Outcome Based Education, a student-centered learning philosophy measuring performance by observation and experimentation, is fine for creating round pegs for round holes.

In the global economy, however, many other shapes are needed. Since our competition learns a third language before fifth grade or trigonometry in sixth grade, OBE places future graduates at grave disadvantage. Diversity is often to blame for poor performance by American students, but if we break results down by state, searching not for averages but excellence, a different picture emerges.

Stanford economist Eric Hanushek compared learning results in American states and foreign countries. Hanushek evaluated the best and brightest in each place — kids most likely to get good jobs. Publicly educated American kids did not fare very well. Only 6 percent of U.S. students perform at an advanced-proficiency level in mathematics, lagging behind 30 other countries, from the United Kingdom to Taiwan.

Although Maine rates slightly above average in graduation rates, our students don’t rate very well intellectually when competing with students from other states or countries.

As an Oakland resident, I appreciate the efforts of local educators. They are not the problem and do their best during the key formative years of 5 to 12, but because of OBE are often hamstrung.

This brings me to the proposed RSU 18 budget on which Oakland, Sidney, Rome, China and Belgrade will vote on June 12.

Before demanding a spending increase, we need to know precisely what taxpayers are getting for their money. How much is going to teachers and classrooms; how much toward administration? As an educator, I believe that more discussion is needed, and that without first reviewing performance standards and where taxpayer money can best benefit kids, any demand for a spending increase is highly one-sided.

Dr. W. Sumner Davis


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