Further my initial posting (dt. Sep 28, 2010 11:22 AM) on the subject, I already know, I believe, what some of us are going to say after glancing through a fair bit of the ongoing discussions at the New York Times:
1) "It's all the fault of the Educational Mafia...PUT THEM IN JAIL!" 2) "BLOW UP THE TEACHER TRAINING COLLEGES!" (or the equivalent, probably in more sophisticated words).
Obviously, there will be other responses, but I wish to observe that the above 'solutions' will not help resolve the problem at all, as they are just too simplistic a way of dealing with a complex issue: they are the equivalent, in US terms, of what the Taliban in Pakistan have just done: stoned a young woman to death for being seen in public with some male who was not her husband.
May I suggest that a practical way out would be to - -- seek the inputs of ALL stakeholders in the issue (students; teachers; parents; school administrators; politicians; and even the 'Educational Mafia' if there actually exists such a category of stakeholders in education); - -- record those inputs; - -- then, from those inputs, to develop effective Action Planning to help improve the educational systems (particularly in math and science where I believe the situation of 'after-school tutoring' is most severe.
I observe that I've at this forum told the story of a freshman college student who came to me with the problem of never having gotten above 45% in math right through his school career and he was repeating the same woeful performance in college. He worked, using a process I call the 'One Page Management System' (OPMS) on the following Mission he chose (with some very little guidance from me): "To understand thoroughly all the topics of my math syllabus and THEREBY to do significantly better in my math exams, tests and quizzes". I particularly observe that I gave him NO math tuition at all - I just showed him how to develop the needed representations of his own 'mental models' about his math and his situation vis-a-vis his math, and suggested what he should do at each stage of development of his OPMS.
In just about 8 months' time (after I had initially spent about 1 hour a day with him for about 30 days), he wrote to me to inform me that he was now consistently getting well over 75% in all his math exams etc. It is useful to note that he took NO after-school math tuition at all from any teachers or tuition courses such as KUMON, etc - he got whatever help he needed from his peers and from his school teachers (no tuition).
To those of us who believe 1) or 2) provides the right solution, may I suggest that the ingestion of some of the shrimp so assiduously been purchased may help - but only in the VERY long term? As short-term solutions, those ideas will simply not work.