April 6, 2022

A Big, Fat ‘F’ for Gubmint Skools

Our nation’s public schools have utterly failed to properly educate this generation of children.

American students perform poorly on the nation’s report card. Overall, the majority of our students in public school don’t even meet “below basic” standards. We’re far from alone in thinking this is a huge problem.

C. Bradley Thompson, philosophy professor at Clemson University, digs into the actual numbers of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). He illustrates this fact:

In history, for instance, only 20 percent of U.S. fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders, and 12 percent of twelfth graders who took the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests (America’s so-called Report Card), were deemed “proficient” or “advanced” in their knowledge of the subject. More than 50 percent of high school seniors posted scores at the lowest level (“below basic”), and “only 35% of fourth-graders knew the purpose of the Declaration of Independence.” In 2018, American eighth graders scored four points lower on the NAEP U.S. history test than they did in 2014. According to a recent survey, 42 percent of Americans think Karl Marx’s communist slogan “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is to be found in one of America’s founding documents.

Thompson goes on to make the point that this author often does regarding how devastating the COVID lockdowns were for our students. He writes, “In 2021, after a years of masked or online teaching, reading test scores for American first graders fell a stunning 24 points on a national reading test, but even before the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of American students could not read at grade level.”

American public education has been in sharp decline for decades, but as this data clearly shows, our current batch of students are in a free fall. This is not for lack of attempted intervention. Big Government has long tried to right the sinking ship of education with Head Start, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and so many others.

These government “interventions” did little more that accelerate the issues. The real meat of the problem is varied and nuanced, and though a great chunk of responsibility can be placed at the feet of public schools and government policies, there are so many more issues at hand.

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Why don’t these stats talk about the vast difference in the students that we teachers see? As recently as 15 years ago, teachers at the kindergarten and first grade levels were not seeing as many children with learning difficulties as we’re seeing in today’s classrooms. Learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, autism, and other challenges.

Why is that?

Most recent education reforms focus on having no standards at all, which is an overcorrection to the Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind policies of punishing schools and teachers if their children don’t succeed.

There has also been a shift in cultural priorities. Having an educated populace makes it more difficult to manipulate people politically. Teaching children to despise real learning and to love emotional grandstanding is another way to stupefy the masses (empathy over intellect). We also have a culture of adults who do not like to read. Reading is a skill that is developed over time. Books for pleasure are just as essential as books that challenge. Taking the time to better oneself by reading books that challenge requires discipline, self-awareness, and a desire to learn — qualities that are no longer viewed favorably in our instant-gratification, social media-driven culture. Some even refer to this striving for improvement as “whiteness.”

Parenting has also changed. Many parents do not fully understand that in spite of the propaganda, they are their children’s primary educators. By leaving “education” up to the schools, they are forfeiting that essential part of parenting that drives children to succeed.

These children also have the distinct disadvantage of growing up in a digital age where instant gratification is taken to the next level. Learning is a process that takes time and digital learning does not effectively teach as a result.

Children are also being diagnosed with learning disabilities at a much higher rate. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is good because they can receive interventions by their parents and teachers to help them succeed. It is bad because these diagnosis are often used as an excuse not to try their absolute best and/or for their teachers not to work their hardest to help them succeed.

There are other issues at play that feed into our children’s learning disabilities. Our diets, environmental issues, genetic issues, lack of social interaction, lack of play in early education … the list is endless.

The most nefarious reason of all is the emphasis on nonessential education — the eduactivism element that is hurting and further convoluting our children’s learning. Our children can’t read, write, or do math, but by all means let’s teach them about gender pronouns, critical race theory, and how to have safe sex. This is not at all the intended role of public schools, and yet in this current era, it is sometimes the primary emphasis.

There is no easy solution to this problem, but there are some ways parents can take back the reins and help give their children a fighting chance.

  • Teach them to love learning. This is going to be achieved initially by catering to their interests but will eventually open them up to the world of ideas.

  • Be a good example. Read, write, and learn with them.

  • Continue to hold public schools accountable for their lack of proper teaching.

  • In extreme circumstances, pull your children out of public school (like communities of color are doing in Detroit) and put them in private school or homeschool, where you, as a parent, have more say in what your child is learning.

  • Vote for politicians who will vote to give families school choice.

  • Finally, pay attention. These are your babies and your responsibility to raise.

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