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Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Education Platform I wrote for Mr. Trump

Corey Lewandowski who was, at the time, Trump's Campaign Manager asked me to write an education platform for Mr. Trump. Cory was fired soon after this request, so I am sure Mr. Trump never saw it. Today, I noticed that after the absurd choice of Ben Carson, Mr Trump is now thinking about appointing to secretary of education the head of Success Academy. That is a school that makes sure that all its kids do well on tests. Since testing is the problem in our schools, I find this rather odd, but maybe it is just the usual newspaper rumors. 
 In any case I have decided to share my platform. Here it is:
Platform for Education Policy (proposed by Roger Schank)
some basic assumptions 
1.      Common Core is a bad idea. It reinforces the 19th century curriculum and over emphasizes testing. It needs to be eliminated.
2.      One size fits all curricula are a bad idea. Students have different interests and should be allowed to pursue what interest them (after the 3Rs are learned.)
3.      We have the technological capability to build 100’s of new curricula that would be delivered online with mentoring, to help kids get excited about going to school to learn skills they really want to learn.
4.      Federal control over education policy is a bad idea. Each state is different in many ways. Kids might want to study Oceanography in Florida, or Casino Management in New Mexico, or Aerospace Engineering in Kansas. The role of the federal government should be to fund the creation of such curricula and help find people who can build them after being requested to do so by a State.
5.      High schools have failed. They are all about college prep but they shouldn’t be. It is not the role of the high school system to make admissions decisions easier for colleges. Now, colleges dictate the high school curriculum by “suggesting” that students take certain subjects before they apply. The colleges need to be encouraged to ask for examples of thinking ability, communication ability, and being able to get along with others. Then, the colleges themselves can teach whatever they think their new admits need to know. The system has been built by the elite colleges to make the admissions process easier for themselves. Yale had 29,000 applications for entry into the call of 2017. We must encourage the extended Ivies to not make high school and the SAT all about their needs and start thinking about the needs of the average person. These are more likely to be job skills and life skills than algebra and chemistry skills. The Ivies need to stop telling high school students what to study. No one needs algebra except to meet these requirements.
The very idea of academic subjects in high school needs to be replaced. Most high school students do not go on to become academics. Students need to be helped to learn to think and should learn skills by actually doing them. The skills they learn should relate to actual things adults need to do. For example, why are there no child raising courses, or courses on how to speak well, or courses on how to get a job, or courses on how to deal with personal finance? Everyday skills matter.
I would like Mr Trump to shut down the DOE as he promised and to replace it with Education DARPA. This would be a fund of money offered to people who want to create innovative curricula in any area at all, allowing people everywhere to learn what it interests them to learn. You want to be a doctor? Try it out in an online learn by doing simulation in high school. You want to design aircraft? Do it in high school. Open a restaurant. Do it in simulation first. We can build thousands of them, offer them online with teachers who are available to help no matter where you are.
Please Mr. Trump. You are right about returning control of education to the states. This means fighting big corporate interests who want to sell more tests. We don't need kids who test well, we need kids who are excited to learn because they are following their own interests and can what they have accomplished.