Monday, October 29, 2007

Uneducated on Education

I generally don’t pay much attention to the comments that follow the SJ-R online stories because I really don’t want to believe there are that many truly stupid people with living here. That said, I did take a peek at the comments to the story on the State’s pre-K program. There’s the usual rabid denunciation of anything positive that one can expect in these comments, but there was also some of the tired old saw about how bad public education is.

I’m not sure why these people and many others around here and the country think the educational system is failing. I’ve been involved with many school districts in some fashion for most of my life now. While nothing is problem-free, I think the quality of education is actually going up from when I was in school. I attended parochial schools right through high school and I can tell you that kids are learning more and earlier than we did. Expectations are higher and there is more attention to student well-being and discipline.

I think for the most part teachers and administrators do as well as they can given what they have to work with. That means there are schools, and even whole districts, that are plagued by social, infrastructure, and economic decay that can’t be overcome by good intentions. Still, where conditions aren’t conspiring against it, the education system is in pretty good shape I think. I wish these gloom and doomers would provide some concrete examples of how bad the education system is, because I just don’t see it and never have.

Yes, when compared to the educational systems in a number of other industrialized countries, we do fall short. But that’s the cultural path we have chosen. We could spend more and require longer days, etc. and that might make a difference, but I doubt that’s what these critics have in mind (if they have anything in mind other than bitching).

Bottom line is, if a student is properly motivated (AHEM, parents) the resources are usually there for a good education. Because anti-intellectualism is a feature of many of the subcultures in this nation, that motivation is often lacking and the results are plain to see. Add to that the anti-intellectual leanings of certain political and religious groups, and you get less than optimal results. The schools don’t suck, we do.


Marie Carnes said...

This is an excellent, thoughtful commentary and you hit the nail on the head with parents motivating their kids.

Re the SJ-R articles, I must admit to sometimes skipping the articles and going straight for the comments. It's like a little glimpse into a whole "nother" world.

rickmonday said...


Well written and thought out. The problem that I have with the school systems is that they think that more money will solve the problem. The parents are the foundation and whether you are rich or poor, without parental involvement the students and thus the school will suffer. I am all for making schools better but not through monetary assistance. We already pay too much to the schools and regardless of cause we are not getting the results. It seems like every year we are paying more and more for schools. Lets try something different and go back to the catholic school hard line discipline approach. I will be donating my $0.10 for a nice firm ruler today.