Monday, June 21, 2010

Public School System in Crisis

The National Education Association headquarter...Image via Wikipedia
The educator in me has been biting my tongue for nearly 20 years now. But, at this juncture, I am now on the very cusp of graduating my youngest son from homeschool high school and I can hold my tongue no longer. In my opinion, Americans in the last couple generations have been seriously "dumbed down" by a public school system with a very scary agenda.

If you dare, take a peek at the National Education Association's long term goals over the last decade. Or, if that is too frightening, read this article commenting on some of the actions taken by the NEA.

Some, as the above article states, go so far as to say they are attempting to "sexualize and indoctrinate your children in public school". If you take the time to read the facts, you may agree with them. That is a concern.

But, what about the fact that we are graduating illiterate students? What about the fact that test scores continue to drop? What about the higher drop-out rates? What about the taxes we pay for these shoddy results? ...and the organized gambling that is ruining lives all across America in the name of improving education? Does any of this bother you? Where will the politics stop and the remaking of our public school system begin in earnest?

As a business major, we were taught when things are working well to change nothing. But, if things are not working, change something. I say it is time to make major changes to the way our public schools function. 

Paying teachers according to students' test scores? You have got to be kidding! Teaching to the test rather than teaching the students a well-rounded education? That is an abomination. Just about everyone you bump into would agree; yet, nationwide, we continue to follow this path. 

I believe the product our nation is churning out by the thousands at the end of each school year is just another flock of sheep. Sheep who, for the most part, have been taught to blindly follow the government, who, they have been taught, knows what is best for all of us. They question little to nothing and understand even less about the workings of government, about civics, about economics, about our history. Do we even want to talk about their reading and writing abilities? Oh, me..

The result? The vast majority of our nation have gone dumb (can't speak up about things anymore) and gone blind (can't see the big picture right before their eyes), can't think of a way to stop the snowball from consuming the next generation.

Our nation has a very serious shortage of intelligent young up-and-comers. Instead, we have trended towards a shocking number of students entering community colleges who must start their first semester with a full slate of remedial courses before they will be "ready" for college-level work in math and/or reading. Why? They graduated high school without learning the fundamentals, for goodness sake. Heaven help them!

Where I used to teach in the community college system, I was told that our average students who were entering public service majors (firemen, law enforcement and such) tested at the 10th grade level AFTER graduating from high school. Does this send up any red flag for anyone? This doesn’t mean our public service applicants are backwards. It means our education system has failed them.

Years ago, when we homeschoolers discovered, to our amazement and delight, that the average homeschooled student tested at the 75th percentile while the average student nationwide tested in the 50th percentile, we patted ourselves roundly on the backs and proceeded with confidence that we were doing the best thing for our kids. And, in my humble opinion, we were, for the most part. But, rather than seeing this as a measure of what a great job homeschoolers are doing, (and most of them are, by the way), consider the flip side.

Instead, this should say something about the public school the public school system is failing miserably. They teach in state of the art buildings, with state of the art computers with teacher degreed in very specific formats. They have nearly limitless funds for curriculum, supplies, furniture, and transportation compared to the average homeschool family who must survive on a single income. They have educators and administrators with all the right credentials. Yet, with all these advantages, there is something wrong when they can't equate the results of homeschool moms everywhere.

These are moms who, in some states, don't have to graduate from high school, college OR have an education degree of any kind to teach their own children at home. Yet, these moms are teaching circles around the public school system as I write this piece. Did you know that research shows that even children being taught at home by a mother who never graduated from high school does as well as other homeschoolers?

What do we learn here? We learn it is not about buildings, equipment, and degrees. It's about teaching them well. It's about focusing on what is important.

I'll give you a hint: What's not important are the test scores. What's important is whether the child learns and whether the child eventually attains the skills to educate themselves.

Let's do something before the whole nation crumbles.


Public school teachers, in your opinion, what obstacles do you face in teaching well in the public school system?
What specifics prevent your success in the public school arena?
What makes the successful education of America's youth so elusive?
What changes would improve the quality of the graduates whose lives you are helping to shape?
Do we need longer school days? Grade 13? Saturday school? What?
How can parents help make public school more successful?
If we throw out our present "teach-to-the-test" approach to education, do you think that would help?
Any ideas? Suggestions? Corrections?

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert - just a citizen who cares and wants to see change - and not the Obama version of change.

I would like to encourage any thoughtful comments along these lines from others, like me, who care about the next generation of Americans. Please share your ideas for their betterment.

Other resources on this topic: - for quick basics/background information

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