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Our public education system is so loaded down with social education issues, that the knowledge of basics in all areas is overwhelmed. I teach juniors and seniors but also have taught in high risk facilities, and the one common thread is that students don't understand the basic concepts necessary for life. Their abilities are far below where students were when I was their age, yet our education system show that they are doing things earlier. When we measure the number of students taking the test, not the increase in abilites or level of performance, we are simply trying to show that we are doing a good job. To find out if we are truly successful, send your students to a business and let them see if they can understand the tasks being performed and check to see if they have the skills to perform these tasks. I feel as do most of our employers that the vast majority fall miserably short, stating that the students do not have the basic skills to perform the job.
The parents you would like to see take responsibility for the education of their children were my students 20 years ago. As products of dumbed down innercity public schools that the vast majority- 92% of the Whites in L.A.- have abandon, they themselves did not receive enough of an education to know how to educate their own children in a manner different from the failed model used on them nor are they sufficiently gainfully employed to have the time to keep their children away from the gangs that fill the vacuum created by their absence necessitated by the exigencies of surviving on multiple minimum wage jobs.
Just by achieving their majority, these parents did not somehow overcome a failed public education system that social promoted them without educating them and continues to do the same to their children in lieu of giving them a real education- the basis of which could finally break the cycle of cultivated inferiority that now stretches back over 350 years in this country.
While I do not abide the predominant self-destructive anti-education attitude that labels motivated fellow minority students with the negative "school boy" epithet, I am not self-deluded enough to not know where it comes from. The highly motivated African students that I taught in France who came from strong nuclear families exhibited none of these self-destructive characteristics.
Any school system that early on defines a code of conduct that it is willing to enforce has no trouble educating all of its students to the highest level. It is only when Average Daily Attendance (ADA) compromises this requisite standard of behavior in order to get money from the state based on the sole criteria of physical presence that education is doomed.
Like Derek Hayenga, I too value education greatly. I switched careers from medicine to teaching in part because educating children is so vitally important for a society's well being and success. My children were also taught that getting an education was of paramount importance and they have succeeded in this so far. However, I work in a school where most of the kids are not middle class and most parents have barely finished high school. Such children often, through no fault of their own, do not enter school valuing education. Their homes are not filled with appropriate books, newspapers or magazines to encourage reading. Adults do not engage children in stimulating conversation. There are no adults around to help with homework and difficult assignments, because they work at evening jobs to try make ends meet.
I have come to appreciate that this environment is the sad reality for a significant percentage of American school children. The problems facing America's public schools are multi-factorial and the solution more complex than simply having children and families "enthusiastically engage" in the educational process.
Who says you can only complete school in 12 years--really 13? There are alternate high schools, continuation schools, Jr. colleges, home schooling, one can do to complete to a high school diploma. Still have to pass the high school exit exams. Do when you are 50 or 60 if one needs that much time. But if one wants to achieve early in life, then effort on the part of the student is required.
Unfortunately this is not all about ability and knowledge, it has a lot to do with the price of labor.
China & India are economic powerhouses not because of a talented, educated, bright young things. Although many of them are, but because they will do the same job for less money.
The "utility" of education means that we consistently model education on the demands of the workplace.
If we assume all the traditional manufacturing and manufacturing related jobs will now be dominated by China and India then American/British and other western nations will be required to produce highly educated people in diverse and new technologies (Bio Tech for example). The paying jobs in America will not be in manufacturing but in research and other high level thinking jobs.
The American Public School system has a dismal record in science and other related technologies because of failed immigration assimilation policy. The public school system is swamped with kids who cannot (and possibly will not) ever speak or understand english at the academic level required of future workers in this country. Let alone be educated formally in the sciences. The few who do will get the "good" jobs, the rest will be cast out on the shrinking world of service related jobs. The wake-up call was rung many years ago, political ineptitude drowned the sound of the warning bell and still does. We have traded the need for excellence in education for the need to have more and more consumers at any price.
The answer? - To ignore the SIG's who demand we speak 133 different languages, separate from the political clammering for ethnic votes that results in a "whatever" attitude to assimilation. We need to teach science, critical thinking and problem solving skills. Introduce a proper and effective bi-lingual education program, so that those who can and want to learn do. Those that don't and have no desire but to exist in small ethnic communities trying to rebuild their own separate states within America can have that...but please not at the expense of those that want and should expect more from their country.
We are only kidding ourselves if we think educationally we are still at the top of the heap. The average school is not preparing its students to complete globally, we can barely prepare them to compete locally. Across the south and heartland America,I would venture to say that schools are still bent towards a national level, certainly not global. Coastal regions, East or West probably fair better because of a greater intercultural interaction.
As long as we follow and press state standards, rather than national standards, do not give schools the technology students need, pay teachers so poorly and parents remain apathetic about their students' educations, this will not change. We do not value education in a cultural sense the way most of the rest of the world does. Until we do, we will not stay even, let alone stay on top.
I was at dinner last night with William Bennett the ex- Secretary of Education. He and his brother are a product of what used to be a superior Brooklyn, New York education system and have succeeded in spite of the fact that they were raised by a single mother who married 5 separate times. What is different today than when they were raised is that there are only 3 White students presently going to school in all of the Bronx and Brooklyn no longer has a public education system that has the capability of educating people to the level of Bennett and his brother who is Bill Clinton's attorney. In LAUSD, money is spent on everything other than the fundamental necessity of lessening teacher to student ratio below its present level of 43:1.
Jefferson said that the prerequisite of democracy is an educated electorate. If you don't want an educated electorate, you will allow public education to degenerate into a bottomless pit where money can be spent with the sole result of benefiting those that run the system. Wars in Iraq can only be carried on when the soldiers that fight it do not have enough education to find Iraq on the map. In Los Angeles, 92% of the Whites are out of public education.
The five corporation that control all the media in this country do not want an educated electorate and if Americans no longer have the drive that we see in Asian students, there is a clear reason why- the power elite don't want anymore Berkeleys of the Vietnam era.
While I think Bill Cosby has some justifiable complaints about Black families role in the failure of their children to do well in the United States, I would rather side with Michael Eric Dyson who chooses not to blame the victims of a failed public education system and a systematic effort to destroy Black families, but rather laud what Blacks have been able to achieve in the spite of such adversity.
I value education. My children had this instilled in them from their earliest days. Their friends tended to come from families with similiar values. As my daughters and their peers are now entering Grad school, I find that the children who worked hard at school can and do compete on a global level. These are middle class kids who are earning places at some of the worlds most prestigious schools GLOBALLY. American education is working at very high levels. The children and families need to enthusiastically engage in the process.
I do not believe that they are comparing the same type of students. In many foreign countries students who are not college bond, who are main streamed special ed or have just arrived from another country and don't speak the language are not given the exams and are not part of their testing data.
In the US many at risk students are included in the US test data including the above mentioned students.
Has there ever been a comparison of just US students who are in Advanced Placement classes or the International Baccalaureate Program and the college bond foreign students? If they compare like students I believe that the US would do much better than the current testing information.