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ghostrider On February - 9 - 2011

This is my first attempt at actually writing a blog instead of just being a commenter. But this blog will cover one of my pet peeves. Education in a country that should be leading the world.

I read three different articles in the past two days that made me really sad for what is happening to education in our country.

This one on huffpo

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/09/the-10-states-running-out_n_820472.html

It is is basically a piece on how bad some states are doing in keeping their people educated. While some of the 10 were a little surprising eg Colorado, most weren’t eg Texas.

The fact that Texas was in this list didn’t surprise me, after all they are constantly trying to change the text books that are used country wide. They don’t make good changes, they make very scary changes, like trying to write Thomas Jefferson out of our history or promoting creationism over evolution. While I won’t agree or disagree on the intelligent design thing (not creationism, I see these as 2 different things, though the creationists probably don’t,) the jury is still out as far as I am concerned, there is no way you can’t tell me evolution isn’t where we came from.  The galaxy is some 14 billion years old, our solar system is approximately 6 billion years old and our planet is over 4 billion years old. How can anybody possibly believe we have only been around for 6,000 years when fossil records show man has been around for more than 100,000 years.

But I digress.

Back to my point about this article. While it made some good points it basically stated that education is a local thing not a national thing. HUH? As long as you allow education to be controlled locally instead of being controlled by standards set nationally, and I don’t mean “No student left behind,” what a joke and a whole different blog, you will constantly have this kind of state discrepancy in quality of education. I am talking about what courses should be taught at what level. Evaluating every student and deciding whether they should be left behind or not. Just because they may not be ready is not a bad thing. Spending the money necessary to have the right supplies for our schools. Reducing class size and empowering our teachers to teach our children. These kinds of items should be at the forefront of of all education benefits. The priority should not be where can we cut next.

Currently the only children getting that kind of education are the kids who have parents that can afford it.  But, we are constantly told how everybody has the opportunity to be rich and successful. How does a poor student from an inner city who received an education from an underfunded public school compete with some privileged kid who got an education from some well funded private school? The whole belief that everybody has the same chances is a fallacy.

The second article was on newshounds, if you don’t know this site you should check it out.
http://www.newshounds.us/2011/02/09/gretchen_carlsons_propaganda_that_wasnt_.php

This was about a Texas community that decided to offer an elective course that taught Arabic studies. I know, can you believe that was in Texas?  Of course Fox jumped on that because apparently it was reported as being mandatory. Gretchen Carlson was all over it on how a school was making Arabic studies mandatory. But what a surprise, it was actually something that this school had decided to do as an elective for their students. Shamefully it is now on hold. The Arabic community has a lot to offer, after all our numeric system is based on Arabic numbers. Not to mention a lot of our astronomical knowledge and a shitload of physics come from the Persians. But you know how that goes, say Arabic and all anybody can think is Muslim terrorist. Of course this total nut job David Horowitz added his two bits worth.

( http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/horowitz-teachers-unions-leading-infiltration-islamic-jihadist-doctrines-our-k-12-school-sys)

I really don’t know who he is, but after reading this article I’m glad I don’t know him.

One of his quotes “What has the Arab world contributed except terror?” Hey David, didn’t you learn any history? Historically the Persion world has contributed a lot to the advancement and history of the world. Don’t forget that according to the Bible Persia is also part of the world where the whole human race started 6,000 years ago. Oh, you didn’t know Persia was the precurrser to Arabia? Anyway this guy sounds like a Beck, Hannity, O’Rielly club member. Spout hate with little facts. Just enough knowledge to incite your followers and keep the insanity in the country going. He supposedly was all up in arms because it was mandatory. Actually it was an elective. He spouted on and on about how this country is all about choice and not mandatory education. So based on his way of believing I guess we shouldn’t make English, Math, Science etc mandatory, we should just make it a free for all? You know that isn’t what he meant, it was all about the word Arabic, whether he wants to admit it or not.

I feel sad for my country. I graduated from a public school in 1975. I received a great education. They taught me to think critically. They taught me to question everything and to develop my own opinion based on the facts. It’s too bad this county doesn’t do this anymore in its’ public schools. I scored in the high 1400’s on my SATs but decided not to go on to college. I scored high enough on the military recruiting exams to be hounded by the Air Force for months. But, I was too busy making money, was tired of school and had no interest in going back.

However, at 27 I went back to school while working full time and 7 years later received a BS degree in Computer Science with a 3.75 average. I thank the PUBLIC education I received for being able to do that. Do I think I could do that if I was stuck with today’s public education? In one word, NO!  That is the type of things this country should be ashamed of, along with our current unemployed/underemployed poplulation. For some reason in this country today being well educated is viewed as a bad thing. When did this happen to us?

All I can say is continue to vote. Continue to speak out.  Like the Tea Party says, some day maybe we will get our county back.  And I certainly don’t mean the Tea Party version of our country.

Categories: Featured, News & Politics

63 Responses so far.

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  1. Dbos says:

    Most public schools in non poverty areas do extremely well in educating children because for the most part it is a partnership with the parent the school and the community;school’s in poverty area do not do very well even though they bring the kids the farthest, the kids in poverty start way back at a great disadvantage;there is no partnership in these communities because their world is at a basic survival level. Eliminating as much poverty as possible will improve education;we seem to be headed in the wrong direction by increasing poverty in America.

  2. ProfessorDuh says:

    Note the steady, right-wing propaganda drumbeat: Public education is worthless. Social Security should be cut. College isn’t necessary anymore. Union wages aren’t necessary anymore. Health insurance isn’t necessary anymore. Safety regulations aren’t necessary anymore. The minimum wage isn’t necessary anymore.
    You don’t need a university education to see that the intellectually bovine, Fox-fed American “consumers­” are being led straight to the grill at McDonald’s — but it helps. In the final irony, the “consumers” are what’s being consumed.

  3. PatsyT says:

    Thanks for this Ghostrider
    Last year around this time our local school district
    was going thru a teachers strike
    This is a post I did on it

    http://planetpov.com/2010/04/27/show-down-of-the-oc-moral/

    Since then some things have calmed down but
    here we go again
    More Budget Cuts on the way

    CUSD Budget Update: Bad, Bad News
    Even after $90 million in cuts over the past three years, the Capistrano Unified School District will need to trim at least $8.4 million more from its 2011-2012 budget, administrators told trustees Tuesday.

    And that’s in the “best case” scenario. Already the pressure is building to support Governor Jerry Brown’s push to extend state taxes. If that fails, CUSD will likely need to cut $350 per student. Projected enrollment for the next year is 50,523, Superintendent for Business and Support Services Ron Lebs told trustees.

    The worst-case scenario could see $25 million in cuts, Lebs said. In addition to the state budget’s woes, the district must grapple with a potential $2.8 million increase in mental-health costs for educating students who require special situations, $700,000 for new charter schools and other issues.

    http://capistranoinsider.typepad.com/beyond_the_blackboard/

    It could be a little as 8 million or as much as 25 million!
    Totally sucks at 10 dollars!

    Without realistic revenue districts all over the country are sunk.

    Also check out -- Joe the Nerd he just did a bit on this subject at “HP”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-the-nerd-ferraro/rocks-and-hard-places-is-_b_818604.html

    and the Education Alliance still has their creepy site up
    http://www.education-alliance.org/

  4. jdmn17 says:

    Where are the parents in all this? How many of them are glued to Fox screaming about how they want government out of their lives but abdicate responsibility to educate their own kids. I can’t believe it. Do they not give one shit about them? This country is suffering an epidemic of narcissism and it seems to be spreading

  5. Marion says:

    “How does a poor student from an inner city who received an education from an underfunded public school compete with some privileged kid who got an education from some well funded private school?”

    Why do you -- and others -- constantly pick, as examples of underfunded educational facilities, inner city examples? Don’t you realise that there are hordes of rural schools in rural counties, especially in the South and Midwest, who are equally as underfunded and whose students are yet another bunch of undereducated poor and working poor people to be preyed upon by the Republican party in their efforts to ensure that their base is kept strong?

    Or do we, as liberals, just write this demographic off, using the language taught us and inculcated in our psyche by the so-called “heroes” who reformed the Democratic party 40 years ago?

    Fifty-odd years ago a rural school system in poorest Arkansas gave us Bill Clinton. Today, Bill Clinton would be some undereducated drone working in the warehouse of a box store on a strip mall, who’d spend his evenings watching Fox News whilst getting high on oxycontin.

    But, sure, these people give us laughs. Best to help the urban poor, I suppose.

    • ghostrider says:

      Your right. I probably should have left the inner city part out of my statement. I guess I chose that because that is all you hear about.

      I know that there are rural areas that suffer from poor quality schools and I was not excluding them from consideration.

      The point was more about the ability to compete than about where the underfunded school is located. It doesn’t matter where the school is, the substance is that a graduate from an underfunded school and a graduate of an elite private school are not on the same page. Therefore they do not have equal opportunities in this country. That was the whole point of my statement.

    • Buddy McCue says:

      Thanks for pointing that out.

      I grew up in the rural South, and I have to consider myself mostly self-educated.

  6. ParadisePlacebo74 says:

    I’m surprised that the Texas Board of Edumacation hasn’t attempted to rename our number system “Freedom Numerals”.

  7. Ana44 says:

    I agree entirely and wholeheartedly with your assessment of education in America. There are two basic reasons why, in my view, though granted it’s a simplified view: one comes from the top down, and the other from the bottom up. In the 1950’s J.D. Rockefeller and friends decided that they didn’t want to educate the children of the masses. “We have no intention…” is the exact quote, but alas I’ve lost the source. We have been dumbed down purposely over the decades since then.
    The second fundamental problem is that in colleges, where most everyone is lumped together (apart from “honors” classes) communicating to the lowest common denominator lowers the quality and quantity of information transmitted. On the other hand, at better Universities many find that High School didn’t prepare students for the speed and style of teaching, and many drop out.

    Methods have changed since I went to primary school so I won’t comment on situations on that level. I do correct papers and exams at a State University in California and I can say that the level of writing, thinking, and general knowledge in upper division classes is pathetic. More are receiving A’s than deserve it. Teachers I know have had to lower the grade catagories or 50-75% of students would fail.
    That means that kids are graduating with scant achievement. I can attest to this being the case for 10+ years, at least. In addition, Computer Science, Science, and Math majors often think they don’t need to be well educated in Humanities. That’s a generational as well as a national issue, I think.

    There are many other problems depending on the age group and regional issues, of course. It’s not a one-size-fits-all problem by any means. One positive new development is the onset of something called “Forest Schools” for youngsters; perhaps you’ve heard of it. The idea comes from Russia, and you’ll find many articles about the concept online. It’s being tried here with great success. Class sizes are small and have almost as many adults as children in a group, so the mentoring is optimal for each child--but not stifling. Like Waldorf schools, the emphasis is on creativity and individual expression.

    One note of correction, fyi:
    Arabic numerals, higher maths, astronomy and physics that are attributed to the Arabs and Persians actually comes from India. The Arabs transmitted these, the Zero, and algebra to the West but were not the inventors. Harappan India was a trading partner of Sumeria and then Arab cultures from the 3rd-4th milleniums BCE. Prehistory is my specialty, and I can’t let misapprehensions slide on this topic. See: “Vedic mathematics” and “Harappan Civilization” for more information on the subject, but don’t trust the Wiki versions.

    Also, you might want to push the dates for early “man” back to 2.5 million years (toolmaking and migrations begin), as recent discoveries have found. Early hominids go back 6-7 million years (bipedality). Even Homo sapiens are thought to have emerged 250,000 yrs ago, with Homo erectus dating from ~1.5 m.y.a. A far cry form 6000 yrs indeed!

    • audadvnc says:

      A friend of mine met Barbara and GHW Bush during the 1980 presidential campaign, while working at some rich guy’s house. He overheard Babs talk about the GOP’s plan to gut the federal student loan programs.

      “But why? Don’t you want to have an educated citizenry?”, he asked.

      “Absolutely not”, was her reply. “It’s so hard to find decent, respectful help these days…”

    • Marion says:

      The breakdown in education started with Ronald Reagan, in earnest. Under LBJ’s social programming, the 1970s saw a record number of students in college enrollment, most of whom benefitted from professional scholarships and financial aid that didn’t lead to back-breaking debt.

      Students today are unable to think critically, and many cannot even determine opinion from fact. Hell, many adults can’t, and those aren’t just the ones confined to Fox News mentality. Plenty of people on the Left get their “news” from Ed Schultz or did from Keith Olbermann.

      I graduated high school in 1972. A rural school on the cusp of Northern Virginia. Anyone who had any pretensions of going to college was taught the art of critical thinking from early on in the curriculum. We were also taught how to debate without resorting to the final and failed tactic of argumentum ad hominem.

    • ghostrider says:

      Thanks for the corrections.

      I had always thought ancient Persia pretty much encompassed the entire region we now call the Middle east including India. Didn’t realize it was restricted to just the region that is called India today.

      I knew I was cutting my self short with the 100,000 years but it was more about the point than trying to be accurate with my numbers.

  8. glunkthunker says:

    I don’t believe its so much that standards are dropping, it’s that the current system of education is grossly outdated. The way that we or our parents were educated is not going to cut it anymore. The system is quickly becoming obsolete.

    Here’s an interesting video about the education paradigm. If you are into schooling issues, you’ve probably already seen it, but its cool enough to watch again. http://www.youtube.com/user/theRSAorg

  9. Chernynkaya says:

    I hope you don’t mind if I piggyback this onto your post, but it says so much of what I want to respond with. Anyway, with so many new people, I couldn’t help myself. 😳

    Clio Wept

    http://planetpov.com/2010/04/05/clio-wept/

  10. ChrisR266 says:

    Congratulations Ghostrider on your first post. I was struck by one segment of your post:
    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/horowitz-teachers-unions-leading-infiltration-islamic-jihadist-doctrines-our-k-12-school-sys)

    I really don’t know who he is, but after reading this article I’m glad I don’t know him.
    ______________________________________________

    Everybody, if they care at all about education in this country, should investigate this guy.
    David Horowitz has been the single most destructive influence on higher and public education the last quarter century. He couches his dogma in the fluffy yet clearly propagandistic cause of bring “open and free intellectual interchange to our nation’s colleges and universities.” Please reference his web site, http://www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org/ for a taste of this warped approach to couching radical right wing ideology in populist language.
    What I find most disturbing about the whole of how we view public education in our country today is the absurdly high and unrealistic bar we hold teachers, administrations, and school districts accountable to in the 21st Century. No Child Left Behind has left the whole nation’s education system teaching to tests, instead of imparting a body of knowledge and the requisite intellectual skills to deal with that knowledge. School Boards and parents have abdicated their responsibilities to participate in the educational process; local and state governments have said “too damned bad” about the funding formulas that leave some wide swaths of school districts wholly unable to compete with districts populated with homeowners of upper middle or upper class incomes. I’m just mentioning the more obvious pedagogical, content, and fiscal problems facing all public school districts today.

    Finally, I will just mention one more thing that occurred to me as I was reading comments on this post:
    I too graduated from public school in the mid 1970s, 1975 to be exact. I graduated with a wealth of knowledge and intellectual skill thanks to the teachers and the curriculum with which they challenged us. I was fortunate to have parents who would not let me think anything other than that I would be going to college, hell or high water, and that I (even though I was a female) would not be considered a success unless I obtained that Bachelor’s Degree. Important to note that, since I was certainly in the minority in my graduation class of 450 plus. I was going to college, and I was a female.
    But all of that is secondary to my point. In the 1970s, public schools were the admired schools across the country. Students who attended parochial and/or private schools were considered inferior on all standard measures of educational success. Curriculum was not as advanced, teachers were paid less because they didn’t have to be as prepared, and on all generally accepted measures of educational achievement at the time, private schools produced students who fell short of the achievement levels of public school students.
    This reality was manifest in how high school students excelled in colleges during the last half of the seventies and into the early eighties; it wasn’t until the mid to late eighties, when the onerous effects of Reaganomics started raining down on local governments, that public schools began to suffer the ramifications of shrinking budgets and misguided decision making.

    Ok, enough of my diatribe. People like David Horowitz are an insidious cancer on our efforts to straighten out public education, and they work toward the worst, most disingenuous ends.

    Sad and wholly shameful.

  11. Chernynkaya says:

    Ghostrider-- congrats on your first post! Well done! You’ve hit on something that is a real interest of mine, and a deep concern.

    As others here have said-- this is a deliberate tactic by the Right, and the reason is obvious. It pay off at the polls to have an uneducated electorate.

    There is a movement afoot by the Baggers in particular to abolish the Department of Education. Rand Paul’s idea to kill the education agency would affect poor most.

    States traditionally get 10 percent of their education dollars from the federal government — $429 million in Kentucky, according to the state.

    In one county, that translates to $25 million, nearly 65 percent of which is used to help level the academic playing field for disadvantaged and challenged students through smaller class sizes, reading and math enrichment programs, and classroom assistants.

    The other really major thing the Department of Education has done is focus schools and educators on all children. We can’t afford to educate only some of our children. Nor would that be moral or, to my thinking, even Constitutional. If we take away the push to help all children and then you take away the financial support that provides extra targeting, then you are really going to leave those children in the trash.

    Doing away with the U.S. Department of Education, which administers a budget of $63.7 billion and serves 56 million students, would force officials to determine whether to downsize, reassign or eliminate an array of programs.

    Programs on the chopping block would include Title I, which distributes funds to schools and districts with high numbers of low-income students; Pell Grants for low-income college students; and Head Start, an early childhood education program for lower-income children.

    President Johnson started the War on Poverty; Republicans want a War on the Poor.

    Calls to abolish the Department of Education are part of a broader plot by the Right to cripple the Federal government. It was Reagan’s main platform.

    Though the Department of Education was established under President Carter, its reach was expanded dramatically during Dubya’s administration with the No Child Left Behind law.

    Holding schools accountable for every child’s progress is the law’s broad goal, but many Baggers and Righties like Paul see NCLB as an unprecedented intrusion into what had been a local matter. After all, how can you re-write history, teach creationism, and downright brainwash your kids if there are federal STANDARDS?

    PAUL: I would rather the local schools decide things. I don’t like the idea of somebody in Washington deciding that Susie has two mommies is an appropriate family situation and should be taught to my kindergardener at school. That’s what happens when we let things get to a federal level. I think I would rather have local school boards, teachers, parents, people in Paduka deciding about your schools and not have it in Washington.

    http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/10/15/two-mommies-paul/

    • Abbyrose86 says:

      What you posted Cher is very disturbing and I agree with you as to the intent.

      WE have to fight with all we got the concept of limiting education…education is WHAT we need more of not less of…and local schooling are the least able to adequately compete in a global marketplace.

      National standards, that actually make sense are needed…the ‘no child life behind” was joke…however federal mandates as to curriculum levels shouldn’t be…

      AS to the war on the poor, that is with out a doubt on the agenda…but WHY? WHAT creates such avarice for those less fortunate? AGAIN I point to education….those who don’t understand or aren’t privy to the various theories, concepts and ideas are most easily swayed by these most ridiculous ideas…but I must dig further…WHAT is the motivation for such hatred toward those who usually are born into such situations? WHAT is their end game? THAT is what is puzzling me so…World domination and absolute power have never resulted in positive effects in the long run…so WHY are so many determined to make that their goal?

  12. boomer1949 says:

    Welcome to The Planet ghostrider!

    My daughter is a Kindergarten teacher and has been teaching for almost 8 years now. She has a B.A. in Education and a Masters in Teaching and Learning with a concentration in Literacy.

    She has chosen to teach in a rural, lower income school district because she believes these kids need a hand up. She is dedicated to her profession. One of her biggest frustrations is lack of parental involvement, yet she and her colleagues are expected to make up for it.

    Many school districts across the country are putting this responsibility on the teachers and holding them accountable, when much of it should be happening at home. It’s called parenting.

  13. KQuark says:

    Excellent piece. You are absolutely correct the only way to fix our education system is through intervention by the Federal government. Unfortunately I think our educational system will limp along because it’s by far the hardest issue to face in a extremely polarized environment.

    Trying to be positive and looking at solutions we should look to countries like Ireland who actually have improved their educational systems the last few years. Of could Ireland has a fiscal crisis because they spent allot of money in things like education AND lowered their tax rates far too much especially for business. Not to mention they got caught up will the financial collapse with their risky investments that were not suppose to be that risky.

  14. phread says:

    The dumbing down of America is a deliberate action…


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