THERE IS NOTHING THE MATTER WITH TRADE EDUCATION.....WE DO NOT WANT IT PRE-K-COLLEGE WITH A COMMITTEE DECIDING HOW CHILDREN ARE TRACKED ACCORDING TO TESTING!
This is my last post for now on education. I want to contrast the South Korean model I shared last with the Finnish (modeled from US public education before Reagan).
Regarding Maryland's education reform taking the Korean model and not the Finnish model:
I showed in my last few posts that Race to the Top is modeled from the Korean/China model of education and that US universities have already been taken by corporate interests. This is what education privatizers have been working towards this past decade or two. Clinton became the first pol running as a democrat to advance this-----because he was the first to take the democratic party neo-liberal by starting the privatized universities. Now Obama is placing privatization of K-12 on steroids with Race to the Top.
As I showed earlier, South Koreans have been trying to shake this education reform for decades and they are shouting just as US teachers are for the sake of educators, students, and parents for a strong democratic education as we see with the Finland model.
REMEMBER, THE FINNISH MODEL WAS MODELED AFTER THE AMERICAN EDUCATION SYSTEM BEFORE REAGAN/CLINTON DISMANTLING!
All of Baltimore's appointed School Supervisors are in place because they support this school privatization. Alonzo from NYC/Bloomberg's crew of privatizers and now Milwaukee's school privatizer under the likes of Scott Walker.
Let's look at what Americans see as a strong public education model that worked in the US for decades! The Finnish model values equality, equal access, places teaching as a prestigious profession that is well-paid and autonomous......AND IT HATES THE WORD COMPETITION, TESTING, and privatization.
What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success
Anu Partanen Dec 29 2011, 3:00 PM ET
The Scandinavian country is an education superpower because it values equality more than excellence.
Everyone agrees the United States needs to improve its education system dramatically, but how? One of the hottest trends in education reform lately is looking at the stunning success of the West's reigning education superpower, Finland. Trouble is, when it comes to the lessons that Finnish schools have to offer, most of the discussion seems to be missing the point.
The small Nordic country of Finland used to be known -- if it was known for anything at all -- as the home of Nokia, the mobile phone giant. But lately Finland has been attracting attention on global surveys of quality of life -- Newsweek ranked it number one last year -- and Finland's national education system has been receiving particular praise, because in recent years Finnish students have been turning in some of the highest test scores in the world.
Finland's schools owe their newfound fame primarily to one study: the PISA survey, conducted every three years by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The survey compares 15-year-olds in different countries in reading, math, and science. Finland has ranked at or near the top in all three competencies on every survey since 2000, neck and neck with superachievers such as South Korea and Singapore. In the most recent survey in 2009 Finland slipped slightly, with students in Shanghai, China, taking the best scores, but the Finns are still near the very top. Throughout the same period, the PISA performance of the United States has been middling, at best.
Compared with the stereotype of the East Asian model -- long hours of exhaustive cramming and rote memorization -- Finland's success is especially intriguing because Finnish schools assign less homework and engage children in more creative play. All this has led to a continuous stream of foreign delegations making the pilgrimage to Finland to visit schools and talk with the nation's education experts, and constant coverage in the worldwide media marveling at the Finnish miracle.
So there was considerable interest in a recent visit to the U.S. by one of the leading Finnish authorities on education reform, Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education's Center for International Mobility and author of the new book Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? Earlier this month, Sahlberg stopped by the Dwight School in New York City to speak with educators and students, and his visit received national media attention and generated much discussion.
And yet it wasn't clear that Sahlberg's message was actually getting through. As Sahlberg put it to me later, there are certain things nobody in America really wants to talk about.
* * *
During the afternoon that Sahlberg spent at the Dwight School, a photographer from the New York Times jockeyed for position with Dan Rather's TV crew as Sahlberg participated in a roundtable chat with students. The subsequent article in the Times about the event would focus on Finland as an "intriguing school-reform model."
Yet one of the most significant things Sahlberg said passed practically unnoticed. "Oh," he mentioned at one point, "and there are no private schools in Finland."
This notion may seem difficult for an American to digest, but it's true. Only a small number of independent schools exist in Finland, and even they are all publicly financed. None is allowed to charge tuition fees. There are no private universities, either. This means that practically every person in Finland attends public school, whether for pre-K or a Ph.D.
The irony of Sahlberg's making this comment during a talk at the Dwight School seemed obvious. Like many of America's best schools, Dwight is a private institution that costs high-school students upward of $35,000 a year to attend -- not to mention that Dwight, in particular, is run for profit, an increasing trend in the U.S. Yet no one in the room commented on Sahlberg's statement. I found this surprising. Sahlberg himself did not.
Sahlberg knows what Americans like to talk about when it comes to education, because he's become their go-to guy in Finland. The son of two teachers, he grew up in a Finnish school. He taught mathematics and physics in a junior high school in Helsinki, worked his way through a variety of positions in the Finnish Ministry of Education, and spent years as an education expert at the OECD, the World Bank, and other international organizations.
Now, in addition to his other duties, Sahlberg hosts about a hundred visits a year by foreign educators, including many Americans, who want to know the secret of Finland's success. Sahlberg's new book is partly an attempt to help answer the questions he always gets asked.
From his point of view, Americans are consistently obsessed with certain questions: How can you keep track of students' performance if you don't test them constantly? How can you improve teaching if you have no accountability for bad teachers or merit pay for good teachers? How do you foster competition and engage the private sector? How do you provide school choice?
The answers Finland provides seem to run counter to just about everything America's school reformers are trying to do.
For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what's called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.
Instead, the public school system's teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.
As for accountability of teachers and administrators, Sahlberg shrugs. "There's no word for accountability in Finnish," he later told an audience at the Teachers College of Columbia University. "Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted."
For Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master's degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country. If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it.
And while Americans love to talk about competition, Sahlberg points out that nothing makes Finns more uncomfortable. In his book Sahlberg quotes a line from Finnish writer named Samuli Paronen: "Real winners do not compete." It's hard to think of a more un-American idea, but when it comes to education, Finland's success shows that the Finnish attitude might have merits. There are no lists of best schools or teachers in Finland. The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation.
Finally, in Finland, school choice is noticeably not a priority, nor is engaging the private sector at all. Which brings us back to the silence after Sahlberg's comment at the Dwight School that schools like Dwight don't exist in Finland.
"Here in America," Sahlberg said at the Teachers College, "parents can choose to take their kids to private schools. It's the same idea of a marketplace that applies to, say, shops. Schools are a shop and parents can buy what ever they want. In Finland parents can also choose. But the options are all the same."
Herein lay the real shocker. As Sahlberg continued, his core message emerged, whether or not anyone in his American audience heard it.
Decades ago, when the Finnish school system was badly in need of reform, the goal of the program that Finland instituted, resulting in so much success today, was never excellence. It was equity.
* * *
Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality.
In the Finnish view, as Sahlberg describes it, this means that schools should be healthy, safe environments for children. This starts with the basics. Finland offers all pupils free school meals, easy access to health care, psychological counseling, and individualized student guidance.
In fact, since academic excellence wasn't a particular priority on the Finnish to-do list, when Finland's students scored so high on the first PISA survey in 2001, many Finns thought the results must be a mistake. But subsequent PISA tests confirmed that Finland -- unlike, say, very similar countries such as Norway -- was producing academic excellence through its particular policy focus on equity.
That this point is almost always ignored or brushed aside in the U.S. seems especially poignant at the moment, after the financial crisis and Occupy Wall Street movement have brought the problems of inequality in America into such sharp focus. The chasm between those who can afford $35,000 in tuition per child per year -- or even just the price of a house in a good public school district -- and the other "99 percent" is painfully plain to see.
* * *
Pasi Sahlberg goes out of his way to emphasize that his book Finnish Lessons is not meant as a how-to guide for fixing the education systems of other countries. All countries are different, and as many Americans point out, Finland is a small nation with a much more homogeneous population than the United States.
Yet Sahlberg doesn't think that questions of size or homogeneity should give Americans reason to dismiss the Finnish example. Finland is a relatively homogeneous country -- as of 2010, just 4.6 percent of Finnish residents had been born in another country, compared with 12.7 percent in the United States. But the number of foreign-born residents in Finland doubled during the decade leading up to 2010, and the country didn't lose its edge in education. Immigrants tended to concentrate in certain areas, causing some schools to become much more mixed than others, yet there has not been much change in the remarkable lack of variation between Finnish schools in the PISA surveys across the same period.
Samuel Abrams, a visiting scholar at Columbia University's Teachers College, has addressed the effects of size and homogeneity on a nation's education performance by comparing Finland with another Nordic country: Norway. Like Finland, Norway is small and not especially diverse overall, but unlike Finland it has taken an approach to education that is more American than Finnish. The result? Mediocre performance in the PISA survey. Educational policy, Abrams suggests, is probably more important to the success of a country's school system than the nation's size or ethnic makeup.
Indeed, Finland's population of 5.4 million can be compared to many an American state -- after all, most American education is managed at the state level. According to the Migration Policy Institute, a research organization in Washington, there were 18 states in the U.S. in 2010 with an identical or significantly smaller percentage of foreign-born residents than Finland.
What's more, despite their many differences, Finland and the U.S. have an educational goal in common. When Finnish policymakers decided to reform the country's education system in the 1970s, they did so because they realized that to be competitive, Finland couldn't rely on manufacturing or its scant natural resources and instead had to invest in a knowledge-based economy.
With America's manufacturing industries now in decline, the goal of educational policy in the U.S. -- as articulated by most everyone from President Obama on down -- is to preserve American competitiveness by doing the same thing. Finland's experience suggests that to win at that game, a country has to prepare not just some of its population well, but all of its population well, for the new economy. To possess some of the best schools in the world might still not be good enough if there are children being left behind.
Is that an impossible goal? Sahlberg says that while his book isn't meant to be a how-to manual, it is meant to be a "pamphlet of hope."
"When President Kennedy was making his appeal for advancing American science and technology by putting a man on the moon by the end of the 1960's, many said it couldn't be done," Sahlberg said during his visit to New York. "But he had a dream. Just like Martin Luther King a few years later had a dream. Those dreams came true. Finland's dream was that we want to have a good public education for every child regardless of where they go to school or what kind of families they come from, and many even in Finland said it couldn't be done."
Clearly, many were wrong. It is possible to create equality. And perhaps even more important -- as a challenge to the American way of thinking about education reform -- Finland's experience shows that it is possible to achieve excellence by focusing not on competition, but on cooperation, and not on choice, but on equity.
The problem facing education in America isn't the ethnic diversity of the population but the economic inequality of society, and this is precisely the problem that Finnish education reform addressed. More equity at home might just be what America needs to be more competitive abroad.
If the Supreme Court want to 'interpret' Constitutional Law then they need to go back to the time in which it was written and by whom. Jefferson and many of those former American Revolutionary leaders had strong public and democratic education in mind. Equality is the founding principal in America and education has always been seen as central. Brown vs Board of Education simply extended this Constitutional right to all people.
We know strong public education when we see it. Building all citizens ready to lead in business and government. Collecting taxes to fund that goal. This is the model in the mid-1900s that had the US ranked #1 in the world.
REMEMBER, NEO-LIBERALS WILL HAVE YOU BELIEVE WE NEED THE BEST OF THE BEST IN THE WORLD TO BE COMPETITIVE IN GLOBAL MARKETS....BUT WHAT WE NEED IS TO GIVE ALL CITIZENS WHAT THEY NEED TO MAKE THEIR OWN WAY THROUGH LIFE WITH A STRONG DOMESTIC ECONOMY!
The idea of parents being in charge of their community schools goes without saying in a democracy. We have our local school boards that are voted into place by voters until recently. We have vigorous discussion of education policy in all schools and extended to communities until recently.
JEFFERSON AND AMERICA'S FOUNDING FATHERS WOULD SEE FINLAND AS THE SUCCESS AND SOUTH KOREA AS AN OPPRESSOR FROM WHICH THEY ESCAPED TO AMERICA.
18th Century Advice: Thomas Jefferson on Education Reform
April 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm
The original “Man of the People,” Thomas Jefferson, was born on April 13 in 1743.
Jefferson is best known for drafting the Declaration of Independence, but he also wrote prolifically and prophetically on education. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be,” he wrote in a letter to a friend.
Jefferson understood that freedom depends on self-government: the cultivation of self-reliance, courage, responsibility, and moderation. Education contributes to both the knowledge and virtues that form a self-governing citizen. By proposing a bill in Virginia that would have established free schools every five to six square miles, Jefferson sought to teach “all children of the state reading, writing, and common arithmetic.” With these skills, a child would become a citizen able to “calculate for himself,” “express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts,” and “improve, by reading, his morals and faculties.”
Jefferson viewed this basic education as instrumental to securing “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” for Americans because it helps an individual “understand his duties” and “know his rights.”
Once taught reading and history, people can follow the news and judge the best way to vote. If the government infringes on their liberties, educated citizens can express themselves adequately to fight against it.
By providing equal access to primary schools, Jefferson hoped to teach children “to work out their own greatest happiness, by showing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.”
While Jefferson supported the idea of public education, he would not have placed schools under government supervision. Instead, he argued for the placement of “each school at once under the care of those most interested in its conduct.” He would put parents in charge.
But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by…[any] general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience.… No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to.
Taxpayers would provide the resources for public education; the community would arrange the schooling. Although we today face a very different set of challenges than Jefferson, his reasoning remains relevant: Those most concerned with the school’s performance, i.e., parents, will best manage education.
We spend more than enough on our struggling education system. Empowering parents with control over dollars, instead of increasing the amount spent on schools, will improve educational outcomes.
Why Finland's Unorthodox Education System Is The Best In The World
Nov. 27, 2012, 8:45 AM
A new global league table, produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit for Pearson, has found Finland to be the best education system in the world.
The rankings combined international test results and data such as graduation rates between 2006 and 2010, the BBC reports.
For Finland, this is no fluke. Since it implemented huge education reforms 40 years ago, the country's school system has consistently come in at the top for the international rankings for education systems.
But how do they do it?
It's simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralized model that much of the Western world uses.
Finnish children don't start school until they are 7.
They rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens.
The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.
There is only one mandatory standardized test in Finland, taken when children are 16.
All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms.
Finland spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States.
30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.
66 percent of students go to college.
The highest rate in Europe.
The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the World.
Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments in every class.
93 percent of Finns graduate from high school.
17.5 percent higher than the US.
43 percent of Finnish high-school students go to vocational schools.
Elementary school students get 75 minutes of recess a day in Finnish versus an average of 27 minutes in the US.
Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for "professional development."
Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students.
600,000 students compared to 1.1 million in NYC.
The school system is 100% state funded.
All teachers in Finland must have a masters degree, which is fully subsidized.
The national curriculum is only broad guidelines.
Teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates.
In 2010, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots
The average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 in 2008
However, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what other college graduates make.
In the US, this figure is 62%.
There is no merit pay for teachers
Teachers are given the same status as doctors and lawyers
In an international standardized measurement in 2001, Finnish children came in at the top, or very close to the top, for science, reading and mathematics.
It's consistently come in at the top or very near every time since.
And despite the differences between Finland and the US, it easily beats countries with a similar demographic
Neighbor Norway, of a similar size and featuring a similar homogeneous culture, follows the same strategies as the USA and achieves similar rankings in international studies.
We want to be clear.....America's champions of industry throughout the late 1900s mostly attended public schools so we know they were not as dismal as corporations are making them to be. They taught citizens and corporations wanted students ready to work day one. This article does not include Clinton in on this Reagan turn towards privatization, but we know university privatization soared in Clinton's terms.
WE SIMPLY NEED TO GO BACK TO THE MODEL IN THE 1900s THAT MADE US #1 AND MAKE A FEW REFORMS TO ALLOW FOR THE COMPUTER AGE. NOT MAKE SCHOOLS COMPUTER-BOUND!
The Myth Behind Public School Failure
Monday, 24 February 2014 09:46 By Dean Paton, Yes! Magazine | News Analysis
Until about 1980, America’s public schoolteachers were iconic everyday heroes painted with a kind of Norman Rockwell patina—generally respected because they helped most kids learn to read, write and successfully join society. Such teachers made possible at least the idea of a vibrant democracy.
Since then, what a turnaround: We’re now told, relentlessly, that bad-apple schoolteachers have wrecked K-12 education; that their unions keep legions of incompetent educators in classrooms; that part of the solution is more private charter schools; and that teachers as well as entire schools lack accountability, which can best be remedied by more and more standardized “bubble” tests.
What led to such an ignoble fall for teachers and schools? Did public education really become so irreversibly terrible in three decades? Is there so little that’s redeemable in today’s schoolhouses?
The Beginning of “Reform”
To truly understand how we came to believe our educational system is broken, we need a history lesson. Rewind to 1980—when Milton Friedman, the high priest of laissez-faire economics, partnered with PBS to produce a ten-part television series called Free to Choose. He devoted one episode to the idea of school vouchers, a plan to allow families what amounted to publicly funded scholarships so their children could leave the public schools and attend private ones.
You could make a strong argument that the current campaign against public schools started with that single TV episode. To make the case for vouchers, free-market conservatives, corporate strategists, and opportunistic politicians looked for any way to build a myth that public schools were failing, that teachers (and of course their unions) were at fault, and that the cure was vouchers and privatization.
Jonathan Kozol, the author and tireless advocate for public schools, called vouchers the “single worst, most dangerous idea to have entered education discourse in my adult life.”
Armed with Friedman’s ideas, President Reagan began calling for vouchers. In 1983, his National Commission on Excellence in Education issued “A Nation At Risk,” a report that declared, “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”
It also said, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”
For a document that’s had such lasting impact, “A Nation At Risk” is remarkably free of facts and solid data. Not so the Sandia Report, a little-known follow-up study commissioned by Admiral James Watkins, Reagan’s secretary of energy; it discovered that the falling test scores which caused such an uproar were really a matter of an expansion in the number of students taking the tests. In truth, standardized-test scores were going up for every economic and ethnic segment of students—it’s just that, as more and more students began taking these tests over the 20-year period of the study, this more representative sample of America’s youth better reflected the true national average. It wasn’t a teacher problem. It was a statistical misread.
The government never officially released the Sandia Report. It languished in peer-review purgatory until the Journal of Educational Research published it in 1993. Despite its hyperbole (or perhaps because of it), “A Nation At Risk” became a timely cudgel for the larger privatization movement. With Reagan and Friedman, the Nobel-Prize-winning economist, preaching that salvation would come once most government services were turned over to private entrepreneurs, the privatizers began proselytizing to get government out of everything from the post office to the public schools.
Corporations recognized privatization as a euphemism for profits. “Our schools are failing” became the slogan for those who wanted public-treasury vouchers to move money into private schools. These cries continue today.
The Era of Accountability
In 2001, less than a year into the presidency of George W. Bush, the federal government enacted sweeping legislation called “No Child Left Behind.” Supporters described it as a new era of accountability—based on standardized testing. The act tied federal funding for public schools to student scores on standardized tests. It also guaranteed millions in profits to corporations such as Pearson PLC, the curriculum and testing juggernaut, which made more than $1 billion in 2012 selling textbooks and bubble tests.
In 2008, the economy collapsed. State budgets were eviscerated. Schools were desperate for funding. In 2009, President Obama and his Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, created a program they called “Race to the Top.”
It didn’t replace No Child Left Behind; it did step in with grants to individual states for their public schools. Obama and Duncan put desperate states in competition with each other. Who got the money was determined by several factors, including which states did the best job of improving the performance of failing schools—which, in practice, frequently means replacing public schools with for-profit charter schools—and by a measure of school success based on students’ standardized-test scores that allegedly measured “progress.”
Since 2001 and No Child Left Behind, the focus of education policy makers and corporate-funded reformers has been to insist on more testing—more ways to quantify and measure the kind of education our children are getting, as well as more ways to purportedly quantify and measure the effectiveness of teachers and schools.
For a dozen or so years, this “accountability movement” was pretty much the only game in town. It used questionable, even draconian, interpretations of standardized-test results to brand schools as failures, close them, and replace them with for-profit charter schools.
Finally, in early 2012, then-Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott kindled a revolt of sorts, saying publicly that high-stakes exams are a “perversion.” His sentiments quickly spread to Texas school boards, whose resolution stating that tests were “strangling education” gained support from more than 875 school districts representing more than 4.4 million Texas public-school students. Similar, if smaller, resistance to testing percolated in other communities nationally.
Then, in January 2013, teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School announced they would refuse to give their students the Measures of Academic Progress Test—the MAP test. Despite threats of retaliation by their district, they held steadfast. By May, the district caved, telling its high schools the test was no longer mandatory.
Garfield’s boycott triggered a nationwide backlash to the “reform” that began with Friedman and the privatizers in 1980. At last, Americans from coast to coast have begun redefining the problem for what it really is: not an education crisis but a manufactured catastrophe, a facet of what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism.”
Look closely—you’ll recognize the formula: Underfund schools. Overcrowd classrooms. Mandate standardized tests sold by private-sector firms that “prove” these schools are failures. Blame teachers and their unions for awful test scores. In the bargain, weaken those unions, the largest labor organizations remaining in the United States. Push nonunion, profit-oriented charter schools as a solution.
If a Hurricane Katrina or a Great Recession comes along, all the better. Opportunities for plunder increase as schools go deeper into crisis, whether genuine or ginned up.
The Reason for Privatization
Chris Hedges, the former New York Times correspondent, appeared on Democracy Now! in 2012 and told host Amy Goodman the federal government spends some $600 billion a year on education—“and the corporations want it. That’s what’s happening.
And that comes through charter schools. It comes through standardized testing. And it comes through breaking teachers’ unions and essentially hiring temp workers, people who have very little skills.”
If you doubt Hedges, at least trust Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul and capitalist extraordinaire whose Amplify corporation already is growing at a 20 percent rate, thanks to its education contracts. “When it comes to K through 12 education,” Murdoch said in a November 2010 press release, “we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching.”
Corporate-speak for, “Privatize the public schools. Now, please.”
In a land where the free market has near-religious status, that’s been the answer for a long time. And it’s always been the wrong answer. The problem with education is not bad teachers making little Johnny into a dolt. It’s about Johnny making big corporations a bundle—at the expense of the well-educated citizenry essential to democracy.
And, of course, it’s about the people and ideas now reclaiming and rejuvenating our public schools and how we all can join the uprising against the faux reformers.
For those not minding academic research and history, this article shows from where our American leaders came at the time of writing the US Constitution. The Age of Enlightenment was in full swing and it saw education and access for all people central to society. It is from these philosophies that US education thought derived. Indeed, it is why the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Brown vs Board of Education and why Jefferson and founders writing the US Constitution created the public structures to provide for this.
What neo-liberals are trying to create in America is an education system that existed before this Age of Enlightenment when classical education was only for the rich and most people only learned what was needed for a trade.
Education in the Age of Enlightenment
The educational system played an important role in the transmission of ideas and ideals of the Enlightenment. The educational system in Europe was continuously being developed and this process continued throughout the period of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. During the period of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, the development of the educational system began to really take off. The improvement in the educational system produced a larger reading public combined with the explosion of print culture which supplied the increase in demand from readers in a broader span of social classes.
Before the Enlightenment, the educational system was not yet greatly influenced by the scientific revolution. The scientific revolution broke the traditional views at that time, religion and superstition was replaced by reasoning and scientific facts. During the scientific revolution, it promoted the advancement of science and technology. People do not just accept opinions and views that the majority agrees on but they can do their own critical thinking and reasoning in order to determine the difference between what is right and wrong. This is mainly because everything has a reason behind its existence, the promotion of education helps the people to develop the ability to think on their own so that they are capable of judging things on their own instead of being bounded by religion and superstition. Philosophers such as John Locke proposed the idea that knowledge is obtained through sensation and reflection.
This leads into Locke’s idea that everyone has the same capacity of sensation and that education should not be restricted to a certain class or gender. Prior to the 17th and 18th century, literacy was generally restricted to males whom belong in the categories of nobles, mercantile, and professional classes.
Growth of the education system
Universal education was once considered a privilege for only the upper class. However, during the 17th and the 18th century, education was provided to all classes. The literacy rate in Europe from the 17th century to the 18th century grew significantly. The definition of the term literacy used to describe the 17th and 18th century is different from our definition of literacy now. Historians measure the literacy rate during 17th and 18th century by people’s ability to sign their names. However, this method did not reflect people’s ability to read and this affected the women’s literacy rate most of all because most women during this period could not write but could read to a certain extent. In general, the literacy rate in Europe during 18th century has almost doubled compare to the 17th century. The rate of literacy increased more significantly in more populated areas and areas where there was mixture of religious schools. The literacy rate in England in 1640s was around 30 percent for males and rose to 60 percent in mid-18th century. In France, the rate of literacy in 1686-90 was around 29 percent for men and 14 percent for women and it increased to 48 percent for men and 27 percent for women. The increase in literacy rate was likely due to religious influence since most of the schools and colleges were organized by clergy, missionaries, or other religious organizations. The reason which motivated religions to help to increase the literacy rate among the general public was because literacy was the key to understanding the word of God. In the 18th century, the state was also paying more attention to the educational system because the state recognized that their subjects are more useful to the state if they are well educated. The conflict between the crown and the church helped the expansion of the educational system. In the eyes of the church and the state, universities and colleges were institutions that are there to maintain the dominance over the other. The downside of this conflict was the freedom on the subjects taught in these institutions was restricted. An educational institution was either a supporter of the monarchy or the religion, never both. Also, due to the changes in criteria for high income careers, it helped increases the number of students attending universities and colleges. The job criteria during this period of time became stricter, professions such as lawyers and physicians were required to have license and doctorate to prove that they had significant knowledge in the field.
The explosion of the print culture in the 18th century was both the result and cause of the increase in literacy. The number of books being published in the period of Enlightenment increased dramatically due to the increase in literacy rate and the increase in demand for books. There was a shift in interest in the categories of books, in the 17th century, religious books had comprised around half of all books published in Paris. However, throughout the century, the percentage of traditional genres such as religion has dropped to one-tenth by 1790 and there was an increase in popularity for the almanacs. The scientific literature in French might have increase slightly but mostly it remained fairly constant throughout the 18th century. However, contemporary literature seems to have increased as the century progressed. Also, there was a change in the language that books were printed in. Before 18th century, a large percentage of the books were published in Latin but as time progressed, there had been a decline in the percentage of books published in Latin. Similarly, with the spread of the French language, demands for books published in French increased throughout Europe.
In the Enlightenment period, there were changes in the public cultural institution such as libraries and museums. The system of public libraries was the product of the Enlightenment. The public libraries were funded by the state and were accessible to everyone and were free. Prior to the Enlightenment, libraries in Europe were restricted mostly to academies, aristocratic, and private owners. With the beginning of public libraries, it became a place where the general public could study topics of interest and self-educate themselves. During the 18th century, the prices of books were not affordable for everyone especially the most popular works such as encyclopedias. Therefore, the public libraries offers commoners a chance of reading literates that could only are affordable by the wealthier classes.
Coffeehouses and Sites of intellectual Exchange
During the 18th century, the increase in coffeehouses, clubs, academies, and Masonic Lodges became alternative places where people could become educated. In England, coffeehouses became a new public space where political, philosophical and scientific discourses were being discussed. The first coffeehouse in Britain was established in Oxford in 1650 and the number of coffeehouses expanded around Oxford. The coffeehouse was a place for people to congregate, to read, and learn and debate with each other. Another name for the coffeehouse is the Penny University because the coffeehouse has a reputation as a center for informal learning. Even though the coffeehouses were generally accessible to everyone, most of the coffeehouses did not allow women to participate. Clubs, academies, and Lodges, although not entirely open to the public, established venues of intellectual exchange that functioned as de facto institutions of education.
Rise of Feminism in Education
The overall literacy for the general public had increase for both men and women during the 18th century. However, there was a difference in the type of education that each gender received. During the 17th century, there were number of schools dedicated to girls but the cultural norm during this period for women was mainly based on informal education at home. During the 18th century, there was an increase in the number of girls being sent to schools to be educated, especially the daughters of middle class families whom wanted to provide their daughters with aristocratic education. In France, one of the most famous schools for girls was the Saint-Cyr which was founded by Madame de Maintenon. Although, the school Saint-Cyr was meant to educate women, it did not dare to challenge the traditional views at that point of time such as sexual inequality and destined roles of women. Therefore, the fact that there were schools for women did not bring about a social change where there was sexual equality because the schools itself did not challenge the social ideals. Moreover, the education that women received in schools was much more restricted than that of males. Women were excluded from learning categories such as science and politics. In d’Epinay’s recollection of her childhood education, she pointed out that girls were not taught much of anything and that proper education were consider to be inappropriate for the female sex. The main issue about female education is mainly because the traditional view women’s weakness as being due to nature and there are those like John Locke and d’Epinay who argue that women’s weakness was due to faulty education.
During the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, there was a rise in number of publications made by women writers. The number of women who published their works in French during the 18th century remained constant around 55- 78 published works. Also, during the years after the French revolution from 1789–1800, the numbers increased to 329 published works. The reason for this increase in publication is most likely because the restrictions in publication were looser during this period. However, the increase in number of publication suggests that there was an increase in women’s education which allows more women to become writers.