Falling Behind By Running In Place…

2013-12-03_09-45-16 “Our scores are stagnant. We’re not seeing any improvement for our 15-year-olds,” said Jack Buckley, commissioner at the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education. “But our ranking is flipping because a lot of these other countries are improving.” The test scores offer fresh evidence for those who argue that the United States is losing ground to competitors in the global market and others who say a decade’s worth of school reform has done little to improve educational outcomes.

“While the intentions may have been good, a decade of top-down, test-based schooling created by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top — focused on hyper-testing students, sanctioning teachers and closing schools — has failed to improve the quality of American public education,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. The AFT released a video on Monday in which it implored the public not to blame teachers, the unions, parents or students for poor PISA results. SOURCE: U.S. students lag around average on international science, math and reading test – The Washington Post.

It seems the rest of the world realizes how important math and science is for their future whereas we in the U.S. haven’t got that message yet.  This article ends with the teachers union representative saying “don’t blame us”. I would have much rather him say “we teacher are part of the problem and we are determined to be part of the solution.”

It seems that everyone in this falling further and further behind area is in the “don’t blame us” category. Parents say it is the lack of funding or bad teacher. Teachers say it is the lack of funding or parents. Everyone blames someone else. They are convinced that it is someone else’s fault. Meanwhile we fall further and further behind…

I know this is not a recent problem. It has been going on for decades. In my mind part of the problem is that the education of our children continues to be pretty much a local issue and many localities just are not up to the task. Local property taxes for the most fund our educational system. So, if you are fortunately enough to live in an affluent area you will go to a first-rate high school often times with facilities rivaling those of college campuses. But if you are in a densely packed urban or small rural area you will struggle to get the courses with qualified teachers that are required for college entrance or what is needed in today’s workplace.

When I was in high school ninety percent of the teachers there were fresh out of college. The other ten percent were local farmers and such who got their teaching credentials so many years ago to make them more or less archaic in the world of education. The fresh out of college teachers spent two years in our school and then with that experience on their resumes they moved on to the larger and better paying school systems.

What our current education system needs is for everyone to take their share of the blame for our running in place and then set out to work together to catch up with what the rest of the world already knows.