What’s Wrong with American Schools Today?

The Educational System is in Trouble with Discarding American Values, Revisionist History, and a Teacher’s Union Political and Social Agenda.

Copyright © ; all rights reserved;Author’s Google profile; Posted September 26, 2011

Girls compete at a middle school track meet; photo courtesy Kelly Smith


Public education is always a huge issue in the USA, and especially when the politicians start crowing for public exposure. They rarely do anything meaningful about it after being elected, but like abortion, it serves to stir up the base.

So how is the US school system doing? According to the Guardian at the end of 2010, the US ranked 14th in reading, math, and science out of 34 countries rated. This is astounding considering how much technology we make available to teachers and students and how much money we shovel into the system.

Just to get a grip on the money issue, one school, just one out of thousands and thousands, the Robert F. Kennedy Community School in Los Angeles, cost taxpayers a staggering $578 million to build, ABC News tells us.

That’s over half a billion dollars, folks, and it works out to $250,000 per student. Any bear in mind, student grades in California are rather embarrassing. Something must be wrong with this picture. What could it be? Actually, it’s several factors. Let’s have a look.

Students are not Held Accountable for Grades

When I attended the University of Houston, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Math, we had a mid-term and a final exam. If a student messed up on one or the other, he was pretty much hosed. And U. of H. as a state university is relatively inexpensive which explains how I could afford the night school classes while financing the thing working as a carpenter during the day.

By contrast, paying to go to Harvard means having to sell one’s soul to the devil to finance it all. Mark Steyn reports that in 2010, only 23% of the courses offered even required a final exam! Basically, just pay your tuition, buy your over-priced books, and it’s party time.

By the way, Harvard is the school where Obama was the editor of The Review (which he always lists among his “accomplishments”, yet he was the first editor that ever held that position to never pen a single article.

Classroom Size or Teacher to Student Ratio

This is one of the most common rationalizations why students do poorly. But does this hold water? No, not according to the federal government’s Digest of Education Statistics 2009. This report reveals that in 1955, the pupil/teacher ratio was 27.4 (combining public and private schools). Since then it has been going steadily downward. By 2010, it was at 15.0. That’s almost half as many students per over-worked teacher.

But the real kicker here is that there has been no increase in student performance, due in part to the practice of social promotion. In fact, Mark Steyn tells us that today, "nearly 60 percent of U.S. high school graduates entering community college require remedial education." No wonder the big money universities are nixing final exams. That might impact the cash flow.

Teach the Test

Here in Texas we have the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) test; many other states have similar approaches. It’s yet another example of good intentions turning into horrible implementation.

This is a state level primary and secondary standardized approach to grade how well the schools are doing their jobs of educating pupils. All fine and good, until human nature steps in. The teachers are pressured to get high results since it reflects on the individual school and the school district.

Under this pressure, most teachers “teach the test” rather than waste valuable time teaching a well-rounded education that includes the questions that are on the test. With high points, the school district keeps comfortable budgets, teachers keep their jobs, but kids get short-changed on their education. Ironically, this system may even stimulate the economy as outside tutoring the test nurtures a growing cottage industry.

Teacher’s Unions Highjack Education

As with most unions, the ones that represent teachers turn collective honorable occupations into political machines. Most teachers enter University with a genuine desire to help shape young lives and do something beneficial for society. Well, there’s that paid summer vacation too. But then the union steps in and things change.

When the Wisconsin teachers went out on strike (sorry, I meant sick-out since their beloved contract doesn’t allow strikes; let’s just overlook that clause), many not only left their posts, but took kids out of school to march and protest with them without parents knowing about it!

I can’t even check my daughter out to go to the dentist without showing my driver’s license. Why can a public employee take a child out of school and force them to participate in a potentially dangerous political demonstration? And without parental permission?

And what was their gripe? They didn’t want to pay a bit more for their medical insurance when the state couldn’t afford to cover it any more. What’s not to understand? When the money dries up, it’s gone. “But you owe us!”

The Loss of Traditional American Values

Public schools today are in the forefront of pushing political correctness down the throats of a captive audience. God has been taken out of school. In many places the Pledge of Allegiance has gone by the wayside, or at least been edited to take God’s name out of it. Evolution is good science but creationism is now the more inclusively acceptable “intelligent design”.

By the way of the textbooks, we have revisionist history. Thomas Jefferson is a prime example. His role as a founding father is downplayed as compared to a century ago. Was his life and contributions any different just because we have moved on in the time stream? No, this is social engineering to promote an agenda. Many times textbook changes are very subtle.

Case in point — in a radio broadcast a while back (sorry, I was driving in traffic at the time and could not note the details), the commentator explained that in a new textbook relating to religion, it explained that Mohammed made his famous nighttime trip on his flying horse, oh, that’s a fact, but Jesus was said to have been crucified and risen from the dead.

To push political correctness to the point of stating that the origins of one religion are solid facts but the origins of the major religion in America is questionable is morally dishonest. Yes, it may sound like a little thing but so is subliminal advertising and we should be better than to be doing it to children.

Political correctness gone wild? It would seem so; another recent school-related news story — a larger boy attacked and was strangling a smaller one. The small boy, understandably fearing for his life, did what he could to get away. He kicked his attacker in the cojones. The result? The smaller boy was charged with sexual harassment. What?

In conclusion, we can’t lay the blame on the system and just be done with it. The denigration of our public school system has happened because we let it. Get involved. Join the PTA. Skip a TV show and join a booster club for an elective class your child attends.

The teachers have warm fuzzies for the unions because parents have been abdicating their roles. The school system runs on our taxes which means we are the bosses and the whole system, from the janitors all the way up to the school system superintendent are our employees. It’s time to lead.

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