Wasting Money in Education – 50 State Curriculums?
I was recently given the job of conducting some research on Education in India and the current state of the education market in India.
One of the first things I discovered to my surprise was that in a country of 1.2 billion people with over 250 million students in the K12 age range at school, was that the country basically had one education curriculum.
At first I thought I had made a mistake, so I checked with our new office in India only to discover that was correct. A country that many consider third-world, does have an education system that essentially operates using one single curriculum.
So why on earth does a country like the United States – supposedly a world leader – a country with less than a quarter of India’s population and just 20% of that number of students, require 50 different State curriculums?
Are children in Los Angeles so totally different from children in New York or Florida? Of course not. So what on earth can possibly justify such a gross waste of time, energy and money, in a time when education appears to be under-funded and increasingly ineffective?
Can you imagine having 50 different financial currencies in one country, or a motor vehicle manufacturer like Ford making 50 different versions of a particular model of car, one for each State? Of course not. So why is it the case in education?
So enter the subject of Curriculum Alignment. For those of you that have not come across the wonderful subject of Curriculum Alignment, here is essentially what it means.
Imagine a person or a company brings a new product to the education market. A product so simple yet so effective that it could make a difference to every child. Well Curriculum Alignment requires that this wonderful new product or service must be in aligned with the requirements of the State educational curriculum before a large number of schools or teachers in that State, will consider using it. So in the United States it essentially means that you have to go through the process of having that product checked to make sure it complies with the requirements of each of the 50 different State curriculums – a process that can take years and literally several million dollars – before it can be used to benefit your child.
If you don’t yet see the utterly ridiculous nature of this, then consider a drug company bringing out a cure for the common cold. They need to have it tested under the requirements of the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) to make sure it is safe. Once approved at federal level, it can be made available nationwide. But not so in education.
If this strikes you as being a classic case of too many chiefs and not enough Indians, then you would be completely correct. Attempts are being made to currently unify the core curriculum but it has taken over TWO YEARS to get an agreement by most States, on what should be included just within Mathematics. Heaven help us all if there was ever an emergency that required fast decisions to be made!
So where does the use of educational video come into all this. Well several years ago one of the leading educational software publishers of the time Zane Publishing Inc., published 260 educational CD-ROM software titles – all of which were written and developed by a team of academics to specifically meet the needs of the K12 curriculum.
Over the last 4 years Zane Education has taken each of those software titles and converted them to online video, with each educational video being purposely subtitled. Why subtitled? Well research over the last 30 years has demonstrated the link between the use of subtitled video (or video with captions) and the improvement of children’s reading and literacy skills. In addition to that video provides a very effective form of visual learning that provides an online learning solution for a wide variety of Special Needs children including also Gifted Students and ESL. As a result Zane Education provides a unique and powerful visual learning solution online, where few if any others exist to provide Education for Special Needs.
However before Zane Education could start to help literally millions of dyslexic children in classrooms across the United States, they of course had to demonstrate that their subtitled educational videos where aligned to each State’s curriculum Standards. All FIFTY of them!
Let’s take a quick look at how ludicrous this is? Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 and died in 1506. In 1492 he sailed out of Spain on a boat called the Santa Maria only to arrive in the Bahamas later in the year. They sailed with 2 other ships one called the Pinta, and the other nicknamed the Nina. Now these are historical facts, and they are unlikely to change. Does it seriously really need 50 people, in 50 different State offices to agree on this?
And William Shakespeare who was born in 1564 and died in 1616, raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, and was a respected poet and playwright who wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Again these are the facts – why does it take 50 different State curriculums in the United States to agree about this, when one is sufficient in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, India and so on.
There is a very strong argument to suggest that the use of subtitled educational video could be effectively used in every classroom to alleviate teachers from simply delivering a stream of facts, while at the same time setting them free to spend more time with those students in their class that need more of their attention. And surely would it not make every bit of sense to have an online educational video library such as this delivered by a single Federal website, that provided meaningful benefits for the children instead of 50 States all wanting to have their finger in the pie – and all at the expense of our children and their education?