Tag Archives: Public Education

Having Kids Learn Math and Reading in School “Wildly Unrealistic”

School SignThe Associated Press released an alarming statistic today.

The number of schools labeled as “failing” under the  No Child Left Behind Act could skyrocket dramatically this year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday.

The Department of Education estimates the percentage of schools not meeting yearly targets for their students’ proficiency in in math and reading could jump from 37 to 82 percent as states raise standards in attempts to satisfy the law’s mandates.

The public education establishment has failed to teach kids to read and do math – the only mandates in the Bush era law. The law states that educators should have all students proficient in reading and math by 2014. The associated press then adds, “..a standard now viewed as wildly unrealistic.“[1]

So it’s not challenging, hard, difficult or near impossible – its wildly unrealistic to expect our kids to come out of the federally-regulated public schools and actually .. read.

In a confusing swirl of trying to fix what they broke, Obama’s Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle first admitted that the law was broken, then fought over how they could really fix it this time. Of course, the Obama administration couldn’t possibly resist one more chance to blame Bush for another failure

“No Child Left Behind is broken and we need to fix it now,” Duncan said in a statement. “This law has created a thousand ways for schools to fail and very few ways to help them succeed.”[1]


Both Republicans and Democrats agree the law needs to be reformed, though they disagree on issues revolving around the federal role of education and how to turn around failing schools.

The truth is .. the federal government can’t and should not be doing this. Regulation after regulation, standardized test after standardized test and the kids aren’t doing better. We bus them around to try and make it look like the worst schools are getting better while brining the top performers down to the lowest common denominator.

It’s time to let charter schools show the big government failures how to teach kids the basics of reading and math- they just might also be taught real history and critical thinking. Than again, perhaps if our educators weren’t spending all their time protesting for the far left-wing extremist agenda, more than 18% of schools wouldn’t fail.

[1] http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gPmjfDMN5nHOpeSIZYLwkVfKAHGQ?docId=c7dc0757afd54b5ca2836c00de44535f

Public School to Parent: We’re in Control

His father, an Army commander, was being deployed to Iraq, and 6-year-old Jack Dorman didn’t want to be in school in the first place. He suffers from separation anxiety and had been visiting a therapist. Sadly, the boy’s day got a lot worse after he drew a picture of a scene from one of his video games, which featured zombies and stick figures, wrote that he wanted to die, and was forced into a psychiatric ward by school administrators against his mother’s wishes.

“They said it was out of my hands,” said an outraged Syndi Dorman. “They said they were in control and they could do this and had already called an ambulance.”
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines refused to apologize for the incident, which occurred on February 7, and continues to insist that the staff of Taper Avenue Elementary, located in San Pedro, California, acted appropriately.

Maybe Jack needed professional attention, and maybe he didn’t. Little boys like to doodle, and, at a time when one can hardly turn on the television without encountering a show about vampires or werewolves, it doesn’t seem all that strange for an innocent 6-year-old to draw a picture of zombies. Nor is it unusual for a child whose father is being sent overseas to serve his country to feel depressed. However, it is fair to assume that Syndi Dorman knows her son better than a group of public employees, and if he needed to be removed from the classroom, home would have been a better place to send him than a psych ward—particularly since the horrified, helpless mother made it very clear that she did not approve of the administrators’ decision.

This raises an important question: Just how much control do the employees of taxpayer-funded public schools have over the students under their supervision? Enough to impose conditions on a child against his or her parents’ wishes? Enough to do whatever they want without bothering to obtain permission? Government’s power has a tendency to expand, so what’s next on the rapidly growing list of Things Public Schools Can Get Away With?

There is a fine line between intervention and kidnapping, between protecting a child and violating his parents’ rights. The LAUSD crossed that line, and will almost certainly continue to stand between parents and their children if its seemingly limitless authority is not challenged. The decision might have been legal (or not, depending on how one interprets the Bill of Rights), but was wrong nonetheless.

When an agent of the state—whether a teacher, social worker, or police officer—steps between parents and their children, the parents are fully justified in doing whatever is necessary to protect their children from the harmful influence of a nanny state that thinks it knows better. Unfortunately, unjust laws might make it impossible for the parents to do so legally, but American history is full of daring acts of civil disobedience which, in spite of inviting retaliation from the state, eventually resulted in the betterment of our nation.

The preferable alternative, of course, is for parents to resist the temptation of a “free” education. It is difficult to imagine a shocking story of this sort unfolding in a private school, where the immutable laws of the free market require administrators and educators to satisfy parents, or risk losing their business.

Finally released after forty-eight hours, a traumatized Jack Dorman did not want to return to school. “He’s afraid they’re going to take him away again,” said his mother.
One 6-year-old victim of Big Brother has the right attitude. When will the rest of us learn?

U.S. Education System Snobbish, Stuck in the 1950's

The American education system isn’t the envy of the world.  It’s not even the prize of  U.S. citizens who are becoming more disenchanted with the archaic system the longer it continues.  It is a fine example of why the government is not the answer to what ills us.

This is an open thread that starts with some ideas on how it might be improved.  The purpose of this thread is to connect the thoughts from as many contributors as I can into a single presentation.  Comments to this article (or email submissions if that’s more comfortable) will be combined into a single presentation.

Americans are growing angry over many things the government is failing to do.  One of those things is basic education.

The anger isn’t with the teachers – they work hard and teach what they’re asked to teach.  Parents aren’t always to blame as they vary from over-bearing “helicopter parents” to nearly non-existent.  But there is anger.  Anger at the system itself.  A system that graduates just 77% of it’s students from secondary education (high school), lower than most developed countries.  Though graduates can read,write, do math, and recite some really basic history, they don’t have any real life or job skills after 13 years in the system.

Kids don’t just drop-out due to grades, sometimes it’s due to feeling like school isn’t teaching them anything useful.  In many cases, they may be right.

There are numerous proposals to reform education by putting more money into higher-technology tools, paying for tutors, buying better books, etc.  Throwing money at the problem has always been the politician’s and administrator’s answer and it has never worked.

A set of reforms based on American values and understanding the individual could be put in place that would help all students, not just the ones that want to be doctors, lawyers or MBAs:

  1. Privatize more of the system and increase charter school caps (yes, government limits the number of charter schools).  This system is suffering from a lack of competition.  Everyone realizes that private schools tend to be better, but not everyone can afford them.  Charter schools compete for students and are on par with private schooling.  Perhaps all schools should compete for students (and therefor, education/tax dollars).  If the parents don’t feel their kids are being educated effectively, they should be able to move them.  Today’s draconian system of borders that dictate a child’s school by their address is a fundamental flaw.  The school will have students no matter how mediocre it is and therefor has little reason to excel – mediocre is good enough.
  2. Diversify the education ecosystem.   Not everyone is going to be the next President, and most don’t even want to.  High-schools should be more accommodating of students that want to work with their hands (industrial arts) and realize that not all students need or want so many courses to “round them out”.  Trade craft should not be lower on the totem pole.  The German system has a singular curriculum up until 5th grade at which point the students abilities, desires, and character will position them for one of three next level schools.  Maybe the German’s figured out what we haven’t: not all people are the same and not all should be taught the same things.   Even those that don’t make it to academic greatness have a chance at vocational greatness.  Not everyone wants an A in English lit, but everyone wants to be good at something.
  3. Teach real-life skills.  Spend more time discussing how to put a savings plan together, why borrowing too much is bad, how credit really works, taking care of finances, crafting a budget, buying a house, setting up a computer, maintaining a car, etc.  That way we don’t have to have the travesties of people losing their houses because they say they didn’t understand the contract or process.
  4. Teach the kids how to learn, not just what to learn.  The current model is focused on wrote memorization, probably to get the student ready for all the government tests the school needs them to pass
  5. Change the message: College is not the only acceptable path to success.  A brilliant electrician needs zero college to be successful and doesn’t need to feel subhuman because he doesn’t want to go or can’t afford to go.  A piece of paper does not make someone successful.  If the trade requires post-secondary education then so-be-it.  Doctors, lawyers, engineers and the like need something past high-school.  Colleges need to understand their purpose and refocus.
  6. College needs an overhaul.  The desire to balance the student has overtaken the need to ready the citizen.  If they are studying to be an aerospace engineer, that class in music history, archery, or modern basketry is useless.  They may wish to take it on their own, but making it mandatory is snobbery at it’s finest.  Most college degrees don’t prepare the student for their actual career much better than two or three well-written text books could.  Technical schools should be the focus, and perhaps public universities should refocus their schools around actual career needs.
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