Dakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. In regards to the system of public education, however, lawmakers and educators often try other strategies for fixing the dead horse (a.k.a. public schooling), including the following:
1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Saying things like, "This is the way we have always ridden this horse."
4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
5. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
6. Lowering the standards to include dead horses.
7. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
8. Creating a training session to increase our riding ability.
9. Comparing the state of dead horses in today’s environment.
10. Harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed.
11. Providing additional funding to increase the horse's performance.
12. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders can increase the dead horse’s performance.
13. Purchasing technology to make dead horses run faster.
14. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
People like to blame someone for problems. Many people blame the president, Congress, local school boards, administrators, or teachers for the shortfalls of the public school system. The problem is not that the educators and lawmakers aren’t trying to improve the system; it’s that they just haven’t realized the proverbial horse is dead. If the basic system doesn’t work, all the money and strategies and dedication in the world will not help unless the system itself is replaced.