EDUCATIONAL PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS
Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
September 8, 2008
[Note: There seems to be less and less accountability/responsibility today for one’s actions. Regarding education, for decades SAT scores have remained below what they were fifty years ago, but have you heard of any educational leaders losing their jobs because of this? The lack of a sense of responsibility/accountability reaches far beyond education. Regarding the Bush administration, the attack of 9-11 could have been easily prevented, but no one has been held accountable for that failure. The same is true for failure to know Saddam Hussein’s secret strategy in the Iraq war, which I revealed in COVER UP: GOVERNMENT SPIN OR TRUTH?, written before the war began. Bill Clinton irresponsibly lied under oath in court, but Democrats still hold him in high esteem. Many prisoners are paroled or released from jail early only to rape, rob, or kill again, yet those releasing them aren’t held responsible. Child protective service agencies take children away from their parents, yet often aren’t held accountable when they make mistakes. Who in the Texas government has been fired over taking those hundreds of children from their religious sect parents a few months ago when the court said they shouldn’t have? And then there’s no-fault divorce, as though no one is responsible/accountable for breaking a vow made before God to remain married “until death us do part.” The list goes on and on, and we as individuals and as a nation are suffering the consequences.]
With the new school year just beginning, it may be useful to examine a myriad of educational problems along with some rather simple solutions. The education establishment, especially the National Education Association (NEA), wants kindergarten to begin at an ever earlier age. This is because they know a child’s values are shaped during the earliest years of life, and they believe parents often instill “improper” (biblical or traditional) values in their children. They will also inform a parent that the professional teacher knows best how to teach students, thus NEA’s opposition to homeschooling.
In the earliest grades, reading instruction in government schools has been primarily the disastrous look-say method rather than an intensive systematic phonics method which is highly successful, even with students not proficient in the English language or who are dyslexic. If students are properly taught how to read at an early age, they will be less likely to fall behind and to drop out later. This principle is also true for math instruction when successful traditional methods (e.g., Saxon) are used rather than newer “interpretive” methods which can reach varying mathematical answers.
At the earliest grade levels across the nation, students are also bussed for racial balance in schools. This places a disproportionate burden for minorities who must be bussed in inverse proportion to the majority population to achieve balance in each school. This also denies many minorities study time not denied most whites, thus resulting in lower achievement levels for blacks. My “predominant first choice and free transportation” solution described in an earlier article on the failure of court-ordered bussing, could solve this.
When black, white or other parents complain about problems with government schools, they are made to feel they are the only ones complaining. Redress of grievances also becomes more difficult as small-town schools are merged with city schools into large county systems, thus diminishing local control.
One of the subjects receiving large numbers of complaints is sex education. It often begins in kindergarten and is “comprehensive” meaning graphic/explicit, unrestricted, privacy-invading and non-morally based, thus becoming simply “how to do it” sex instruction. Even FAMILY PLANNING PERSPECTIVES (affiliated with Planned Parenthood) published research results showing an association between taking sex education and starting intercourse at ages 15 and 16.
Non-morally-based values instruction began after the Supreme Court eliminated God from the government schools. Of course, they give it an intellectual name like “Critical Thinking” which ultimately leads to questioning and challenging traditional biblical values. Teachers don’t say that’s what they’re doing, but rather call it “Values Clarification.” Students are left to decide for themselves what’s right or wrong based on the situation.
This isn’t government neutrality, but rather government undermining parents who teach their children that God is the ultimate authority of what’s right or wrong. And this undermining isn’t simply passive, but quite active. For example in the late 1960s, the Carnegie Corporation funded “Project Read” used by millions of children in “culturally deprived areas,” and one of the reading instruction books depicted step-by-step a man torching a porch. Florida prosecutor Ellen Morphonios said about this: “If this isn’t subversive and deliberately done as part of a master plan… only a sick mind could have produced it.” Also, there’s a library book, PIGMAN, found in most schools, which begins with a boy bragging about setting off explosives in school bathrooms and not getting caught. But perhaps the subject that most undermines parents’ values is evolution, which is a terribly flawed theory because out of millions of fossils worldwide, there are no transitional life forms (e.g., no semi-frogs).
For over a decade, students have been pressured by school systems to participate in school-to-work activities, with students asked to choose career paths before they really know for sure what they want to do in life. Many students are also oxymoronically being “required” to engage in “voluntary” service in order to graduate from high school.
Many decades ago, academic basics such as reading, writing and math were emphasized. However, in the early 1960s, “progressive” educators shifted the emphasis away from the basics and toward social relationships and values. NEA president Catherine Barrett in 1973 said that by the year 2000 “basic skills” would be taught in one-quarter of the school day, and the teacher “will be a conveyor of values, a philosopher…. We will be agents of change.” William Spady’s “Transformation” outcome-based education (OBE) in the late 20th century was part of that effort.
Redirecting education away from learning the basics, of course, resulted in a dumbing down of students. This has been hidden for decades by a periodic renorming of nationally standardized tests. As the scores would decline, the tests were renormed every four or five years, so that if someone scored above the average of the new lower scores, he or she was now “above average.”
The NEA’s and educrats’ solution to our educational problems has always involved giving more money to the government schools. Research has shown that simply throwing more money at failed educational policies and practices doesn’t solve the problem. This waste of taxpayers’ dollars can be changed in the following way. In California, for example, the cost of an average private schooling is about $5000 per year. But the government schools are spending about $14,000 per student per year in tax dollars. Why not give the parent the $14,000 from taxes, and they could then send their child to a private school for $5000 and have $9000 leftover?! Think of what that $9000 per family could do to stimulate the economy. We can also have a lot more money for education at the local level if we abolish the U.S. Department of Education where there are thousands of highly paid unnecessary bureaucrats.
One proposal by educrats to improve schooling is longer school days and years, but what sense does it make to spend more time on faulty instructional practices? The so-called experts also advocate year-round schools with staggered schedules to save on construction costs, apparently ignoring the fact that if school facilities are used year-round they depreciate more quickly.
Americans wonder how such a downward slide in education has occurred over so many years, and the answer is that the problem is systemic. For example, if a school system superintendent initiates comprehensive sex education to which parents object, and the parents are able to convince the school board to remove the superintendent, the next superintendents will also be “credentialed” by the same colleges of education that produced the previous superintendent as well as all the teachers.
In order to prevent testy parents from exercising too much local control, the supposedly conservative Bush administration joined with liberal Ted Kennedy to give us No Child Left Behind. This legislation required states to present their educational improvement plans to the U.S. Secretary of Education for approval in order to receive certain federal funds. In other words, “local control” of education is gone.
The sorry state of education today has prompted many parents to opt for charter schools, private schools, or home schools. The education establishment, however, has sought to counter these movements by demanding that state legislatures require the students attending such schools take state-adopted exit exams for nationally standardized tests in order to graduate or be admitted to state colleges, etc. The educational establishment’s plan is that in order to score well on these tests, the curriculum of non-public schools will not be that much different from what government school students are taught.
Whenever the citizen outcry becomes too great to ignore, political leaders (beholden to the NEA) hold conferences to address the problem. Of course, those heading the conferences are the same educational leaders or “experts” who got us in the mess we’re in to begin with. So nothing really changes because they refuse to admit they have made any mistakes or are at fault in any way.
The answers to our educational problems are really rather simple. First, when I was a Senior Associate with the U.S. Department of Education during the Reagan years, the Department published a book titled WHAT WORKS covering reading, discipline, teacher supervision, etc. Each topic included a research finding with supporting references showing how the subject could be improved. Try asking anyone in your local school system if they have ever heard of the book. The educational establishment studiously avoids it.
Secondly, I conducted a research project collecting successful teaching methods and activities from teachers themselves. This could be done in every school system, with the methods and activities compiled by subject matter and/or grade level and voluntarily used by other teachers. This costs practically nothing, and research I conducted also showed when a new successful method or activity was introduced, discipline problems declined by 26%. Unfortunately, most school systems haven’t even tried this.
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Thirdly, because school systems always complain about being strapped for funds, I interviewed the superintendents of small, medium and large systems with little funds but with great academic success. I asked each how they achieved such success with few funds, and their answers could be used as models for similar school systems. This could have been done by each state in the nation, but do you think they have or will? I doubt it!
© 2008 Dennis Cuddy - All Rights Reserved