U.S. Education: Beyond the Tipping Point - On the Way to Oblivion
Nov 24, 2009 Other 1915 Views
U.S. education, once the envy of the world is on a downward spiral. Rest assured... America education is madly rushing past the critical tipping point. The loss of high paying manufacturing jobs, the outsourcing of technology jobs to other countries and high unemployment are major concerns. But even more serious are the high drop-out rates of our high school students which is over 30% nationally and over 50% in our 17 largest cities. These drop-out students lack even the most basic skills needed to compete in the workplace. They are for the most part destined to be unemployable and a drain on our nation.
In spite of many national, state and local initiatives, schools have failed their students for years with little or no improvement in achievement. More than 1.2 million students in the United States failed to graduate from high school this year! This dirty little epidemic has been going on for well over a decade.
It doesn't stop there. According to one study, "60 percent of employers' question whether a high school diploma means students have learned applied academic basics." Many employers put relatively low priority on candidates' years of schooling and grade-point average.
In my discussions with employers, they reveal increasing numbers of high school graduates who cannot do "applied" math, perform basic measurements and fill out job applications. Employers also find that college graduates (products of our high schools) are having difficulty writing clear concise reports. Although computer skills are generally good with the young generation of new workers, many rely on spell-check, not realizing the difference between words such as "there" and "their."
As a country we are focused on health care when the greatest challenge in the United States today is the need to drastically reform and improve our public education system. "Education Care" should be our national priority. The failure to provide effective education to all of our young citizens not only squanders a national resource...our children's potential; but also widens the gap between those global countries who are heavily investing in education and our future ability to compete economically.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, civil rights leader Al Sharpton and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have toured four cities to highlight the Obama administration's efforts to reform public education, spur innovation and discuss challenges facing America's school systems. This is noteworthy, but the media has not treated this event on a continual basis as "breaking news" nor has the administration continually spoken to the true seriousness of our nation's education debacle.
Many schools keep asking for more money; but, simply investing in a "status quo system" is not going to move the system from mediocre to excellence. More of the same is not going to fix the steady decline in our education system. We must dramatically reform the standards expected of both teachers and students. We must close the present-day failing "drop-out factories," replacing them with true school houses of learning and preparation.
Parents and students must get involved and place a high priority on educational excellence not only of themselves, but also demanding a meaningful curriculum which prepares the student so they are both college ready and work ready. They must demand the type of curriculum which teaches both theory and more importantly the ability to apply what they have learned. This is a dramatic departure from the present-day watered down and broken system. We must dramatically reform the standards expected of both teachers and students. We must replace school boards, administrators and teachers who underperform, continue the status quo thinking and do not execute on what they were hired to do...produce students equipped to be successful in life after school.
We are beyond the tipping point... we must reverse our collective path to intellectual oblivion. We must have the courage to quickly fix the present failing system, start fresh and start over. We have some great teachers and schools but they are too far and too few to meet the demands of the 21st Century. Bottom line... We must all look in the mirror and realize that we are part of the problem and become part of the solution. We must call our present educational system what it is...a national disaster!