Failing Public Education
When my grandson was not admitted to several colleges this spring, I started wondering why, after all the wonderful awards and accolades he had received from the public school he attended. Then I reread “The Conspiracy of Ignorance: The Failure of American Public Schools,” which was written almost two decades ago by Martin Gross. I then concluded that it was the public school my grandson attended that was inadequate. Four of my six grandchildren who attended private/parochial schools did just fine with education.
For insights that will certainly trouble you on this topic, watch “Watters World” on Fox News and listen to the young people who are asked simple questions in interviews. For example, “When did World War II end?” “What is discussed in the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution?” “How many members are on the Supreme Court?” The responses are, in every sense, unbelievably pathetic.
All of this is very important to you, your company, the nation and our future. One son of mine says his company has a hard time finding competent employees – people who will show up for work at a given time each day (to install institutional fire-suppression systems) and exhibit a workman’s competence (remember stuff like “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”).
Here is some perspective on how U.S. students compare to half a million peers worldwide. The Program for International Student Assessment is a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that includes 15-year-old students worldwide in 72 countries. According to the 2015 report, which was published in December 2016, America ranked 24th in reading, 25th in science and 40th in math. The U.S. is mediocre at best and has not changed much since 2000, after three to four decades of continuous decline.
Essentially, all of this “lack of performance” in U.S. education comes while public school systems spend $115,000 annually per student, which is fifth in the world behind Austria, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden. On standard tests, by the way, Chinese math students scored 55% as “top performers,” while Americans showed 9% in that category. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, reports that 40% of 4th graders, 33% of 8th graders and 25% of 12th graders are “proficient” or “advanced” in mathematics. Concurrently, according to Pew Research Center reports, 29% of American parents rank the nation’s K-12 STEM education as “above average.” This disconnect between reality, parental fantasies and government bureaucracies is clearly evident and enough to make a common-sense person gag.
In a winter 2018 study by the CATO Institute, a teacher and study author cited “characteristics” of modern students in his classrooms. He said public high-school students display a: non-conceptual mentality, lack of independent thought and penchant for cutting corners even when it violates specified rules. He stated that students “do not have a chronological and hierarchical grasp of facts and are often asked to develop esoteric thoughts” without a clue of the subject. He also said that students “do not think independently and are defenseless against subtle but growing forms of propaganda within our schools.” He further said that teachers in science courses claim that “federal agencies must work constantly to prevent industrialists from destroying our environment” or that “global warming is real and caused primarily by insufficiently regulated American industries.”
Let me remind readers of several things.
•Your business future relies on the availability of competent employees, most of which come from our public education system.
•Non-partisan surveys in the U.S. and worldwide show that American-educated students are and have been failing compared to U.S. needs and competition.
•The unionized public education system in America has a vested interest to control all important “what and how” school issues and has not performed up to national requirements.
My clear message is this: “American industry, do what is required for the country’s interest. This is not about politics but about national need.” We must require public schools and teachers to perform.