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August 17, 2010

Education Reform: The Polarizing Debate

The rebel valedictorian graduation speech generated 500 comments and over 160K views. Some people wrote one liners while others wrote dissertations that are bookmarked for a rainy day. What became distinctly clear was how polarizing the comments were. People either applauded Erica for her courage to stand up to a broken system...

While others took the opportunity to criticize Erica for being self indulgent, juvenile, and grammatically incorrect...

And then there were the head scratchers...

It's amazing how one post can generate such a debate with no clear winner or loser. A lot has to do with the topic...education. If you thought everyone had an opinion about health care reform, wait till we start education reform. 

Education, like health care, has an amazing ability to trigger heated debates. I think it stems from the fact that we all have a first hand experience in both and thus feel we have a right to our seemingly correct judgement.

"I went to public school and I'm a successful doctor now. Everything is fine."

"I flunked out my senior year because school was horrible."

"I home schooled my kids and they rank in the 99% percentile on tests! Home Education is the answer."

The problem is that many of our judgements come from an individual, or anecdotal, experience, not from education research. A study of one isn't a study, it's an opinion. First hand experience doesn't automatically qualify someone as an expert. Just look at the Autism vs Vaccination debate for evidence of such. We have a right to our opinion but let's not claim it as THE way to reform education. 

In the end, one comment tried to suspended judgement of Erica's critic of the education system that most of us can agree with...

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