For our September “What is Ready?” cover package, the editors of ASBJ interviewed educators, scholars, and researchers about the topic of student readiness for the 21st century. Over the coming weeks, we will post many of those interviews on asbj.com in our “online only” section.
Today, we kick off the series with answers to our questions from Richard Rothstein, the former New York Times education columnist and author of Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap. As you might expect from Rothstein, who has contributed a number of articles to our magazine, his answers are provocative and thought-provoking.
Here is an excerpt:
Editors: What is “ready”? What specific skills should students have when they leave high school to enter higher education or the workforce?
Rothstein: This is the wrong — or at least too narrow — question. Contemporary education policy places too much emphasis on preparation for higher education or the workforce. Our public education system, historically and today, exists for more than this. Also of great importance is preparation for citizenship, for community responsibility, for good health (physical and emotional), and for adult leisure which benefits from an appreciation of the arts and literature.
For example, for citizenship, what kinds of conflict resolution skills do students have? Do they accept a responsibility to support or dissent from public policies, when appropriate? Can they combine advocacy with respect for differences? For physical health, are they in the habits of regular exercise and good nutrition; do they engage in responsible and safe sexual practices?
A colleague, Rebecca Jacobsen, and I wrote about these multiple goals in the October 2006 issue of the American School Board Journal.http://www.asbj.com/MainMenuCategory/Archive/2006/October/WhatBoardsWantfromSchoolsDoc621.aspx In that article, we described a survey we conducted of a representative sample of NSBA members, confirming that school board members support a broader mission for public education than preparation for higher education or the workforce alone.
For more, go to our “Online Only” section and click on Q&A: Richard Rothstein.
Glenn Cook, Editor-in-Chief