Arthur Camins? Want Real Innovation? Try Equity!

Arthur Camins has been a lifelong student and teacher of science and innovation.

Here is his proposal for disruptive innovation.

He writes:

Let’s all answer what teachers call an essential question. The answer reveals core moral values and political judgments.

Should every child in the United States have access to the same level of high-quality education resources?

“Yes,” means bringing every public school up to the standards of class size, teaching effectiveness, curriculum and support resources, breadth of learning, and professional development for teachers that upper-middle-class families take for granted.

If you answer, “Yes,” without reservation, keep reading. If your answer is, “No,” and you want to continue to ration education resources to keep rewarding the already privileged, you can stop reading because your values will lead you in a different political direction. But I’d suggest that you develop an honest answer that you can both live with and defend when someone on the short end of resources asks you, “Why not?” to your, “No.”

Now, the follow-up question:

Is education equitable, now?

Maybe that is rhetorical because by almost anyone’s measure the answer is, “No.”

Now, some people answer, “Yes,” to the first should question, but when what they advocate for or accept is analyzed it is clear in practice they meant, “No.”

Advocates for charter schools and vouchers say, “Yes,” to the equitable should but meant, “No,” because at best those efforts help only some children and drain limited resources from the schools that other children attend.

Anyone who defends the patently inequitable practice of funding public education through widely divergent local property taxes may say, “Yes,” to the equitable should but meant, “No.”

Anyone who makes the case that turning the education of the nation’s children over to the market forces may say, “Yes,” to the equitable should but meant, “No,” because there is no arena in which competitive private enterprise has produced equity.

People who want to curb or end teachers unions may say, “Yes,” to the equitable should but meant, “No,” because states with unions have stronger education systems with better results than those without unions.

At best, there is a gap between intent and action. At worst there is dishonesty or unwillingness to define and explore the first principles that frame solutions.

What are your first principles?

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