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The Bottom Line Stuck in Time


The workforce is changing. But K12 schools are not keeping up with the times.

As conveyed in EducationWeek, a recent study by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization based in Santa Monica, California, concludes that the workforce is transforming from technological changes, but K-12 schools are stuck in the mud.

The article confirms what we have been asserting and is at the heart of our transformation efforts: “K-12 schools are preparing students for jobs using essentially the same set of strategies they’ve been relying on for decades.”

Someone once said, “If Rip Van Winkle had gone to sleep January 1, 1900, and woke up on January 1, 2000, the only aspect of our society that would be familiar would be the school.”

Sad, but true.  And if our schools are, as we believe, the most important institution in our society, it goes without saying that they must not only keep up with the changes in our society, but also anticipate the future. Our schools do neither.

Don Nielsen argues, “Failing to adjust to societal changes has caused our schools to educate poorly or to under-educate almost three generations of our citizens. The impact of this failure is readily seen in the children now coming into our schools.”

Technology is one of the central keys to taking individualized education beyond the one-room schoolhouse. Yet neither the infrastructure of our schools nor the aptitude and training of our teaching corps is keeping pace with this new development.

In our current Information Age, the computer and Internet provide nearly limitless potential to acquire knowledge. But schools have been among the slowest sectors of our society to respond to the advantages of technology.

Why are schools so slow to adapt to change? Primarily it boils down to a lack of training. To answer that challenge, Nielsen recommends that “The fastest way to get technology training for our new teachers would be to employ professors from a university’s school of computer science to work with the school of education.”

Clearly, many of the jobs our children will perform in the future do not even exist today. Thus, we need students who have learned how to learn, know how to think critically, and know how to communicate effectively. With great teachers and the effective use of technology, we will be able to teach children those skills and prepare them for life in the twenty-first century.

Bailey Takacs

Program Coordinator, American Center for Transforming Education
Bailey Takacs serves as program coordinator at Discovery Institutes' American Center for Transforming Education. With a passion and drive for reforming education, Bailey’s experience includes managing campaigns for elected officials as well administrative roles with elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels of government. He holds a B.A. in Politics and Government from Pacific Lutheran University.