of the world on international tests.

The current view of the US Department of Education is that improving education will reduce the rate of poverty, but there is strong evidence that the causality goes in the opposite direction, supporting Martin Luther King’s position: "We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished”(Martin Luther King, 1967, Final Words of Advice).

Until we achieve full employment at a living wage, the real cure for poverty, the Department of Education can improve the situation immediately by protecting children from at least some of the effects of poverty. Children of poverty suffer from food deprivation, lack of proper health care, and have very limited access to reading material. This means we must immediately act to improve school food programs, improve access to school nurses, and support school libraries and librarians.

More flexible expectations

The Department of Education can also improve matters immediately by encouraging more flexible expectations for school completion: Announcing high school graduation rates based only those who graduate "on time" (in four years) sends the message that there is something wrong with taking longer.  Education expert Susan Ohanian tells us that during the depression, her father went to high school every other year, working to help support the family when he wasn't in school.  Taking longer than the usual four years is often an indication of persistence and determination, not laziness. Using today's measures, he would be classified as a dropout.

Help students find their paths

The Department of Education should not promote specific careers based on (often inaccurate) current perceptions of national needs. Rather, school should provide an environment in which students discover their individual interests and talents, and help them develop these interests and talents.

This requires a re-analysis of the need for college. The official position of the US government is that on finishing high-school students should be “college or career ready,” but in practice the focus is clearly on college. This is reflected not only in statements from the Department of Education, but also in the content of the Common Core, clearly a college prep program.

College is right for many many students. But it is not right for everybody. College is not better, it is different.  Many young people have talents and interests that are not well-served by college, and they deserve the chance to develop in different ways.  Both young people and society profit when we respect diversity, and both suffer when we do not:  John Gardner, Former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, tried to warn us years ago: “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”


Reduce STEM fever

There is no question that computer use should be included in school, but this does not mean that every child should be preparing for a career in computer science or STEM.  Study after study has shown that there is no STEM crisis, no shortage of STEM workers. In fact, in many areas, there is a surplus. 

NUT: No Unnecessary Testing

Limit standardized testing to what has been demonstrated to be helpful to teachers and students.  If we do this, there will be more than enough money available to significantly improve food programs, health care, and libraries (see above). 


Recess

Recess will be brought back and in the form of free play, not organized activities. Administrators in elementary schools that do not allow recess should lose their coffee breaks. c


As Secretary of Education, I will work to immediately protect students from the impact of poverty, help students find their own paths, and eliminate unnecessary testing.  This can be done easily, will save money, and will result in considerable improvement in the lives of millions of students and teachers, while at the same time increasing academic achievement.


29 comments:

  1. All the best to you, Professor Krashen. Secretary Krashen would be great.

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  2. Hillary in the White House and Krashen in the DOE = Dream Team

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  3. I would love for you to be part of a regime change. So tired of this mess of test and punishment.

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  4. May God help you, Prof. Krashen!

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  5. A true educator in that position, and one with whom I agree on every single point above. Thank you for even considering this.

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  6. I liked so much of this (as I knew I would), but I think my favorite line is "Administrators in elementary schools that do not allow recess should lose their coffee breaks"

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    1. Hey Susie! I read this comment yesterday, but didn't pay attention to the name until just now!

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  7. Good luck from the UK. This would be amazing!

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  8. You would have my vote...if only I was able to vote..

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  9. This was today's gift of hope and possibilities! Thx

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  10. As an educator, you are really a comprehensible input for the future of education in the United States. Thank you!

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  11. Pleeeeeeeaaaaassssseeee run for this position!!!! Restore my faith and hope in public school America!!!

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  12. I am up for it! I would live to see common sense back in education.

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  13. Thanks to a friend, I read of this on Facebook, have started reading your blog and shared your message on, encouraging others to read and share. Your possible candidacy is very exciting, and your suggestions would be so simple to implement! Good luck!

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  14. There isn't a single point that you mentioned that I don't agree with. It would be a great service to our students, teachers, and our country!

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  15. And lots of free reading. I'm with you!

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  16. If I win then you have the job... but the projections are not looking to good for me.

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  17. Dr. Krashen, you're the best candidate for this position. Only you could save American public education and turn around the toxic situation our children are in now.

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  18. Best wishes Dr. Krashen, I hope you are the successful candidate.

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  19. Hope you are serious, because I am actively putting your good name, Dr. Stephen Krashen, out there with full faith you ARE the best person for the job and you know how to get along with with folks!

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  20. Hi Dr. Krashen - are you still up for this? Since even Republicans are unhappy with the current nominee, I think we should start a serious movement to put you forward as a nominee. I have a feeling a large % of Americans would rally behind the points you've outlined here.

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