School Inc. – A Personal Journey with Andrew Coulson

Episode One Description

Air date: 04/04/2017

School Inc. – A Personal Journey with Andrew Coulson

Episode One: The Price of Excellence

 

Short Episode Description

In The Price of Excellence, the first episode of School Inc., the late Andrew Coulson, senior fellow of education policy at Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, examines the great inventions of the industrial revolution in the 19th century, when productivity rose dramatically and the innovations behind it spread like wildfire, but not so in education. In those early years, education was controlled by parents, but when Horace Mann championed efforts to put education into the hands of state-appointed experts and state-trained teachers, universal public education in America was born.

School Inc. flashes forward to East Los Angeles and a modern story of what happened when Jaime Escalante, a gifted teacher at Garfield High, and the educational excellence he created in the classroom, became the basis of the Hollywood movie, Stand and Deliver. Finally, Coulson travels to Seoul, South Korea where college bound students eagerly enroll in afterschool tutoring programs called “Hagwons.” Students and administrators explain how well it works and one professor discloses his annual salary is more than a million dollars.

 

Long Episode Description

With the great inventions of the industrial revolution in the 19th century, like New England’s automated textile mills, productivity rose dramatically and the innovations behind it spread like wildfire, but not so in education. It was Horace Mann, the lawyer and legislator who became America’s first head of a state board of education who recognized the problem.  He said “…if any improvement in principles or modes of teaching is discovered in one school, instead of being published to the world, it dies with the discoverer… Now, if a manufacturer discovers a new mode of applying steam power, the information flies over the country at once, the old machinery is discarded, the new is substituted.”

In those early years’ education was controlled by parents, but when Horace Mann championed efforts to put education into the hands of state-appointed experts and state-trained teachers, universal public education in America was born.

Flash forward to East Los Angeles and a modern story of what happened when a gifted teacher and the educational excellence he created in the classroom became the basis of a Hollywood movie.  Jaime Escalante was the teacher, Stand and Deliver was the movie.  The results of Escalante’s teaching were beyond belief.  His students performed so far above expectations on the AP calculus test that the Educational Testing Service suspected cheating and threw out their scores.  Undaunted, they retook the test and came through with flying colors.

In this first episode of School Inc. Jaime Escalante’s former students and colleagues tell the tragic tale of what happened to Garfield High’s star teacher.

Finally, the late Andrew Coulson, senior fellow of education policy at Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, travels to Seoul, South Korea where college bound students eagerly enroll in after school tutoring programs called “Hagwons.” Students and administrators explain how well it works and one professor discloses his annual salary is more than a million dollars.

There is both freedom and incentive at play in South Korea’s private tutoring sector.  Its teachers have tremendous autonomy and are constantly improving their skills to stay ahead of the competition.  The more students they serve; the more money they make.  Is this a feasible model for American education?

Coulson explores the educational establishment, its history, the politics that sometimes impedes the growth of good schools and good teachers, and the involvement of entrepreneur educators in The Price of Excellence.

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