This Freakonomics post talks about and links to Education and technology: Supply, demand, and income inequality, a post at Vox.
The upshot is that income inequality has increased and the cause of the increase is poor education.
Although I am liberal on most things, I tend to be conservative on education. It just seems to me that the more education is “new and improved” the worse it gets. Schools (and school districts) get larger and larger and teachers are more and more constrained in what they can do.
Sometimes it seems to me that the schools are designed to squeeze the joy of learning right out of kids. Kindergartners that are eager to learn turn into middle schoolers that just have no interest.
Of course, I overstate the case a bit. There are plenty of kids getting a good education. But not enough.
Personally, I think the answer is small classes with good teachers that are left alone to teach as they see fit. (Yeah, I know. What’s a good teacher? Details, details.) Everything that has been done to try and improve the schools is just trying to find a cheat around small classes and unencumbered teachers. I heard a story on NPR the other day that talked about computers in the classroom. A teacher was talking about how she could ask a question of the class and the students could answer on the computers (each student had one) and the teacher would get the results on her computer and know how many students were right and how many wrong and who. Sounds cool, but also sounds like a cheat around a small class.
Education is expensive. And that is the problem. But if we pay for good education, then tomorrow’s workforce would be more productive and it would be easier to pay for good education (and your social security, maybe even mine).