February 9, 2009

When Did the Public School System Become Taxpayer Funded Daycare?

I could go on all day long about the many, many shortcomings and outright failures of our public school system.

I'm sure some of these problems aren't new. They have probably been around since I was in school. However, I will say without reservation that the public school system when I was attending school is miles ahead of the system we have today.

I understand the concept behind No Child Left Behind. Probably ever since the school system came into being there have been students that have graduated from school with a remarkable low level of education. When I was in school, it was generally some of the athletes or the "stoners". That problem needed to be addressed and corrected. But I don't think No Child Left Behind is correcting it. In fact, I think NCLB is creating a whole barrel of other problems.

The biggest problem with NCLB, I believe, is that by not allowing advanced or remedial students their own classrooms, and by segregating everyone into one classroom, the teachers are being forced to teach and educate at the level of the slowest or least motivated student.

Think about it. Who is going to be most affected by that? Certainly not the remedial students in question. In all likelihood, they aren't going to learn any quicker or better. If anything, they may be mortified that the teacher is being forced to spend an inordinate amount of time geared toward them. Not the advanced students because, chances are, they are highly motivated to begin with. It is a bit unfair that they won't be allowed to move faster, and they may be bored, but ultimately, they will be okay.

It's the middle of the road students, the average ones, the majority of students in the classroom today. They aren't necessarily motivated to go above and beyond the assignments and the current pace will probably be too slow for them.

And by "dumbing down" the curriculum, the resulting grades are not a truly accurate measure of what the students are learning. For instance, if the slowest student in a 6th grade classroom is operating at a 3rd grade level, the rest of the class should be scoring very high on tests and papers. Because the class isn't being taught at the appropriate grade level.

Due to the "dumbing down" of our educational system, I have noticed that my son has an inordinately low level of homework. If and when he does have homework, it's no more than 15 minutes a day. And this is the grade, we were told, that was the "hard" grade. Like "hard to fail" maybe?

Now I hear that various school districts throughout the country are toying with the idea of no homework, period. I have heard the stories of some children having hours of homework a night. I don't agree with that, any more than I agree with my son maybe having homework and that homework being filling out a photocopied page from a workbook. Where are the writing assignments? Where is the studying? Where is the research? Where is the legitimate learning?

I think our problem is that we try too hard to be politically correct. We worry about children not getting everything they can out of our public school systems, but then we allow the most vocal parents have the majority say. Think carefully - - who are the most vocal parents, generally, in the classroom? The parents that have the motivated student without behavior problems? No. They are usually the parent or parents of the child that has behavior issues, that acts out in class or has grade problems. These are the parents that are responsible for the "dumbing down" of our educational system. These are the parents that create a fuss over segregating the classrooms, so that advanced students can take advanced courses, remedial students can take remedial courses and the average students can learn at an average pace.

What is so wrong, anyhow, with dividing up the children this way? I understand that the remedial children might be embarrassed by being put into remedial classes but, in the end, doesn't it help them to learn what they need to, at their pace? And kids with behavioral problems, real behavioral problems, shouldn't be allowed in the classroom, period. Teachers have enough to deal with - - supposedly more to teach, less time to teach it - - without having to put up with any type of harassment.

I feel for the next generation. We are doing nothing but giving these kids a sense of entitlement, that they should be commended for simply existing, we are teaching them no sense of responsibility, no sense of real pride. If we set the bar so low, how are they going to become functioning, productive adults? How will they survive college or the workplace?

Changes need to be made and fast. We need to take the entire population into consideration and not just the few who make the most noise. We need to remember that the schools are supposed to be buildings of learning and not a place to park kids while we're at work.

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