Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Average American?

Every three years The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development conducts testing on 15 year olds from 34 different countries.  The results of the U.S. is nothing less than disappointing.

The U.S. scores of 500 in reading and 502 in science, on a 1,000-point scale, were about the organization's average, according to the report. The U.S. math score of 487 was below the average of 496.

The Department of Education spends $70B per year.  What exactly are we getting for that?  It is time that we admit that our current system is just not working and we look at different way of thinking in order to tackle this problem, because a problem it is.  Our poor educational system affects both national and economic security for future generations of our country. 

We keep thinking that simply throwing money at the problem is the answer, when clearly it is not.  We have recently added dinner programs to some of our public schools.  This after we have been feeding breakfast to these students as well.  The rationale behind adding the breakfast was that students who are not eating well don't learn as well.  While that may very well be true, it obviously has not had the desired effect.  Our scores are not going up. 

The one size fits all program of No Child Left Behind has not worked, and President Obama has come out with a new program, Race to the Top.  At least with Race to the Top the government is allowing the individual states to make more of the decisions, but it is still being federally focused instead of locally focused. 

There are some administrators in the state of New Jersey that get higher salaries than the governor.  That is not an effective way to use the limited funds.  The majority of the money should be going to improve the classroom instead of paying for high salaries and a lifetime of benefits that the average person does not have.  We have done nothing to make easier to get rid of the teachers that are no longer performing up to par.  While it is true that the vast majority of teachers are dedicated and do a very good job, it should be every teacher.  We entrust our children's future to the staff at a public school and if they are not up to the job, then they need to find a new line of work. 

The time has come that left admit that high-flying rhetoric is not only failing our children, but is endangering the future of our country.  We can longer accept the fact that students in major urban areas don't deserve the same education as the students in suburban areas.  One needs to look no further than the cities of Chicago and Washington, DC.  Both school systems spend large amounts of money per pupil and continue to have lower than average scores and graduation rates.  Since, on a whole, our school system is only average, think of how bad the schools in these two cities are. 

If we continue to fail our children in this way, how will we stay competitive on the world stage?  How will we have enough educated people to perform such tasks as national security?  This is road that we no longer can afford to continue going down.  We need to look into using more charter schools and more voucher programs.  We can't continue to wait for the failing schools to improve.  That obviously is not happening. 

For me, it's a massive wake-up call," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday. "Have we ever been satisfied as Americans being average in anything? Is that our aspiration? Our goal should be absolutely to lead the world in education."
Time will tell what steps Arne Duncan will take now that he has his "wake up call". 

Cross posted at Potluck

1 comment:

Deekaman said...

But this is really nothing new. Public schools have been failing for decades. And there are many reasons: From the Leftist agenda to a system devised 300 years ago that may no longer be valid.

I liken it to a factory (full disclosure, I have a video posted at mu blog that covers a good bit of this) where kids are put together on a single conveyor and "batch processed". Wouldn't it be better to "single-piece-flow" them through the factory with side "conveyors for kids who redirect along the way?

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