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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

American Education is Failing the Grade


Poor Man Survival

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American Education is Failing the Grade

I’ve always found it ironic that America has 51 different departments of education.  Each seem to duplicating the other and competing with each other to waste taxpayer dollars.

While the United States may get an “A” for its spending on education…over the past 70 years, we have increased inflation-adjusted spending per student by approximately 650 percent, more than any other nation on earth.  Yet our students lag behind students in other nations in literacy, science, and basic math.

Once challenge most Americans are unaware of is that often we hear or read about a huge round of cash going to a school system and everyone assumes it is headed to the teacher and student for better books and training materials.  That is rarely the case.  It frequently winds up in the pocket of administrators and staff…or as what happened in Detroit in 2017, it was stolen by principals   [ Over a dozen current and former principals in the Detroit public school system have been charged in a conspiracy scheme involving more than $900,000 in kickbacks and bribes, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

At least 13 principals are named in the federal complaints — including the principal of a school that was featured on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and received $500,000 in donations because conditions there were so poor.

One of the principals, Ronald Alexander, had received about $23,000 in kickbacks, the federal complaint says.

Alexander appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in February when DeGeneres surprised his performing arts school with donations from Lowe’s Home Improvement and pop star Justin Bieber, who pledged $1 from each ticket of his Michigan concert toward Spain Elementary-Middle School.

During the show, teachers told Degeneres how they did not have enough money for books for each of the students and how classrooms lacked heat.  More:]

Despite our enormous failures, teacher unions railed against the appointment Secretary DeVos in 2017 and launched juvenile demonstrations against her visits to various schools.

The average annual expenditure per student in the United States in now $16,268.  In most other nations the average is $9,487 and yet they outperform Americans in all three categories of reading, science and math.  Those nations include:  Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Estonia, Taiwan, Finland, S. Korea, Ireland, Slovenia, Germany, Denmark, New Zealand, Netherlands, Australia, United Kingdom and Portugal.


U.S. students lag behind the industrial world – the Program for International Student Assessment is a test measuring the performance of 15-year-old students in 70 countries and educational systems.  Their most recent analysis from 2015 assess the literacy, math, and science proficiency for 540,000 pupils, including 5,700 Americans.

76 percent of American students lag behind, falling to 31st place in overall scores among the 35 OCED nations in 2015 testing ranking 24th in reading; 25th in science; and 40th in math…high school graduates are not adequately prepared for their first year of college!

The educational system our Founding Fathers created provided vast opportunities for millions throughout our history.  But in recent years, the effectiveness of that education has deteriorated.  The reason for the decline, according to Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, has been a comprehensive ‘dumbing down’ of American education which has been steadily declining for decades by a combination of forces including the triumph of video culture over print culture; the erosion of general knowledge, and ARROGANCE about that lack of knowledge.

I would further add to that a lack of parental involvement and over-reliance on the use of computers and electronic devices plus a lack of discipline in the classroom.

The deficiency of America’s education systems is evident beyond just the subjects of reading, science and math.  A staggering number of young people are geographically illiterate, and great percentages are unaware of constitutional rights that have been vital to America’s success.

“Dumb as a box of rocks” is how most of my generation view some of this generation when they cannot even tell you who won the Civil War.  Watching old episodes of Jay Leno’s “Streetwalking” or Fox News’ Waters World amazes us when young people are asked basic questions such as who the vice president is or who fought our War for Independence and the subjects are unable to answer.  Just what are they teaching in school today or more importantly, how are they able to successfully progress through each grade and graduate?

Another recent test, for example, showed 37% of young Americans could not located Louisiana on a map; 48% could not find Mississippi.  On a world map 75% could not find Israel and 47% were not able to locate India!

In regard to our First Amendment and the rights it guarantees, 52% did not know it guaranteed Freedom of Speech.  Nearly 85% did not know that it guarantees Freedom of Religion!

Nearly 74% had no idea there are three branches of government!  Just what are they teaching in schools?

Many American adults who lack formal education beyond high school have trouble locating and comprehending everyday information.  Nearly 95% failed one or more complex tasks such as understanding credit card offers or comparing two newspaper editorials with contrasting economic evidence.

My wife who manages a small business located in several cities encounters problems with adults on a weekly basis.  She finds adults who are seemingly challenged to perform even basic tasks including filling out a check properly or how to input an entry code or how to replace a lock properly [even though they just removed it].  She often complains about something that seems to be in short supply…plain old common sense.

Examples of mentally impaired adults abound behind the wheel of vehicles as well.  Each snow season we see folks who cannot adequately remove snow from their windows or navigate a sharp turn by slowing down enough on an icy road without hitting another driver or folks who forget to turn their headlights on when dusk arrives.  It’s been said that at any given time 50 to 55% of all drivers are distracted with either food a beverage or drugs and/or alcohol or lack of sleep.  [Opioid abuse now accounts for more deaths than shootings or alcohol].

As my mother once quipped, the masses are asses and they prove it every day.  What makes this particularly troubling is stupid people are easier for politicians to control and we see plenty of evidence every day.

When I traveled the country on the public lecture circuit my fellow speakers often lamented the lack of ambition among people in this nation, especially compared to many immigrants.  Those who did seek out learning opportunities were called the “five percenters.”  That represented the percentage of adults on average which our experience found who tended to be ambitious.

In sales the old joke was “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”  That seems to apply to many humans as well.  Below you will find a link to free courses that you can take advantage of or share with others.


1300 Free Online Courses from Universities-Links to Other Free Courses


What about you? Got anything interesting to share?

Bruce, the Poor Man, free thinker, social critic & cynic


"The average man does not want to be free.
He simply wants to be safe."
-- H. L. Mencken


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Larry said...

The average high school curriculum was twice as difficult in the 1920s as it is today-the level and quality of literature was far superior. I'm convinced that reading is superior to tablets in terms of memory retention also. Kids today are coddled...who the hell would have put up with 'safe spaces' at any time during the past 2,000 years?!

Randy said...

We agree-people do seem to be getting dumber. I blame schools and people's addiction to shiny objects. As your series on robotics pointed out - our future is shaky as AI will likely take over everything.

Brian said...

I have a hard time finding qualified workers for my business. So many kids today can barely read. I wonder how they were allowed to graduate?