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Education: Who will speak for the children?

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When children are not learning, where can parents look for answers? Who will tell the truth? 

The experts, you say? The same people, you mean, who shaped and controlled the schools where these kids aren't learning? These experts do not inspire confidence. There are too many signs of failure and dysfunction. It's as if we glanced into the kitchen of a restaurant and saw insects scurrying on counters. No matter how fancy the decor, we should be suspicious.

Clearly the experts have a conflict of interest. If they can't do a good job, are they going to tell us why? Aren't they more likely to make excuses and try to cover-up?

What we know for certain is that the USA spends more per capita than almost any other country But we still don't place well internationally. Mediocrity is our norm. We are paying for gold but getting brass. 

There are many theories to explain our poor performance. The machinations of unions. The greed of publishers. The poor training of teachers. The indifference of parents. The schemes of ideologues. The lazy bad habits a monopoly or a cult might fall into. And simple dimwitted incompetence.

Even the possible explanations are scary. Probably it is better not to be distracted by the question of which factor is the most destructive. Probably all are working together.

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Unhappy student by Istockphoto.com

Unhappy student by Istockphoto.com

So let's stay focused on the stats, that is, the hard evidence showing that millions of children don't learn to read properly, don't learn to master arithmetic, and don't learn the most basic facts about this country or the world.

Once upon a time, an eighth-grade education meant that one had a substantial amount of learning. Now a high school diploma could mean that one has hardly any education at all. Students reach college with huge gaps in their knowledge.

Evidently, the Education Establishment has embraced theories and methods that are not the best choices. Some critics speak of schools deliberately dumbing down students. The tendency in general seems to be toward talking a good game, throwing around pretentious jargon, and doing the minimum that each community will tolerate. 

The question that must haunt us is this: suppose our experts engaged in rigorous comparative testing and identified the best theories and methods. If we did things at a higher level, couldn't we easily lift every student 30, 40 or 50%? Add that up across the society, and we're talking about a Renaissance.

We have millions of children who are quickly classified as failing readers. If they were taught properly, they would be good readers. That's not a 30% improvement; that's a 300% improvement, from someone who is sub-literate to someone who can read a book for pleasure.

Who is destroying our schools from within? Are there ruthless social engineers trying to build a new world order? We have to ask them: where is it written that dumb societies do better?

In this complex, competitive world, the opposite would seem to be the case. We want our society be to be as smart as possible. That can happen only if each student is as smart as possible.

There is a simple answer here. Americans need to demand a reversal. Away from dumb, toward smart.  Every American must speak for the children.

It will be so easy to tell. In the second grade kids are reading little books. In the third grade they are doing arithmetic. In the fourth grade, they know where their state is on a map of the country. In the fifth grade, they know who George Washington is. 

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Author, artist, and education reformer. My main site is Improve-Education.org, where I put longer, more serious articles. I put hundreds of shorter articles on various other sites. As well as videos on YouTube. I write about all aspects of (more...)
 

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There's been a pattern for more than 50 years. Sch... by Bruce Deitrick Price on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 10:33:15 AM
I see that the author of this piece is himself an ... by Jerry Wesner on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 4:01:53 PM
Two things. I never discuss teachers. I discuss th... by Bruce Deitrick Price on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 5:21:36 PM
They have dumbed down education. All you have to d... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 4:57:02 PM
I don't know Bill Johnson but I agree with everyth... by Bruce Deitrick Price on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 5:22:42 PM
 Sir,  I've quickly read some articles o... by Ad Du on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 6:26:18 PM
 Thank you for reading my work. The cherry-pi... by Bruce Deitrick Price on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 6:36:16 PM
 Sir,  I appreciate your politeness; I'm... by Ad Du on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 10:36:47 PM
 What am I trying to do ? You aren't the fi... by Ad Du on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 10:43:54 PM
 I believe you are essentially honest: how ... by Ad Du on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 10:48:10 PM
It's a personal thing. I don't have much interest ... by Bruce Deitrick Price on Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 at 2:13:23 PM
 Why is the author not acknowledging that M... by Ad Du on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 6:51:21 PM
 Here are two articles, detailing it:Finnish ... by Ad Du on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 7:17:36 PM
andFinnish university professors report Excer... by Ad Du on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 7:22:51 PM
Anybody surprised ? Not if you look at Finland's p... by Ad Du on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 8:07:00 PM
There are probably policy problems aplenty, but on... by Joy Zocco on Tuesday, Sep 10, 2013 at 11:55:58 PM
      Like everything we do, there ... by molly cruz on Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 at 8:14:40 AM