National Energy Needed to Revamp Public Education System

For the most part of our history, the United States has constantly had its guard up. During the Cold War, our rival, the USSR, kept us on our feet. It forced the realization upon us that if we did not perform at our maximum potential then we may succumb to a foreign power.

The era we’re currently in could be considered placid, even with the constant threat of Islamic terrorism. But it has not created the type of national energy needed to produce better students. Education complacency continues.

Intel Chairman Craig Barrett is deeply concerned about math and science education in America. He laments "American K-12 students are consistently outperformed by their foreign counterparts on international math and science assessments."

Barrett continues:

"Science and technology are the engines of economic growth and national security in the U.S., and we are no longer producing enough qualified graduates to keep up with the demand. These graduates -- like the Intel STS [Intel Science Talent Search competition] students -- represent a resource vital to American competitiveness that is eroding at home while being produced more rapidly and efficiently abroad.

For the past three decades, about one-third of U.S. bachelor's degrees have been granted in science and engineering. Asian nations far outstrip that figure, with China at 59% in 2001, South Korea at 46% in 2000, and Japan at 66% in 2001.Of those degrees, the number awarded in engineering also varied greatly: In China engineering accounted for 65% of all science and engineering degrees; in South Korea for 58%; and in Japan for 29%. In the U.S. that figure is less than 5%."

Although the United States may not be producing as many capable science and math scholars as we have in earlier times, this recent article throws a more serious element into the intensifying problem with America’s public education: the demographic time bomb.

[F]or the first time ever, America's educational gains are poised to stall because of growing demographic trends. If these trends continue, the share of the U.S. workforce with high school and college degrees may not only fail to keep rising over the next 15 years but could actually decline slightly, warns a report released on Nov. 9 by the National Center for Public Policy & Higher Education, a nonprofit group based in San Jose, Calif. The key reason: As highly educated baby boomers retire, they'll be replaced by mounting numbers of young Hispanics and African Americans, who are far less likely to earn degrees.

National Center President Patrick M. Callan projects:

As recently as 1980, the U.S. workforce was 82% white. By 2020, it will be just 63% white. Over this 40-year span, the share of minorities will double, to 37%, as that of Hispanic workers nearly triples, to 17%. The problem is, both Hispanics and African Americans are far less likely to earn degrees than their white counterparts. If those gaps persist, the number of Americans age 26 to 64 who don't even have a high school degree could soar by 7 million, to 31 million, by 2020. Meanwhile, although the actual number of adults with at least a college degree would grow, their share of the workforce could fall by a percentage point, to 25.5%.

Due to birth rates varying by ethnicity and immigrants now coming from particularly Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the White population will represent about half of the United States by 2050. Demographics is destiny.

-----

A major factor detrimental to the success of students is the vox populi. Being "smart" or "studying" is just not "cool" or "hip." It's something only nerds do. Many teenagers are apolitical and (I hate to say) would rather live an MTV-lifestyle or watch their favorite sport. There is nothing wrong with this but when this forms the core component of a youth's life something is wrong. The "good life" is fun, but a comfortable lifestyle nowadays has only been achieved through the hard work and education of our forefathers. My classmates seem to have forgotten this...

Nonetheless, there is a powerful element that needs to be added to our public education: national energy. The Cold War's Space Race created a synergy throughout the country. Americans then were a proud and confident people. Our math and science departments flourished. Now there is no such uniting force (the War on Terror is more divisive than uniting). What we need are national projects that can create this type of energy but are better than the Space Race.

China has national energy. Most Chinese are relatively young, capable, and ambitious - eager to see their country gain a more prominent position in the world. Their goal of global potence creates national energy. Because of this, China is spending billions to better their universities:

China wants to transform its top universities into the world's best within a decade, and is spending billions of dollars to woo big-name scholars like Yao and to build first-class research laboratories. The effort is China's latest bid to raise its profile as a great power.

National energy in the United States will be very difficult to achieve, if that is what we need to revitalize our staggering public education system. Due to abandoning the Melting Pot philosophy with current legal immigrants and allowing open borders for illegal aliens, an increasing percentage of people in the United States are speaking different languages, adhering to different cultural values, and pledging loyalty to different countries.

How can the United States unite energetically now?

Posted by Mike Tate at December 8, 2005 7:11 AM | TrackBack (1)
Comments
Comment #100141

My mom’s teaches education in Brooklynn. As a part of thier education, her students teach classes in Brooklynn’s public schools.

The biggest problem her students face is not a force that will unite the students, but a lack of funding. They have no books, no pencils, no paper, no chalk, no materials.

I’m not a fan of simply throwing money at a problem, but these students, who often come from poor families themselves, have little chance of becoming good at math without a math book.

If you want to better education in this country value it more. Pay the teachers better. This should not be a profession of last resort or goodwill and sacrifice. Without a real salary, this profession will never be considered by many or respected by this society.

Finally, some parts of your post suggest that education might be improved if we had a good ole fashioned war or if there were more white people in this country. Let’s remember the U.S. has not tried making providing for basic educational needs a priority yet.

Let’s try that first.

Posted by: Max at December 8, 2005 8:11 AM
Comment #100146

Max,
“The biggest problem her students face is not a force that will unite the students, but a lack of funding. They have no books, no pencils, no paper, no chalk, no materials. I’m not a fan of simply throwing money at a problem, but these students, who often come from poor families themselves, have little chance of becoming good at math without a math book. If you want to better education in this country value it more. Pay the teachers better. This should not be a profession of last resort or goodwill and sacrifice. Without a real salary, this profession will never be considered by many or respected by this society.”


I would agree with you; however, you’re leaving out an explosive (and political) factor and that is teacher’s unions. I mean, “No child left behind act” certainly spent billions, yet the money was never (fully) used at the state level b/c the unions; they didn’t want to have their teachers held “accountable” or graded on “achievement”.

Also, if you go to the “rich” schools, they have plenty of books and pencils, etc.; however, if the students aren’t motivated they won’t use them at all. Either way, you still have a lack of education…

Posted by: rahdigly at December 8, 2005 8:31 AM
Comment #100153

My wife is a 6th grade English teacher and truly loves teaching. She does, however, hate her job on a regular basis. Setting aside all the issues with a top-heavy administration(we’re in Mississippi, where there’s a superintendant for everything), the huge problem is that parents don’t want anyone making their kids do anything. I’m not just referring to the rich, spoiled(mostly white)kids; its all of them. She spends more of her time covering herself from possible complaints than helping those children who need it the most. The problem kids take up most of the classroom time as well. When I was in school, the educationally challenged student slowed the class down, now its the behaviorally challenged. Most of those antgonize others(teachers included) because they know their parents will back them no matter what they do.

P.S. Don’t get me started on theacher pay or 65 hour work weeks.

Posted by: lee at December 8, 2005 9:13 AM
Comment #100157

All

The whole systemis,of course,irreprairable.

Teachers,parents,the “system” …all take the blame.

Lazy parents coupled with lazy tenured teachers long past the burnout phase now waiting for retirement,and superintendents that can’t construct a sentence themselves.

Here in Massachusetts the superintendent of the state’s largest Latino city flunked the English profeciency of the teacher minimum competency exam two times.

Rumor has it that inn California,Dean Cathy Sullivan,Dean of Stranford Law School and considerest to be the Left’s brightest star and choice for the High Court if they had their way,flunked the California Bar Exam in November.

Our culture is decaying and has been for a long long time.

Now it has to mutate…change its ways…and adapt to the new demographic.

Issue number one is this:In which language do we teach students?

That’s where the firefight is right now in education

Posted by: sicilianeagle at December 8, 2005 9:25 AM
Comment #100163
you’re leaving out an explosive (and political) factor and that is teacher’s unions. I mean, No child left behind act certainly spent billions, yet the money was never (fully) used at the state level b/c the unions; they didn’t want to have their teachers held accountable or graded on achievement.

Evidence please? Some people love to put the blame on the teachers’ unions. I’d like to see some REAL PROOF rather than the tired finger pointing that somehow the unions are keeping the kids from learning.

And by the way: guess who runs the teachers unions? TEACHERS! Do you blame them as well?

Posted by: bobo at December 8, 2005 9:47 AM
Comment #100166

When I was in school the county school system spent an adverage of $100 per student per year. To day the county school system spends $12,000 per student per year. I know that inflation has eaten at least half of that amount but not all.
Our school was only one in the and was kept in good repair.
Today there are 4 schools in the county. ALL the buildings are in need of repair.
Our teachers weren’t the best paid (in the lower 10%)in the state, But they did a pretty good job of educating us.
Today our teachers are in the upper 25% in pay in the state. But the kids aren’t getting as good of an education.
What’s the difference? Any number of things. Here’s just 4.
1.Lower standards. When I was in school 69% was a F. Today with the silly curve they grade on it’s possible that 20% could be an A.
2.Lack of disipline. We had rules and knew that breaking them would lead to disipline of some kind from being kept in at recess up to a spanking by the principle. The latter meant a good old fashioned spanking at home after the principle called our parents. In fact Daddy had a two for one sale in this department. We got spanked for getting a spanking in school. Then we got spanked for doing what we did to get the spanking. Yeah, we tried to keep out of trouble at school.
Today just about anything short of murder goes. And in some school systems students can get away with that.
3. Teacher committment. Like I said earlier, our teachers pay was in the lower 10% in the state. The teacher student ratio was about 30:1. But our teacher cared about our education. They would spend extra time with students that need help in a subject. They match kids that did well in a subject with kids that weren’t doing so well to try to improve those kids grades. They praised us when our grades improved. And encouraged us to try harder when thry fell.
Today the teachers pay is in the top 25% in the state. The student ratio is around 20:1. A lot of teachers a deddicated to the students education. But there’s a whole heap of them that just don’t seem to care if they learn anything or not. These teachers complain all the time about not being paid enough. About have to many students. About thenumber of days they have to work. And on, and on, and on, an…………..
3.There was 3 people on the board of education when I was a kid. The only paid member was the Superintendent.
Today there are 6 people on the board and they all get paid. ALL but the Superintendent have jobs outside the school system. But they get paid $1,200 per board meeting. They meet once a mounth for 2 hours. They usually talk about how to get more money from the taxpayers and the state. I’ve never heard them talk about what they’re going to do with it. Like repair the schools or some dumb thing like that.
4.Parental involvement. When I was in school just about every parent knew their youngins teachers. They went to the PTA meetings and talked to the teacher about their childs progress. They made sure that we did our home work and would help us when we had trouble with it. A lot of them attended the school board meetings and voiced their concerns and opinions. And the board listened.
Today the schools don’t want the parents near the schools. O they talk like they do, but just go there and start asking questions. The school board likes to meet in closed secessions so parents, or taxpayers can’t ask questions or voice their concerns. And when they do have a public meeting the only ones they want to here from are those marching in lock step with them. Neither the schools or the board want the parents around. And sad to say most parents really don’t care what the schools do as long as they don’t have to take time from their busy schulde to find out whats going on.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 8, 2005 9:54 AM
Comment #100168

bobo,

The results speak for themselves - that is the evidence.

There is a program funded with billions of dollars.

A group (teachers and the unions) is charged with making it happen.

The results are putrid.

Hence, those charged with making it happen - failed. Period, end of story.

Absolutely teachers share the blame - but it starts with the union first and foremost (and ends with lazy, complicit parents by the way).

Posted by: MiPatriot at December 8, 2005 9:58 AM
Comment #100171

MiPatriot,

The results speak for themselves? No they don’t. The unions are responsible for negotiating teachers’ pay and benefits, making sure they aren’t screwed by management, or fired for reasons like cronyism. The unions do not make decisions about educating the kids, just like unions in manufacturing industries don’t make decisions about the design of the product they sell.

I’ll ask for the evidence again: Where is the evidence that the teachers’ unions are causing the kids from getting a proper education?

How do you know its not the curriculum? Or perhaps the local school board’s injecting non-science into the science curriculum (Dover PA)? Or the state school system redefining science so they can throw out teaching evolution (Kansas)? I can find a lot more evidence of things going wrong with education in this country than your tired, hollow complaint about unions.

Posted by: bobo at December 8, 2005 10:11 AM
Comment #100174

Great post, Mr. Tate. I really think that if there’s any one issue that ought to unite us all, it’s educating kids. Of course, we’ll disagree on the details, but I think you are totally right on about the need for some kind of new “space race.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m university faculty (in a social science, and I teach a lot of research methods and statistics) and my wife taught middle school English for 9 years in a blue-ribbon school in a very pro-education town in a state not known for good schools.

There is a lot of blame to be shared, and I would encourage folks on the left, center, and right to keep that in mind. A lot of blame.

Now, K-12 teachers in my state are not unionized, so I must assume that our problems here don’t revolve around unions as much as in other places. I am personally very conflicted on the idea of teachers’ unions, so I won’t talk about them at all.

Now, I consider myself quite liberal, but I have to say that I place a lot of blame on the teacher training process. I think education programs, to put it bluntly, are pretty much garbage, and the “professional development” process is even freakin’ worse. Far, far too much of ed. curricula are tied up in theory instead of substance and praxis. I believe that a potential science teacher should have a degree in a science, not in education.

PD is even worse. Ladies and gentlemen, the federal and state governments are just pretty much shoveling cartloads of our money into a huge furnace of idiocy here. Holy heck, there is no crackpot, ad hoc, spurious “theory” of how to teach kids more effectively that can’t get you tens of thousands of dollars on the professional development lecture circuit.

The PD logic is all to clear, unfortunately. Constantly change theories of HOW to teach, instead of focusing on faculty knowing their fields. Now, there are a LOT of good teachers out there, and God knows, K-12 teaching is one of the last jobs I would want to do, but the process of training those teachers is pretty bad.

But perhaps parents are the worst. Like Mr. Brown above, my Dad had the “2 for 1” policy as well, and I am probably considerably younger than he. As an adult, I don’t advocate corporal punishment, but my experience when my wife was teaching was to see how completely the average American parent has totally abdicated his or her responsibility to kids.

My wife saw it all the time. Kid suspended for fighting, parent marches right in and threatens to sue the school, since her child would NEVER do that. Had to have been the other kid’s fault. His kid would NEVER swear at a teacher. Teacher MUST be lying, has it out for his kid. Parents who let their kids skip school to hunt, shop, whatever. Take their kids out of school for 2 weeks before Christmas to go on an early vacation. It’s nuts.

I’m going to stop ranting now. I have a feeling Tate’s post will generate an avalanche of replies…all I ask is that we all remember that there is plenty of blame to go around.

R^2

Posted by: Arr-squared at December 8, 2005 10:18 AM
Comment #100180

energy solution:
1.take the money currently allocated by congress for national road work and redirect along with additional funding to do the following.
2.all interstate highways would use all taxpayer owned land along the sides to build a structure made of 1 inch panels that would create a positive air flow within structure utilizing special filtering sytem all vehiclular pollution would then be redirected through first filter sytems then pushed directly by small hoses implanted within the turf along highway ,this would help plants grow as they obsorbed the remaining carbon dioxide ,increasing thier growth rate ,installed within structure would be fusion refilling sections and directly in the center of these roads a small 6 foot tube would be installed that would hava small gocart type vehicles that powered by suction and electromagnetic rails would be able to achieve speeds in excess of 1000 miles per hour ,making it possible to live in new york and cummute to LA for work .if every acre of land currently owned by we the tax payers along all of our interstate highways were cultivated and cash producing crops grown within these type structures the deficit would disapear we would create millions of new jobs in every community throughout the us as these projects were built and the rider fees and sale of custom travel carts would create a new less dependant nation on outside fuel sources .these facities having a positive air flow sytem would also provide huge shelters all across the country that at any time could house and provide sanctuary during any kind of crisis.by having these we would no longer have to pay to salt those roads in bad weather nor pay to have lawns and sides maintained for they would then be producing cash crops ,as far as personel to run and maintain these areas if all citizens on welfare or unemployment were directed there with a specific training program we would have to import workers to fill all positions.while reducing current air pollution generated by cars and trucks by as much as 65 %.comments ?

Posted by: rylee at December 8, 2005 10:37 AM
Comment #100183

There is no correlation between amounts of money spent per student and student achievement. In fact, schools such as those in DC spent more per capita and get less. Last I looked the best schools were in Iowa, which spends a middle amount. The worst were in DC which spends the most.

Teachers unions resist changes such as merit pay, charter schools, and vouchers. These things may or may not work in all situations, but clearly what we have is not working. In some places the situation can’t really be made much worse, so why not try something new?

My kids go to public schools. My daughter goes to public university. I have no doubt they are getting good educations. The secret of success today is the parents and the community. It is not money, although a minimum is good to have. Why?

Parents and community are always important. They have become more so because the general standards have dropped. I made my kids sign up for the International Baccalaureate. For those of you who don’t know, that is a special course in HS that has a little more work, more math, more language and more writing. You know what it is really like? It is just like HS should be for all kids if we had proper standards and made a serious attempt to meet them. But we teach to the dumbest kid. If we don’t do that we run the PC risk and often a legal risk.

The fact of life is that not everyone is equally good at everything and some people aren’t good at anything. We can teach these guys, but we should not hold up others while we wait. Ironically, if we do that we can bore the smarter kids and make them also poor students.

Schools also increasingly are bad for boys. All the things boys like to do are now frowned upon by the feminized establishment. That is another story.

Posted by: Jack at December 8, 2005 10:44 AM
Comment #100185

rylee,

Did you read Tate’ post at all?
He’s not talking about the same *Energy* program…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 8, 2005 10:53 AM
Comment #100186

Bobo,
“Evidence please? Some people love to put the blame on the teachers’ unions. I’d like to see some REAL PROOF rather than the tired finger pointing that somehow the unions are keeping the kids from learning. The unions are responsible for negotiating teachers’ pay and benefits, making sure they aren’t screwed by management, or fired for reasons like cronyism.”


They are also responsible for “not firing” teachers when they aren’t progressing. That’s a big deal. And, you asked for some evidence that the teacher’s unions are against this, here you go:

http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2005/11/13/no_child_law_irks_teachers_unions/

“No Child law irks teachers’ unions”

“While salary and benefits are also stumbling blocks in the dispute, the teachers and the school board in this city of 5,400, about 40 miles southeast of Portland, are wrangling over contract language related to No Child Left Behind. Several bargaining sessions have stretched into the wee hours.


Under No Child Left Behind, schools must bring increasing percentages of children from all backgrounds up to scratch on reading, math, and writing tests. Schools that repeatedly fail to make enough progress face a series of sanctions, the most serious of which include school closure and takeover by a private company.

The law also says that by the end of this school year, teachers must be “highly qualified” in the subject they teach. That definition varies from state to state, but it generally means that teachers must have majored in the subject they teach, must be certified by the state, and must pass an exam. In some places, teachers are pushing for contract language to protect themselves.”

Posted by: rahdigly at December 8, 2005 10:56 AM
Comment #100191

Mr. Tate,

“National energy in the United States will be very difficult to achieve, if that is what we need to revitalize our staggering public education system. Due to abandoning the Melting Pot philosophy with current legal immigrants and allowing open borders for illegal aliens, an increasing percentage of people in the United States are speaking different languages, adhering to different cultural values, and pledging loyalty to different countries.

How can the United States unite energetically now?”

Do you have any idea how any of the public school systems works?
Do you understand the processes at work when districts design a curriculum?
Do you understand the text book industry and the lobbying and cronyism involved in the securing of district contracts?
Do you know exactly how underfunded “No Child Left Behind” is?
Do you have a national average of teacher salaries? Or even in your State?
Have you done research in areas where illegal immigration is not a factor to see if there are any changes in the students academic achievement over the past 10-20 years?
Have you done any research into the correlation between poverty and educational achievement?

“As highly educated baby boomers retire, they’ll be replaced by mounting numbers of young Hispanics and African Americans, who are far less likely to earn degrees.”

The federal government continues to use the Financial Aid system, through cuts, to cover their “Pork” spending.

Inner city schools continue to lose federal funding.

Teachers are underpaid.

Parents(of all races) are not preparing their children for school or teaching their children to be responsible for behaviors.

The welfare system is responsible for the decline in educational standards in this country. The welfare system enables those who may not want to achieve in life a free pass to do nothing. If your family has been raised on welfare, and you are raised with the understanding that you too can sit around, sell drugs, get high or drunk, and still have a roof over your head and plenty of food, why would you strive to educate yourself?

All of the above mentioned problems are just some of the factors that are destroying the education system in the United States.

Hopefully, next time, the tiniest bit of research, other than an article written by a fellow bigot, will hopefully, prevent you from blaming the niggers and spics for the decline of the United States educational system.

I am an educator. I have talked at length to colleagues and those who make our school districts decisions about these matters that you obviously have little knowledge about. I happen to teach in a building that has both a high poverty rate and high number of children who are not proficient english language speakers and readers.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. The white kids who live in poverty are just as academically challenged as the black and hispanic kids who do.
weird huh?



Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at December 8, 2005 11:23 AM
Comment #100195

Max, if the teachers don’t have chalk and the students don’t have books, then perhaps New York’s City’s school chancellor shouldn’t be getting a quarter million dollar salary?

Below him, you’ve got administrators overseeing dozens of departments and divisions, all making six figure incomes, and the teachers don’t have chalk? Interesting.

Posted by: sanger at December 8, 2005 11:30 AM
Comment #100207

Andre,

The welfare system is responsible for the decline in educational standards in this country. The welfare system enables those who may not want to achieve in life a free pass to do nothing. If your family has been raised on welfare, and you are raised with the understanding that you too can sit around, sell drugs, get high or drunk, and still have a roof over your head and plenty of food, why would you strive to educate yourself?

Finland is a welfare state, if not the most one.
And Finland rank #1 in education worldwide!

Maybe the welfare is not the root of why some young americans likes just doing, well, nothing? Why learning had lost most of its interest for so many?!

After the youth urban violence in France last month, we’ve quite the same debate here too. Most of these young french involved feel just bored doing nothing, being jobless due to under-education and, sadly, racism.
However, they don’t value education too. Their older brothers/sisters, more educated (college), can’t find job too.

My opinion is that even the most challenged and curious ones have discovered since years that being educated is not the highway for a wealthy life in a society where babyboomers have locked all top position for decades, where cryonism/relationship are behind more than 50% of jobs whatever skills adequates or not, and the middle class looks more and more like poor one.

When a society present only a rich and a poor class to his kids, no wonder they all want to become rich and they all know that education is not the best way to accomplish that…

Without some meritocracy, lazyness infiltrate everywhere very fast…

Your frenchly,

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at December 8, 2005 12:39 PM
Comment #100212

Jack
Your right about International Baccalaureate being just like HS should be for everyone.
I’ve put 3 of my 6 kids through college and have a 4th in college. There’s 9 years between my youngest and second youngest and I don’t know if the Internatioanl Baccalaureate program existed when the other 5 kids were in HS or not. But I made my youngest daughter take it when she started HS.
I know that not all kids are going to do the same in school. But my youngest isn’t that much smarter than her sisters. However there is a big difference in the ease that she can grasp what is being taught and the way her sisters were able to.
All 3 girls have told me that they wish they had been in the program in HS.
If you have a child that wants to go to college I highly recomend the International Baccalauteate program for them.


Posted by: Ron Brown at December 8, 2005 12:53 PM
Comment #100244

Mike:

Great post. This is something both conservatives and liberals can agree on.

But as soon as you broach the issue, Republicans start complaining about unions and Democrats start complaining about No Child Left Behind. We can’t solve an urgent problem by finding fault with each other.

You ask for ideas. I think that the BIG reason why education in U.S. is faultering is because the public does not respect teachers. You know the old saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

In Japan, in contrast, a teacher is held in highest regard. They give him a special name: “sensei.” I know, I was given that name when I volunteered to teach Japanese English during the occupation after WW-II. Boy, did I enjoy it.

You know, the Japanese are great learners.

My idea is simple. We must increase respect for teachers. One way to do it would be for the president to give a reward each year to the best teacher-of-the-year. Another is to pay our teachers more.

Treat teachers with the respect they deserve and you will have better teachers and more brilliant people will go into teaching.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at December 8, 2005 2:51 PM
Comment #100247

Two comments made above, and we fix education right here, right now. First, from the top:

“A major factor detrimental to the success of students is the vox populi. Being “smart” or “studying” is just not “cool” or “hip.” It’s something only nerds do. Many teenagers are apolitical and (I hate to say) would rather live an MTV-lifestyle or watch their favorite sport. There is nothing wrong with this but when this forms the core component of a youth’s life something is wrong. The “good life” is fun, but a comfortable lifestyle nowadays has only been achieved through the hard work and education of our forefathers. My classmates seem to have forgotten this…

And here, from the last:

“You ask for ideas. I think that the BIG reason why education in U.S. is faultering is because the public does not respect teachers. You know the old saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

Bingo. The problem is not money, funding, teacher pay, the condition of the schools, the unions, No Child Left Behind, or free vs. social democracy. Although all of these matters are culpable to an extent, the problem in the schools is SOCIOLOGIC.

Treat teachers like professionals (primary culprits here are school adminstrators who are among the worst managers in the world, tending to treat teachers like replaceable chattel, and policies which reduce the teacher to robot-like status) and do whatever you have to do to make ACHIEVEMENT COOL. Do that, and you’ve solved 80% of the problem.

And, clearly, these sociologic problems most viciously attack those at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

Mike

Posted by: Mike Craney at December 8, 2005 3:08 PM
Comment #100261

Andre M. Hernandez previously wrote:

Hopefully, next time, the tiniest bit of research, other than an article written by a fellow bigot, will hopefully, prevent you from blaming the niggers and spics for the decline of the United States educational system.

Mr. Hernandez,

We cannot let emotion cloud the truth. Education among minorities is lower - this is a fact.

Nothing is wrong with the demographics of the United States changing. As long as immigrants continue to assimilate as they have in past immigration phases then we will continue to function properly. But this is not the case anymore. The future is definitely looking interesting.

Posted by: Mike Tate at December 8, 2005 3:58 PM
Comment #100328

As a high school teacher I always raise my eyebrows at posts like these. So many of you have no clue what the schools are really like (even those of you with children in them) because you are not there dealing with the real issues. Is it teacher unions? Well, considering that the “lowest” preforming schools come from states without unions, I’d have to say no. Why do teachers dislike the “No Child Left Behind Act?” Because, measuring a child’s progress and intelligence by a bubble sheet is laughable at best. Teachers are not being prepared for working in our school systems. Over 30% of the teachers in my state are what is called “Lateral Entry.” That means that they do not have a teaching certificate, just a bachelors in their field. Are they competent in their field? Some. But, are they able to teach? Not many. The idea that “those who can’t do, teach” is ridiculous because it takes a lot of skill and a certain type of person to deal with the youth of today. And how are we compensated? I work an 80 hour work week which includes being the Yearbook Advisor, Drama Sponsor (and director), Senior Class Advisor, and I am also on 3 separate school committees. I am not paid anything extra. In fact, I make more than $7,000 less than the national average for a person of my experience. Some may think I am crazy for how much I put into my job. Are there others who put in a lot less? Sure. And, I don’t blame them. I happen to work for the poorest school district in the state and there simply isn’t money to pay us extra for these duties. But, the kids need them to stay out of trouble. We just expect them to be smart and do the right thing when in reality we fail to realize how smart they really are (just not always in what we want them to be). Many of my students have been raised in areas that more or less require them to have a gang affiliation. Many of their parents do drugs. The school can only do so much. We cannot be their only role model and expect that to be enough. And, we cannot keep blaming the teachers for the faults of society and parenting. Discipline is a big issue at my school. Not because there isn’t any, but because everytime a kid get suspended long term the school board reverses the decision, the kid gets to come back and the lesson learned is that the adminstration can always be undermined. Why does this happen? Because we lose funding from the state when we have too many suspensions and suspensions also lead to drop-outs which cause us to lose even more funding.

Kids are very different than when most of us were in school. Respect is not given to many without it being earned first. And, unfortunately this gets learned the hard way if it even gets learned at all. Education of our youth requires a new understanding of their environment. If we want to be unified in the next big race then we need a stragey of inclusion, not racial exclusion. Scores are lower for our minority and low-income students because they do not have the same background as more affulent students. When they get to kindergarten they are behind and it spirals every year thereafter. When we as educators are forced to teach to a test we miss the opportunity to fill in the gaps and to teach some of the things that really matter, like character. If you want 10 really good ways to improve our education system in the US, sit down with a few teachers. We are not the enemy. Most of us are not lazy. The majority are in the field because it’s our calling (it’s certainly not for the pay). Please stop relying on the sensationalist media to give you “facts” and “percentages” from faulty studies. Still not convinced? Become a mentor. Our schools are in desparate need for them. And, you just might learn a little about the real world of our youth.

Posted by: Kris C. at December 8, 2005 7:41 PM
Comment #100329

I agree that blame is to be spread among many sources. I am currently in my first year as an 8th grade spanish and social studies teacher. I got into this job becuase I love kids and I hope to help them out.

I see teachers who don’t work hard enough everyday. I try to aviod them as much as possible. However my rewards are all intrisic. The dedicated 65+ hour a week teacher gets no end of the year bonus. That said, testing is complicated and tying a teachers salary to student performance is something I am wholly undecided upon, because I believe teaching kids to take tests can compromise valuable critical thinking and creativity skills. Even so, it is a moot point, because teacher unions do stiffle innovative solutions. People don’t like change, especially in large groups.

Pay is not great and there are not many opportunities for advancement. As I ponder how I will ever be able to afford a down payment on a house, my mind wonders toward law school. That is a shame, but it is true, and it is a thought that stems wholly from money issues.

Many parents don’t care, but many parents do, and I work in a low income area. I personally don’t think this has changed a whole bunch, but we pay greater attention to the kids who are not achieving now. This is good, but we have yet to find a solution to bring them up to par.

Education is not valued by our culture. It is seen as uncool. Students aren’t interested in learning to enrich thier lives (or most of them aren’t) and they ones who are interested are largely preoccupied with grades. I see that as more of an economic interest. While I don’t have a problem with that (we are trying to build capable and finacially secure citizens) it is a different perspective. It motivates students to work as little as possible for the best possible grade, instead of striving for personal enrichment.

I would love to get paid more, and I wish every parent would sit with thier child every night and make sure they are valueing education. Yet I think people get very melodramatic and love to preach when they talk about education. I guess my perspective is that the problem is too complex for sound bites, but that the best thing we can do is make teaching an appreciated profession. People often ask me, “why the hell are you teaching? You are so young, you could make more money and not have to deal with kids.” It would be wonderful to never have to hear those thought from others (or the echos in my mind) ever again.

Posted by: Adam at December 8, 2005 7:42 PM
Comment #100331

I agree that blame is to be spread among many sources. I am currently in my first year as an 8th grade spanish and social studies teacher. I got into this job becuase I love kids and I hope to help them out.

I see teachers who don’t work hard enough everyday. I try to aviod them as much as possible. However my rewards are all intrisic. The dedicated 65+ hour a week teacher gets no end of the year bonus. That said, testing is complicated and tying a teachers salary to student performance is something I am wholly undecided upon, because I believe teaching kids to take tests can compromise valuable critical thinking and creativity skills. Even so, it is a moot point, because teacher unions do stiffle innovative solutions. People don’t like change, especially in large groups.

Pay is not great and there are not many opportunities for advancement. As I ponder how I will ever be able to afford a down payment on a house, my mind wonders toward law school. That is a shame, but it is true, and it is a thought that stems wholly from money issues.

Many parents don’t care, but many parents do, and I work in a low income area. I personally don’t think this has changed a whole bunch, but we pay greater attention to the kids who are not achieving now. This is good, but we have yet to find a solution to bring them up to par.

Education is not valued by our culture. It is seen as uncool. Students aren’t interested in learning to enrich thier lives (or most of them aren’t) and they ones who are interested are largely preoccupied with grades. I see that as more of an economic interest. While I don’t have a problem with that (we are trying to build capable and finacially secure citizens) it is a different perspective. It motivates students to work as little as possible for the best possible grade, instead of striving for personal enrichment.

I would love to get paid more, and I wish every parent would sit with thier child every night and make sure they are valueing education. Yet I think people get very melodramatic and love to preach when they talk about education. I guess my perspective is that the problem is too complex for sound bites, but that the best thing we can do is make teaching an appreciated profession. People often ask me, “why the hell are you teaching? You are so young, you could make more money and not have to deal with crazy kids.” Well, I like kids, but it sure would be wonderful to never have to hear those thoughts from others (or the echos in my mind) ever again.

Posted by: Adam at December 8, 2005 7:47 PM
Comment #100333

Before yaall start calling me a racist read everything I have to say. Then you can call me rasist if you want.

Intergration is a cause of the lowering of stanards in our schools.
During segregation Black kids weren’t educated as well as White kids were. I remember when I was in the 5th grade my sister and I were playing with our farmhands daughter who was Black and also was in the 5th grade. We found a dollar on the road and decided to split it evenly amoung the 3 of us. I said that each of us had 33 cents and there would be a penny left over. Our farmhands daughter wanted to know how I knew this. I told her to devide 100 by 3. She didn’t know what I was talking about. The school system didn’t think she needed to know this so they didn’t teach it. They also didn’t bother to teach Black kids much history, how to write in cursive, or even spell and read very well.
So here we have kids that were recieveing a sub standard education. Now here comes the Federal Government and tells everyone to intergrate their schools. Now there are Black kids going to class with White kids. Great, except the Black kids had no idea what the teachers were talking about.
As soon as the Government found out about this it insisted that the Black kids be passed right along with the White kids. Only problem was these kids weren’t ready for the grade they were in much less the next grade up. The solution that the Government came up with was to lower the standards so the Black kids could pass.
Just what kind of favor was this? It not only hurt the Black kids further, it hurt the White kids as well.
While intergration in itself isn’t the culprit, the way it was handled is.
I don’t claim to have all the answers as to a better way it could’ve been handled. But there were better ways than lowering educational standards.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 8, 2005 7:48 PM
Comment #100338

I teach in nyc. Bloomberg, our mayor, is always blaming the UFT(teacher’s union) for something. In our last contract, we gave in to one of his demands to add an additional 100 minutes a week to be divided between tutoring and professional development. This was supposed to cure many ills, giving time for small group instruction and academic intervention for failing students.

The NYC Department of Education has miserably failed to find a way to effectively administer this extra time(it was too expensive), and now we use it as Staff meeting time, not for students at all. We’ve just approved a new contract, and they are trying to realign this extra time for the fourth time!

Unions aren’t against vouchers and merit pay in theory, but no politician has ever put forth an effective plan for implementation.

How do you hold teachers accountable for student success? How well they do on tests? In NYC, half of the classes don’t end in a standardized test. Teachers in those classes will NEVER get a pay raise. And who would want to teach in any region with low test scores?

And vouchers are the biggest joke! No one has ever offered a large enough voucher to pay for even 1/4 of the tuition at the cheapest private schools.

And lastly, what’s the point in getting an education in a high tech field if your job is outsourced to Pakistan before you even start? I tell you, that’s why US students aren’t jumping into science and math.

Posted by: Loren at December 8, 2005 8:02 PM
Comment #100362

One brief point -

I disagree most vehently with the assessment that the modern immigrants to this country are keeping multiple different natioanl allegiances. It simply is NOT true. I have travelled much both around this country and around the world. Those who come here WANT to be Americans. It many ways they are BETTER americans than the native born. They have ideals, study our constitutional system as part of becoming citizens ( and thus understand it better than most natives these days), they work hard and thrive against incredible adversity.

I have been in contact with many illegals who have worked or are working in the US and discovered and epidemic problem: Many of the builders who employ mostly Mexican labor for new home building, are waiting until the homes are near completion and then calling INS rather than paying the laborers their last paychecks for their work. I have witnessed this in a neighborhood in Austin where it happened three times. I met two such workers in Mexico who had suffered this kind of treatment eight times.

The problem is American apathy. We need MORE immigrants not less. They have the capacity to save us from ourselves. They have a greater working knowledge of American law and how it applies in daily life and they want nothing more than to BE Americans. Let’s let them in, for ALL our sakes!!!

RGF

Posted by: RGF at December 8, 2005 9:21 PM
Comment #100366

I have a unique perspective..
My family was on welfare in the highest per capita welfare county in the U.S.
The schools were so bad, I vowed never to send one of my children there.
When I graduated the love of my life and I were married.
We home schooled our two boys until their interest in sports and girls became too much so they attended high school.
We didn’t spend much time homeschooling, yet they had no problem fitting in and getting good grades.
One started in medical research, but switched to dispensing because there was better pay.
I think we have a moral problem causing the decline.
The teachers where I attended were having personal problems all the time and flirted with my classmen constantly.
College was and is just a place to party with education being a byproduct.
The professors of the many students I interact with cannot stay on subject. It seems like they are teaching political views or their own religious views(evolution,athiesm).
Solid basics are even missing on children shows. Everything is about saving the whales,imagining things and such.
I can still remember Sesame Street songs about numbers, and letters.
Get married, stay comitted and raise a family aren’t just Christian ideas. The societies mentioned also value this.

Posted by: Kruser at December 8, 2005 9:39 PM
Comment #100390

where are the parents? we can talk about unions and no child left behind but lets get to the heart of it. why dont the parents encourage the kids anymore. i know there are plenty out there who do but how hard is it to take an interest in your childs education and try to help them achieve somthing of there lives? I know that this is not on the same lines of mike but i had to rant.

Posted by: chris at December 8, 2005 11:38 PM
Comment #100392

Hi Mike,

Good article!

There is plenty of blame to go around of course for bad educational ideas.

I’ve encountered some really lame ideas from liberals that have to do with relatavism of ideas….”one idea is as good as another and “bad” ideas shouldn’t be criticized.”

These days the right is going in for fanatical relatavism of ideas in science classes…..”one idea is as good as another and all ideas, no matter how stupid, should be considered valid scientific theories”.

No Child Left Behind has seems to be causing teachers to teach students how to take standardized tests at the expense of teaching proper academic disciplines.

This was brought home to me (literaly) when my son was told by his history teacher that, according to the state board of education, “it’s not necessary to teach Greek and Roman history in order for students to understand our government.”

Luckily my son’s teacher is ignoring the state policy and is teaching Greek and Roman history.

Posted by: LouisXIV at December 8, 2005 11:42 PM
Comment #100452

All

First off,a European college degree is definately not like a US high school,degree.

Russian high schools (Moscow,St. Petersburg) are vigorous.

After taking English there in high school,students are pretty much fluent in English.

Here,language teachers stay about 3 pages ahead of the kids for the most part.Obviously not all,but a large percentage of them.

Schools in Holland are terrific too.Every kid is bi-lingual in Dutch and English by the time get out.Italian kids are pounding away at technology and medicine,and German schools are better than the whole lot.So I disagree.

I live in Europe six months a year by the way and I have taught 30 years,now in law schools.

When the nationial drop out rate for Blacks and Lations is over 50%,as it is now,the current system flat out does not work.

Crime,drug abuse,gang homicides all stem from the drop out rate.

Bi-lingual education has been a nationial disgrace.

In Massachusetts every year,bi-lingual teachers are fired after the flunk the English proficiecy exam twice.In my city here,this year 27 were canned for not being able to write a composition.

Disgraceful.

Teachers work 180 days a year for an average salary 0f $45,000.Included in those days is everything as when school holidays start the teachers usually beat the kids out the door.

Obviously not every teacher…some…some I said…are dedicated.Most are in their positions because of patronage…drop 100 bucks in a campaign donation to the local school commmitte candidate and get your kid a job..the concept is as old as the hills.

Parents,most of them victims of the educationial system themselves haven’t a clue.

Most of them can’t write a paragraph either.Most view school as big-kid day care.

Kids go to school at 7:30 in the morning…every indicator says thatwhen kids are exhausted (and getting up at 6:00 for a 10 year old is exhausting) when the START the day..no wonder there is no learning going on.

Money?For what?Buses?

If every parent paid for transportation and books that is a start(I am talking about the millions of middle class parents who whine about activity fees as they park their SUV’s.

Education is the number one problem in this country.The liberalist teaching methods of the 80’s are an abject failure.

We need teachers who can teach,parents who are held accountable and foot some of the bill and we need to rip up and throw away the present system.

A comany that gives a diploma from the back of a match book cover can get a 50% drop-out rate too.

Posted by: Sicilianeagle at December 9, 2005 5:38 AM
Comment #100490

Hi Sicilianeagle,

The liberalist teaching methods of the 80’s are an abject failure.

In many cases that is true. It’s a gross oversimplification to say that our educational problems are all because of Democrats though.

These days the right advocates promoting stupidity in place of science education.

These days there are far too many who are enemies of clear thought.

Public school teachers aren’t as bad as you indicated. My kids have been served well by the public schools here. I’ve met many teachers who are bright, knowledgeable, and dedicated.


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 8:37 AM
Comment #100505

First, our greatest threat is not Islamic terrorism. Our greatest threat is the lack of national healthcare and health policy. Just consider our lack of preparedness for SARS or Bird Flue.

Second, we have no problem sinking billions into submarines and tanks that will serve no real purpose, yet you vilify the teacher’s union. There would be no teacher’s union if they were paid a competitive salary. My secretary with a highschool educaiton gets paid $35,000/year - almost $10,000 more than an beginning teacher’s salary.

A great teacher in the public schools should be able to expect to someday make up to $100,000. Instead the good ones leave for lack of pay increase, overwork, lack of funds, lack of books, and an ever increasing paperload.

Just as with our healthcare system, the “No Child Left Behind” only created more bureaucracy and paperwork - just like the HMO’s. Not a single dollar went to hire teachers or pay good teachers more.

For a Republican and Capitalist, you seem to choose to ignore basic market forces when it comes to education and healthcare. Why? Because basically conservatives do not want an educated public, esp. if they are poor.

Posted by: Mike Tracy at December 9, 2005 9:30 AM
Comment #100526

Ron Brown,

“You’re a racist.”
Your example proves that in this one particular instance, a minority received an inferior education. you, like many bigots can now take that one example, and make the sweeping judgement, that this is the case for all blacks.

Sicilianeagle,

“The liberalist teaching methods of the 80’s are an abject failure.”

How is it that the “liberals” get blamed for the education system?

“Bi-lingual education has been a nationial disgrace.”
“Here,language teachers stay about 3 pages ahead of the kids for the most part.Obviously not all,but a large percentage of them.”


A typical sicilianeagle tactic. Say something inflammatory with no proof whatsoever. Show me the “large percentage.”
Show me an article not written by some far-right wacko commentator that agrees with your assessmant of bi-lingual education.

You have no idea what you are talking about.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at December 9, 2005 10:52 AM
Comment #100533

As a former teacher, counselor, and principal I rather like the No Child Left Behind approach and I favor standardized testing to measure how well both student and system are doing. But it is inarguable that the NCLB requires a curriculum that is rigorous and fairly rigid.

I believe that most students simply don’t have enough time in school to absorb it all. The school day should be at least 8 hours and the school year should be 210 days (currently 180 most places.) Already a lot of parents realize this and send their kids to private after-hour and summer schools. Lengthening the school year would particularly cost a lot. Teacher pay should go up on a pro-rated basis to the increased hours and there will be air-conditioning issues in many places. I support increased taxation to pay for it all.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook at December 9, 2005 11:04 AM
Comment #100541

This is a great subject and thread - everyone’s points and counterpoints are very thought provoking.

I’d also like to thank everyone for providing me with our primary topic today at school. The topic is “the Majority of Americans are Dissatisfied with the state of Eduction”. That topic was taught this morning at my kitchen table (our morning home-school starting point) to four of my five children. Ages 8 - 14.

What a great, real world example of the corruption, laziness, apathy evident in America today. School used to be “education”. I don’t know what school is today - glorified day-care?

We pulled our children out of the morass three years ago. Why? The reasons are too numerous but included the fact that the school day is a waste of time, their is complete ambivalence to any moral/character building code, expectations were ridiculously low, etc, etc.

While everyone here has their own thoughts on what should be done or what is the root cause, the point is clear - education in America is not in decline, it is failing one student at a time.

My kids and I thank the group for this public flashflight on the issue. You see, they are skeptical at times and think (like all normal kids do) that parents make stuff up to support their views - in this case, both righties and lefties (a consensus!) both agree, and the message is heard by them - loud and clear. And they gave thanks for being home schooled.

Posted by: MiPatriot at December 9, 2005 11:24 AM
Comment #100567

Hi Michael,

“But it is inarguable that the NCLB requires a curriculum that is rigorous and fairly rigid.”

Teaching kids to take standardized tests pretty much precludes great teaching. I’ve seen examples of it with my kids in their schools.

My oldest was told to memorize long lists of “functional groups” in his biology class (aldehydes, organic acids and whatnot). They weren’t taught anything about what the functional groups did they just memorized them.

Memorizing functional groups without learning what they are is a complete waste of time except that it’s for the standardized test.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve studied biochemistry and I’m well aware of the signficance of aldehydes and whatnot.

Teaching students to take standardized tests can result in some very bad teaching. The rigidity you speak of can involve memorization in place of teaching ideas.


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 12:06 PM
Comment #100597
“You’re a racist.”

I’ll bet it’ll come as a complete suprise to my half Black grandkids Andre.
It’ll also come as a suprise to my Black son-in-law. As well as my Black brother-in-law.

Your example proves that in this one particular instance, a minority received an inferior education. you, like many bigots can now take that one example, and make the sweeping judgement, that this is the case for all blacks.

My example was typical of the situation during segregation. The fact is that Black kids in the South DID recieve an inferior education during that time.
Black kids in the North as far as I can tell received the same quality education as the White kids. This was because the schools for the most part were intergrated.

Posted by: Ron Brown at December 9, 2005 12:55 PM
Comment #100608

Louis XIV and Andre

I don’t fault liberal Democrats…I said liberal educationial philosophies….this is a complete bi-partisian failure….

And creationism is a FAR right view….most Republicans are moderate…they reject that philosophy.

I have been in education since 1972..teaching social studies while attending law schools nights…and have taught laws for 2 decades.

I have witnessed firsthand science teachers teaching a subject that they never studied in college,same with math teachers.I have witnessed teachers giving students “study periods”and then whip out the newspaper.I have witnessed grading term papers in the teacher room 10 minutes before they are due back to the students.

I don’t need to site an article…and it surely won’t be a wiki encyclopedia written and referred to by you replete with factual errors that compelled some to bring suit this week.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at December 9, 2005 1:06 PM
Comment #100611

Andre

My writings touch the nerve.

Maybe your intimitated by a quasi-intelligent neo-con.

I don’t have to look up idiotic things either.

The Eagle just knows.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at December 9, 2005 1:12 PM
Comment #100613

Hi sicilianeagle,

“And creationism is a FAR right view….”

Bush advocates teaching lies about what science is in biology classes.

“most Republicans are moderate…they reject that philosophy.”

I think that most Republicans agree with Bush that students should be lied to about what a scientific theory is.

I agree with you about liberal education. I’ve heard incredible nonsnense about teaching that ideas are relative….one is as good as another.

Ideas aren’t (or shouldn’t be) relative in science and math classes. Learning science and math is, to a large extent, learning dogma.



Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 1:14 PM
Comment #100642

OOOHHHH… My favorite subject…

For some reason our society has forgotten it’s role in the lives of it’s children. We as adults are hopefully supposed to guide and teach our children - all of them to the best of the child’s ability, not a governmental sanctioned idea.

My father told me once, “My job is to raise you to be a good citizen, a law abiding adult, and a decent person. If you don’t love me, that’s ok. Hopefully as you grow, you will love me, but that’s not my job.”

I believe he was right, and that’s how I raised my three children. (All 3 are now adults, living on their own and doing rather well) Fortunately they love me just as I love them.

1. In many homes it takes both parents to actually have food, clothing and shelter. Two people who come home at night from low paying jobs who simply don’t have the energy to help their kids. I know I’ve been there. But that is an excuse. My children were and are more important than me, so WE struggled though it.

2. A single parent has it ten times worse than of a two parent home. Tell me about it. My ex-husband took the attitude that “circumstances had changed” and he was no longer obligated to fulfill the promises he had made over the years. (Ironically He is a teacher… but he managed to quit before his attitude hurt any of his students, thank heavens) However I struggled through it, again because my kids came first.

3. While many businesses have to sell in order to stay in businesses, all the fuss about labels, and the high very expensive items used to appeal to kids, will rapidly break a parent. And because we parents want our kids to fit in, we attempt to buy them whatever they want. Maybe it’s because we didn’t fit in during our childhoods. (However as an adult I know now that fitting in is really abnormal - NO ONE truly fits in !)

By giving our kids everything they want, we teach our kids that they don’t have to work for them, and deny them the enjoyment of anticipation, let alone the lesson of disappointment.

We do not insist on respect, we avoid it like it’s a crime. I was raised and raised my children to respect everyone, (yes they even say Miss, Mrs., or Mister as well as please and thank you) until they feel that person does not deserve their respect. Then they tend to dump them. Sort of an innocent until proven guilty idea.

I have just spent over a month in the company of 5 teenage boys, (15-18) and I have had quite an education.

It appears to me that many young people today have sense of ENTITLEMENT. They are entitled to good grades whether they attend or not, their parents owe them, in fact the whole world owes them. Many of our kids today don’t know that NO means NO. They seem to think it means maybe, or worse that it means as soon as I get paid. In other words another word for YES.

With self-centered ideas gaining momentum, we then look to our schools to teach morals, values, reading, writing, and arithmetic as well as everything else. That’s NOT their job. The reading, writing and math part are, but certainly not the morals and values.

I suggest we put education back into the school system, and take out the morals and values aspect. As a former teacher, I can safely say that I spent more time trying to control the kids than actually teaching them anything. And this was a regular classroom! Because there is no punishment/discipline in our schools, and heaven forbid you try to talk to the parent, the kids run rampant. They are not disciplined at home, and if we attempt to discipline them at school, we get no support. We try to get them to write a report, or just do their homework, and their parents are up in arms.

Throwing money at the schools will not help. Most good teachers know they won’t get rich, they teach because they believe they can help.

Stop repeating the same stuff over and over again. I have no idea how many times I heard about Columbus, but learned nothing past the War Between the States, or Civil War which ever one prefers.

Stick to the same teaching methods and curriculum. Give them a chance to work. Quit changing everything at the drop of a hat. I had old math, new math, algebra, geometry, and new math again. Needless to say my ability at math has suffered. My children had Dick and Jane type reading, short vowel sounds reading, long vowel sounds reading,phonetic reading and rout memorization. Its a wonder they can read, and love reading.

My children went from year long school to semester school to what is now known as block schooling. Some schools use an A/B method. Which ever, quit changing the fool thing. It shouldn’t be thrown out the second year it is tried. Give the teachers and students an opportunity to get used to it.

Of course the block system is really bad - the Principal told me they weren’t there to teach continuity, but conceptions. (What does that mean?)In other words, one could have first year French in the FALL as a freshman, and have to wait until their sophomore year, SPRING semseter to have French TWO. The same with math, science, engllish, history, etc.

And QUIT FAILING GOOD STUDENTS JUSY BECAUSE THEY GOT SICK AND MISSED TOO MANY DAYS!!! Flunk the ones who are flunking and quit passing them on to other teachers and creating problems in their classroom.

Most important of all- QUIT teaching tests. TESTS are not always the best way to judge a child’s progress. One can NOT judge a school or a teacher solely on a test/s. Maybe one can do that with a product, but certainly not with a HUMAN being. Children learn at differing rates, and by different methods.

Also, drop all tenure. I know that goes against all teachers comfort levels, but no one else has an eternal contact. I have seen many good teachers get lazy and many bad ones get worse once they are given tenure. I have had tenure, and I know how easy it is to get lax.

I obviously have much more I’d love to say, but I’ll try to hold back.
Linda H.

Posted by: Linda H. at December 9, 2005 2:59 PM
Comment #100697

Louis, you said, “I think that most Republicans agree with Bush that students should be lied to about what a scientific theory is.”

I don’t, and I don’t think most Republican’s do either. If they did, wouldn’t you have a lot more evidence than a couple of isolated incidents to point to. But alas, you do have a couple, and that is a couple too many. Hopefully, we can reverse that because as the posts here point out, we don’t need any more challenges in the field of education.

Loren, you said, “And vouchers are the biggest joke! No one has ever offered a large enough voucher to pay for even 1/4 of the tuition at the cheapest private schools.” I beg to differ. The first proposals for vouchers came in the late 80’s at around $2000/ pupil. The private school I attended was about $4000 at the time. My school would have been happy to see it’s scholarship fund matched to allow for more students to take advantage of it. Tuition at the school is now $12,000, and if the could get $5000 or $6000, the school would still love to have the ability to extend more scholarships.

Kris, you said, “The school can only do so much. We cannot be their only role model and expect that to be enough. And, we cannot keep blaming the teachers for the faults of society and parenting.” I didn’t agree with everything you said, but there is absolutely no argument here.

Now on to some ideas for improving the situation:

1) We need to have the same focus and definition for successful students as we do for failing students. Too often those at the top end are not challenged to stretch for more, or punished for failing to meet their potential (and the same was true in my private school). To truly succeed in education, the cream of the crop needs to be identified and treated differently. Magnet schools need to be standard issue in every major city. These children are the geese that lay the golden eggs.

2) Foster competition among students. The Westinghouse and the Intel competitions are great for the truly elite students (that will be in the standard issue magnet schools), but we need similar outlets for those that can’t envision groundbreaking research in 10th grade. We have no problem finding the funds for a JV and Varsity football teams at most high schools. Why not science fairs and speech teams.

3) Pay teachers more! Mike was right when he said, “A great teacher in the public schools should be able to expect to someday make up to $100,000.” We need to be able to attract teachers to the profession the same way that we can attrack lawyers to their’s.

4) Pay teachers less! We need to be able to punish poor performance in the schools. All teachers are not created equal, and they shouldn’t be paid as if they were.

5) Lengthen the school year. It should be 10 months with one month off in the winter and one in the summer. Less time off is less time to forget.

6) Lengthen the school day. It should be at least a nine hour day.

7) Mandatory physical activity every day. Sound minds do go hand in hand with sound bodies.

8) Fund headstart. If the kids are behind when they start, we aren’t starting early enough.

9) Standardized tests every year for every subject. We may not want to teach to them, but if we don’t have any data to prove what works and what doesn’t, how do we ever make any “educated” changes. The data needs to be evaluated at every school. Principal’s and teachers must learn how to interpret the stats and begin to think about how to make changes to improve their classrooms.

10) Lower the teacher student ratio. We can’t do everything in the classroom, but we can do more when we have more time per pupil. More than 1:20 is too much in any grade. More than 1:15 is too much in the lower grades.

Posted by: Rob at December 9, 2005 5:55 PM
Comment #100713

Hi Rob,

“I don’t think most Republican’s do either.”

Some 65% of people in this country believe in teaching ID. I assume that most are Republicans since it’s Bush’s official position.

“Overall, about two-thirds of Americans want creationism taught along with evolution. Only 37 percent want evolutionism replaced outright.

More than half of Kerry voters want creationism taught alongside evolution. Bush voters are much more willing to want creationism to replace evolution altogether in a curriculum (just under half favor that), and 71 percent want it at least included.”
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/11/22/opinion/polls/main657083.shtml


Posted by: LouisXIV at December 9, 2005 6:56 PM
Comment #100763

Linda H.,

“I was raised and raised my children to respect everyone, (yes they even say Miss, Mrs., or Mister as well as please and thank you) until they feel that person does not deserve their respect. Then they tend to dump them.”

Children have learned well this lesson of individual judgment values. If they disagree with someone, dump any respect. Plant the seed and the harvest is yours.

“Religion has always been great material to stimulate the stupid glands. From the Death of Jesus, though the Crusades, Roman Catholic and Protestant conflicts, North Ireland, and even in our own country, religion has been the basis of much conflict.”

“BRAVO!!! It would appear that even back in the olden days, compromise (lying, or perhaps fraud) was used by many Christians.” your words, blue side thread

With self-centered ideas gaining momentum, we then look to our schools to teach morals, values, reading, writing, and arithmetic as well as everything else. That’s NOT their job. The reading, writing and math part are, but certainly not the morals and values.

The Democrats controlled congress forty years, progressives have had a lock on the education system and union even longer— so of course the fault lies with republicans and conservatives. It takes a village… of support, not of disrespect and mockery. What goes around, comes around.

Posted by: jo at December 9, 2005 11:21 PM
Comment #100889

Jo,

I must ask you “When was the last time you spent a day in your local PUBLIC High School?” A full work day including P.E. and lunch? Check it it - hey- check it out all of you. And please don’t limit yourselves to only the college track classes. Go to several classes. Then we can really have a discussion.

I’m not sure what your reply meant. I don’t think I ever used the words Democrat or Republican in my post. If I misunderstood your post, I am sorry.

If you thought I was implying that Republicans screwed up our school system, then you must feel some sense of guilt about that. If you thought I was saying Democrats could do an better job, you are also wrong. I think most of the problems lay in the hands of ALL the PARENTS!!!! Regardless of what, if any, party they belong to.

I DO think our economy needs a lot of help(thus improving home learning), and that’s where our government needs to act. Creating more jobs, working on fair taxes, and controlling and regulating the funding. In other words, learn to use yours and mines money in a reliable manner, not pork, or raises, or own bridges to no where, etc…. Other than that it should be the STATES and local people to control.

I don’t believe that all children are the same, learn the same, or have the same abilities.Heck they don’t all live in the same areas of the country. I think it is stupid to ask all children to know exactly the same information.

Our children are not robots that can be programmed to answer something on command. And I am grateful for that - because that allows for new ideas, inventions, and creativity. And YES I do agree, it does take a Village to raise a kid. Sometimes more than one. A VILLAGE, not a government!

Oh, and actually in the last forty years, we’ve had 25 years of Republicans and 15 years of Democrats. You do the Math.

As for respect, our children don’t even know the definition of the word. Neither do most adults these days.
uce@ftc.gov

From the online The American Heritage® Dictionary

TRANSITIVE VERB:
re·spect·ed , re·spect·ing , re·spects
To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem.
To avoid violation of or interference with: respect the speed limit.
To relate or refer to; concern.
NOUN:

A feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard; esteem. See Synonyms at regard.
The state of being regarded with honor or esteem.
Willingness to show consideration or appreciation.
respects Polite expressions of consideration or deference: pay one’s respects.
A particular aspect, feature, or detail: In many respects this is an important decision.
Usage Problem Relation; reference. See Usage Note at regard.

————————————————————————————————————————

ETYMOLOGY:
From Middle English, regard, from Old French, from Latin respectus, from past participle of respicere, to look back at, regard : re-, re- + specere, to look at; see spek- in Indo-European roots
Linda H.


Posted by: Linda H. at December 10, 2005 11:53 AM
Comment #100957

It’s been a couple decades since i spent an entire day in a Public High School. When was the last time YOU spent an entire work day shadowing the parents on which you lay most of the problems?

i have however volunteered full days for years at my local PUBLIC grade school, including additional after hours tutoring with non-english-speaking immigrants in the PUBLIC middle and high schools. (Btw, i posted last night after returning from my grandson’s holiday program at our local PUBLIC high school.) As a foster mother i have also taken in and dealt with 24/7 the familial, social, educational, drug and court problems of a high school student on probation.

If you thought I was implying that Republicans screwed up our school system, then you must feel some sense of guilt about that.

Could you help me out by explaining your logic here?

In my perfect world, a village would include a few teachers… who respect others and are respected. Basing respect on subjective personal feelings supports the progressive humanist approach of laying ethics and values on a foundation of individual equivocal reasoning. Where do you think the self-centered ideas found their impetus? In my opinion, the experiment has more than run its course, the results are in— utter failure. Not many adults feel respectful toward a police officer writing them a ticket on the side of the road; fewer still are juveniles so disposed toward teachers giving them a failing grade or principals threatening suspension.

Oh, and actually i said the CONGRESS… you know, the legislative branch that WRITES the laws unlike the executive or judicial branches. Forty years ago, those problem parents were the students sitting in those public school desks.

Keep working on that math.

Posted by: jo at December 10, 2005 3:09 PM
Comment #101042

Jo,
I was the working parent you speak of. I held 2 full time jobs, and one part-time job while my children were in school. I STILL managed to be evolved in their homework, extra curricular actives, feed them AT HOME and with a lot of help from financial aid, with good academic marks they earned several scholarships and grants. They are now all in college, or just graduating. You see I had 3 in college at the same time. You figure out the costs. Oh and I did it BY MYSELF! Their father jerked out of the marriage as soon as he realized he might have to actually work.

I was the tired single Mom, I spoke of. So I don’t need to shadow a parent. I’ve been there.

I’ve also spent a lot of time in our PUBLIC local schools, particularly High Schools. As recently as this past week, where I now attempt to volunteer. (You’d be surprised at the number of times I’ve had parents come to ME and COMPLAIN because I spend time with their children and they don’t. They are NOT GRATEFUL about having anyone help their children in reading, writing, science, etc. I realize that a great number of them are jealous that I now have time to volunteer, but please don’t bite my head off. Frankly if I didn’t see them at all I would be a much happier volunteer. I have NEVER been thanked. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been threatened, both by the students and their parents - and all I want to do is try to help. I have eaten the food they serve our children (great way to get fat), watched teachers struggle to teach children who climb out of windows, throw things, or are otherwise disruptive. And these are the normal kids, not the special needs kids. The “college bound kids”.

Drugs run rampant in our schools today, the children DO NOT feel safe in their classrooms, and frankly neither does anyone else.

OH and these are the GOOD SCHOOLS. The ones’ with teachers with Masters’ Degrees, teachers who work hours into the night sponsoring extra activities, teachers who CARE about their students, teachers, who by the way work for way below the National average.

I know, I was a teacher for 5 years. I ran away because I feared for my life in the school where I taught American History. I detested Parent Conferences - NOT because of the students, but because of the parents, who insisted that THEIR kid was different from everyone else. That the emphasis on labeled clothing, (not to mention the sagging ones)funky haircuts, cell phones, and general rudeness went with the territory of raising kids toady. Of course there were the occasional students who actually wanted to do well, and hoped for a full scholarship because Mom or Dad didn’t see why they needed or wanted to go to college. (Times have NOT changed that much, unfortunately. It seems that that the idea that “I did ok without college and you will too.” is still very strong in our world - or at least mine.)

I actually know a Mother who encouraged her 16 year old son to quit school so he could get a job. He wanted to graduate. SHE TOSSED him out of the house, because he broke her rules. He wasn’t bringing in enough money to feed himself and his little brother. And no they are not poor trash - both parents are in the home, and both work - so they can have 3 caddies, and large screens TVs. YOU may think they are the exception to the norm. I can only wish.

As for the notion that you are a Republican, I never, repeat never mentioned wither party in my original post. Because you seemed to assume that I meant Republicans, I presumed you must have had a reason for accusing me of defaming the Republicans. The only reason I could and can think of is that you feel a sense of guilt about our school system. What is actually funny is that I blame BOTH PARTIES WHOM EVER IS IN CONTROL, for the troubles in our school systems.

The FEDERAL Government has no idea about what really happens in our school system - sure they “visit” for photo ops, but that’s about it. They don’t talk to the teachers, parents, or students about what needs to be done to help. NO they just throw money at them, pass stupid policies (without funding) and encourage all our kids to be the SAME.

I’ve already written what I believe would be helpful, so I will not repeat myself.

And again, YES, it takes a village, NOT a GOVERNMENT to raise children. That is nothing new.

I posted the definition of RESPECT so I see no reason to discuss it further.
Linda H.



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