I refer to Groundhog Day, the movie, because we are just going down the same path over and over in terms of education. It is a failing policy, yet we
are about to dump more and more money into a system that promotes mediocre standards, the National Education Association, under achievement, lack of
recognition of excelling students, teacher's jobs over a child's education and many more.
In this I will attempt to show you why we need to dump the Department of Education (DE), relinquish Federal control of education back to the states
and parents respectively and in the process cut a sizable chunk from the Federal deficit and budget. Doing those things I will show how in the end,
after 40 years and nearly $1.8 trillion, education will have a better chance of once again excelling within the United States of America.
To start, we will establish our baseline of where students are today. Looking to the scores from the 2009 Program for International Student
Assessment, we see where we stand amongst the nations of the world. In their assessment, they have ranked the education of our youth (15 year olds)
Math - 25th
Reading - 14th
Science - 17th
These of course can be found here, for your verification and study: PISA
The scale they used, as an indicator is 0-1000. On average, a 15 year old barely scored 500 in reading and science. In math, it is abysmal and
embarrassing; the average student couldn't even break the 500 mark. The answer? More money of course!
Yet, we continue to hear calls that we just need to spend more money. More money into the system will surely provide a better education for the
children! Let me ask you this my dear readers, what do you think, on average, the taxpayers pay per-pupil yearly? I am talking combined Federal,
State, Local and Private sources.
Would you say $10,000/year? According to most school districts, that is what is reported. But according to a study done by the Cato Institute, if
found that those numbers are woefully underreported and misleading. In this analysis, They
Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools
, they have concluded that on average we can increase that $10,000/year cost per-pupil by 44%! That
means we are spending on average, $14,400 per-pupil to give them those wonderful average scores. I recommend reading the whole analysis and see how
big cities such as New York and Los Angeles fare on the average. A hint: they spend almost twice as much the national average, yet have some of the
worst failing schools in the nation.
Now that we have baseline for how our students are averaging in math, science and reading; along with how much money we spend on average per-pupil. I
contend this is by design. It has to be. Otherwise why would we continue down this path? Setting up children to fail. Have you ever asked yourself
that as you scoot little Johnny off to class?
I want, at this point, to bring in a personal story that I have in regards to how pathetic the schools have become. My oldest boy is in K-6 (for
protection I will not reveal which of course). One day, he brought home his homework and his completed classwork. As I was reviewing his classwork I
noticed there was another child's work mixed in with my son's. As I looked at the math page of this other child (simple addition/subtraction) I
noticed that the child obviously is struggling with the concept of carrying over when adding say 23+17. What am I getting at here? What shocked me
was what was on the paper in terms of feedback from the teacher.
On the paper, there was a sticker with a "Good Job!" on it. Never mind the fact this child failed to answer 1/3 of the questions correctly. What
was even more scary was that there were no correction marks. Nothing to denote the teacher actual reviews the work of their students. I know that
the parents need to be engaged too, but this was classwork. Accomplished supposedly, under the watchful eye of a teacher.
Of course the above isn't rule, but rather a growing exception that will soon become the rule. Pass the children through the system, feeding them
only information that they will never really need. Don't teach them to excel at math, reading, comprehension, science and critical thinking.
Let us get back to the ongoing dismal policies that are destroying education brick by brick. Looking at the National Defense Education Act of 1958.
This act was an attempt by Congress to improve our scores in math, foreign language skills and sciences for defense purposes. It was expensive and
expansive. The problem is, 52 years later we have yet to see the benefits of this program.
According to PSAT math scores there has been no real improvement, rather a decline! Andrew J. Coulson from Cato points this out in his opinion piece
Obama Touts Failed Federal Program
The approaches we are taking at the Federal level, over and over as if we are stuck in our very own nightmarish groundhog day have been failures. We
have spent about $1.8 trillion dollars over the past 40 years. We have reduced standards, we have lowered the bar, we have allowed teachers' unions
to control policy that only benefits them and provides job security and worse of all we continually fall for the line "Its for the children..."
Next post I will present how an unleashing of free-market principles into the school system will produce highly educated, highly competitive human
beings ready to take on the world...