David Osborne, 45, spends a lot of time thinking about education. In addition to having four children in the East Greenwich public schools, Osborne works for the National Center on Education and the Economy, an education think tank where he analyzes school systems around the world.
He decided to run for School Committee in East Greenwich to be able to leverage some of what he’s learned.
“The world is changing and our economy is changing and if we don’t change how we educate people for the 21st century we’re going to fall behind,” he said in an interview Sunday. “Our kids aren’t going to be competing for jobs with kids from Warwick and Barrington. They’re going to be competing against people in China and India.”
Osborne said there are two things in particular that other top-performing countries are doing that the U.S. needs to do.
“They are picking their teachers from a very different pool than we do in the U.S.,” he said. People who want to go into teaching in countries like Finland have to be in the top third of their class. Teachers are on par with lawyers, doctors, and engineers in those countries, Osborne said.
“That’s not to say teachers aren’t doing really heroic things and working their tails off,” he said. And he praised the teachers who have taught his children.
One of the School Committee’s roles is to approve all hires for the district and Osborne said his experience could help there.
“I would look at how we go about recruiting and hiring only the best, most qualified teachers,” he said.
The other area where top-performing countries are excelling is in having a very clear connection between standards, curriculum and assessments. In those countries, he said, there’s no fear of teaching to the test. The test is based on the curriculum, which is based on the standards.
“In the U.S. we’re finally getting to the place with the Common Core state standards – ‘Here’s what a third grader ought to be able to do in the third grade’ – but you need to have time … to catch up with the standards,” he said. That’s been part of the problem in Rhode Island as compared to top-performing Massachusetts, he said.
“Education is really complex, and that’s OK,” Osborne said. “I would love to have the opportunity to apply some of the lessons I’ve learned to improve our schools in East Greenwich.”
You can find out more about David Osborne on his website here. To watch Osborne and four other the other six School Committee candidates, here’s a link to videos from the EG News Candidates Forum Oct. 16 at New England Tech.