American Education

(seattletimes.nwresource.com)
(seattletimes.nwresource.com)

By: Wayne Brown

For decade upon decade, the subject of education has been one that politicians on either side of the aisle could hang their hat on as something near and dear to the hearts of the voters. In many cases, a candidate for office could make it the centerpiece of his/her platform for office and know that it would grab a lot of votes. The cry was a common one verbalized in different ways but adding up to the same thing in the end. “We need better schools; We need higher paid teachers; We need better textbooks; We need more equipment; We need a football field, a new gym, a new track, we need , we need, we need.” In the end, regardless of the rhetoric assigned to it in the campaign it came down to need and money. Let the taxpayers step up and take care of the needs of our children and please give me credit for accomplishing the task.

The sad truth of it all is that for all of the times that the taxpayer has stepped forward and nodded in the affirmative; for all the times more money was appropriated; for all of the needs that were answered and satisfied, we still see the same old tired politicians out there yelling the same old tired battle cries attempting to elicit the same response from the voters and taxpayers of America. Unfortunately, we still see cases in which it still works quite well.

(journalstar.com)
(journalstar.com)

I graduated from a small southern high school many decades back in time now. With that experience and with what I see of the current crop of high school graduates, I can honestly say that I do not believe the educational process has improved. In fact, I think the opposite is quite true…it has decayed. America has been milked of billions upon billions of dollars over the past one hundred years in the name of education and what do we have to show for it?  We are looked upon in terms of the quality of the basic education that we provide as number 23 among other countries of the world. I would say that is a mighty poor return on investment and a very poor investment in what should be the future leaders of our country over time.

 

(poster-street.com)
(poster-street.com)

Americans are beginning to wake up to this fact.  We likely spend more per capita money per student than any country in the world yet we rank far down the list in terms of the quality of our education.  This says to me that there is little correlation between the money spent and the product received.  Japan provides higher quality education and does it at a figure far below what we spend per student in the USA.  They cite the reason for that as their aggressive focus of hiring high quality teachers and eliminating teachers from the system on a regular basis who do not uphold that high quality standard.  In America ,all we have managed to do is create a bunch of teachers unions that demand higher pay and produce fewer results, over time, and, for the most part, heavily complicate the firing process for those who are substandard.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate the teaching profession greatly and I appreciate those who dedicate themselves to it.  It is a difficult job and those who overcome the obstacles associated with the work and still deliver a high standard are certainly to be admired.  At the same time, I think these individuals would also be the biggest critic of the educational process and the sub-standard teachers who populate almost every school system in America.  High quality teachers are heroes for the students and leaders for their community.  They are a dedicated lot of people who are in the business for some other factor than just a paycheck.

 

(extremewisdom.com)
(extremewisdom.com)

I also would be remiss if I did not shine the light on the student. In America today, there are far too many students who do not have a home life that is conducive to the learning process. Education is the single greatest deterrent to ignorance and ignorance is the purveyor of stagnation in our communities. Each and every student must have an individual motivation to achieve as much or more than their prior generations. In doing so they must understand that education, both formal and informal, is the key to success in that arena. Without it, we all remain at the status quo. Students must challenge the system and demand that it meet their needs educationally. They must show that they can rise to a higher plane and that the system must rise with them. Parents play an intricate part in making this happen by instilling motivation, desire, and helping to maintain focus over the years. First and foremost, parents owe it to our educational process to send a well-disciplined and attentive child to school each day. This should not be the job of the educator if parents are demanding that educator’s hands be increasingly bound in the discipline area.

In the arenas of math and science, the USA has basically sustained a rather mediocre position in world education standings and gains. This is based on studies conducted on eighth grade level students every four years. From 1995 to 1999, the USA made only slight improvements with a slow upward trending that was barely detectable. From 1999 to 2003, we declined in each successive year and finally between 2003 and 2007, we began a shallow upward climb back toward our previous positions of 1999. Our results by 2007 were almost matched by Russian students who scores have been in a steady increase since 1995. The upper portions of the charts were dominated totally by Asian countries who still take great pride in teaching math and science and turning out engineers. The exception to up chart domination was in the area of science with the Scandinavian countries competing more aggressively with Asian countries for position.

 

(willisms.com)
(willisms.com)
(edpolicythoughts.com)
(edpolicythoughts.com)

Is education and the quality of education important in America?  The answer to that question would certainly be a resounding “yes ” although the solution to achieving that result does not always lie with throwing more money at the process. America is currently a country which has a 99% literacy rate in children and adults over the age of 15 years yet we only have a high school graduation rate of 77%. Does this reflect downstream in our economy? It most certainly does as the 2010 figures for unemployment show that only 4.6% of college-educated people are unemployed while that same figure jumps to 10.8% for high school grads. It is likely even higher for the drop-outs.

(online.wsj.com)
(online.wsj.com)

America has been a “rich” country and far more capable of spending more per capita student on education yet we are not exceeding the performance of other countries in that process. In fact, in many cases, we are being outperformed by third world and developing countries that have far less resources to invest in educational infrastructure and teaching aids. The difference in our results must then lie within our cultural values versus theirs. America is willing to invest money into the educational process but unwilling to demand the results which should be in line with that investment, yet, we still continue to hear that we need to spend more money on education.

Some might make the argument that a unit of education is far more expensive in America than in some other developing countries thus they get more bang-for-the-buck versus our system. Accordingly, we have to invest more to achieve the same result. While that might follow mathematically in terms of currency values, the truth of the matter is that the American education process is starting to follow the same road of decay the American manufacturing process has followed in the past decades. Much of the cost of education on an annual basis is, like in any business, linked to the payroll and the associated costs of administering payroll such as income tax, SSI, Medicare, and benefits. In fact, that figure could account for more than 70% of the costs. Given that number, how much bang can we afford for the buck? Or let’s put it another way, since the vast majority of that payroll is made up of teachers and administrators, are we getting effective results for the money spent to pay them? I cannot answer that question per se but the numbers tend to speak for themselves. Most of these folks are coming under union protection now just as manufacturing workers did in the early 20th century. Contracts are making it more and more difficult to weed out those who are marginal teachers. Politicians are playing more to the unions for votes as opposed to attempting to bring pressure to bear on performance.

History shows us that money has not and will not fix the problem. Those who want to teach and those who want to learn will make do with whatever resources are available…and they will do it in some highly creative ways. Yes, nicer classrooms are good, more equipment is good, but never absolutely essential to the learning process. The process of education is one person leading another into the realm of knowledge. No matter how much technology changes or the world progresses, this fact will always be true. Education is a function of discipline on both sides, desire on both sides, and focus throughout. When we give up in those basic areas, all the other things that are simply “aids” to the process matter little in the end result.

There is also the aspect of orientation and attitude which plays heavily in the education process. For a long time, education in America’s classrooms was about the basics…reading, writing, and arithmetic and might I say that it was taught to the tune of a hickory stick. Over the years since the advent of LBJ’s Great Society, we have lost sight of the basics. Some where along the way ,the educational leadership of this country decided that it was more important to address the social aspects of life and worldly interaction than it was to teach math, science, and history. Suddenly, we are more worried about teaching political correctness that we are focused on teaching our children their heritage and preparing them to operate in the world of science and mathematics. Somewhere along the way, the school system started taking it upon itself to decide what was important in terms of history, religion, and interpersonal relationships. As the ideology grew, the emphasis on science, history, literature, and mathematics fell by the wayside. Now we produce a “socially-conscious” student who has little ability in any of the basic areas far too often.

Slowly but surely, our approach to education in America, is leading today’s students down a road of social consciousness in which there is little understanding of the democratic process or the capitalist system which drives our economy in this country. The emphasis seems to be more focused on teaching principles of socialism and human diversity. I have no problem with the system teaching a child to respect and honor the flag of another country but I first demand that we teach them to respect and honor the flag of the country in which they are a citizen. History falls in this same arena, we must first know where we came from, how we got here and what mistakes were made along the way as well as what was achieved. In this manner, a student can employ the past to help predict the obstacles of the future.

If we as Americans do not change the course of our educational process and soon, we will have generations who have been educated to mediocrity. Yes we still produce some outstanding students but more often than not these individuals are not created by the educational system, they are self-motivated and demand more and more as they progress while those of lesser focus are left to mediocrity.

It is time to have those discussions about how we can get our school systems back on track and to teaching the basics that students will always need in their journey through life. Don’t tell me that cursive writing is outdated and outmoded by the computer…teach the concept. Teach the person how to exist when all this electronic crap goes away in their life. Teach them how to understand the basics of a concept and how it functions without the aid of a computer or a calculator. Teach them understanding not functionality for a change.

We are rapidly creating generations of “process-oriented” youth who are entering industry with only the understanding that when confronted with a problem one should institute the process. This is normally done by pushing a few buttons on a computer and adding a bit of data. They have no real understanding of how the process works behind the scenes or how the computer arrives at the answer. Too often, they don’t even have a clue as to whether the end result of the process is the correct direction…they just run the process. You might shrug your shoulders at that and say so what? Well, maybe this will help you out with understanding it. The next time you go out to fly on an airliner, I pray to God that the pilots in the cockpit understand fully the basic principles of flying an aircraft when most of the systems are in failure mode. If they only have an understanding of how to operate the computer screens which monitor that process then you no longer have a pilot in the cockpit.

Regardless of what we talk about ,regardless of how much technology has progressed ,regardless of how archaic some things may seem to our everyday world, the knowledge that we possess of them helps us to understand where the centerline of the road is located and that principle in itself helps us to stay out of the ditches and steer back to center line. Without that knowledge ,we operate our world with educated idiots.

Parents and taxpayers must demand that our educational system move back toward the basics of teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Certainly we can include some social interface teaching in the process but it certainly does not need to dominate the educational process. We don’t need Kindergarten classes in sex education; nor history courses that teach that Americans are ugly people who have spent their entire history abusing others in the world. While there may be some in the teaching profession who are inclined to believe such hogwash, I say either keep your personal opinions to yourself or find another means of employment.

Certainly our post graduate education process is heavily populated with those who are in the teaching profession who openly claim to be Socialist, Marxist, or even Communists. Since this is America, these things are possible, especially today in our politically correct society. Unfortunately, we are allowing these individuals to take a classroom podium and use it to spew the poisons which they espouse upon the youthful and somewhat poorly educated minds of our highly impressionable kids right out of high school. If you see no danger in this, perhaps you might like to review the Goals of The Communist Party from 1963 and see what they say about influencing the education process of the young people of America. Perhaps then you will see that we have allowed at least a partial accomplishment of that goal. It is a sad day in America when we are willing to pay people to put down the history and intentions of one of the most generous and caring countries on this earth; yet for some strange reason we allow it to go on. It is no wonder that on that basis we are raising generations of children and young adults who know little of their country's history and consider that which they do know to be an embarrassment to them.

The next time you hear a politician decrying the need for more money invested into our educational process, I want you to think of what I have written here. I want you to think of all of the many things which are wrong in education today that money cannot and will never fix. And, I want you to ask yourself why so many high schools in America have new football fields with synthetic turf, the latest in running tracks, the best computers, and the nicest buildings yet cannot seem to deliver a reasonable level of education in the basics to our students in America today. Maybe that will help us approach the subject in the correct orientation.

© Copyright WBrown2011. All Rights Reserved.

More by this Author


Comments 51 comments

SheriSapp profile image

SheriSapp 5 years ago from West Virginia

As a teacher currently working in our broken educational system, I applaud the great work you did here. In the centuries of yore, not only was special ed and remediation NOT a core part of schooling, students learned more and achieved higher in those days. Of course, the PARENTS were more involved in the lives of their students then than today. I hope you read my hub about bashing teachers, it was written a few months back, and I cannot recall if you commented; if you missed it, I would value your feedback on it now. The unions do NOT improve education at all, they work to the detriment of our students. If parents had and DEMANDED high performance, it would be more readily achieved. Year after year, the burden placed upon teachers and schools grows, but the TIME we need to achieve these goals it lessened, at least it seems so. We now must do lesson plans, grade homework, quizzes, and tests, NORMAL teacher work, we also offer instruction. However, the schools are also expected to be the actual PARENTS!!! We must teach character ed---does ANYONE NOT understand the difference between truth and lies?--teach anti-bullying AND cyber-bullying--again, is this stuff NOT understood by most rational people? We must teach about sex ed, life choices...etc. Can you see why teaching is such a difficult and thankless profession? Oh, we are also belittled....remember the phrase, "those who can DO, those who CANNOT, teach?" Great attitude to have towards those who should be highly valued.

I do understand that there are teachers who have no damn business working in a classroom, but the majority of us are here because we DO care and DO want to help mold the future leaders of this great nation. Too bad many parents could not care any less about their own children.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@SheriSapp...Sheri, I will check out that hub and comment if I have not. I could not agree with you more and if it seems you have more and more to do it is because the liberal agenda keeps stacking socialists subject matter on your desk which they want taught even if it cuts into the time required to teach the basics. I am sorry but I feel the social education of a child belongs in the home and the school system should always apply itself to teaching the basics of reading, writing, math, and science. Yes, we need to incorporate some technology knowledge into that but we have to be careful that continue to teach the child the functionality of a process even it a computer may perform it for the rest of his working days. There is all kinds of ignorance in the world and this will quickly become one...computer literate...mathematically illiterate yet able to function. Thanks for your great comments. I do appreciate it. WB


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Wayne, as usual an outstanding piece of work. The hub I wrote on deteoration of our education system was just a rant compared to this one. You did your homework well and the facts are alarming. This is a major crisis in this country, and we citizens of this great country need to find a way to correct it. We already know that more money is not the solution. The governments solution to everything is throw more money at it and perhaps it will go away. Let me know if you come up with a plan on how we can get someones attention. I plan on doing this in Arizona where we just ranked #50 out of 50, and that puts us in last place for education quality. Great job my friend.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Old Poolman...Honestly, I think the best way to start would be to get the federal government out of our schools and bring them back to local control. Then we regain control of the curriculm and could negate all this socialism from the agenda and get back to teaching the basics. In terms of Arizona, based on the attitude fo the Federal Government at present, I don't think you have a snowball's chance in hell of gaining anything from the Feds. I do see one area that is alarming in Arizona and that is the high school drop-out rate of Native Americans. It is higher than blacks or hispanics in the region. Ironically, it also is common to the Native Americans of the south and in Oklahoma. Here we have a people who have literally given up on life and a public more than willing to go along with it...that area really needs to be changed...those folks need to get their self-esteem back and become a productive part of America again. WB


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 5 years ago from Ohio

This is a great hub Wayne. You touched on a lot of the serious problems in education. I had great teachers and less than mediocre teachers. The mediocre teachers were obviously just there for a paycheck.

The great teachers inspired me to read and learn. They tended to involve the class in the subject and were always open to input. If a teacher loves to teach...a child will love to learn. :)


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

There are still really great teachers out there, and some not so great. The power of the Teachers Union is overwhelming. The good teachers don't need a union, but the poor teachers just keep on teaching because of the union. I can see why more and more parents are choosing to home school rather than sending their children to an education factory. This is such a big problem I feel it will need to be addressed first at the local and state levels to get any action started. Taking this away from the feds will not be an easy thing to do. Results speak for themselves, and the current results say they are doing a very lousy job with education. But perhaps they use the Post Office as a model on how to properly run things.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Tom Cornett...I agree entirely and I will also say that those teachers quickly gain the respect of the student and have less discipline issues...you have lead by example and show those you want to teach the miracle and the mystery of the material at hand. Thanks for some great comments Tom. WB

@Old Poolman...Amen Sir! Amen! We do seem to have more shootings at the schools and the post office than other places...you think there's connection with the Fed? LOL! WB


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

WB, I complain about the Post Office, but in fact they do a pretty darn good job. No way would I drive a letter from Arizona to New York for 44 cents. And there are some really fine people who work for the post office. I just complain because they have lost so much money for so many years, and the feds do nothing to correct this problem. If the Post Office were a private company they would have gone out of business years ago. If we allow them to continue to drive our education system into the ground, we may never be able to get it back on track again. No governmental agency has ever run anything as well as private enterprise can do the job.


eovery profile image

eovery 5 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

Kind of shows that the money does not solve the problems.

Keep on hubbing!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@eovery...Yes, I just wish our elected ones could figure that out...somehow I think they don't really want to do so. Thanks much! WB


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Old Poolman...Yes, the fact of the matter is that they cannot haul a letter from New York to Phoenix for 44 cents...they just have not figured that out. They still think they need a bigger truck!LOL! WB


Texasbeta 5 years ago

I very much agree that we are horrible in our education, however strongly disagree with your solution. "Getting back to the basics" is simple, but incredibly flawed. Cursive writing? Seriously? Japan and China and India don't go backwards in their educational process. They don't allow their children to be taught that evolution doesn't exist, and entirely discredit basic biology because preacher Bob on the corner will get mad. They don't teach "computers"; they teach HTML code when they are 11. They don't go back to the education models of 50 years ago; they create new and more challenging ones, with higher expectations. They don't allow a President who states, "Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning", while at a Children's Literacy luncheon to enact legislation that requires teachers across the nation to only have time to teach a single test throughout the entire year, which is what we have now. I agree that tenure is a problem, and ridiculous. However, going backwards is not the answer. Schools don't teach socialism and ignore US economics. That is asinine, beyond asinine. Socialism is hardly touched until college, and that is only be choosing a class relating to it. Teachers have been restricted from actually teaching. We have allowed money to be the driving factor in education. Federal funding is based upon how schools do as a class on a single annual test. So, the administrators require, flat our require, a certain lesson plan to be put in place that focuses purely on that single test. Teachers only end up having time to teach this damn test. I get holding schools accountable for their performance. It is a great idea, however, there are other factors involved. If 80% of the student body goes home in a warzone, with one or no parents, who work 2-3 jobs and are never there...well, I doubt most of those kids are going to do well regardless of whether or not Jayme Esclante is teaching their or not.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Texasbeta. you bring up some very interesting points. I think we all agree that the present system is badly broken and needs a total overhaul. I would be very interested in your ideas on where we would begin to fix this mess. If someone would come up with a workable plan I would jump on their train and fight to the finish. So far I have not heard one solution to the problem, only the gripes about the deterioration of our educational system.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Texas Beta....I really don't think we disagree on that much. You are probably taking me a bit to literal in the back to the basics...certainly I can make allowances for some advancement in those areas. But at the same time, I want to emphasize to you that I seriously doubt the Japanese have given up teaching their children the ability to write their language to the utmost degree. At the same time I also want to say that my father was not a highly educated man and he was very proud of the fact that he learned to sign his name with his own hands in cursive writing. There is a self-esteem issue here and as much as you might thin technology will take it away a man's signature and his handshake are better than gold in some parts of America to this day. I taught young men how to navigate airplanes all over the world. I taught them to use the stars, the pressure patterns of the atmosphere, LORAN radio wave displacement, radar references, radio aids, but in the end first and foremost I taught them the basics of dead reckoning...to be able to project where are will be and when when everything else you have about you is gone. When you are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean and all of those wonderful aids to navigation die for whatever reason and they do, you have to be able to survive and to get the people around you back to safety. That requires a core understanding of the basics. The basics will always be there for you when everything else that you cannot depend on is gone. I am not stipulating that we not teach new technology, but let's do in the the light of how it facilitates the basics not replaces them so that one day when the computer no longer works this young person will have the ability and self-esteem to be able sign their own name. We have to have a core and we build out for there. The core pretty much stays the same and its the place we come back to when everything else fails us. If that core is dependent on a computer or a calculator, etc., the you picked the wrong core...all we can count on it the end is ourselves. I agree with you that many of these kids are in a terrible place in their lives and I don't have an answer to fix that except to say be the best damn teacher you can be and pray to God that it compensates for what that child does not have at home. I will be the first to agree that our teachers are burdened with far too much BS and it is not their fault...it is big government inserting itself into our lives...into the teachers lif, into the student's life, into your life, into my life and I am absolutely sick and tired of it and I firmly believe if we threw it all away today and started over with the basics that we would be in a better place far sooner than if we wait for Big Brother to take us there. Thanks for the good comments! WB


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Old Poolman...Thanks Brother...I do appreciate what you do! Thanks for showing up and offering a solution! WB


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

We certainly have to move back to the basics and require that all children step up to the plate and learn. We congratulate failure these days and kids are graduating who can't read. I saw the system start to fall apart a long time ago when PC entered the schools. Now every child is special and gifted and parents aren't being told when their kids are falling behind. What a disservice we are doing to these kids. Voted up and awesome.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@breakfastpop...Thanks, Poppy, your comments are spot on! Life has realities and the sooner we learn of pass or fail, the better as we can then adjust our behavior accordingly. The real world does not give one that many chances before there is consequence. The basics will always serve us well in life no matter how archiac they may seem to younger generations. Knowing how to read and write at a proper level opens the doors to technology as does math and science. History and literature give us a sense of who we are and where we came from. These are senses that will help us to decide where we go. Think about, we don't need a school system to teach today's child how to run a computer...he/she gets that on their own in the vast majority of cases. Sadly too many of them can operate a computer but they can't make change well enough to work at McDonalds. This is where the basics step in to help. It is a proven fact that a child with a poor understanding of the basics will struggle for a higher education and be lucky to make it to high school graduation. That should be our focus and our target...the rest will come along nicely. WB


TimBryce 5 years ago

Wayne -

You've got to get this published somewhere. Have you tried the Washington Times?

Like you, I come from a small town who was always screaming for more money. It's an insatiable appetite.

Good job.

All the Best,

Tim


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I think we long ago passed the oint of diminishing returns on education dollars. I thought about going into teaching but when I looked at the education curriculum which was slim on subject matter and the philosophy of John dewey behind it, I decied I could not funtion in such a system. I admire those who can.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@TimBryce....LOL! You think they really don't know, Tim? Or is it that just don't want to know? If I can figure this out, I would think that the average idiot running for elected office could do so as well. Johnson took us here with his "Great Society" which did nothing more than use the lure of Federal money tossed at local schools to take control of curriculum, etc. The lot of the teacher has not improved in that scenario and now they are expected to teach a full plate of socialist agenda. The basics of education have been pushed aside in light of the need to fulfill this demand. Now it is more important to understand how to weave Indian baskets than it is to complete a simple math equation...afterall, we must appreciate the native american culture even though in reality we seem to have no respect for them or their way of life...maybe that accounts for why they have such a high dropout rate in school...they have given up on their chances. There should never be any question about where the priority is in terms of the teaching the basics...the rest takes second seat. Thanks, Tim. WB


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@dahoglund...I think you were smart in that assessment, DA. I think a quick tour of other countries would show us that the emphasis in their curriculums is on the basics, their own language, the history of their country and patriotism...everything else takes second fiddle. In America, our priorities have somehow been reversed in terms of education. We have set a course for mediocrity and failed to even reach that goal. WB


C.A. Johnson profile image

C.A. Johnson 5 years ago from South Hutchinson, KS

A while back I read an article written by a mother who had decided to start eliminating technology from their home. The reason she had decided to do this was because of her daughter and her daughter's best friend. During the course of a single day she had watched her daughter select a can of ravioli from the pantry, look at it, go to the draw to pull out the can opener, struggle with the can opener, and then ultimately put the can of ravioli back because she could not figure out how to use it. Later that same day the mother watched as her daughter's friend went to the refrigerator an attempt to get ice out of the ice maker. The ice maker was broken so mom had put ice cube trays in the freezer and told the girl to just pull some from the ice cube tray. The girl opened the freezer, pulled out the ice cube tray, set it on the counter, went to get her Iphone, searched for directions on how to remove the ice cubes from the tray, couldn't find any, and ultimately put the tray back into the freezer opting instead to drink her drink warm. The mother stated in the article that when simplistic things like opening a can good or getting ice from a tray is deemed too complicated by today's teenagers then it was time to get rid of modern day advances and go back to the basics.

Essentially, our children are being sectionally taught. They are instructed on how to use the latest and greatest gadgets and programs without being taught how to understand, create, and manufacture these same gadgets and programs.

I agree with you throughout your hub. We need to stop throwing money at the problem and actually address the problem. Returning to the basics so that kids can learn how to go from point A to point B is more important than just learning how to operate point B. More and more schools are infusing technology into the education system under the guise that it is necessary in order for students to learn. There comes a point when modern advances become detrimental to learning. We are at that point now.

Parents are equally to blame. It is easier to let your child watch TV or play video games than it is to sit down and help them do their homework. Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of parents that dropped out of school and are unable to help their kids with their homework and are too embarrassed to ask for help. Then add into the mix government entities seeking to tell people how to raise their families and we end up with a chaotic school system.

There is something to be said for one room schools, individual slates, and community learning.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@C.A. Johnson...I think with a bit of tweaking and additional comment, you have yourself the makings of a very nice hub here that takes a strong common sense position on education. I can't wait for the day when some kid raises his hand and asks the survival instructor why he is teaching the same old outmoded survival techniques that have been around for ages...because they work and when you run out of everything else, they just might save your life! Unfortunately, too many of our teachers of today are too young to understand the concept and importance of the basics as it applies to anything in this world...they get the part about getting back to center when you lost. As you example points out, it there is the slight inconvenience involved or a requirement to apply common sense, then one should just give up! We're better than that! Write that hub Charlotte! WB


Texasbeta 5 years ago

Wayne, I dig your comment man. You put thought into your beliefs, and don't just eat the dogma provided by the king makers. I think you are right, we are not too far off from each other. I do highly respect the basics like the English language, and am quick to call someone on its misuse, so I am being a hypocrite to an extent. I wish I had the answer. I just don't.

CA - Phenomenal story. It really is frightening how reliant kids are on what we hadn't even thought of 20 years ago. Come to think of it, 20 years ago seemed like a long time back then...now, I have shirts that are 20 years old.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Texasbeta...Hey TBeta...thanks so much for coming back to reply I didn't think we were that far apart on the issue and I sense that you had a passion as well. I don't have an answer either. I think the key here that many of recognize there is a problem and the current approach is not working. We all want our students to excel, to be proud of their heritage, and to make America proud of them. That is not too much to ask of either side. There are many fine teachers out there in the system who just need some space to breathe in order to bring their game. Anybody, including a student, picks it up quickly when you are not teaching from the heart and not teaching from the perspective in which you belive. Personally, I think you are probably a guy who could get me and some other students excited about English because you have a passion to share and you realize how important that it is to each life that it touches. You're a good American dude, and I for one am proud to know ya! You and the comments you offer are always welcome here. Thanks again. Maybe through discussion and common effort, we can find some solutions.

By the way, I think Charlotte will be thrilled that you enjoyed her story as well! Thanks again! WB


Ms Dee profile image

Ms Dee 5 years ago from Texas, USA

Great info here, WB! Bookmarking for future reference :) Thanks, too, for all your comments on my hubs!


shynsly profile image

shynsly 5 years ago from Sierra Vista, AZ

Bravo! What's the old adage about putting lipstick on a pig, or perhaps a $3000 paintjob on a car with a connecting rod poked through the oil pan? You are certainly right that more money isn't going to fix anything.

How any one can look at the current "state of the union", combine that with the future problems we are creating for ourselves, and than consider the quality of student our education system is churning out (or not, 24.9% Graduation rate in liberal city... err... Detroit, is that for real?)... and not be horrified for the future of our nation is beyond me.

My kids are 3 and 6, and even in the very early stages of his education, I already find myself having to "deprogram" some twisted political agenda from my 6 year old on a fairly regular basis. As you said, they are more concerned with teaching "social(ist) awareness" and subjective "green" ideology than basic reading, writing, and arithmatic.

Yet, while there's all the time and money in the world to teach this agenda, there is no time or money for art and P.E., as both programs have been eliminated and the school day ends at 1:30!

I don't want my kids going to school to be taught an opinion, I want them learning the basic skills necessary to form their OWN opinions!

At any rate, thank you for a highly educational hub (pun intended), personally, I think this is probably the greatest problem our country has ever faced, and hopefully more people will begin to see it as such.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Ms Dee...You are quite welcome...wish I could get by more often...spread too thin right now. Glad you found this one interesting and useful. WB

@shynsly...What you say is becoming more and more common. With the emphasis on the extracirricular socialism and political correctness and the short school days, there is little room left for the basics and that becomes the rationale for ignoring them. America needs to take back its schools. WB


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Is it possible to get our school systems back on track? I get so discouraged when I hear and read the statistics on how our kids are lagging so far behind the world in education - in supposedly the best country in the world to live in! Makes no sense.

I think though we have to get back to basics and will it ever happen in our society? I doubt it to be honest and I guess I'm becoming rather pessimistic about the future of our country. I can't believe the number of days off our children are getting either! What's up with that? And kids aren't taught to further their education on their own like we were - by reading, being creative in music, writing, etc. I guess I just did it because it 'was expected' of me as a child growing up. You have so many talents and you're supposed to use them or someone's going to send you bad luck!

Great piece though, Wayne - and I'm hoping more folks start listening to some of your great ideas and start thinking back to what America is supposed to be!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@akirchner...I think the logical answer will be "NO!"...The federal government, unions, and other organizations have the fingers tightly around the education process and it plays right to the song the direction that communist and socialist want it to go. America needs to be dumbed down so that it can be more easily taken over. When our generation passes on from this earth, a lot of old world learning and the basics will die with us. There are young adults out there today who have no rationale as to why teaching cursive writing is important. They simply believe that the computer will take care of everything and all we have to do is know how to turn it on and initiate the process. The process will achieve the result..there's no need to understand the process...the computer understands it you see. Remember the movie "2001 - A Space Odesessy"...the computer was more intelligent than the man charged with operating it. Aircraft are ungraded with new and more technologically advanced items each day. The commerical aircraft of today are capable of some phenomenal abilities but that does not negate the basis for the pilot nor his understanding of the science of flying...needle, ball, and airspeed...one day, that high tech bird may find that the difference between it crashing and not crashing was that pilot's knowledge and ability with the basics. That stuff is never outdated just like reading, writing and arithmetic will not be outdated. Thanks Audrey! WB


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 5 years ago from Florida

Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895? This is

the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 Salina, KS, USA. It was

taken from the original document on file at the Smokey

Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS and

reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS - 1895 Grammar (Time,

1 hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have

no modifications.

3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.

4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb?

Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.

5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.

6. What is Punctuation?

Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.

7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and

show therein that you understand the practical use

of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide.

How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at

50 cts. per bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

4. District No.33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the

necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50

per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days

at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 6 ft. long at

$20 per metre?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance

around which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

***************

Quote du Jour

"Success is getting what you want; happiness is

wanting what you get."

-- Anonymous

***************

"Comparative Education"

Cont'd

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of

the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell,

Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates:

1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, & 1865

Orthography (Time, 1 hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic,

orthography, etymology, syllabication?

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each:

Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?

4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e'. Name two

exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with

a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following,

and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball,

mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences, cite, site, sight,

fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate

pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Now you know that great grandpa wasn't full of wit and

wisdom collected over the years, he was better educated

to start with!

Bcc:.

Date:Mon, Jan 10, 2011 4:55 pm.

Edit Draft

These People Vote AND have the ability to have children Dick Taylor to Dick Taylor - 2 days agoMore Details From: Dick Taylor Hide .

Jaywalking.wmv

I am trying to send you a link, but I don't think it is working.

Jaywalking.wmv


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@mysterylady...Well my education goes back a ways but still was not thorough enough to provide me with answers to that exam. It is also hard to argue that much of what is posed there is not relevant today...we all speak, write, and figure in our every day life and that is what an education should prepare us for first! Thanks for sharing this! WB


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 5 years ago from Florida

Wayne, I was a teacher and have a Master's degree, but I certainly would not be able to pass that 8th grade test. I was amazed!

I wish I could have managed to forward the "Jaywalking," which showed Jay Leno interviewing some very ignorant people. You would have gotten a kick out of it.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@mysterylady 89...Thank God, I thought it was just me! LOL! I hope you don't take me wrong on this hub, I do hold great respect for teachers and the teaching profession. I believe the teachers are as much a victim of the system as the student. At least the teachers of my day had some latitude to teach and the emphasis was still much on the basics. Things really started to shift after Johnson envisioned his great society and decided to make each school mirror the other sending us into a continuing spiral of mediocrity. I don't think there is a chance of changing it unless we can get the feds out of the education business. They won't go willingly because it gives them too much power over the states. Untimately, the education process should be a function of the community and the state working in harmony to find the best offering for the children...just a dream and yet the call for more money is the only political mantra. WB


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 5 years ago from Florida

Wayne, I understood your points. I had just received that 8th grade test and the link to Jay Leno and thought I would share.

I certainly agree that money isn't the answer. The problems are far more complicated than that. One thing I noticed, in my many years of teaching, was that reading skills were going down, down, down.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@mysterylady 89...It's good to hear an inside perspective on the issue. Thanks much. WB


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

Such passion! Have you considered a career in politics? I think you could straighten us out!

You bring up many interesting points (as do your followers in their comments). I too see many problems in our schools, and I don’t know the answers. I do think the following is true:

Teachers must love working with kids. They need to understand them and how they learn. Teachers cannot be babysitters or entertainers. Before you can teach them, you need to reach them. In addition to teaching the basics – reading, writing, math, teachers must instill a love for learning in their students. Memorizing data has uses, but if a student can’t apply, create, evaluate, etc. their successes will be limited. More vital than just knowing lots of facts is the ability to find information, process it, and know what to do with it. I have a theory -- ice skating/ice fishing. Ice skating is a light look at lots of scenery. In this method, teachers present lots of knowledge but in a superficial, speeding way. The student may pick up lots of nickel knowledge but probably will not have the opportunity to embrace any subject or concept. Ice fishing, however, is taking a deeper look at several topics. You slow down to really study several elements in a meaningful manner. With planning, those ice fishing topics can include many skills and experiences while also teaching strategies for research and problem solving. This method places the teacher in a guide capacity and allows real learning for both the student and the teacher.

Ok, I’ll step off my soap box now! Again, thanks for making us think!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Truckstop Sally...I think your reply is just super. You are indeed one of those teachers with a vision for children and you have such a great understanding of the process of learning. I am just glad that you still remain inspired in today's culture to find ways to teach in an ever restrictive environment which seems to more and more tie the hands of the teacher in terms of creativity and teaching the basics. You are a beacon shining out on a stormy ocean! WB


gajanis786 profile image

gajanis786 5 years ago

Excellent eye opener....great research....very useful.I have really enjoyed.It is always good to accept the facts in order to correct the mistakes.Keep it up.Thanks.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@gajanis786...Thank you! I am certainly not an expert in the field but I am passionate about what is happening to America right before our eyes as we continue to throw money in the hat and vote for politicians who really do not have America's best interest in mind. Hope to see you here again soon! WB


caltex profile image

caltex 5 years ago

What a great hub!

Clearly, there is something wrong in the American education system. Despite the increasing amount of money that is put into it, the quality of education has not improved. What a waste!

The Department of Education has failed to accomplish its mission statement, which is "to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access", making its continued existence unjustified.

Thanks for writing about this very important subject. I can only hope something can be done about it.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@caltex...Thank you for the great comments. Getting rid of the federal education department should have been on Obama's agenda for cost savings. Education needs to come back to local controls and get the feds out of it. Our teachers are said not to care...I think many have been driven to that position by the attitude that pervades the educational system. We need to change but it won't happen on Obama's watch. WB


Valentine Logar profile image

Valentine Logar 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Great Hub and great research. A couple of thoughts though which I think at least one other has pointed out, in order for our system to become competitive we need to move forward not just return to basics. Our schools must become centers for learning, this means current technologies, thinking and real science. We need to stop dragging our children through the mire of religious pseudo-science to satisfy church thinking and make our education system the laughing stock of the world. It is important that we keep our systems Secular and focused on education.

To correct the system, we need to make the system balanced. Our problem today is the property tax system that keeps poor schools poorly furnished due to the tax base. I have a different take on the Feds, I think we should keep them engaged to balance the system. Set national standards, provide funding where there are shortfalls, fund programs where a system submits for special funding and shows advances.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Valentine Logar...I do not disagree with your points. If we can keep the focus on learning the basics at the core, then I am all for gaining the other experiences. Thanks for those great comments. It is a very important subject and one we need to look at beyond the factor of just throwing money at it. WB


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago

I also graduated from a small (250 students) high school in the South (Louisiana) which I think was superior to the large (1300) suburban metro Detroit high school, rated amongh the best in the state, where my three children went to school. In my school the principal knew every child by their first name. And when a child wasn't doing what they were supposed to be doing (cutting class, not turning in homework, etc.) bells went off and appropriate attention was focused on the situation. Detroit schools are in a mess thanks to a huge hierarchical bureaucracy which means that the principals and teachers don't have the authority to deal with issues that the principal and teachers at my small high school back in the 1950s.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Ralph Deeds...Mr. Deeds, let me say that I am quite honored to have you stop in and read/comment on one of my pieces. I see your commentary around the hub and I am alway impressed with the wise perspectives which you offer to others. It is is indeed an honor. I agree with you on this subject and I think that is where we have gone wrong...we have gone too far from the center to gain our direction. We need to have the decision-making and the authority close at hand to the process and flexible enough to respond to the needs of a variety of situations. Good schools are not born or built. They are created by a community that cares and by educators who want to give children a strong set of basics and as many building blocks as possible in the time that they are there. By doing so they prepare them to either go out and enter the working world or to go on to higher education and greater achievements. Education and motivation go hand in hand. We must put the children first but at the same time we can sit back and decide that money is the solution to every problem. That's how we got here and it does not work. Let's work on inspiring some parents and educators at the local levels to grow the culture that results in an outstanding school. When that happens, we all can be so very proud! Thanks much and please stop in again! WB


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago

Thanks, we're on the same wavelength.

I'm always re-reading my comments and finding typos, bad grammar, incomplete sentences, etc. HubPages should give us an better opportunity to clean up our comments, even a day or two later.


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho

I taught at a local community college for nearly 7 years here in Idaho. (Idaho has the highest college dropout rate in the nation.) My students had to write 5 page research papers every term. Many of them told me they had never written a paper in high school. They didn't understand plagiarism or the difference between there, their, and they're...to name a few. When I would ask how many had taken chemistry, physics, or calculus only 1 or 2 students would raise their hand. Why do we support an educational system that does not educate? When I was in high school I fell in love with chemistry and initially wanted to become a pharmacist. My senior year I took honors chemistry, physics, pre-calculus, and advanced composition. Granted some of my peers were able to graduate from their senior year with photography, study hall, and late arrival. I think parents play a much larger role than educators do.

Kids today have never had to work for anything. They've played on teams where everyone receives a trophy so no one's feelings are hurt. "No Child Left Behind" has left a lot of kids behind. I once had a student fail 2 terms. Although we told her she would be withdrawn if she failed the second she evidently didn't believe us. During her withdrawal process she asked "What about No Child Left Behind?". These kids can fail and still move through the education system. No wonder we're behind so many countries. In college I studied environmental science and went on to work in laboratory settings for the next 5 years. Most of my professors and the big wigs in the labs were not American.

Great Hub on a topic that needs to be discussed. Voted up!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@Jennifer Essary...Sorry to take so long replying, Jennifer. I was on a Christmas road trip and I really do not like doing lengthy replies on cell phone connections. I really do not blame the teachers, in fact, I see most of them as victims of the federally manadated system and of the union choke hold in place. Individually, most teachers are very caring people and want to see the children in their charge succeed and excel. I think that is the part that is so frustrating for so many of them who have these cirriculms rammed down their throat by the fedederal education folks. With regard to "No Child Left Behind", I sincerely believe that Bush's vision in comparison to the final product were not one and the same...his wife was too close to the education process to want what came through there. I believe as the concept went down through the various layers of the education department, it was amended again and again to make certain that every child was insulated from experiencing failure and thus the program was rendered ineffective. Bush wanted to challenge the system to move away from the status quo and move the bar higher for expectations as well as results. The implementations went in the other direction cotinuing to let children drop into mediocrity and rewarding them for remaining there. Typical things occur in the military to such an extent that the General issuing the original order would recognize it as his once it reaches the lowest level of his command. Too many things are influenced by too many people at too high a level who have no real knowledge of the need but they want the glory and the visibility for their own selfish purposes. That is one of the flaws of America today in our education system...it's not money, it's the people leading the charge. Thanks much for your great comments. WB


tmbridgeland profile image

tmbridgeland 4 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

I was jumping around Hub Pages and hit this one. Right on target. I have a similar Hub and if you don't mind will put a link through to this one on it.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@tmbridgeland...Thank you. Sorry to take so long responding...have been out of town away from computer connections if you can envision that! LOL! By all means, feel free to link to my hubs at any time you desire. WB

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working