America’s educational system is failing badly. The drop-out rate in economically strained areas like Detroit is almost 80%. Internationally, American high schools rank very near the bottom when compared to those of other developed nations. Schools are dropping their athletic, music, and art programs yet adding more hours to the school day. Many children are now forced to walk through metal detectors and are subject to random drug tests. Personal experience from reading viewer comments on the Internet shows me that most kids graduating today can read but rarely understand what they have just read, know almost nothing of history, and simply cannot spell. We have a problem.
A big part of the problem is an outdated school system. It is based on the old Prussian model that was designed to train children to be good little worker bees and not much else. It was not designed to teach our children to learn on their own outside of a school setting nor was it intended to spark any kind of creativity in a child. The Prussian design was intended to teach our children to be:
1) Obedient soldiers
2) Obedient workers
3) Well-subordinated servants to the government
4) Subordinate clerks to industry and banking
5) Citizens who think alike about most major issues
To do this, children need to be sent to school early so their mothers would have less influence on their education and they had to be separated into peer groups which promoted cliques and unified thinking (see The Public School Nightmare by John Taylor Gatto).
Another difficulty is inadequate funding practices. For a public school system one would think that money would be equally distributed among school districts. It’s not. The wealthier districts have better teachers, better buildings, and more updated materials. Those children unfortunate enough to live in the poorer districts often have no books, crappy teachers, and buildings with asbestos leaking from the falling ceilings. One cannot learn in such conditions.
I’m not at all surprised that homeschooling is on the rise. Unless one can afford the top notch private schools the child is not being educated but indoctrinated and many parents-and children- get that. With the invention of the Internet there is plenty of help available for homeschoolers today. Some question the education level of the parent and suggest that a parent with only a high school diploma cannot properly teach a child. I say, “hogwash”. Teachers are only required to maintain a “C” average in college in order to get license teach in the United States. Most other majors require at least a “B”. So, when we don’t even require those teaching the future generations to do above average it’s no wonder our entire educational system is below average. Homeschooling, on the other hand, helped make the U.S. one of the most developed nations in the world. Thomas Edison was taught by his mother.
We could look around the world and implement systems such as the one in Sweden. The children spend less time in school but learn so much more. There are models that put different age groups into one class so those who are ahead of their age group can learn more and those who are having a tough time can review with the younger ones. We can require teachers to be smarter and dump the tenure thing so we can fire those who are inadequate. And, most importantly, our public schools need to be equal. Someone from Detroit needs the same quality of education as someone from Palm Springs. Otherwise, there is no equal opportunity in the Land of the Free.