Public Education

Public Education in the United States is a mess.

We agree as a nation to pay professional athletes millions of dollars a year, yet we won’t pay our teachers even 20% of that. No one wants their taxes raised, yet everyone expects the schools to do more. School personnel are overworked and underpaid. Education is suffering seriously as a result.

As much as our old system was too extreme in excluding certain children from the classroom, the current system is too extreme in the other direction in trying to accommodate every particular individual difference that students may have.

We’re graduating kids from high schools that cannot read. We are allowing bullies to terrorize other students who are trying to learn because we cannot remove the bully from the school and prohibit him from receiving his free and appropriate education.

I am a firm believer in assessing a person’s skills, identifying weaknesses, then teaching to remediate the weaknesses. However, there are certain tasks that certain people simply are not realistically going to be able to perform at the minimum competence level. In those cases, that’s fine. That’s a weakness they have. We all have them. They should not be granted credit in that area for simply trying awfully hard. That isn’t fair to anyone. When that child goes to seek work, he’s not going to find his boss as accommodating and we will have given him an incorrect view of how the world works.

There is much talk of lowering various established standards so that various groups can meet the standards, like in the military or fire fighting. Ludicrous! We pay good tax dollars to know that we have a competent military and fire department. If my house is on fire, I want someone who passed the test fair and square sent to my house to rescue me, not someone who feels good about himself because they passed with lower standards.

I recently renewed my CPR training and was told that I had to pass the test with an 80% or better, but that if I didn’t pass on the first try, they would go over the answers I missed and let me take it again right away. Rubbish! If you are about to die, do you want someone who couldn’t even pass the test to be in charge of saving your life? Or, would you rather have everyone feel good about him or herself because they passed the CPR test with lower standards?

I say we need to set minimum standards and stick to them. If a child cannot pass, he cannot get credit. He should be taught over and over and over as many times as it takes until he’s 18. At that time, he should be issued a diploma that accurately reflects the areas in which he has gained minimum competency, not the areas in which he simply tried hard enough.

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