Why is American Public Education Failing So Badly?
The Florida State Board of Education (FSBE) has adopted its new education goals. These goals hold Asian, white, Hispanic, and black students to different academic standards - Asians are held to the highest and blacks to the lowest. The FSBE either believes students, based on ethnic background, are intellectually unequal or that students' racial background/cultural lifestyles determine their academic capability.
Only raw prejudice would suggest that ethnic background determines intellectual or academic capability. Common sense makes it clear that cultural lifestyles significantly affect - but do not determine - academic outcome. Asians tend to perform better in public schools because they have strong family units and parents demand academic discipline and performance from their children. The mainstream black cultural lifestyle all too often provides neither.
The education establishment refuses to acknowledge and address cultural lifestyles as a key factor in academic performance. Instead, the establishment teaches, tests, and grades in ways that hide the problem. Unless harmful cultural lifestyles change, the children raised in them will never achieve their potential. Not only do the children themselves suffer - every community in America suffers.
Why is American public education failing so badly? Because parents have effectively been removed and replaced by a massive and growing government bureaucracy. Significant federal involvement in K-12 education began in 1977 under President Carter. Since then, we have seen a consistent decline in education outcomes.
In 2001, Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act, which established federal goals for schools. Schools not meeting the goals are punished by being brought under federally directed management or by the loss of federal funds. To escape these negative consequences, states may seek waivers allowing their public schools to continue underperforming without suffering consequences - if they set goals.
Florida was granted such a waiver. Under the state's plan - which does not address cultural lifestyles - 90 percent of Asian, 88 percent of white, 81 percent of Hispanic, and 74 percent of black students will perform at grade level.
Education experts, particularly those at the National Education Association, argue against addressing structural problems or including meaningful parental involvement in children's education.
These experts' solutions include increasing spending, feeding students, opening school-based medical clinics, computerizing schools, lowering teacher-student ratios, instituting before- and after-school programs, offering sensitivity training, and on and on. The only thing these "experts" consistently do not recommend is focusing more resources on teaching academic subject matter, improving teacher competency, and holding school administrators accountable.
In contrast, privately educated students consistently do better academically than their public school counterparts. This is true regardless of the socioeconomic or ethnic background of the students.
We know that black students, in significantly high numbers, come from single-parent households with no father; Asian students the opposite. We also know public schools focus much of the teaching day on socializing, indoctrinating, and inculcating propaganda rather than on teaching academic subject matter.
The curriculum in public schools rarely includes critical thinking skills, foreign languages, higher math, and physics. Civics, U.S. history, world history, and geography texts resemble politically correct indoctrination rather than objective study disciplines.
Our children are ill-educated because their teachers are. This is not the fault of these teachers. A review of the curriculum in our teaching colleges is enlightening. Few of today's teachers have degrees in academic disciplines. Instead, they are taught methods and politically correct jargon. Those in charge of America's public education - the teachers' unions and college academics - have turned America's education system into a laboratory, with our children as the rats. They are committed to undermining the traditions, beliefs, and social structures that made America great.
America can follow Florida and perpetuate the downward spiral of American education, or we can reform it. Reform requires a willingness to admit what can and cannot be fixed. Reforming public education will not work. Not only is it broken; those controlling it will fight any and all real reforms. Their goal is to continue imposing their ideologies on our children and remaking America in their own image.
Reform can come quickly - but only by removing government agencies and unions and turning it over to parents. Parents care about their children. That is the most important ingredient in all education. America's public education establishment clearly does not.
A Voice from Fly-Over Country is copyright (c) 2012 by Robert L. Hale and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, fgfbooks.com. All rights reserved. This column may be reposted or forwarded credit is given to the author and fgfBooks.com.
Robert L. Hale received his J.D. in law from Gonzaga University Law School in Spokane, Washington. He is founder and director of a nonprofit public interest law firm. For more than three decades, he has been involved in drafting proposed laws and counseling elected officials in ways to remove burdensome and unnecessary rules and regulations.
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