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Why The Current US Education Model Is Failing

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Introduction

Does our current education model restrict our ability to innovate and be productive?  This is an extremely important question to ask in a technology driven global market!  Secondly, if the current model is growth restrictive how can it be fixed?

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Our Current Education Model Defined

In order to address my concerns it's important to understand how our current education model works.  Our current model presumes that people must be taught or instructed in order to achieve the next level of success!  It is also designed to award performance merit to those completing each level.  This performance merit can then be used to gain access to the next successive level.  This model is orchestrated in a tiered approach called primary, secondary and tertiary (higher education).

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Primary & Secondary Education

Primary education takes place in our formative youth as in grades K-6 while secondary education carries us through grade 12 graduation.  It's also worth noting that primary and secondary education in the US is compulsory.  This level of education is freely available thanks to taxpayer contribution.

Tertiary Or Higher Education

Tertiary or higher education takes place during adulthood and is the successor to high school graduation.  Once again, it's a tiered approach and designed to award performance and completion with merits.  It is also worth noting that tertiary education in the US is NOT compulsory.  This level of education is NOT freely available and it must be paid for by the enrolled student.

This model does seem to work well for the most part, at least through the completion of secondary education (grade 12).  After this, the system fails horribly!  Let me explain!

Failure Mode Explained

The reason our system fails to foster innovation beyond primary and secondary education is due to a lack of standards!

Let's consider a specific case example:  If someone drops out of high school early they can still obtain a GED diploma by studying for and taking a standards based equivalency exam.

This is NOT the case with tertiary education!  If for some reason the student must drop out of college they cannot challenge a standards based exam for the entire tier (program) they were enrolled in.  Students can challenge each individual course required by the degree if they agree to pay the full cost of tuition for each credit hour they wish to earn.

This system creates a double edged sword for the underprivileged who cannot afford to continue education.  It implies that ONLY those who pay for college education are worthy of standards based merit!

What's The Difference?

You may be wondering why you can test out for a high school GED but not for a college degree or higher?  Well, the traditional argument is that the scope of high school education is narrow while the scope of college education is broad.  This presumes that the college level degree teaches so much that one standards test could not possibly cover the subject matter requirements.

This would be understandable if it were still true!  The real truth is that most college programs today simply can't keep pace with emerging technology from private sector sources!

Let's consider a specific case example:  A 14 year old boy researches how to build, program, and fly drones (UAV's).  He does this over a 3 yr period while the technology is still newly emerging!  There are no college programs offered at the time he is involved with his project!  This boy quickly learns and becomes a pioneering self-taught expert UAV pilot/builder/programmer by age 17.

The boy in our example has achieved a level of expertise in his field of study simply by being a self-taught pioneer.  There should be some mechanism for the boy in our example to receive merit based on standards!  There are none because the boy helped establish the standard!

A great argument would be that the boy (now 17) should be able to teach others his expert skill-set in a specialist capacity.  The boy in this case cannot do so because he would need a teaching degree to be considered for employment!

It is important to note that this specific example is not an isolated instance!  This example simply demonstrates how the information age has enabled a seismic wave of high level self-taught learning that places a remedial shadow over traditional college institutions.

Lack Of Standards Based Merit Restricts Innovation

There should be no argument concerning the value of standards based testing and merit.  If any segment of our population is denied access to freely administered standards based testing and merit it will likely result in lost innovation.

Let's consider a specific case example:  The boy in our previous example turned 18.  He developed a new auto PID generating algorithm to enhance flight stability!  This new innovation could be applied to all modern flight control avionics!

The boy didn't have the resources to obtain a degree or open a business to promote his technology innovation.  This boy now works at your neighborhood Walmart.  He has lost the capacity to pursue new innovation due to his work schedule and low wage.

Even if the boy could afford college, there is no standard curriculum for him to advance upon.  After all, the boy helped to establish the standard!  This is the paradigm!

Lack Of Standards Based Merit Restricts Productivity

Once again the lack of standards based merit creates an issue!  This time it effects our overall social productivity!  Let me explain!

Here is a great example to use:  A man 37 years old has an electrical engineering degree!  The electrical components company he works for is cutting back the work force and as a result the man gets laid-off.  He does not want to move because he has children in school and his wife also works.  The economy is terrible and the only jobs seem to be labor positions in construction.  The man decides he will apply for a job with a large contracting company which builds houses and apartment complexes.  Now, because the man designed the electrical breakers, light switches, and controls he should be able to install them, right?  Wrong!  The engineer who designed the product cannot legally install anything!  State building codes require a tradesman electrician to handle the installation!  This is the paradigm!  Our 37 old degree holding electrical engineer must remain on unemployment!

Lack Of Standards Based Merit Restricts Capitalism

Lastly, the lack of standards based merit impacts our ability to earn income, thus, placing undue burden on our economy.  Both individuals in our example must resort to lower paying jobs or unemployment in order to sustain themselves.utility-max-function.jpg

This failure in our system does not allow their academic skills to be used efficiently (maximized).  For those scholarly economists and politicians that may read this article we use calculus here to maximize that return!

In other words, if our education model was a calculus exam, we have failed!  You do get partial credit though because you knew the minimization equation!

 

 

Standards Testing Fixes The Problem

As you can see, the lack of standards based testing is a direct cause of innovation and productivity losses!  In both examples above, had merit been issued against a standard test, the outcome would have been different!

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In the case of the boy, he would have tested out with the equivalence of a 4 year computer science degree.  He would not be working at Walmart!  Instead, he would be teaching new students at ITT Technical Institute!

The man with the engineering degree would have tested out with the equivalence of a master electrician allowing him to install the breaker panels he designed!  He would also earn more income as a licensed tradesman than a degreed engineer!  Another paradigm!

 Conclusion

It is the opinion of this court that freely available performance merited standard tests be implemented immediately!  These tests would not only include primary and secondary levels, but tertiary levels as well.

All tertiary training will remain as paid for by the student, however, freely available training shall not be discouraged or discredited from this point forward.

This departure from traditional education is required to prevent the retraction of private sector innovation for the greater good of the public.  If any such retraction of innovation were to occur it would most certainly undermine our ability to be competitive in the growing global marketplace.

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