Yellow Springs School Board

Last Saturday Antioch College President Mark Roosevelt spoke on the crisis in American public schools. Roosevelt is the former superintendent of the Pittsburgh public schools.

Roosevelt speaks on crisis in public education

American public education is in serious trouble, according to Antioch College President Mark Roosevelt in a presentation last weekend.

“The trouble we’re in is so deep and profound that we can’t afford bickering and partisan solutions,” Roosevelt said, stating that regarding education, “We’re not working hard enough and not thinking creatively enough.”

Roosevelt was speaking as part of the ongoing series on the future of education cosponsored by the Yellow Springs school district and the Antioch College Morgan Fellows. The series, which takes place at the Herndon Gallery on the college campus, aims to stimulate new thinking about education as part of the school district’s 2020 Initiative.

The event was the third in a series of events, which will continue this Saturday, March 12, from 3–5 p.m. with a talk by Adam Howard, an associate professor of education at  Colby College. Howard’s research has focused on the educational impact of class and privilege, and on concerns of gay and lesbian youth.

Before taking the job at Antioch College in December, Mark Roosevelt was the superintendent of the Pittsburgh City Schools. His career in education began in 1989 when he was a Massachusetts state legislator and sponsor of that state’s Education Reform Act, which passed several years later. Public school students in Massachusetts are now the highest performing in the nation, he said.

Roosevelt identified many contributors to the education crisis, including a lowering of standards and “lack of content” in public school education, leading to American students placing 20th out of 30 countries in an international ranking, Roosevelt said.

“You can’t teach inquiry skills if you don’t teach them content,” he said.

Educational performance of American students has also been hampered by inconsistent standards, partly due to local control of schools. Currently, there are 15,000 school boards in the country, he said. However, due to cuts in state and federal funding sources, local solutions to school problems may be the only feasible solutions at this time.

For a more detailed story on the event, see the March 10 edition of the Yellow Springs News.

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