Today’s educational ship of state is loaded down with programs, dragging along additional responsibilities, and being pushed around by well-meaning forces. The result – making no headway!
If we use a sleek ship as the metaphor for America’s earlier education system, then that original sleek ship has been retrofitted into what we have today; a super-sized container ship with the holds filled with pallets of freight (buildings, vehicles, curriculum, staff, technology, etc.) and the decks stacked high with cargo containers (special education, alternative education, vocational education, pre-school programs, free and reduced lunch programs, sports programs, etc.). But it wouldn’t stop there. You would also see pods attached along the hull like a series of blisters (guidance counseling, parent/teacher organizations, booster clubs, internships, etc.). If you look astern, you would see a trail of barges being towed along (adult education, Title IX, NCLB, high-stakes tests, etc.). And alongside the ship would be a swarm of tugboats in an uncoordinated, frantic effort to change the direction of the whole affair. (The tugs represent the politicians, commissions, and reformers.) Many of the containers stacked on the deck are there to correct problems buried deep in the holds of the ship. The effect is that the ship has slowed nearly to a halt and there is no short-term way to trim it down and get it moving in the right direction.
We do not need just another tugboat. In fact, we subscribe to the recent findings from a number of studies that the original ship and all of its associated elements are dysfunctional and beyond repair. What we must do is closely examine the entire existing ship and all of its associated elements, then select those elements that are essential to having a ship that can efficiently and effectively get the passengers and all of the cargo to the chosen destination. It should be designed, built, and tested as a whole new vessel. For each cargo container, we need to look at what it was meant to fix. Then we have to look deep into the hold and examine the original issue to determine if it is still needed. If so, we have to redesign it and integrate it into the design of the new ship. The result of this overall systemic approach will be the creation of a new, sleek, efficient, and effective education vessel. By eliminating the need for the cargo containers, pods and barges the new ship gets to its destination more directly and for less money. Along the way, we will be able to pay the crew more money and the passengers will enjoy the voyage more. Then we need to get the tugboats to all push in the same direction. That is the Emaginos service!