Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

Education for opportunity: 3 ideas for American education reform

Did you know that Americans without a high
school diploma, compared to college graduates, are three times more likely to be unemployed,
and even those with high school diplomas average fifty percent less in annual income than those
with college degrees? But the gap between the educational “haves” and “have-nots”
is vast and only growing wider. Take Jennifer, a fourth grader born into the
poorest 20 percent. Without a college degree, she only has a 5 percent chance of reaching
the top, compared to a 45 percent chance of staying in poverty. With a college degree,
she’s more likely to make it to the top quintile than she is to remain in the bottom.
A quality education makes an enormous difference. But it will be an uphill climb because Jennifer’s
family will have fewer options for where she can attend school. Wealthier families can
afford to live in better school districts or to pay for private schools. Jennifer can
only hope the local public school is decent, or take her chances and try to get into a
magnet school or a charter school. The truth is, our education system stacks
the odds against the poorest children, like Jennifer. But here’s the thing: it’s not
a spending problem. In inflation-adjusted terms, the average yearly spending per student
from 1970 to today has more than doubled. Some of the cities in the United States with
the most grinding poverty actually spend among the most per student. Since 1950, while the
overall number of students has grown 96 percent, the total number of teachers and staff has
grown 252 percent and a whopping 702 percent, respectively. Jobs are opening for Miss Penny
and Principal Jones, but it’s not working for Jennifer.
The problem with the American educational system remains just that—the system. The
way we pay for, organize and regulate schools does not foster innovative and entrepreneurial
solutions. School districts have become bloated bureaucracies that stifle creativity. Principals
spend more time filling out paperwork and checking boxes on forms than acting as instructional
leaders in their schools. Teachers have to teach to a narrowed curriculum to maximize
scores on standardized tests. It’s demoralizing, it’s dehumanizing, and it hurts kids like
Jennifer. The good news? We can change it. There are
three big steps we can take right now. First, we need to fund schools in a way that’s
flexible and lets Jennifer and her parents choose the educational environment that fits
their needs. Students today flow into schools in their geographic areas — and the money
flows to those schools whether they’re serving kids or failing them. Vouchers and charter
schools are better, allowing students to take funding to the school of their choosing, and
increasing competition. But even this system funds each child in a
lump sum and requires each school to manage their students’ entire education. A better
system would make the dollars for each student flexible, so Jennifer and her parents could
customize the best education for her. Course Choice and Course Access programs allow them
to divide up the money and spend it with various providers, getting her the help she needs
with history, or paying for Mandarin classes because she wants to go into business. Similarly,
Education Savings Accounts would help her pay for private school, for tutoring or speech
therapy – and she can roll over dollars year-to-year, she can put away unused dollars
for college. Second, we need a better regulatory approach.
The current system uses standards and formulas to hold Jennifer’s school and teachers accountable
to a one-size-fits-all definition of success. This slows innovation and stifles teacher
creativity. We need to let parents vote with their feet. We also need a flexible, market-based
system that relies on performance contracts, inspectors and accreditors to hold educators
accountable to many kinds of results. Third and finally, the new schools and education
providers this system would create would need new sources of human and financial capital.
They would need the freedom to rethink the roles and compensation of teachers and leaders,
to retrain teachers for unique school environments, and to pursue new sources of capital through
public and private dollars. Look, there are no silver bullets. But the
best thing we can do for students like Jennifer is to create a marketplace that unleashes
education innovators and entrepreneurs. We should move from an education system to an
education ecosystem—a vibrant, evolving marketplace of options that compete for Jennifer’s
dollar by showing better results for her future. It’s pro-teacher, pro-principal, pro-family,
pro- children – and it can be done. To find out more, check out my book on Education and
Opportunity. For all the Jennifers out there, let’s get to work.

58 Replies to “Education for opportunity: 3 ideas for American education reform”

  • The solution isn't charter schools. They don't do any better to put the financial pressure on parents instead and cost taxpayers more… solution is turning schools into learning centers and the curriculum online so every course can be available everywhere… at least in my mind… public schools with actual options.

  • @JohnathanRodriguez

    Yeah I couldn't pay attention to the message he was trying to convey because it looked like he was trying to film a rap video. Upon listening and not viewing, I like his ideas.

  • Maybe the guy has had both legs broken and had to relearn to walk.  In any case, he needs to learn again.  You can see him lose it every now and then.  "oops I'm walking like a geek again, start bouncing."

    Mute the video and play either a country or rap song. LOL!

  • Hi, I have a high school diploma and a BS and I can't get employment. Just having an education isn't a guarantee. What is in demand now might not be what is in demand after you graduate. I graduated into "the great recession" couldn't find a job, defaulted on my loan, and am now unemployable because on paper I look like a lazy bum because I haven't payed my loans, have a bad credit score, and haven't had a job in over 5 years and graduated 3 years ago.

    But don't worry my nonexistent kids (I can afford one of those) will have a better future even if you end up living in a ditch eating garbage!

    I just had to get that out.

  • Interesting concepts to run a school like a business- but a you can't run a business if you don't have funds,or staff to run it properly. In an ideal world- every school would be funded as they need to be. The problem is- how are the schools going to be funded?
     Charter schools aren't the answer. Students in low-income families will not be able to fund for their children's education, and the "haves" will have a superior education because their family has money- and thus with a superior education leads to higher opportunities. 

  • The problem with performance based funding is that you get into positive feedback loops. That's just a mathematical fact. The "free market" doesn't regulate itself in the interest of customers – just look at the healthcare in the USA – you pay a ton and get some of the worst care in the developed world. You're also allowing people to deny things like science education if their creationist parents don't want them to know about reality.

    Also, take of your hipster glasses and stop abusing words like "ecosystem". 

  • The school system in Sweden was opened up for entrepreneurs and it's been a disaster ever since. The private schools have an economic incentive to pay as little as possible for the education and to teach the children just about the minimum requirements to pass the standardized tests.

  • I highly recommend listening from this teacher's (GrapplingIgnorance) perspective: So You Want to be a Teacher –The Contradiction

    It's a great insight to what teachers deal with.

  • An interesting video from the conservative perspective. I'd like to see a conservative opinion on the education system's seeming inability to teach critical thinking skills, instead favoring rote memorization, regurgitation and meaningless busywork. Changing the funding structure to allow low-income students more opportunities is a fine idea, but does nothing to address the fact that what they're "learning" is how to be an obedient worker drone, NOT how to be an intelligent, responsible citizen.

  • Quite honestly, I agree with the first option alone. I love voucher programs and concepts, but I am dubious of a free market approach to education. I don't want to unduly disparage the free market system, the most efficient in terms of classical resources for money. Education, however, is not a classical good, and thus requires a non-free market approach. I do think the solution is to de-emphasize standardized testing, but I also think that the solution is a reverse privatization metric and a tolerance for non-standard approaches to education. Sure, that means that creationism gets taught in some schools, but it also means that these ideas start to have to stand on their merits and the most effective approach to education will become apparent quickly. Combined with a free college program, such as Scotland, and we would unleash the greatest educated in the history of mankind.

  • The free market approach may work to some degree in metropolitan areas but people in rural areas couldn't support true competition. Plus this system would always favor the financially endowed.

  • The free market approach may work to some degree in metropolitan areas but people in rural areas couldn't support true competition. Plus this system would always favor the financially endowed.

  • If you get a college degree you should make more.
    Please define the "top"?
    What if students just don't give a fuck about education. If 80% of students don't care, 20% won't learn anything.

  • This is a radical concept for most people to except. The points and ideas shared on this video are general and are design to engage thought and to encourage the viewer to check out the speakers book. In short the author is thinking out side of the box and that will take a lot of people to an uncomfortable area of misunderstanding. However If you are one of the gifted few that have the mental capacity to grasp the concepts being shared, you might see the potential for the powerful ideas to revolutionize the educational system that we except today

  • Schools are brainwashing facilities. You'd best get out of them as fast as you can. Think for yourself, be creative, and move forward on your own terms.

  • Here’s the real three step program for fixing education in America.
    Step 1: Stop paying teachers at near poverty levels.  Teachers should make about what, say for example, a pharmacist would make in a given area.
    This will suck for a few years because some very bad teachers will be getting paid well.  We’ll get to that in a minute.
    Step 2:  Now that teaching is rewarding financially, in addition to the tacit rewards of helping people learn, smart and motivated college kids who are looking for a career they will enjoy and one that will not just pay the bills but also leave some left over for savings and fun can consider education as a viable (read lucrative) career path.
    This step is often criticized with things like “They’ve tried that before, studies have shown that throwing money at schools doesn’t work.”  I agree.  Just throwing money on to a raging fire isn’t going to put it out.  It’s going to make it worse.  If, however you used that money to train and equip some firefighters, you’ll have better results.
    The money referred to here goes into things like new facilities (pools, football fields, and a number of other non-essentials), new high-tech classrooms (for people that are borderline computer illiterate), and various sundry items.  Never has the money gone to attract better teachers.
    Step 3: Get rid of the teacher’s unions.  As the new, intelligent, and motivated teachers begin to filter into the classrooms, those older, lazier, and otherwise entirely useless bodies will need to be removed.  That can’t be done with teacher’s unions protecting the unperformed jobs of those people.
    One  other criticism I receive from this is: “Where is all that extra money going to come from?”
    Where does it come from now?  Aren’t you sick of people paying lip service to a cause and never doing anything real to actually fix it.  “Blah blah blah… fix education… blah blah blah”, then nothing ever gets done.  There’s plenty of government waste that could go to fixing our education system.
    Or we could stop pretending like we care about education and just let kids be dumb.

  • One huge topic that was not covered and is far more critical than anything else mentioned is the achievement gap. Children are starting kindergarten at incredibly varied levels. Some come knowing their ABC's, some can write their names, some have been to countless museums and the list goes on. The truth of the matter is that students from poverty are starting school with hundreds of thousands less words spoken to them, hundreds of books not read to them and a series of other issues can hinder education. It is not all on the schools and the teachers. When you have students who are the equivalent of a grade level behind other students from the start it should tell you that something needs to be done prior to coming to school.

  • Stupid video.  We have to divide students into at least 3 levels.  Stupid, average, and gifted.  Until we do that,  we shall continue to fail.   No,  I don't think they will ever do it.

  • Some interesting stuff. IMO our schools do as well as any nation's schools at education (see here: but they spend money very inefficiently. If we make education cheaper, easier and more enjoyable children will go longer but we deteriorate the value of diplomas. Now our schools do not cover daycare hours very well and we could use money savings from cutting admin to cover more hours. Schools should provide daycare from 7:00am to 6:00 pm with the early and late hours optional and they should be able to do it for less money than is spent now IMHO this could easily be done. Of course most of what is taught in schools worldwide is not useful to the students (see here: and great improvements could be made in that area. We do not know how to teach students more but we might be able to teach more useful skills and knowledge. 

  • Another little flaw that happens when money comes into edducation is that the lowering of costs could eventually have those very low costing and low qualities schools that that are only after the money. Their very attractive prices could make Jenifer's familly choose this kind school, bigger schools would then grow more expensive spreadding the gap between education for poor and rich people. But, who knows, quality inspectors might help turn this around.

  • Sweden have a system that where their is a extremly vibrant School system if you live in a city. The Diverse and creative school system have no helped school results in Sweden and im willing to bet it`s best system in the world to foster a diverse number of schools.

  • Maybe if American teachers would stop fcking their students and start teaching them instead American education would drastically improve. All these teens are bent on sex, drugs and alcohol and couldn't give two shits about 'education'. They think they're entitled to a world of luxury. That's why on  current trends America will cease to be the superpower they once were within 20-30 years. 

  • "standardized tests are bad, but we need a system of inspectors to measure the quality of schools"
    "we need a buzzword, to buzzword the buzzwords, so that students can buzzword more efficiently!"

    not saying the ideas here are inherently bad, but this presentation makes me want to punch someone.

  • This education discussion got me thinking. Why do public schools have athletics programs? Why do our education tax dollars go towards activities that actively discourage classroom learning, critical thinking, and studying after school? Why do we pay so much (fields, insurance, equipment, transportation) for something that doesn't make the next generation more competitive with the rest of the world? I'm not against sports, I actually think that it's a great way to learn to be sociable and healthy, but why can't we leave that for private/ independent sports teams (or, you know, informal pickup games)? 

    I think more importantly, school sports instills a mentality in children that hard work in class can take second place to success at sports, and it contributes to the lackadaisical attitude many children have towards their education. 

  • The current system relies too heavily on standardized test taking. Alas, there are few alternatives. Public school systems will continue to have trouble as long as this standard is kept. I was traditionally homeschooled for 11 years. I received personalized education through my parents, tutors and others who never went to school for education. Not much can beat individualized education. Perhaps another issue with the public school system is parental involvement. I guess I was blessed with parents who cared a lot about my education.

  • Think you might be interested in this.  The Antiacademic Doctrine: Introduction  Something I started independently about 17 years ago.

  • -Take government out of it
    -Stop taxing people
    -Get rid of tenure
    Stop teaching kids that voting is the highest freedom.

    Voting is an illusion.
    Voters believe they choose their governance.
    They believe their representatives represent them.
    The trend of government is always alienation of the voter.
    If you believe government is for the people then you see corruption.
    Government has one role. It serves the interests of those with money and power.
    Power is based on land and assets.
    Voters are slaves begging for rights. You'll only get an illusion to keep you believing you are free.

  • Educational reform MUST be accomplished without the profit-motive getting in the way.

    "Market-based" = PROFIT-Based.
    The idea is a seductively-promoted scam to privatize all of America, if it can be accomplished.

    The AEE is a known  promoter of the spreading profit$-obsessed  corporatism  in the US that has brought us Corporate-based HealthCare known as the ACA (initially adopted by Massachusetts, and later largely imitated by ObamaCare). The AEE is a natural ally of the Koch Bros, hedge-fund and equity groups, and America's biggest banking interest$, who want nothing more than merely EVERYTHING in the world available to their dollar-encrusted claws.

    By putting everything in society on a privately-owned, for-profit basis (which is the AEE plan for America and the world), you automatically consign long-term ownership of those institutions (from schools & colleges to parks to roads, bridges, police, military, etc etc)  to the wealthiest among us.

    That is as far from "freedom" as you can get.

    Unless you're a billionaire.

  • I disagree with creativity part. Sure today's school environment isn't really trying to promote it, but does it really diminishes it in any way? With proper work ethics that parents should give to their kids, I really don't see a problem. I know many creative people. Playing instruments, drawing, others having creative solutions to the problems, or interesting views and perspective, etc. The biggest problem in my opinion is the fact that having a diploma can actually increase the chance of climbing the top 4 times. Why? Why is it that college became an extension of mandatory education? It should be for passionate people who want to study, not go there because otherwise they don't get a job. Hence I would say that I agree with change number 2. It might change the idea that college is the only way to get a job. Idea number 1 is also pretty nice, but idea number 3? Not so much. I mean in general it's good, but there are already for years debates about education in scientific journals. Why teacher don't read them and then implement, I don't know. It's like a doctor not following the news in medical journals, for lawyers not keeping up with law changes etc. Maybe instead of pushing money for re educating teachers, we could incentivise their approach, creating a more competitive market so that teachers who actually want to change something, could do it and teachers who just complacently follow the curriculum, or even worse, eagerly so, would disappear.

  • One of the ways that Japan manages to push out so many intelligent kids is the method school identity.

    Each school has it's own unique uniform, the kids participate in cleaning and have their own class representatives based on homeroom, they have school festivals in regards to sports and Japanese culture.

    A sports mascot and colors on a varsity jacket aren't enough. It's more than just having fun with your friends. It's about doing well for the school because you have the capability to contribute.

    I dunno, maybe I should lay off the anime. But my point still stands: kids need a reason to do well that transcends their personal needs and desires, and sets them up to contribute to society once they graduate.

  • So you want education to be a free capitalist market product? Where the better something is the more it costs?

    Basically all that does is give rich people more opportunities for better education, and Jennifer still can't afford shit.

  • i think we need to model Finland's education which is one of the best systems in the world. honestly the teachers are more highly regarded and it kills competition because school isnt about who is smartest or which school is best or all about taking exams its about finding what your passionate about and pursuing it

  • Just make the kids work and choose their own investments in life. Your value of success is only money oriented anyways right?

  • Vouchers and charter schools? This explains the whole problem. On the one side, we have the status quo, with all its problems. On the other side, we have the people that want to privatize it. Privatization only works for the investor class.

  • The American education system is a god damn capitalistic system. I have no problem with capitalism when it comes to business, but when it comes to education, it should not be a god damn gamble as to what students will pay you the most god damn money. I'm a senior in college right now and I only realized the broken system that American education is.

  • This is possibly the biggest bunch of bullshit I've ever heard. This guy is saying these stupid things because he is PAID to push this propaganda, just like any shameless shill or sellout. I don't believe a word of what this pathetic boot licker is uttering.


    But just reforming the financial system and eliminating things like core testing will not be the whole solution. Some core skills are very important. Here's a few things that need to be integrated into all school systems:

    Educate children so they can be productive members of society; common sense has left this country.

    Teach birth control, self control, self defense, how to earn self respect,
    how to EARN trophies and rewards,
    how to respect those who are making the world better (teachers for example).

    Core values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage;

    Teach WHY we need to know math, science, history, reading/writing.

    Teach children early and often what skills are needed to get a job and keep a job.
    Money management, family management and parenting skills, community participation.

    Teach how to manage emotions in healthy ways.

  • Taking a look at this comment section shows part of the problem… its extremely hard to see how bad the system is unless your in it. Im currently in high school and honest to god anyone that i have talked to at my school agrees almost every part of the education system is screwed up. eliminating narrower curriculum and standardized testing would not solve it completely but its 100% a start and would help. I cant read small print due to a condition with my eyes, and the response of the school system is not helping at all.Everyday i go through an uphill battle against all of these bureaucratic laws and regulations and systems that are seemingly bullshit. They have things in place not to help, but to make it look like their helping and have excuses, and none of the help they have tried has worked at all. This is a big problem, the generalizing of students. I understand that there is no easy way of solving this problem because it is the least expensive and least effort, but in shaping our future, we need to invest a LOT more resources to make the system bringing them up a TON better. So yes, there is a huge problem, and yes some of what he is saying i believe would help at least a bit, which is a start

  • I never passed the 9th grade and I own 2 business and travel a lot if you want to stay in debt all the time then go to school , heres the thing u need school if ur going to be a teacher doctor a layer, but if want to learn about business , or creative arts like music web design you do not need that, and if anyone like to know how to invest and put their money to work for them contact me,

  • Good talk. But you mention that the problem is testing and narrow curriculum but in your solution you provide the same – a marketplace based on inspection and scores and metrics.

  • I think that all of the fancy graphics and movement that's happening on screen with nothing to do with thee topic is distracting. Great video otherwise.

  • Oh we are definitely having an education reform now, our president is going to "reform" us back into the stone ages..

  • I promote VR programs or touch screen desks using easy to replace clear film wired to desks and connected to Alexa with teachers as assistants also with an assistant program to make it so really just need supervisors

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