Education System Has Failed, Drastic Change Needed

by Mike McCune —


School Time is Near! I can tell because of the “Back-to-School” ads everywhere. All it means is another nine-month sentence to boredom for our kids because they crtainly don’t have any need to learn in the current system.


America bemoans the lack of educational progress. Every state teaches kids how to pass the achievement tests, every year the standards for those tests are altered because the questions are demeaning or troublesome or not ethnically-correct for so many of our kids yet every year the scores slip another notch or two. America ranks somewhere in the lower half of the lower half internationally in education yet every year we pony up more and more money for a failed system.


The Back-to-School as I liked best is from Office Depot. “Ms. Depot” is selling a satisfied teen customer his most necessary item for this year’s schooling, a pair of earphones. Those will be necessary to drown out any interference he might receive from the ineffective education system with his jiving and thriving.


The problem is kids are NOT held to learning and moral standards and we, as a nation, have forgotten that education is not a right but a privilege.


I am not advocating reinstating the draconian dress standards or the knuckle-busting, ruler-wielding matrons of my youth but it is true the clothes make the man and discipline has to be taught and learned. When the dress codes were relaxed in the mid 60s, my mother refused to allow me to go along with the crowd. “If you dress like you are going to the beach, then go to the beach but if you are going to school to learn you don’t wear blue jeans and a tee shirt. Learning is your job, act like you respect it.”


Homework is disappearing because the kids are involved in too many extra-curricular activities. Teen mothers are provided day-care and given a special privileges. Athletes are given concessions on classwork. The list of infractions goes on and on.


The deficiencies from public education are numerous and obvious. The local community college has remedial classes for the basics and the number of kids who suddenly find themselves without the skills necessary to compete either in the job market or in the classroom swell the ranks of these remedial classes to the point the college now has as many enrolled in remedial classes as it had in normal courses a decade ago.


The unemployment problem is not being accurately reported because people who are trying to upgrade their employment skills are heading back to school. The government is using that as a convenient excuse to drop them from the ranks of the “unemployed.” Yet jobs are going begging because employers cannot find Americans with the skills needed to compete in many of those jobs.


Schools have become creatures of their environment. It is easier to let Johnny do his own thing in class rather than learn proper English or reading,  writing and math skills. In 1980, the TV show M*A*S*H character Cpl. Max Klinger was taking a test. The first question was “Mary’s Mom needed five cans of beans. Mary could only carry two cans at a time, how many trips to the store did she have to make?” We laughed when Klinger pored over the question for 10 minutes without positive results before querulously asking, “What kind of a mother only feeds her kids beans?”


The same question today would stump many high school grads. In a recent National Geographic survey, half of Americans age 18-24 couldn’t identify New York state on a map. Worse, only three percent (3 of every 100 America kids) could pass the citizenship test foreigners take to become citizens.(1)


Mark Morford, a retiring high school teacher told the San Francisco Chronicle “only a handful” of the 6,000 who’ve passed through his classroom knew how to form a sentence or write a paragraph. That’s a by-product of the teacher’s union. But is also a direct indictment of America’s lackadaisical attitude towards education. If Morford was that ineffective he should have been out on his butt. He didn’t teach, he merely passed kids through the system.


“I spend my tax money for schools so I’m doing my part,” goes the taxpayer’s whine. Oh yeah? Visit a school. The classrooms are glossy, the athletic fields, gyms and labs are pristine. But we have union members more intent on securing their next raise or next year’s contract than trying to make Johnny do the right thing. We teach down to the dumbest denominator.


The way to correct the situation is in kindergarten and first grade. The first time little Johnny acts up, get the parents in and put them all on notice. This behavior is unacceptable. A repeat and Johnny will not be let back in class–ever! The reason is simple, when the teacher is occupied with someone who isn’t willing to learn, he disrupts everyone else and nobody learns. Under this system by the time the kids are in junior high real progress can be made in instruction, they’ll know how to learn.


There will be larger classes following because their parents have gotten the lesson as well. “The school system is not going to tolerate disruptive behavior. Conform or be left behind.”


To implement the solution we have to be willing to upend the prevailing attitude of the adults involved–parents and teachers and administrators.

We can start very soon too. Not only is school just around the corner, America has an election in November in which it can change the mindset of the entrenched mindset of the scholastic world.


“I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”–Thomas Jefferson


(1)–Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 8-5-2012, “The Kids Are Not Alright”


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