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September 23, 2021

Several of you undoubtedly recall my various slaps at our education system in the United States. In a word, it is an embarrassment. The United States now ranks 17th in education world-wide with even lower rankings for math and reading. What has happened?

When I was an English teacher nearly 50 years ago, the United States ranked number one. I honestly thought it would be that way forever. Why not? What could possibly change it? Apparently, everything!

It’s not a money thing. When I taught English, I was making a whopping $11,800 per year and that included extra pay for being a credentialed reading specialist. Today, the average high school teacher’s salary is $47,259. While that is not a fortune and surely teachers have been and are still underpaid, the money thing would still seem not to apply. So what’s changed in the last 50 years? A lot!

First, the collective will of America to properly educate their children has diminished. Education is no longer considered the most important thing in a child’s life. Too often, the most important thing is a cell phone with which the average child learns LOL but can’t spell the word laughing. Today’s kids have too much of everything and therefore don’t see the same urgency in learning as prior generations.

Second, education standards have been lowered to accommodate minorities and disadvantaged students. Standardized testing has continually been down shifted to allow minority and disadvantaged students to score passing grades. Kids aren’t held back to re-complete grades as they once were. In today’s world everyone get’s a participation trophy and there is little motivation to truly be the best.

Third, the quality of teaching personnel has greatly degraded. In many locations, people who teach our youth are not even required to be credentialed to do so. It’s like anyone with a heart and some free time is allowed to teach. Background checks are sketchy as well. When I taught in public schools, I was first required to submit to a complete FBI background check and swear my allegiance to the United States in front of a federal judge. Try that today! A neighbor of mine recently told me that their daughter’s teacher simply tells the class to look up things on the internet; the teacher can not be bothered with actual teaching because she is too busy texting her boyfriend with the hope of getting laid.

Fourth, even though there has been a continual cry for more money, schools are not adequately funded. They never have been. Money that is set aside for schools often never arrives in the classroom; it is eaten up and wasted in the bureaucracy of school administration and local politics. New programs are often politically motivated and wind up being a waste of precious money that should be put into qualified teachers, books and computers.

Fifth, the change in curriculum over the years has “dumbed down” our young scholars. Cursive writing is no longer taught, foreign languages still remain an elective subject and even basic reading skills are not taught today. There will always be the need to write a coherent letter or have a meaningful conversation yet our children are not being prepared for these most simple tasks. To be prepared to interact with other cultures who speak other languages is all but out of the question and relegated to fantasy land.

Sixth, there is no real want to be educated on the part of much of today’s youth. They would rather play on the smart phone and see no real need for much formal education. Most can’t look into the future beyond today’s Instagram. With a lack of aspiration on both the part of students and teachers, there is no motivation to be educated. As Pelagius said, “There is no worse death than the end of hope.”

If these six crucial points can be addressed by students, teachers and the public at large, there is a chance that we can once again be number one in education. More importantly, we can regain our place in the world as leaders and innovators. Without drastic intervention very soon, we will be doomed to be a nation of dummies.

PS – Let’s not forget the trades. We have an acute shortage of plumbers, carpenters, metal workers and other trades people. If you want your washing machine repaired, you’re apt to see a guy my age show up at your door. We need more education in these areas as well.

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  1. Vsii permalink

    Allen,My son, a school teacher, would agree with you. A major issue is the general breakdown in the family, both parents working, they don’t have time for their kids, except when it comes to sports. Another issue is the Department of Education and the need for bureaucrats to justify their jobs by expanding phony directives.Nello

    Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS

    Liked by 2 people

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