The Whitewater Unified School District has a motto, a very good one:
Every graduate an engaged lifelong learner.
If our schools achieve this result – graduates who are engaged, lifelong learners – that engagement and that learning will take different forms for different people. People are and should be, to borrow a title from a fine book, free to choose.
For those with political or administrative roles, however, whether graduates themselves or shepherding students to graduate, engaged, lifelong learning must have a set of core expectations: basic principles of reasoning, a desire to measure accurately, and an ability to assess the quality & significance of measurements taken.
It’s not asking too much of properly schooled leaders to meet these core expectations. Whitewater’s leaders want things – very often good things – but wanting something isn’t enough. In any endeavor, but especially in endeavors of learning, there should be presentations based on sound data, on accurate and representative measurements, acquired through neutral, unbiased inquiries.
It’s a mistake to think that the principal divide is between those who are for or against education. Americans rightly esteem learning; we are an inquisitive people.
No, the principal divide is between those who think that support for education allows any possible claim, and those who believe that respect for education necessarily allows only some, sound claims, discarding other possibilities as unfounded or inaccurate.
There shouldn’t be much of a divide like this, here or elsewhere, but there is. We’ll not be truly competitive and attractive until this divide disappears, and a more discerning perspective takes hold.