As I slowly read Left Back by Diane Ravitch, I see this polarity between a pratical, life skills, vocational education and an elitist, college bound, rigor for all education. What if I want both?
I think it is absolutely immoral to marginalize and track students and place the "dummies" in "dummy" classes. How dare we deny people knowledge of the world, at an intellectual level for deep comprehension and a drive to change. Although I'm biting my own words when I think back to my high school days, "why do I have to learn Algebra II? I'll never use it". Okay so I still have yet to use it. But that leads me to my other point.
We should have some life skills and vocational training. As mentioned, I've yet to use Algebra II. So perhaps a business math, statistics, logic, etc type math course would have been more appropriate, and no less challenging. And we do need life skills training. I left high school not knowing how to apply for a job, balance a check book, understand credit card interest and debt, make calls to companies or employers or what have you, pay taxes, or understand the voter pamphlets. I had to learn it on my own and felt pretty idiotic, and "jipped" by my education system, for having to do so. And I know some students, and adults who for example cannot divide a fraction or identify the conjunction in a sentence but the offer something else to the world. They're great mechanics, artists, musicians, etc. They would have benefited from training aimed more towards their interest.
But...I think all students should be offered an elitist college level education. I think some courses are a must, like writing, reading, history, government to name a few. You need to know how the world works to work in it. You need to know how it all connects as well. Dummy classes don't offer this.
And education should be somewhat student centered. Many people, researchers, authors, etc on "my side" of education reform think student-centered education is a bunch of hooey. It can be. If a teacher becomes a facilitator and just says "here's some books and computers kids, do what you want" and a student turns in their senior project written like this "i wanna b a architect. They make good money. You have to go to collage for many years but it helps u succeed and you can design buildings like the empire state building or bridges or stadiums for sports or even school and you can b famous for the buildings you made that would be cool." is not what I'm talking about, but have seen. I know of a school in Brazil, "Graded" which is student centered but at a college level, where students pursue their own passions within a framework, with direct guidance. It's like montessori meets ivy league. This is what I'm talking about.
My short post has turned lengthy and I am beginning to lose focus in my ramblings so that is all for now. Off to apply for jobs; however, I still have not received conformation on my job status as all are ignoring my communications.