Is the American public education system in crisis?

Discussion in 'Homeschooling Forum' started by Su Wei, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. Su Wei

    Su Wei
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    I'm an outsider so you have to tell me what your take is on this (if you're American, of course.)

    20/20 Stupid in America it's 40 mins long so it takes a while to load...

    Who gets the funding in your state? The kids or the schools?
    Is competition (versus monopoly) the answer?
    Can incompetent teachers really hold schools hostage through the union rules?
     
  2. Aaron

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    I didn't watch the video, but I'll respond to your questions.

    Schools.
    A voucher system in which the parents use the voucher for tuition in the public or private school of their choice has been suggested. I believe it would be a big step in the right direction, but I'm completely opposed to Federal money being used for education.
    That's politics, and politics have done more to destroy public education than anything.
     
  3. just-want-peace

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    What Aaron said!!!

    The demise of the system began with the creation of the Dept. of Ed., and has continued with the NEA's political contributions.

    (just my humble opinion, of course)
     
  4. Bro. Williams

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    It is not only in crisis, it is a washed up joke. (I speak from inside of the system)
     
  5. Su Wei

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    Please do elborate, bro Williams. Thanks!
     
  6. 4boys4joys

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    I have an opinion that alot of people do not like but here it is...

    I think the crisis is in our homes. Whatever choice you make for your child you are the responsible party for whether or not they are educated adequately.

    I am a home school mom. People put more pressure on me to prove that my children are indeed educated. My oldest at 5 was put to the test with my in laws. They had him read books write his name and count one day when we where there for a visit. They soon realized that he was able to carry out all of this and was at a higher level than his 8 year old cousin.

    Why don't we hold this level of suspicion for Christian school or public. That's right I included Christian school. I don't want my children there if they are not learning regardless of title. It is not about the place it is about the parent's getting involved.

    No matter where your child receives there education if you as a parent are not making sure they are getting all they need we cannot blame the public school or any other for this. We are not a family with unlimited means but we find a way to make sure they get the materials they need.

    Even if you do not have alot, there are free resources available even to public school families that can help any child to get to grade level.

    We are so busy with schedules and having lives that American children are not just slipping but falling head first into a future with that does not have an educational foundation on which they can rely. It all began in the homes.

    Some can disagree that is OK with me but that is where I think the problem starts and ends.
     
  7. Bro. Williams

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    As a public school teacher there is much that I could elaborate on, but to save time I will just hit a few. If there is something more specific that you would like me to address, please let me know and I will see what I can do.

    A couple of the major issues are:

    1) NCLB - Which translates to, no child is allowed to fail, even if that means the schools and the teachers lie and cheat to accomplish this

    2) Testing (at least in KY) - The testing actually grades teachers, who are punished if students do not succeed to the testing standards of our state. The students themselves have absolutely no level of accountability for their testing

    3) Incompetence - We don't have Unions here, but we do have tenure. Generally stated, you work 5 years in a school and then you get to cruise for 23 years. This is not the case everywhere, but it is oft the case.

    4) Curriculum - Most of the material is extremely watered down, and at times false, in the history areas. The Language arts areas are just about slef expression (which equates to "just do the paper in your opinion and we will count it right"), and reading pointless novels. Science is full of evolution propganda. Math, well, I don't do math so I don't know if you can do it wrong.

    There are countless other things to speak of, such as promotion of sports over academics, hiring of unqualified family and friends, sex education, diploma mills, socialism, etc.
     
  8. Bro. Williams

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    I agree that the majority of the problem begins with the home.

    I understand that not all parents ar ein a situation where they are capable of homeschooling, but if it is at all possible, it is the only way to go. Even if someone is only going to halfway do the job, it would be better for their child.

    Furthermore, I also agree with the criticism of the christian schools. It is nothing to find out that the teacher's there are lost, or part of a cult and lost, or just plain ignorant and worldly to boot.
     
  9. Su Wei

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    Hello Bro William,
    Thanks for the response. My husband is a teacher in a public secondary school here in Singapore, and I am a homeschooling mom, an ex-teacher in the secondary school as well. So this topic of education is of great interest to me.

    It's just that what I get on the media might not necessarily reflect the prevailing standards on the ground so I just wanted to find out more. Thanks for your response as someone who is actually in the system!

    What subjects are you teaching? What is your workload like, what time do you leave school and do you continue marking scripts into the night?
    How is the discipline standards in your school? Is it like what I saw on 20/20 with the kids simply ignoring the teacher's instructions?

    Discipine is of particular interest to us because my husband is the DM or disicpline master of his secondary school. (Discipline Master! So archaiac, eh? A vestige of our Bristish colony days... )

    In almost every school, we have the whole range of students, from high achievers, to low achievers. This is because students are "streamed" at primary level and placed into express classes, normal classes, and normal technical (think vocational) clases with schools offering all streams. So in the same school, you can have bright students who sit at their seats and pay attention to your lesson, do their homework..and two doors away, you have kids who are not in mentally in the same universe as you.
    I taught in a sec 3 class of "low achievers" and one day, two boys (15 yrs and taller than me) threatened to start a fight in class! I had to stand between them and yell for them to sit down! which they did, thankfully...


    How does the school cheat?

    For us, our public schools (or government schools) have the school "report card" published for all to see so that parents can decide which school to pick to send their children to. They are judged on percentage of passes for each subject, (some schools go for percentage of distinctions), how well the school faired on Co-curricular activities like sports or the band, for zone awards, medal tally, etc. There's also a criteria called "value added-ness" which follows the school graduating cohort's achievement and compares it to their entry scores when they first entered the school, to see if in the 4 - 5 they've been in the school, if they've improved or deproved. So the schools that perform well, they attract good students and boost their chances of doing more. The schools that don't get the good students... well, they just have to work harder so their report card looks better next year.

    Schools cheat by cutting back on subjects that students do not usually score well at like English literature. Only the best students of the school maybe one class, gets to do that subject, so that it looks good on the percentages.

    Why not? Don't they have to produce a certificate in order to apply for college?

    In Singapore, teachers (all teaching staff and heads of department even) are graded yearly by their performance, and there are termly meetings with their "RO"s or reporting officers regardless of how long you've been in the service. teachers are rewarded bonuses for good work.

    Our curriculum is handled by the Ministry of Education and we actually prepare our students for the British Ordinary and Advanced level examinations.

    Talking about maths. My children are doing American math under ACE, alongside our Singapore math. The ACE math is mind numbingly repetitive. But I make them do it anyway for the practice.
    Singapore Math one the other hand has 7 year olds doing sums like

    ___ + 3 = 6

    ___ - 3 = 12

    And other mind boggling stuff. :laugh:
     
  10. Bro. Williams

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    At the moment I am working at a severe MR facility. I am in the process of relocating to a closer school, Lord willing as soon as the next two weeks. The work load for that school will be in a special education setting, 7th and 8th graders, 3 math classes, 2 social science classes, and 1 life skills class. My last load consisted of 2 English course and 4 social science courses.

    Since I am still persuing my Masters in Special Education, I typically leave school and come home to grade papers, prepare lessons, contact parents, and do homework. Since I am working at the MR facility, I am getting a break from the everything but the latter (although the latter does still consist of all that in scenario settings). I earnestly believe the Lord has allowed me this MR job so that I can concentrate more on getting this next degree done, while caring for my wife and new baby as she nears the end of this pregnancy. I am still in the classrooms for observation reasons and have a hard time getting away from the issue since teaching is a family affair. (1 grandfather [he is 98 and understandably retired], 2 uncles, 1 aunt, 2 cousins, my pastor's wife, three of my wife's aunts all teach, adminstrate, or work in the classroom)

    I can say, when in the classroom, I typically leave an hour after school lets out. This is not the case with the majority of the faculty. Most of the doors were locked and the hallways empty when I left the school.

    Discipline in the school is spotty. There is nothing more discouraging and disarming to a teacher than to send a student to the administration, or to send a write-up to the admin., and the student get off without any disciplinary action. It is debillitating to the authority of the instructor. Discipline does vary from teacher to teacher, with some having more sway over their audience than others, but for the most part, the students' have more rights than the teachers and do as they please unless convinced not to.


    Discipine is of particular interest to us because my husband is the DM or disicpline master of his secondary school. (Discipline Master! So archaiac, eh? A vestige of our Bristish colony days... )

    Our schools cheat by passing students who then graduate without being able to read on a 5th grade level. Our schools cheat by pushing students through, who never lift a finger to achieve, which in turn, leaves the teachers passing the students due to fear or being reprimanded for "not doing enough for the student". As one teacher put it to me last year in a collaborative setting, "Don't worry about the Sped students, we aren't allowed to fail them so we will just pass them when the end comes around".


    In the state of KY students are tested over various things each year. These tests due not weigh in on a students grades or level of accomplishment in any way. All these tests do is rank the school systems in comparison with one another across the state. It matters nothing to most of the students because it will neither pass them or fail them, but it matters to the school because if a school continually does bad or does not show improvement on the scores, the school will be taken over by the state, and the teachers will be replaced. Therefore, there is much cheating done during the testing window each year.

    In KY, each teacher has at least 3 evaluations (at least in our area). This means a principal or other admin. sits in a 50 minute session 3 times a year. That means teachers are watched for 150 minutes each year, of 183 days. There is not much accountability. There are no bonuses, no mentoring, etc.

    We have a state based core content with specific academic expectations that are derived from national standards. These are developed into a curriculum map in each class or department and followed throughout the year... when watched.
     
    #10 Bro. Williams, Sep 4, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2007
  11. Bro. Williams

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    An analogy to help explain NCLB-

    No Child Left Behind - Football Version

    1. All teams must make the state playoffs and all MUST win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable. If after two years they have not won the championship, their footballs and equipment will be taken away UNTIL they do win the championship.

    2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time even if they do not have the same conditions or opportunities to practice on their own. NO exceptions will be made for lack of interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities of themselves or their parents. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL!

    3. Talented players will be asked to workout on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren't interested in football, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don't like football.

    4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th game.

    It will create a New Age of Sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimum goals. If no child gets ahead, then no child gets left behind. If parents do not like this new law, they are encouraged to vote for vouchers and support private schools that can screen out the non-athletes and prevent their children from having to go to school with bad football players.
     
  12. Bro. Williams

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    Another Analogy

    The Best Dentist - “Absolutely” the Best Dentist


    My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups. He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I've got all my teeth, so when I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.

    “Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?” I said.

    “No,” he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. “How will they do that?”

    “It's quite simple,” I said. “They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as excellent, good, average, below average, and unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the best dentists. It will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better,” I said. “Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses to practice.”

    “That's terrible,” he said.

    “What? That's not a good attitude,” I said. “Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?”

    “Sure I do,” he said, “but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry.”

    “Why not?” I said. “It makes perfect sense to me.”

    “Well, it's so obvious,” he said. “Don't you see that dentists don't all work with the same clientele; so much depends on things we can't control? For example,” he said, “I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem and I don't get to do much preventive work.”

    “Also,” he said, “many of the parents I serve let their kids eat way too much candy from an early age, unlike more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay.”

    “To top it all off,” he added, “so many of my clients have well water which is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?”

    “It sounds like you're making excuses,” I said. I couldn't believe my dentist would be so defensive. He does a great job.
    “I am not!” he said. “My best patients are as good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most.”

    “Don't' get touchy,” I said.

    “Touchy?” he said. His face had turned red and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth. “Try furious. In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse. My more educated patients who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating actually is a measure of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?”

    “I think you are overreacting,” I said. “'Complaining, excuse making and stonewalling won't improve dental health'...I am quoting from a leading member of the DOC,” I noted.

    “What's the DOC?” he asked.

    “It's the Dental Oversight Committee,” I said, “a group made up of mostly lay persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved.”

    “Spare me,” he said, “I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it,” he said hopefully.

    The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, “How else would you measure good dentistry?”

    “Come watch me work,” he said.” Observe my processes.”

    “That's too complicated and time consuming,” I said. “Cavities are the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an absolute measure.”

    “That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will think. This can't be happening,” he said despairingly.

    “Now, now,” I said, “don't despair. The state will help you some.”

    “How?” he said.

    “If you're rated poorly, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent to help straighten you out,” I said brightly.

    “You mean,” he said, “they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had much more experience? Big help.”

    “There you go again,” I said. “You aren't acting professionally at all.”

    “You don't get it,” he said. “Doing this would be like grading schools and teachers on an average score on a test of children's progress without regard to influences outside the school, the home, the community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools.”

    I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened.

    “I'm going to write my representatives and senators,” he said. “I'll use the school analogy. Surely they will see the point.”

    He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I see in the mirror so often lately.

    Please take the time to read this. If you don't understand why educators resent the recent federal NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT, this may help. If you do understand, you'll enjoy this analogy, which was forwarded by John S. Taylor, Superintendent of Schools for the Lancaster County, PA, School District. Be a friend to a teacher and pass this on.
     
  13. Bro. Williams

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    A book that is enlightening on the subject of modern American education is:

    "None Dare Call it Education" by John Stormer (he also wrote an older book with the title "None Dare Call it Treason", which I have not read)

    Stormer does get into some consipiracy stuff in his book, which one can take or leave. The meat of the book though, would be the examples of how schools are handled and the things that go on in them. It is a quick, interesting read. You can find it on amazon as well.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0914053124/?tag=baptis04-20

    Another thing that one can do is use an american search engine and search things like "problem in public schools", "america's schools", "Public education in america" etc. You will have to sort through the mess, but it is informative.
     
  14. Su Wei

    Su Wei
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    Some things to clarify...

    How do teachers magically make a fail mark a pass? Is it that the papers are not returned to the students so the evidence is not available?

    How then do you as a Christian teacher handle situations like these where perhaps you are faced with a class of failures?

    What's MR?

    And it surely must be a burden to come up with a curriculum???

    As for getting home. School in Singapore starts at 7:20 am and doesn't finish till 2:00pm. After that, the school has after school classes, co-curricular activities, and what-not spread out through the five days of the week. usually, my husband doesn't get home till 6pm. He spends time with the kids, then he does work till 2am...
     
  15. Bro. Williams

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    Paper trails are sometimes kept but not usually. As a special education teacher it s required that I keep papers and examples of work, but that is not the case for the majority.

    Teachers often just give out the correct answers anyway, that way the tests they distribute "show what the students have learned" when the admin. asks for formulative assessments.

    I fail the students. But, I document every situation where I tried to get them to stay late, come in early, make up work, do extra credit, called parents, etc. I refuse to do the work for the students, but am willing to aid them in any way possible and allowed.

    Mental Retardation. Here that includes 1) IQ under 70-75, 2) Other ailment with that and 3) diagnosed prior to 18 years of age.

    Quite, especially since what your admin. seems appropriate, your liaison might not, same with curriculum specialist and department head. It also gives a large window for unskilled, unprepared, and unseasoned teachers to make their own calls and decisions. It is also not uniform across the state due to personal preferences and teaching interests. I have also proposed that the state pass an official curriculum map that we are to go by for each day, as best as possible.

    There are tons of extra-curricular activities, but most are not academically related. I wasn't a part of any of these but one (a mock trial study group which looked into court hearings and such), but we only met once a week or so.
     
  16. Jack Matthews

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    This is why we opted to put our boys in a private, Christian school. We thought about homeschool, but didn't think it suited our situation, and we discovered that a lot of the curriculum is geared as much toward taking tests as the public schools are.
     
  17. Bro. Curtis

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    That's the way we did it. I would think homeschooling would be first choice, and a private Christian school a close second. Parental involvement in any educational setting is imperative.
     
  18. TaterTot

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    I teach in a private Christian school, and we are not mandated to make every child pass. Personally, I will bend over backwards to help a struggling student as long as he or she is willing to truly try. We are not equipped for Special Ed, but we do have a Remediation Specialist and several tutors.

    I have only seen one time when teachers were basically told to pass a student. The parent came and pitched a series of fits about his sons poor grades. His son did ZERO work, yet he wanted to graduate. We were told to make sure that he graduated and togive him as much extra credit as it took to at least pass him by the skin of his teeth. I was not pleased with that one bit, and neither were my colleagues, but that is not and has not been my normative experience.
     
  19. FriendofSpurgeon

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    Su -- please note that not everyone agrees that public education in the states is in crisis. The public schools are much more under state/local control than federal, so a lot depends upon your state and local government.

    Our children have been in both public schools and private Christian schools and have great experiences in both. Our children now attend a private Christian high school and we are very pleased with them there.

    However, the local high school is rated very high academically (rated one of the top 100 public schools in the US) and over 97% of the graduating seniors go on to college.
     
  20. Su Wei

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    Well, thanks for speaking up, FriendofSpurgeon. :thumbs:(and Tater!) Of course there would be public schools that work. What, systemically, do you think are the reasons why your children's schools are doing well?
     

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