This country faces a real problem in the quality of education as it continues its effort to close the achievement gap in education and to push all students into college. Starting with the Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, the battle to raise the scores of minority children and provide a better foundation for public schools has cost literally billions of dollars in the ensuing 60 years. Sadly the ‘gap’ has actually increased to levels never seen before.
Consider some of the many programs tried and failed: School bussing, bilingual education, Ebonics, social promotion, universal preschool, new classrooms, more money per pupil, longer school year, iPads for every student, online classes, ethnic studies, modifying textbooks, paying students to do better, and scores of others. None have had a lasting or widespread impact. Indeed the past few years have seen an erosion of Physical Education, plus there has been an elimination of trade programs in metal work, carpentry, auto repair, and so forth.
Now the goal is to push every student into college preparation classes. Graduation tests have seen lower standards to the point that a D- average is now considered acceptable for a diploma and even college entrance. Thousands of jobs for plumbers, technicians, mechanics and other skilled jobs go unfilled while 2.1 million students, age 18-24, are drop outs from high school. Many end up in this dead end because they fail to pass college preparation classes. They leave discouraged, angry and soon thereafter, destitute. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and that is where many of our education leaders are today.
Even discipline has declined for fear of hurting the students’ self-esteem or pushing them into prison. But outrageous and belligerent behavior has now risen to a new high to the detriment of kids who really want to learn, and is actually dangerous for teachers in many areas of the nation. The classroom in this new egalitarian dogma is filled with gifted students along with the troubled and less intelligent. And we wonder why the teachers fail!
On the international scene America has steadily dropped from one of the highest test scores to a much lower level and continues to recede still further. In math, science and reading China is now at the top, followed by Singapore, Korea, and Finland (PISA scores as reported by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; Central Intelligence Agency’s World Fact Book). The USA is now 35th in math, 28th in science and 24th in reading.
Let’s have a color-blind approach that seeks to raise each student to the level they are best able to achieve and thus succeed in life and provide for their family, themselves and the country. Be done with quotas, racial preferences, and false accusations of “racism” to any person or administrator that seeks to group students by ability . Only then can success actually be reached in the classroom. Each student is a person in himself and should be treated as such. What is important is that each student have the opportunity to rise to his or her full potential.
Let’s help each student be all that he or she can be in this world and stop trying to make one size fits all.
Some of the actions that would greatly help resolve the present disaster of our schools would include allow school choice, end Common Core, enforce discipline in a fair manner but not for equal results, stop the tenure system since teachers have strong unions unlike the past, stop unlimited immigration from countries without regard to their skill and level of intellect. This is a hefty agenda but much more realistic than those would wish to pretend that past failures will somehow turn into success.
My book, FACING REALITY IN AMERICAN EDUCATION, was just banned from distribution at the forthcoming California PTA convention in San Diego. I was told that the book is “inappropriate for distribution at our convention. The conclusions and assumptions in your book are polar opposite of our own research and experience and not in keeping with the goals and priorities of our organization.” Sad. Very sad that the intolerance of the” tolerant” people is such that any view with a fresh perspective is denied a hearing by the parents and teachers who have long suffered in the present state of our schools.