Should grade schools in the US be more challenging academically and creatively? Are you satisfied with what your kids are learning at school?
Having spent much of the first six years of my schooling bored out of my mind, yes, grade schools should be more challenging academically and creatively! In sixth grade, we started homeschooling, and that was a vast improvement for me and my siblings, but it's not the right choice for every family by any means.
Unfortunately, there are so many things wrong with the public school system I don't even know where to begin fixing it. I think the underlying problem is just that the US doesn't have the same level of respect for intellectual pursuits that places like Japan have, so the parents aren't as involved, and a lot of them don't even seem to know HOW to be involved. My former roommate teaches elementary school (early grades) in the Chicago area, including a couple years in one of the really poor districts, and she's full of horror stories about kids who've never seen a book until they get to school and things like that.
Even in basic life skills, she says there's a huge gap in abilities. The poorest kids and the richest kids tend to be very self-sufficient and know how to do things like tie shoes and open milk cartons at lunch, but she says there's a huge percentage in the middle who are completely clueless. Nobody's ever thought (or had time) to sit down and teach them the skills they need to be independent, and so she has to waste valuable time teaching them to sharpen pencils when she ought to be working on the three R's.
Public schools should be forced to compete with school from the private sector. Parents who opt not to send their kids to public school should not have to pay school taxes, and instead get a tax credit or voucher. When schools have to compete for contingent funds rather than expect guaranteed funding, then schools will have an incentive to improve and raise standards. Lack of funding is NOT the problem with our schools. NJ is the case on point: the state spends $20,000/yr per student in its WORST districts--amounts that rival the tuition bills of elite private schools. State mandated funding that supplements local school budgets in Camden and Newark HAVE NOT IMPROVED the schools by any measure, be it standardized test scores or graduation rates. The increased funding has only invited waste and corruption from the educational bureaucracies and the teacher's union. Some may say that NJ is a small state and not representative of most of the nation; HOWEVER, this "small" state is the 11th most populous state in the nation and has one of the largest state budgets, much of which is funneled into education. NJ's educational policies are not in any way idiosyncratic or unique. NJ is a poster child of what states SHOULD NOT do. Dumping money into the education system WITHOUT MORE doesn't not raise educational standards. In fact, strangely the more involved the state and federal gov't are in the local school systems--the more money, regulations and standards they set--THE WORSE these school do. Moral of the story: 1. let local communities have the greatest measure of responsibility in funding and running their schools. 2. The state should a most set baseline education standards and provide supplement funding only for the most hopelessly destitute districts, and only with reluctance; 3. the federal gov't has NO business to be involved in education WHATSOEVER constitutionally, unless somehow states are violating the 14th amendment; 4. force public schools to be competitive with private schools for funding. 5. disband the bureaucracies and slap down the teacher's unions.
I will go one Further, there should not be a public school period. There is no way to prevent the system from being abused.
The very best outcome from a public school is that 85% of the attendees will make really great automatons that will do what their corporate and governments masters command them to do and think.
No thank you.
Really how many thousands of years were humans happy without schools. More than you can count on a Chalk board.
Academic pursuits are a waste of time for those that do not have the ability or desire. So, look at the pressure they put on their kids in Japan and what kind of quacks it makes their children. No Thank you
Anyone that thinks Japan is cool, needs to save up buy a ticket and go check it out, it sucks.
Kids should be outside playing and having fun, then they should help out and learn the family business, if they have the Talent they will rise to the Top. Think Lincoln.
Think it is that the private schools really don't have to accept kids they don't like. Now I know someone who has mostly all immigrants for students in public US school. A few don't speak english. Some have attention deficit disorder. Course there are the gangsters. A few are high achievers. Wouldn't guess the private schools would compete with that.
Why are we forcing those kids to be in school. Does that sound like responsible stewardship of the public treasury. I live part time in Mexico, trust me when someone wants to and has the ability they learn English.
I would Argue having ADD is the biggest blessing to survival in the world you can be born with. It is only offensive to those that want you to sit still and push buttons on a cash register at McDonals.
I love my ADD and have truly enjoyed it in my Children. My kids have spent minimal time in Public school and have excelled beyond that which I had expected. For them, and my expectations were very high.
I am PRO CHOICE when it comes to schooling. The gov't should not infringe on its citizen's right to choose where they send their students to go to school. Citizens are COERCED by oppressive taxes to fund failing schools. The very groups you purport to be advocating for ARE THE ONES HURT THE MOST by current policies since they don't have a choice, but have to settle for substandard public education.
NickNY said we should "disband the bureaucracies and slap down the teacher's unions."
South Carolina is a "right to work" state -- an interesting euphemism for "there are no trade unions of any kind and anyone who tries to start one will be forced out of the workplace." South Carolina is also ranked second -- from the bottom -- in SAT scores. I don't quite think the teachers' unions are hurting education -- it may well be that the very lack of them in the South is part of the real culprit.
SAT scores are NOT a valid measure of either intelligence or the effectiveness of schools. There is, in fact, a higher correlation between high SAT scores and socio-economic class than anything else. For instances, wealthy parents in NY and NJ can afford to pay private tutors $50/hr or $100/hr to prep them for the SAT. Most middle class parents in the Northeast do not hesitate to spend several thousand on SAT prep courses. Arguably SAT scores say as much about students' parents as they do about the student. So any arguments based on SAT scores falls flat. Certainly, the presence or absence of a teachers' union does not make the top 10 list of factors that affect a student's SAT scores.
I don't have anything against unions per se, and they do serve a valid purpose. I grudgingly acknowledge this after having been in a teacher's union myself; however, I think there comes a point where the unions overreach and have a detrimental effect on educational standards.
The most important point I intend to make is that public schools do not have any real incentives to make true improvements in education. If they are forced to compete with private schools for funds, then the story would be very different. Parents should get a tax credit or voucher if their local public school fails them and that money should come straight out of the education budget of the community in question. The main reason why this will never happen is because of UNIONS. They have a vested interest preserving the status quo.
" I agree that we should disband public schools"
Seems in the middle ages there was not much education. Fun times those.
If you want to experience fun times take a walk through a public school in Camden, NJ. You'd be happy to be out in the field threshing grain after that "fun time".
Unfortunatly, that was exactly the problem, Church Mandated education, the only education more suppressive than a public education. Here in North America the Natives were having a blast and didn't know of such BS until the Kindly Christians came to save them with their Schools. You know educate those heathens so that they may work themselves to death for their beloved Church. No Thank you.
"If you want to experience fun times take a walk through a public school in Camden, NJ. You'd be happy to be out in the field threshing grain after that "fun time"." Agree. So why are they not in private schools?
I would happily have them in private schools--indeed with the $20K PER STUDENT that is budgeted for them, they SHOULD be in an ELITE private school.
I agree that the Japanese are a little nuts for my taste and I am not interested in having a United States that looks like Japan, but there has to be a happy medium here. Too many kids would be illiterate without public schools (too many kids are illiterate even with them) and an illiterate populace is another really great way to turn out a whole bunch of "great automatons that will do what their corporate and government masters command them to do and think." Just look at the Middle East and Afghanistan, though in that case it's more religious and government masters.
Personally, I would be inclined to return the mandatory schooling level to 8th grade and focus much harder on the most basic of basics in those years, rather like the Amish. But unlike the Amish, enable those who are interested in additional schooling to get the money and resources they need to pursue it, and provide a range of other options for the less academically inclined, such as apprenticeships, vocational schools, etc.
Not a terrible Idea, but you will find in the United States, the Literacy rate declined from 98% to under 70% once compulsory education was mandated.
I have been to both the Middle East and Afghanistan. They are highly schooled, but like I said earlier Church mandated school is far worse than Public.
The fact is without school you will have plenty of time to teach your kids to read.
~points up~ Former homeschooler, so I'm more aware of that than most. The problem is, a lot of parents won't or can't or otherwise don't. The number of smart people in this country whose entire library consists of the Bible and the Joy of Cooking is astonishingly high. You can teach a kid to read on those, and people have, but it's not conducive to anything more than the most basic of skills, unless you're Abraham Lincoln or somebody exceptional, and I guess I have higher aspirations for my fellow countryfolk.
The adult literacy rate in Afghanistan is 28%, 13% for women. What do you mean by "highly schooled?"
They go to school, it is just an oral tradition taught by the local Mullah, or Imam depending on the locale. They have a very good understanding of their duties under the Koran as taught to them. But, the purpose is control and obediance and it is done very well.
Okay, see your point (source for the literacy figures was CIA Factbook, btw), but hardly see it as something to aspire to.
My understanding is that pre-Columbian American Indians did remarkably well at maintaining highly democratic societies with a purely (in most cases) oral tradition, but I also get the impression that this was more a function of comparatively low population density than education or moral superiority, since areas of denser population produced charming cultures like the Aztec and Inca, who are up there with the Romans on my list of interesting cultures that I would hate to live in (and hate even more to neighbor!)
Actually, to be frank, that's my impression of libertarianism and anarchism in general: sounds good, but only works in the small scale. Much like true socialism and democracy. People in large numbers basically suck.
Lita, Iowa is supposed to have excellent schools. Nebraska's may have deteriorated a bit since you were there, but I have very little to compare to either. Mostly just my Chicago friend's stories, since I've lived in other states (VA, CA, WA) but not had any connection to their educational systems. Came closest in VA, but we were already homeschooling by then so the only thing that affected us was the slightly different homeschooling laws. My public school and college were in Nebraska and Iowa respectively, and I did my tutoring in those two states too.
Yes, population density is the key, the problem is populations don't get dense without artifical controls. Note the use of Religion in Early society to gain the control.
Greed is at the bottom of it just as greed is at the bottom of Public Education.
I went to a Bureau of Indian Affairs Government school. Where beatings and other fun shit was the rule of the day. Most of my class mates are dead or in Jail. But, not all of them are. A few of use went on to do quite well.
My Mother taught school in Rural poor Schools and on Indian Reservations. Some Teachers were great, Most average, and Some Sucked.
I as most people who excelled where I was from did their learning at home. I would have like to learned during the day and had more time to play. So yes I am shaded on this issue.
As most of my kind knows the School is your enemy.
The Yavapai-Apache nation here are pretty wealthy. It's an interesting contrast from what you relate. But I know what you are saying and see your point. You prove my point a bit, too, .
Wasn't trying to prove or disprove. Indians weren't allowed to control their education until 1986 so for those of us born to early we got BIA schools. Now, we control our destiny, it is much better and our schools are becoming so good, now the white people are calling foul. Funny how that works.
Almost forgot my mother helped convert that school from BIA. She did a lot of that in AZ and NM.
But yes. I'm amazed at the level of organization and wealth, basically, of the Indian nation here. They take care of themselves.
Only thing is--they become a bit too hierarchical and political for my blood. What? They wanna be Americans, ? LOL.
But when it comes down to it-and since I've gotten to know a lot of Indian people since I've been here--people are people. Not that the Euros didn't rape the people already here. But is it appropriate, you think, at this point , for Indians to call a person, "White Woman?" I died laughing when I heard that....
How much education is really required to run a cash register or a fry machine? You may have high aspirations for us, but this is supposed to be a free society. We get to pick and choose our own aspirations. Why do I have to pay to put a bunch of kids in a jail cell they don't want to be in?
I think if left alone without interference people will make a pretty fine society, if not fine one of their own choosing and isn't that the goal of this Great Experiment?
I would also question the source of those numbers as all good Muslims are required to learn the Koran. I would bet more than 75% can read those words in that book. I would suspect those numbers were pulled out of the air in order to support some reason to spend our money there. They don't need our Tax dollars they get plenty of it through Herion sales.
Anyone ever see 'Fahrenheit 451'? I can understand that state of mind.
(Education 'class divides' us) On the other hand takes an education of sorts for tpying here on hubpages.
For those who just spit out Ideas of others yes an education is required. For those who think just a few lessons in the construct of words and that is all that is needed.
That is called training not educating.
In the Cherokee Nation, with a syllabary children could be taught to read and right in two weeks. After that, it was up to your own talents and desires to educate yourself. I would say they did OK as they as a Nation took the US to the Supreme Court and won their case.
After watching a little of that 'Civil War' PBS series, it would seem the average farmer of those days could write better than the best writers of today.
I realize that some people think bush is smart. But compare Bush's most and best private educaton with Obama's public education, and who would seem to be the smartest, even if Obama may be a captive of the ruling class.
Very obvious, Knol, if only people spent more time educating themselves and reading over both politicians' records. lol
He went to Punahou nothing public or normal about it.
I really hope there's nothing normal about a high school where kids are routinely using coke.
But I suppose it's arguably better than meth, which is the alternative out here.
Coke is for Rich Kids.
Meth is for poor kids.
Meth is the norm in Omaha now, too? I thought that was more of a rural problem in NE.
I grew up in Cass County. There's some of it in Omaha, but definitely worse in rural areas.
Am from Fremont, NE, as I told you. Not what you or I may call 'wealthy' but compared to towns out here, it was... Last time I was back, the town seemed the same. I haven't been back to Omaha in a while, so I honestly don't know. I tutored at Central High School. I admit there were rougher students there than in the suburbs, but it still seemed doable. Lots of black and white issues.
Yes, I know that.
However, why waste time talking around what Knol was really trying to say?
It is a misnomer, regardless, to assume that just because a school is a 'private' school it is automatically better than some public schools. I'd have any kid attend a good Iowa City, IA school any day of the week than frou frou American Heritage Academy in Cottonwood, AZ. Sucks, royally.
Obama does not have a public education he went to the most exclusive elite private school in Hawaii.
I have been reading through all the comments and I'm just wondering how many here WENT to or taught at a public grade school or high school--and then, after that is ascertained--how many went to or taught at a 'normal' (don't mean to be controversial with that) middle class public grade school or high school that didn't serve in some way deprived kids? I think this is part and parcel to one's view of the situation, frankly.
Kerry--you are from NE, too, but I know you were mainly home schooled... Still, I think you'd come closest to knowing what I'm talking about. My college friend Amy, also from NE, moved from, well, near Omaha--out to Phoenix right after graduation. We had gone to high school together, too. She used to say she felt we got a great education in NE--and I didn't know what she was talking about (probably also colored by the fact I hated high school, in general--much preferred college), until I was enrolled in a teacher ed. program at the U of Iowa. They were heavily recruiting for this area of the country--Phoenix, Las Vegas, and CA particularly, with all these incentives for we universally-known excellent UIowa teacher college grads. But one tip off of something amiss. Then I got here--and what a bloody mess with the quality of education at both public, private (many are jokes) and charter schools. I've never seen anything like it before, in this very red, pro-privatization state.
Then I understood we both did indeed get a good public school education. Maybe not perfect, but certainly very good. And I happen to think most of the suburban and middle class public schools across at least Nebraska and Iowa (this from my experience) are good and efficiently run schools, where teachers are appreciated--if not as much as they should be monetarily, but as people in an always respected vocation. I do not think that the full picture is being represented here at all. The question remains, why do Midwestern schools rank consistently high in education? Why are our (I'm still a Midwesterner at heart) teacher education grads so sought after?
Answer those questions, and I think the information obtained <may> (and I'm saying may so as not to be controversial here, too) be used as models for poor preforming areas. I honestly believe it is a matter of coordination and perspective as much as it is any political ideology or correct pedagogy.
And I found this today, lol, when I should have been researching media mixes for my job:
Very interesting article.
and Obama thinks so well of the public schools in DC that that's where he sent his two daughters.....right.
Isn't being honest in admitting that the DC public schools have issues and wanting the best for his kids to be admired rather than making some stupid PR statement that Neo-cons would like to see?
It's not at all at odds with his stance on education.
Actually, my point was to show that Knowlywhatever is an ignoramus and that, notwithstanding your experience in Flagpost, most people in the Northeast consider private schools to be better and SAFER as a rule. No one in NYC sends their children to public school if they could otherwise afford private.
It also shows the hypocrisy of liberal elites, be it sending their children to private schools while all their gov't funded education programs fail the children they supposedly advocate for, or whether they fudge their taxes and plead ignorance on BASIC tax law which they themselves created.
I'd call Knol 'wise.' Different than being factually correct and BRITTLE.
If Obama lived in Iowa City, his kids would likely go to a public school. BTW, I.C. is known to be a town full of almost all liberal elites. Wonder why the public schools are so good?
Do you think NYC is the same as the rest of the country? And I interviewed in public schools there--and wasn't necessarily that afraid. Think you've been sheltered from much...
Who told you to read Hirsch? That book is from 1987.
Bureau of Indian Affairs. They did schools and hospitals and every other aspect of Native life until 1986.
Yeah, and it is so weird we live with all this culturally. There's a valley not far from here called "Bloody Basin." Where the military killed all these Indians. Then there's Skull Valley. Where more Indians were killed and people coming upon it called it that for the skulls found.
The Yavapai-Apache celebrate "Exodus Day." Commemorative of when they were forced in the early 1900's to march across the deserts of Arizona to a new reservation with hopes that most of them would be killed.
Uh-oh here we go again.
I will let you Euro's fight it out. I know a wounded knee when I see one. Taking my trail of Tears to some other thread now.
As I age, I become increasingly grateful for the 'sheltering' that I once took for granted.
Your example of Iowa City, if in fact true, only HIGHLIGHTS the hypocrisy and in no way serves as a defense for the substandard education that more humble Americans are subjected to.
Other excellent books from a similar perspective: The War Against Grammar by David Mulroy; Who Killed Homer by Victor Hanson; The Grammar of Our Civility: Classical Education in America by Lee T. Pearcy
All related to your classical language studies, obviously. But that's the thing about people who study historical literature...I found those majors were not really engaged in the present, but looked to the past. They bugged me--they still do!
Gatto is interesting...
My classical studies were balanced by a good dose of modern philosophy which was my second major, so you're apparent assumptions about my educational background or its depth and breadth is incomplete. I suppose three years of law school is also engaging with the past?--but if I have succeeded in bugging you, then I have achieved my objective.
Yes, we have all noticed your games, lol...
It's just your thoughts remind me of those fusty old literature professors who couldn't write a lick of poetry themselves and butchered the understanding of the stuff they read into fill-in-the-blank test questions. A person would think--well, they might as well be dead already for all they seem to really get... Sorry! But no lie..
Not really, Nick. It also has some of the best services for 'more humble' people around. Education level is the highest in the nation--something like 60% of people with B.A. degrees (UI there). The democratic party is a machine there. And by many standards, it is richer than most of Manhattan.
The populace is educated, engaged, understand what their taxes go for and it is a decent and cultural place to live... A mainstay of the campaign trail of both parties for good reason.
I mean to say get out and see the rest of the country a bit before you make blanket statements..
I have seen quite a bit of this nation and have lived in a half dozen states myself. I, in fact, went to school with many people from Iowa--I even dated a sorority girl form Iowa. I frequently remember hearing how Iowa has a hard time keeping young adults from moving out of state to more exciting places like Chicago and NYC. I believe there is even some program to try to encourage and keep people from moving out of Iowa. If in fact Iowa City is doing as well as you say, it's doing so not because of the democrat machine, but IN SPITE of it. Nevertheless, I suspect you are mischaracterizing the actual situation on the ground.
It's a university town--a grad school/artsy hangout town. Obviously a little different from other places in Iowa--and some of us enjoy that kind of thing. But mostly, I stand by what I'm saying. The difficulty there is that they obviously MUST export the highly educated. Not enough high level jobs.
John Taylor Gatto!
A must read.
I know so I lied, I love Irony.
I suspect we all have read that here... I did in philosophy of education...
But doesn't he honestly come across as an old hippy, rather than a supporter of privatization? I'm down with the apprenticeships--I would just want to make sure intelligent kids from lower income levels are able to go as far as they want and can.
Because I admit it--I would perhaps like a Phd.--but balance that against my current student loan load? I don't think so. If I had my way, all education would be free, and open to go as far as you wanted based on merit. Or--like those "C" students Teresa talks about--go mop floors if it makes you happier than writing essays.
I like old Hippies.
They had great Ideas, they just didn't want to associate with the thugs that could make them realities.
That is the problem with Humans, the ones with great Ideas can't reconcile the fact that to achieve change you have to completely route those who will not release the yokes of oppression.
But, don't let the flowery talk fool you. I am a barbarian trying to get by in soft hands world, staying just enough ahead not to end up in prison.
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