"Education for Tomorrow's Workers'." By William L. Bainbridge and M. Donald Thomas.
Chief Executive, magazine. October 2002.

from CHIEF EXECUTIVE magazine, October 2002


EDUCATION FOR TOMORROW'S WORKERS

by

William L. Bainbridge and M. Donald Thomas



We read with interest Craig Barrett's comments (CHIEF EXECUTIVE , "America Needs Research Funding-Now", March 2002). We agree increased support for education research is necessary, especially now, as our elected leaders impose wide-ranging programs with catchy titles, but without much evidence to support their efficacy.

One challenge facing researchers in education is the fact that education is a social phenomenon and not a physical or biological science. As a result, unfortunately, much of the current so-called "research in effective schools" is a mish-mash of personal opinion and sometimes overly zealous salesmanship.

What education studies have found, if they have discovered anything, is that there is no "magic bullet," no single set of circumstances that influence student achievement.

Attempting to improve learning with meaningless, one-size-fits-all slogans, like "No child left behind," "Effective schools for all," and "All children can learn," will not work. We must provide services to children prior to entering kindergarten or first grade. We must also attempt to compensate for the vast difference in home based opportunities between our students. We need good research to map out the best methods for reducing those gaps.

If we are serious about educating well all the children, we need to stop trying to prove that it can be done "on the cheap." Rather, we need to set up a model school, with appropriate resources and support systems to provide a quality education for children living under poverty conditions, and then we need to study the outcomes.

Will it cost more? Yes! Will it close the gap between rich and poor? Yes! Will it save money in the long run? Yes! Will it create greater "capital" for our nation? Yes! Will it be much more effective than the coinage of slogans and reliance on a mish-mash of education research? Absolutely!!

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William L. Bainbridge, Ph.D., is Chief Executive Officer, and M. Donald Thomas, Ed.D., is Chairman of the Advisory Board, SchoolMatch, Columbus, Ohio.