Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New ideas needed for education

Many people feel that Propositions 1, 2 and 3 do nothing to reform or aid education in Idaho and perhaps they do not. We can all agree that education is one of the keystones to our future, but how do we improve our system and find that future?

On Fareed Zakaria’s GPS (Oct. 21) Salman Kahn, the founder of, gave a good outline of some of his potential solutions for our educational system. His main point was that our current system, based on the Prussian model from the early 19th century, can best be improved by American entrepreneurial means.  He gave several possible uses of his and similar websites, which incorporate technology into classrooms, giving teachers more time to mentor, tutor and individualize lessons and learning for individual students.

Mr. Kahn did not claim to have the answer, only some possibilities. I would encourage everyone to view the webcast of this show and visit

There is no one solution for education. It is a complex issue that varies from state to state and area to area. The conventional wisdom has been that we need to spend more money. Blaine County currently spends $15,594 per pupil while the state average is $6,290. The national average in the U.S. is about $9,000 and only two other developed countries spend more (Norway, $9,500 and Switzerland, $11,000). So perhaps it’s not just money. 

Let’s stop the blame game, which singles out unions, teachers, students, parents or government. We can all accept some of the blame. Instead, let’s encourage truly new ideas. Rather than dismissing ideas out of hand, let all of us discuss and debate new ideas and not be so stuck on all the old ones.

Joe Scott


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