ERIC Number: ED290224
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985
A Proposal for Reorganizing American Public Education.
Tyler, Leona E.
Public education is facing a crisis of major proportions, but the things that are basically wrong with schools are not those being emphasized in current proposals for change. This paper identifies two basic defects in the American system of public education: (1) there is too little attention to individual differences; and (2) there is too much compulsion. Because of the wide range of abilities among children, the U.S. system of organizing schools by age groups is perhaps the worst possible strategy for maximizing the learning of individuals. This system, along with the "social promotion" that almost necessarily follows, results in widening gaps between students, disillusionment of those who lack the basic skills to build on in the higher grades, and boredom for the gifted students. Problems of classroom management that are customarily blamed on teachers or students are actually the fault of this "lockstep" age-grade system. Similarly, compulsory attendance laws tend to undermine the motivation on which mastery of a reasonably demanding secondary curriculum depends. Accordingly, the author makes the following suggestions for changes in our educational system: (1) provide competency tests for individuals at any age at which they are ready to take them; (2) make primary, but not secondary, education compulsory, and compel students to go to school only until they can meet the basic competency tests; (3) diversify secondary schools and make them as attractive as possible to motivate students to continue; (4) organize grade schools by curriculum level rather than by age; (5) mobilize community resources to provide a wide range of educational experiences at the secondary level; (6) maximize educational opportunities for persons of all ages. (TE)
Descriptors: Age Grade Placement, Compulsory Education, Educational Change, Educational Innovation, Educational Needs, Educational Practices, Educational Principles, Elementary Secondary Education, Instructional Program Divisions, Nongraded Instructional Grouping, Public Education, School Effectiveness, School Organization, Student Promotion, Student School Relationship
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Policymakers; Researchers
Authoring Institution: N/A