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The Dumbing Down of America's Schools

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Education Olympics
The Education Olympics
(image by Huffington Post)

I admit, to being a bit "dumb about the subject of education" right off the bat.  My usual "playground" is writing articles on economics, science, and politics...well, when I went to school those were considered fair areas for study too.
But I've been reading the works of Susan Lee Schwartz on Opednews.  And just as importantly, here in NYC, we are Ground Zero for "educational reform" as it's called by its supporters, and a sort of educational hollowing out, as its growing and vociferous group of critics contend. 

One thing has been glaringly clear for a generation now, whatever the cause, America's children are trailing the world

There are as many reasons for this as there are ways to measure it:

click here

But the end result is clear.
Nearly half the country thinks the world was created in less than 10,000 years, and some even eagerly watched the debate between Bill Nye (The Science Guy) and Ken Ham (The Creationist Man?).  A debate like this should never have happened, since it is comparing Apples to....Eve's Apple, Reality vs. Myth (and not even myth originating in the Bible, as claimed, either).  I don't know whether to feel upset or pleased that most Creationists don't even know their date of Biblical Creation comes from the calculations of Bishop Usher, a 17th-century "religious scholar" - today those two words are mostly an oxymoron...and how many children know what the word "oxymoron" means either?  
But one could take potshots at the poor children and the adults they become all day.  That would be making fun of the truly disadvantaged.

Technologists like Bill Gates think they have the solution: identify the problem and then throw scads of money at it.  Fixing a child is no different than coming up with a new version of the Windows operating system!  That sounds good, until one learns Gates basically reversed course.
Says long-time uber-educator Diane Ravitch - herself known for reversing course on charter schools, and irritating both her supporters and critics - on her blog:
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I read this article "by Bill Gates" with a growing sense of incredulity.

I kept hearing echoes of many things I and others have written since Gates decided to make teacher evaluation the biggest crisis in American education. In 2008, he dropped the small schools movement and determined that teachers are our biggest problem. If we had a better way to evaluate them, schools could fire the bad ones and have only good ones.

No one did more to push the idea that teachers should be judged by the test scores of their students. No one had more influence on Race to the Top.

Now he says that test scores are not the only way to identify great teachers. They might not even be the best way.

Now he is worried that there is a growing backlash against standardized testing and he says he gets it.

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He even concedes that tying pay to test scores is offensive.

Let us take him at his word. Let us take yes for an answer.

Please, Fairest, invite him to speak at your next event.

Now if the day comes that he admits that the search for the right metric to measure teacher quality was a waste of time; and if the day comes that he realizes that many great teachers work selflessly in schools with low test scores; if he can begin to focus on the conditions that affect both teaching and learning rather than the fruitless search for the perfect evaluation system; when that day comes, we will all celebrate the painful metamorphosis of Bill Gates.

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is President of Common Ground-NYC (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens (more...)

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If there is one place to answer all  questi... by Susan Lee Schwartz on Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014 at 6:43:48 PM
Thanks for this article, Scott!  This is ... by Meryl Ann Butler on Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014 at 8:28:40 PM
More and more people are home-schooling their chil... by Scott Baker on Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014 at 9:06:25 PM
You are right, and as far as my daughter is conce... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 7:45:21 PM
How interesting!  And it shows just how resil... by Scott Baker on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 10:40:17 PM
Tough reading - this article, Mr. Baker. And I don... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 12:54:10 AM
If Finns start school one year later, don't you... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 1:06:23 AM
However, mathematics teachers in universities and... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 1:23:19 AM
(By the way: the world's best three are listed as ... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 1:35:19 AM
I will now show you (again!) what High School Phys... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 1:42:03 AM
Oh, I almost forgot!On that distant planet - where... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 2:17:49 AM
If kids go home happy and enthused about learning... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 6:38:25 PM
Hi Dan. I more or less agree with your statement ... by Peter Duveen on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 7:01:23 PM
Yes! The only thing we really need to teach is the... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 7:25:13 PM
Enthusiasm is certainly the trigger or catalyst (... by Robert S. Becker on Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 at 1:11:54 PM
I see nothing that I disagree with. In all subjec... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 at 3:00:14 PM
Amazing that 6th graders had a better sense of re... by Robert S. Becker on Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 at 4:54:02 PM
I could literally picked far better cabinet member... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 at 7:32:25 PM
Well, it is a low bar now....A few people have sug... by Scott Baker on Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 at 9:32:13 PM
Were it not unprofessional, I could even provide ... by Daniel Geery on Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 11:00:23 AM
Fixing education in America is something like fix... by Peter Duveen on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 6:48:25 PM
Right on, Peter. Across the board. I sub now, volu... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 7:14:24 PM
I'm slowly going through Susan Lee Schwartz's list... by Scott Baker on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 7:32:47 PM
Great  summary, Scott, thanks! ... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 7:50:21 PM
Thanks for this comment.  It distills the mos... by Gregory Kozloff on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 8:34:14 PM
I agree with Meryl Ann. P.S. And can't help but ... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014 at 11:01:28 PM
I am glad that you are taking the time to review ... by Susan Lee Schwartz on Friday, Apr 11, 2014 at 11:45:49 PM