Overheard on CNN: Debate between Ravitch, Rhee – Teacher: 'Just let me teach.'
August 16th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Overheard on CNN: Debate between Ravitch, Rhee – Teacher: 'Just let me teach.'

Editors note: A recent Schools of Thought reader made this comment: "Equal air time for Ravitch – all this can and should be debated fairly – the blog space is welcome but insufficient." Diane Ravitch is scheduled to appear on CNN Newsroom Weekend with Randi Kaye this Saturday, August 18.

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) – Education historian and professor Diane Ravitch took issue with a recent CNN appearance by former D.C. Schools chancellor Michele Rhee. Rhee and Ravitch both believe that quality teaching can make a difference in the classroom. But the two have fundamental differences in their beliefs about the quality of America's education system and its teachers.

Rhee told CNN, "The problem is that people don't understand where we stand right now in international rankings on academics. We are behind countries like Hungary and Luxembourg."  On Schools of Thought, Ravitch responded, "[Rhee] is obviously unaware that our nation has never had high scores on those tests. When the first international test was given in 1964, our students ranked 11th out of 12 nations. Yet our nation went on to become the most powerful economy in the world."

Rhee's organization, StudentsFirst, says on its website that "an effective teacher produces three times more learning than an ineffective teacher," but Rhee's critics, including Ravitch, say the group ignores the influence of poverty in America. Ravitch says that, "Family poverty is the most reliable predictor of low test scores," and that America has a much higher poverty rate than other countries.

Ravitch's response to Rhee was well-received by teachers, among others.

David L:  Finally someone with the guts and knowledge to say what is really going on. As a 30+ year veteran in the public schools I agree with Diane Ravitch. You cannot compare our public school performance given great variety of demographics with other countries. However, we should not dig a hole in the ground and discount what other countries are doing in education. We should try out some of their successes.

Dan H: Ravitch is correct in her criticism of Rhee, but too polite. Rhee simply does not know what she's talking about and has a huge political agenda. She was in the classroom for only two years before she fled to administration and that isn't enough time to learn or know much about teaching and education. A dirty little secret in the education business is that often teachers go into administration because they weren't particularly effective in the classroom.

Alice in PA: It seems as if people misunderstand Ravitch's comments about poverty. What the research shows is that there is a culture of poverty that tends to keep families in a generational cycle of poverty. This research is more than just a correlation. There is causation, also. If the parents are working several minimum wage jobs just to get by, then that is the world that their kids see. Is school portrayed as just something you have to do or is school something that is constantly being held as an opportunity to do something better? Ravitch has never said she has all the answers. What she says is that the answers touted by the corporate reformers have been shown to be overwhelmingly ineffective and that we need to address the core issues and poverty is probably the largest one of those.

makingaschoolsmile: Read Ravitch's books, she has plenty. Here is her best solution – equalize the playing field and fund schools equally. How about dealing with the issues within poverty that serve as the real barriers to education – this is her best solution that our government refuses to address. Go work in a school and you will immediately see how correct she is and this has nothing to do with the status quo.

Not everyone agrees with Ravitch's assessment:

Penny Wu: I see nothing in her article other than generalities. Ms Ravitch is against merit pay. She is against the war on teachers. She is against the attack on teachers unions. She is against poverty. And she is against the Race to The Top. Wonderful. Perhaps she will come out against broccoli as well.

Paul Scotchmer: Diane Ravitch is right on one count: "Parents must be involved in helping their kids succeed." But that only happens in privately-run schools. The answer to America's education malaise, quite clearly, is vouchers. The need is especially acute in the inner cities, where private and charter schools-freed from the public education bureaucracy-have shown that it's possible to educate students from impoverished homes and communities, bringing an end to the cycle of poverty. I'm so sorry to see a brilliant and informed scholar like Diane Ravitch succumb to the status quo. What a shame!

Lucas Mette: I'm a teacher in a low income school, and in my opinion this article is wrong on all counts. Teachers can and do make a profound difference, and they can overcome the intimidating obstacles created by poverty. Some of my 8th grade students attend school regularly but cannot read, even on a first grade level. This is a scandal. Merit pay need not be done in a way that makes teachers compete within their school. Offering a bonus for a job well done is not a "war on teachers."

manzoa: Let's see if I have this right. Diane Ravitch is a professor who has never worked in the public schools as an administrator or teacher. She does research and opines about public eduction. Michelle Rhee was the chancellor of the DC schools and has had a distinguished career in the trenches. Now which of these two should be believe? Put another way...would you want a surgeon to perform a liver transplant on you if all the surgeon had ever done was read about liver transplants? Or would you prefer a surgeon who had actual experience transplanting livers?

The debate shifted toward an essential question: Are America's schools better or worse than they have been in the past?

magbill: Ravitch spends most of the article pleading for us to ignore what every long-time teacher know, including family members of mine – that schools are markedly worse than 30 years ago. Then she disparages efforts to improve, while offering NO SOLUTIONS HERSELF – except to praise tenure (!) and 'culture'. In short, she is invested in the status quo. Ravitch is the problem, not the solution.

djheru: Yes, 30 years ago was just about when the approaches that Rhee advocates for were being first put into practice.

Tom S: Having raised 3 kids, all of whom went to the same public school I did (separated by 30+ years), I can attest to the following – my children are much smarter than I am, they worked much harder than I did (and received better grades) and the bar has been raised much higher. Pure and simple – my school is an order of magnitude better today than it was 30 years ago....Ms. Ravitch – please continue your advocacy.

jreddog1: Many adults, and many complaining adults live in this fantasy world of what they were like in school 30 years ago. Kids aren't more stupid. THEY ARE KIDS. Lazy, excuse making kids who seem to show no focus or care about the world around them JUST LIKE ALL KIDS, even the ones 30 years ago. Adults live in this magical fantasy land where they imagine this school where everyone sits upright, and raises their hands to answer questions in a timely manner and no one bullies – they imagine that it was like that when they were in school. IT WASN'T. I taught the same kids 30 years ago and you know what? A high percentage of them turned out just fine, just like the kids of today will. You were not smarter and better than these kids 30 years ago – you were the same type of kid living a typical teenaged life.

When it comes to America's schools, there are a lot of stakeholders – teachers, parents, administrators, unions, politicians, and the students themselves. Our readers find room to blame several of these groups:

Al: Teachers are not effective and there have been many studies conducted as to why. Government policy, teacher/student ratio, and parents deserve much of the blame... but teachers are still part of the problem. There are far too many teachers who simply do a poor job.

William Demuth: I am APPALLED by the lack of BASIC knowledge in today’s young people, but I do not blame them. I blame primarily the parents, and secondarily the system itself. We indulge ourselves, and thus our children. We flee from real intellectual stimulus, and instead permit pop culture and modern media to distract us. We sacrifice analytic thought and rationalism for the pale comparators of mysticism and athleticism, and then we look for scapegoats to blame. We have created a very limited intelligentsia that carries the majority of the burden of real thought for the rest of our culture and this tendency is being exacerbated by the stresses of the economy.

jorge washinsen: Check the attendance numbers at PTA meetings and compare them against the number of students and you will begin to understand the real problem.

New Gawker: Most of the blame is with the teachers union. Making it impossible to fire bad teachers, corruption, wasting money on "administrative" costs that should go to books and school upkeep. Switch to chartered schools like New Orleans and you'll see a major upswing in education.

Sharon: Bad management that is asleep at the wheel leads to lazy teachers not being pushed and written up. The union contract requires that teachers who rate poorly on in classroom evaluations receive support in addressing the issues in question. The problem is many bad school managers don't visit classrooms regularly and do not document the issues. Bad teachers do not have lesson plans, don't check homework regularly and follow up with parents. This is real easy to see if the managers are doing their jobs.

Or maybe no one is to blame?

jdoe: It's interesting that people who blame the U.S. public school system point to test scores in Asia or Europe. Yet they neglect to mention that in Asia or Europe there are very strong public school systems. Public education in itself is not the problem.

Finally A Voice of Reason: Stop blaming teachers, stop blaming parents, stop blaming kids – stop blaming period – and start improving the daily circumstances of kids living in poverty.

And finally, a teacher's response:

Gina: I know for a fact, that I have reached students who have no one in this life. The teacher is also a major influence...if he or she is a good one. We can't just throw up our hands and say, "OK, these kids have no parental involvement. Life sucks. Oh well." Many, many of them can be reached by a good teacher who is allowed to teach. Just let me teach.

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Filed under: Diane Ravitch • Michelle Rhee • Overheard on CNN • Voices
soundoff (365 Responses)
  1. Mariah O

    This article made me pull more towards Ravitch’s belief that America has never had very good test scores, but we used to have one of the strongest economies. America’s worst cost for it's citizens is the cost for someone to go to school. I believe that as a nation, a lot of us live in a fantasy that there’s nothing wrong with our country unless someone in authority says there is. Poverty has always affected American’s, more than a lot of people know. How can someone who is impoverished be expected to pay for their schooling. I know that teacher’s deserve a salary, but there has to be more government funding available. An international student can attend any Canadian university for about 14.5 thousand dollars a year. That’s about 5 thousand dollars less than an instate student at Castleton State College will pay for their tuition this year. For kids who can’t afford to attend school, or those that are still in elementary/secondary school that are impoverished, they may find that their time is better spent working or watching and taking care of their younger siblings. Education may not be their top priority because of the price of it. Their test scores might not be the greatest because even if they want to go to school, they have other problems to think about. I don't think it's fair for a child to preform on their highest level at school if their mind's are focused on their home lives. I'm a freshman in college and hope to become a teacher in the future. I know that I will be an advocate for cheaper education, or at least more government funding. A few weeks before I went to join Castleton, a lot of my funding was dropped because my brother was considered an independent student (he will be attending graduate school this year) but, my parents are still the one's paying for a large amount of his schooling, and are also helping pay for mine. Two of my friends from high school (who are twins) wouldn't even look into school because there would be almost no way for them to attend college. One of the twins was 8th in my class out of 162. There should be some way for them to attend school. There should be some way for American student's to attend school without a large financial burden. How can we have high test scores with such high financial burden and lack of interest to continue in school because of the price of school?

    August 28, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  2. angkor century resort

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    August 27, 2012 at 5:48 am |
  3. daveyoung

    "just let me teach" sez the author.....and I say let me put my kids throgh private schools using vouchers.
    I will send them to public schools when the unions are ousted, and when tenure is extinguished, and when public schools adopt a balanced political agenda rather than pushing the liberal agenda alone and destroying American culture.

    August 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  4. Indigo

    Teacher's can duck and weave all they want, but when they slack off, or disagree with the teaching program our kids suffter. And then there are unions. Not needed. They should be able to be fireed on the spot just like anyone else. Our kids are one of the most precious things we have....not the teacher, they are valuable, only if they are doing well in their job that they are paid to do.

    August 21, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  5. daveyoung

    Privatize our dysfunctional public schools. They truly are inferior and the Department of Re-education has made them worse than bad. Shut it down.

    August 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • a true educator

      sadly – privatizing would result in a far worse outcome–if business tries to pull profit from that which is in the public's greater interest, the "bottom line" of educating deeply and well will certainly suffer–much like what has happened in our out-of-wack healthcare system–we spend twice as much as any other industrialized country on Healthcare yet have a 20 or below ranking in all important areas cuz hospitals and insurance and pharm.must show a profit in our country–you can already see what is happening with lots of the charters who are in business to syphon the public funds for their profit–they do not have near the results in overall education (not just the NCLB-style tests) and college professors are positively freaking out at those students' serious inability to acutally THINK, never mind the fact taht they rarely accept difficult or special needs students-most charters teach to the test with low level canned programs produced by publishers looking to sell another bill of goods (and profit from schools yet again) FOLLOW THE MONEY if you want to know what is wrong with any of the human areas which should not be profit-driven-medicine, prisons, schools....

      August 22, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  6. daveyoung

    The Department of Re-education would love to let you teach....as long as you teach communism and Barack`s love letters to Mao. It`s in it`s sixth edition at http://www.amazonian.org

    August 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  7. c max

    With everything else, we seem to think you get what you pay for, yet we don't want to pay more for classroom resources, teachers, or programs.

    August 19, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  8. Catona

    I was a teacher for ten years before leaving the profession for a career in medicine. There are a number of factors that apply to the current situation of education in this country and none are simple to address. One thing I noticed was the last statement of a teacher where she asks to just be allowed to teach. That was the overwhelming sentiment of the teachers with whom I worked, for so many reasons that it is impossible to list them in a post such as this. Somewhere along the line over that past few decades, we have changed the role of the teacher to include many aspects formerly the domain of the parent.

    August 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  9. patiat

    Diane Ravitch was one of the first and strongest proponents of the now utterly discredited No Child Left Behind program. Sadly, the impetus for creating NCLB has existed for a long time and people still believe in testing, testing and more testing as a means of judging teacher accountability. People are only too willing to fall in line behind someone's statistical analysis that shows their district making gains, when the tests themselves are often flawed. And this kind of testing is used to analyze teacher effectiveness in schools where students show up for school utterly unprepared for success: their parents are uninvolved or absent, the kids' lives are chaotic and they have no time to sit and read or do any kind of homework, and their social lives outside of school not only make school a low priority but also casts students in a negative light if they do too well in class. How can poor performance under those conditions be considered exclusively the responsibility of the teacher?

    August 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
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      August 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
      • goodguy

        great story to share

        August 20, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • TC

      I almost went into teaching and have several friends that did. The standardization of material is an outrageous concept that was doomed to fail since its creation. Most kids don't understand the point of these standardized tests and since get no reward or punishmnet for their efforts then they don't care about the test. Instead of requiring some random bubble test to ensure concepts are being grasped require schools to conduct orals and essays. This would promote critical thinking, social skills as well as some public speaking which most people fear to begin with. The school can get a board and grade the material. It would be a large undertaking at the beginning but the benefits would outweight the costs for sure

      August 20, 2012 at 4:19 am |
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    August 19, 2012 at 3:03 am |
  12. Karen

    Teachers can and do make a difference is low income schools. The difference may not always be academics but may be found in giving a student hope, a positive self-image, or a relationship that is missing. Many teachers, myself included, work 50-60+ hours weekly, Sat. & sun. included to ensure students receive the best we have to give. However, if students are not prepared to work and learn when they enter a school or classroom, all of that can be for naught. I am a propnent of dress codes/uniforms to prepare our students to learn. I am a proponent of strict behavioral guidelines that holds all students accountable for their behavior choices. Constant disruptive behaviors that are not corrected by the student cheats others from a positive learning environment. We cannot continue to be afraid to hold students accountable. I am a proponent of the return to neighborhood schools where we can once again establish a sense of comunity and parents can easily participate in the school without worrying about the price of gas to get there.The results of true learning are not always immediate but are achieved during time.

    August 18, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  13. Joe

    As the husband to an ESE specialist I must say that Its the PARENTS. Parents that are involved with their children will have educated children. Parents that allow the boo b tube or the local streets to be their baby sitter will have just that, boo bs. I can not count how many time my wife has come to me complaining about the PARENTS of one of her students not being involved with their children. Nor can I count how many times she has come to me telling me she has had to go and buy one of her students supplies, clothes and food. Just to give you an idea of the negligence of some of her parents; The mother of one of her students would sell her childrens cloths to go and buy drugs. Yep, its the teachers that are the problem.

    August 18, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  14. Norm

    The real problem is that when you ask any of these groups what the problem is they all have the same answer: Not me! Probably the only thing they actually agree on.

    August 18, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  15. bigdicmegee

    it never ceases to amaze me how ppl will chase their own tails: Rhee and others like her are all about themselves. Rhee didnt survive the trenches. She taught like 2 years and admitted to taping students mouths shut. Clue she had no classroom control. Boom why was she cut loose from DC; hmmmm, something about test scores not being quite right. kind of like what happened in ATL. Want to find out really how bad it is: research Beverely Hall and Rhee regarding fake test scores. They both claim to be for the students when clearly the facts show its all about them.

    August 18, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Dan McConnell (@DMaxMJ)

      I just watched Kaye speak with Ravitch. There is some political/financial motivation for Randi/CNN to treat the chance to hear from Diane as instead a chance to discredit her point of view. I had to go and find the Rhee interview Kaye did, because I had avoided it (knowing what I would hear from Rhee). I was more interested in seeing if Rhee had survived the slings and arrows, the cherry picked and invalid use of data, the portrayal of struggles as automatic assumptions of systemic failure...

      Rhee got no such treatment. Even questions posed as quasi-criticisms were only softballs lobbed for Rhee to continue Students First PR. Diane gets ambushed with 1 student letter, 1 poverty stricken district/state, data is used selectively to support Kaye’s foregone conclusion, and the devastation profiteering has already caused this nation and the bulk of it’s children is ignored. Good teachers will reverse outsourcing and the undermining of the middle class family, Kaye? Really?

      Rhee gets “tell us more about what you think”. CNN, Randi Kaye…do you not know Rhee’s history? How she benefits from “reform”? How ALEC really operates and what it’s legislative agenda is regarding public money to private pockets?

      August 18, 2012 at 9:38 am |
      • Pam Willever

        Dan, Well said my thoughts exactly. Randi Kaye needs to go work for FOX NEWS, or is CNN tuning into FOX NEWS.

        August 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Anonymous

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      Adam, UK

      August 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  16. Huge Rod Long Dong

    yes let me see. give the monopoly more money as scores remain flatlined. idiots.. jezzz. bust up this monopoly so we can see some improvment. and get rid of friggin tenure. what a joke

    August 18, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Alice in PA

      Scores have not remained flatlined. Look at the desegregate SAT and NAEP scores. More minorities are taking the SAT and their scores are rising. And a lot of the additional money lately has gone to testing companies and data management companies. Rises in the 80's went to increasing services for students with special needs, something that was sorely needed. Teacher salaries have merely kept pace with inflation, as have the salaries of most other professions.

      August 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  17. Juanita

    We are doing something very noble in the USA. We are trying to teach EVERY child that walks in the door. Our test scores are so abysmally low because we test every child. I have been teaching for decades and about five years ago I heard the terms "teaching beyond a student's ability" and "teaching beyond a student's intelligence". I thought people were crazy to say such things. But now, here I am, preparing students for tests that are far beyond their ability or intelligence. I wonder every day what the heck I am doing in the classroom. I am preparing students with a 70 IQ for PSAT exams and advanced writing exams. It's wrong and it's wrong at so many levels I want to scream. This has nothing to do with my ability as a teacher, or the union, or poverty. It is noble and wonderful to believe all our students can achieve at high levels. But many of our students–many people–are academically unable or academically unwilling and we spend millions of dollars trying to educate them. My brother is head of a math department at a university. He says high schools are doing nothing for the top kids. They just let them float because they will achieve anyway. We have very noble goals. But noble isn't always right or good. We need to look at what is best for each human being. Preparing students who are academically unable or unwilling to take standardized tests is wrong. We need to prepare students for THEIR future. What can they do? What will they do when they get out of school? How can we prepare them for that? My school superintendent used to talk about the "global economy" and how we had to prepare these kids for these BIG jobs. I had kids who were 16 year old and stumped by reading a newspaper. Not because they were taught poorly but because they had low IQs. Really? I'm going to teach them complex technology and advanced writing skills? Neither am I going to teach a kid who smokes pot on the way to school and falls asleep at his desk drooling. We need to do things differently. Instead of looking at who we are teaching, we bully teachers. It's not working.

    August 18, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • sparklyworld

      Juanita, our test scores are not abysmally low. NAEP scores are the highest they've ever been in our country's history.

      August 18, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • MN

      BRAVO!!! What a wonderful response and so true! I am happy to work at a private school for kids with emotional/behavioral/or learning problems and we need to be realistic! We do all sorts of work experience programs to get kids out of the classroom and learning how to work a job, specifically for some of the kids who have a very low IQ, who will not be going to college or be an executive. Now that is not to say that is the case for all our students, some do go onto college and do well for themselves, but the reality is, 75-80% of the students in my school will never go to college and the ones that do very often go to a 2 yr school (nothing wrong with that). We need to prepare these kids for LIFE, not college, and it is not discriminatory or cruel to be realistic about it.

      August 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  18. Emily

    I completely agree with Ravitch...How can a few represent the how nation? Privatizing the public school system is just bypassing the issue.

    August 18, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  19. MyObservance

    I raised 4 children, who went to numerous schools. Almost all of those schools had this one thing in common: they set the bar low, then didn't try to hit it. They were concerned more with Not Leaving A Child Behind than teaching them.

    August 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Huge Rod Long Dong

      and thier pension and insurance

      August 18, 2012 at 9:03 am |
      • Tmon

        If the getting is so good for teachers, why don't you join them?

        August 18, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  20. Francisco Villanueva

    Ms. Reeh’s comparison with Luxembourg with a view to criticize the American educational system is totally inappropriate. Luxembourg is not a Third World country, but one of the richest countries on Earth. Its GDP per capita is US $ 81 100 (USA's GDP per capita = $ 49 000). It seems that there is someone out there who should read his old geography books.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • kijiji

      My family and I immigrated to the USA when I was in high school. Back in my poor African country I attended a public high school where classes started at 6:30 am until 9 pm M-F, on Saturdays 7-12 noon. Needless to say, I was easily top in my "white suburban" high school in most classes including Chemistry, Math, Physics and ENGLISH! In my African country, I was around position 20. The American high school I attended was supposedly "one of the best." What a joke!

      August 18, 2012 at 6:23 am |
      • JLMZEN

        We don't want to pay for education in this country. We want to vote for American Idol, but not pay for education. We are the architects of our own downfall. Less Tea Party, more education funding!

        August 18, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  21. Bdub

    One of the problems in California is the amount of illegal immigrant children filling up the schools. Like it or not, its the truth. The problem is that a lot of them do not speak english at home, therefore speak it very poorly at schools. With that, teachers have to spend a lot more time with those students, which puts the rest of the class at a disadvantage. This problem has been compounding for years now and we have been seeing the effect. Like is said, this is especially true in Southern California.

    August 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  22. Scott Hieger

    have been teaching for 20 years and am very concerned with the amount of hatred thrown at educators. What most people seem to forget is that ALL of the countries with the highest scores are mono-cultural, whereas we a multicultural nation. Yes, there are bad teachers that need to be removed, however, the vast majority of teachers do an amazing job teaching an incredibly diverse student population. Look that the scores of the minority populations in China as compared to the majority Han. The minority academic scores are abysmal! Only 35% of Tibetans graduate from Han schools. The U.S.A. really does do a great job teaching ALL students.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Cheetahe

      How much do the Chinese spend for education per student vs the USA?
      Furthermore if multiculturalism in the US is the cause of our lower educational achievement how are we going to economically compete with the mono-cultural countries of the world?
      Can we perform economically to world standards if the present trend in educational under performance continues.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
      • Scott Hieger

        Do not confuse "multiculturalism" with having multiple cultures in a classroom. I have students from all over the world and from every social-economic background. This raises the educational bar. Teaching World History to students that come to this country illiterate in their own language, come from widely different cultures, and from all social classes is much more time consuming when compared to teaching a students who all speak the same language, grew up in the same culture, and more or less belong to the same social class.

        We cannot just ignore these kids, or say that they should just go back to their own countries. In America, everyone has the right and opportunity to receive an education- and we do a pretty good job. Finland's educational system couldn't begin to do what we do.

        August 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • illmatar

      ALL students is a key factor in this. We teach all kids and their scores factor in. As it should be. This includes children with Down's Syndrome or any other factor which impedes their learning. China has more children in its top 10% than we have students all together. A lot of the countries we are competing with don't bother with educating kids that have learning disabilities at all...and others don't include the scores of anything but the "college-bound" crowd in their data. I'm sure if the USA only put the scores of their top students out there, we'd shoot right up the ranks.

      I think our way is better, but it makes us look bad by comparison.

      August 18, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • Huge Rod Long Dong

      get over it. to friggin bad. we taxpayers are tierd of feeding the monopoly machine more and more as you remain medicore

      August 18, 2012 at 9:04 am |
      • DiedrichKyrian

        Perhaps we're tired of carrying your kids who dont want to succeed in school. Easy to blame people and easy to point the finger. Tired of everyone going "We want this but dont want to pay for it, or it's all their fault." Its *ALL* our faults. Yours included. Accept the fact, move on and fix it.

        August 18, 2012 at 9:58 am |
      • Doug

        Judging from your response Mr. Dong we have certainly failed you....back to night school?,

        August 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  23. ShawnDH

    Of course US education is failing and will fail as long as tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires are more important than funding public education. We more on "defense" than the next 19 biggest military spending nations COMBINED, yet we are cutting education? That's sick. What will there be to defend if we're a nation of uneducated morons?

    August 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  24. etm

    This is the way to bring the quality of education up.. Accept more Asian students in college. DO you know why there are more asians in college? because college is so expensive and mostly Asian parents are willing to spend for their kids education even after age 18, while with the other races, ready or not, kids are thrown out of the house and are on their own after reaching 18 years old.

    August 17, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  25. fairequal

    When my dad was transferred to germany, in order for me to graduate high school i would need to go 5 years to get the rquired course instrucion and class credits. I had been going to school in Oklahoma.

    August 17, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  26. Skeptic

    What we failed in education, we made up for it in immigration. We are just another Qatar who failed to educate their own citizens but import workers to do everything they need.

    August 17, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  27. An age-old problem

    "Overheard"? It's been "overheard" for the past 50 years.

    August 17, 2012 at 4:54 am |
  28. JUGGERNAUT

    SO SINCE 1964 THE USA WAS 11th out of 12??? but the GOP will make you believe that our education only started failing sine Obama took office in 2009.

    August 17, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • Jimmy

      Get over your politics. Anything to demonize the other side with some of you people!

      As a country, all of us, both Democrats and Republicans alike have spent billions upon billions on education in the last 4 decades. We spend significantly more per student than other countries. Yet here we are in the same place we were all those years ago. If that isn't enough to tell you that Money is not the answer then nothing is.

      We are talking Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagen, Bush, Clinton, Bush & Obama. Money does not educate, the system and the teacher do. It is time for some different thinking "within" the public school systems.

      August 17, 2012 at 10:28 am |
      • Alice in PA

        But Jimmy your basic information is wrong. We do not outspend other countries. Look at the PISA international study.

        August 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • pwr

      no...oh no...it was George Bush!

      August 18, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  29. Carla Vazq

    My husband and my two children moved to Quito, Ecuador two years ago. My family spoke Spanish and English fluently before we moved here.

    When we got to Quito they gave my two children their entrance exam for their age and year in school. Both of my children failed it! I had to enroll them into additional classes to bring the up to date. They had to attend school for 10 hours each day for 60 school days.

    After the 60 school days, they were allowed to take another test which was very similar. This time they passed.

    If I had enrolled them into a private school they would have done worse on their tests. Private schools are difficult here.

    In the States my children were making A's and B's and here they are making C's and B's. But they are improving.

    August 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Charly Fitzgerald

      I believe you! I studied some years in a latino country and I felt the huge difference between public schools from here and those from this latino countries but there's hope. At University level we are more succesful because of the huge resources we spend on it but, still it amazes me the quality of the education you can get from some low budget schools around the world.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:15 am |
      • Cheetahe

        It is very true that money alone is not the answer to our educational problems. We are spending a tremendous amount of money for education and look at the results we are getting. California is spending 50% of its state budget on education and it is not doing any better than any other state in the union.
        Lack of parent participation and interest in their kids education, language barriers, some of the teachers indifference, teacher unions, excessive amount of school bureaucracy, etc killing any efforts by the good teachers who are trying to do their job. They are the heroes who against all odds are keep this system somehow performing.

        August 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Alice in PA

      So does Ecuador educate ALL students until the 12th grade or do they only focus their resources on a selected few? According to maps of the world.com, only about 10% of the rural population attends school. That is a huge difference between Ecuador and the US where we spend money to educate ALL of our children through all of the grades. Be sure to make fair comparisons that encompass the whole country and the entire system.

      August 17, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • PC

      Sounds like they are unbending in their requirements. That's the way to produce results. Once you start going down the road of special pleading and blame, that doesn't help kids. That's the problem in the US. We're more interested in why kids don't perform, than applying the standard.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • goodguy

      do not really know the points you are trying to make

      August 20, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  30. Minerva

    I noticed in a picture on the homepage of the CNN website in conjunction with this article there is someone holding a sign that reads; "If you can read this you were taught by a teacher" or words to that effect. Wrong. I was taught to read before I even started school. My father, a blue collar worker who got up at five am and didn't get home until six pm,sat down after supper, newspaper in hand and pointed out letters to my sisters and me. From there he taught us how to form words and from the words sentences. We could learned to read simple sentences in that manner.

    My siblings and I were not geniuses. We had average I Q's but we had parents who cared enough to knew that schooling doesn't begin and end in a classroom and is too precious to be left in the hands of strangers. And mom worked part time too. We were what was then called "latch key kids." So she wasn't around when we came home from school. This did not hurt our education. She was there when we needed help with our homework.

    My sisters and I are all college graduates. We are today in our 50's, 60's and 70's. We had good educators and parents. We had schools that taught us discipline with cursive writing and times tables drills and to shut up and listen to the people who were trying to teach us. We didn't think we were smarter than the people trying to educate us although in some cases we probably were.

    It's a different era today when kids rule the classroom and parents scold the teachers because they are expected to be super human in cramming all their kids need to be successful little snowflakes in this big uncertain world. They are all special. They all deserve awards whether they have earned them or not.

    I am not suggesting we turn the clock back to earlier times but I am suggesting that the American models of education have changed drastically and they do not seem to be working. Perhaps we should be looking at other countries where they are; other countries where education is working. This is probably a better idea than continually playing the blame game which is getting us nowhere.

    August 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  31. Husband of a teacher

    When you pay $40k, you can't expect to really attract too many folks that are going to work what is required to make kids successful. Many do, but many who would make great teacher find another career that actually pays. Also, with parents as they are, I wouldn't blame all of them for quitting.

    August 16, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • louiske

      40K/ year is that so badly paid? That is more money than teachers in Europe.
      You think that with money you can buy anything, but rest assured , this is not the case.
      Teaching is quite a vocation, those with are probably good teachers, those without mostly bad teachers.

      No amount of money will change this.
      Just as that signboard on top of the page , your thinking is fluked.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • tf

      $40K is low, try to live in a state like NJ where the teachers make over $75K a year and still complain.

      August 17, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  32. Mike

    The real problem is too many kids go home after school to know one at home. When you have a society where more than 50% of households are single parent and that parent has to work until after 4:00 or even later, of course your going to have these issues. Most jobs won't let a parent off of work or if they do there pay is docked. Hard choice... I've been to many of my kids school functions and there are so many kids that have parents that don't show up becasue of work. For some, this would be called an excuse for bad parenting. Kids need support 24 hours a day. Kids left alone on a regular basis can only lead them to their own devise. I'm pretty sure school is not on the agenda once their home alone.

    August 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Ben

      That sucks. Where do you live that "50% of households are single parent"?

      August 16, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
      • Randy

        Ben, take a look at statistics on African American households! 50% would be a conservative number. Hispanic families fair better, but still have a major issue. Of course poverty is also a major issue with these groups.

        August 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
      • Ben

        According to city-data.com, there are only 47 cities in the entire country (over 50,000 population) with 50% single-parent households. That's not that many. In Missouri alone, there are 13 cities over 50,000 people. Kansas has 8, Illinois has 28. That's 49 cities and there are 47 states to go. The number of cities with over 50% single-parent households is not that large.

        August 16, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
      • Ben

        That said, while I think that your statistics are flawed, I agree with the sentiment behind them.

        August 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
      • Alice in PA

        Ben maybe you are counting cities instead of counting people. Perhaps those cities are large and have a majority of the population. Also, the single parent households tend to be clustered in the same areas so there could be school districts that are well over 50% single parent households.

        August 17, 2012 at 9:58 am |
      • Jorge

        Ben, you don't think so??? You should come to Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia. During the 2010 census, it was determined that 10,000 people had migrated out of the area since 2000, yet the area experienced a population GROWTH during that period. Approximately 80% of that growth was due to births in single-parent households. The school district has a history of failing Average Yearly Progress standards and 30-40% of the student population fail to finish high school. Can anyone say baby-momma???

        August 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Jess Lance

      I don't understand how you can be criticizing an education article when you cannot even use the correct spelling of English words.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • KC

      Being in a single parent household isn't the problem. I was raised in a single parent household and both me and my sister have bachelors degrees and I have a masters. It's the parents! Just because no one was home didn't mean that we could just run free. My mom expected us to be in the house and have our homework completed by the she got home so she could look it over. And if it wasn't...well we won't even go there. Everything bad can't be blamed on growing up in a one parent household. I know people who came from two parent households and they dropped out or got in trouble with the law. None of my friends raised by single moms had any of those issues.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  33. Dan I.

    One big problem...that 8 week vacation in the summer. Most teachers spend at LEAST 3 weeks re-teaching what kids have forgotten over the summer. Our students start EVERY SINGLE YEAR behind because we give them 2 months off.

    We need to go to some kind of year round system with maybe a 2 week break in the summer or maybe shorter 3 day weeks in the summer. Yes there should be SOME kind of let-up, children can't function on the same schedule as adults. But an EIGHT WEEK BREAK puts them behind at the beginning of every single school year.

    August 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Erik

      You can't blame gross ignorance, illiteracy, and a general inability to learn or think on an eight week break. That's not the fundamental problem.

      August 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • KC

      The year round system works well in California. Most parents love it too. Until then parents need to cut down on the kids idle time during the summer. Growing up we had summer packets for reading and math that had to be completed before the vacation was over. I carry on that tradition today with my own kids.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  34. Erik

    It seems to me that America's schools began to deteriorate when they started adopting John Dewey's ideas and began to view the scholastic enterprise as an experiment in social engineering. So that would have been in the 1930s and 40s. Its been downhill ever since. Sad thing is, few people today, even teachers/administrators know where these ideas came from and why they are fundamentally flawed. I'm sure many of them would be surprised to find that the origin of many of Dewey's "reforms" came from the minds of Soviet intellectuals including Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin who themselves considered people like Dewey a "useful idiot". Both Rhee and Ravitch understand too little to solve the problem and are content instead to bicker over minor symptoms in a thinly veiled attempt to elevate their own platform. Its like watching two children argue over which band aid to place on a cut when the victim has been in a train wreck and is suffering major internal injuries. Sweet but useless.

    August 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Alice in PA

      Erik Those countries that people compare us to (Finland and Singapore and others) use many of Dewey's ideas. Unfortunately we do not. Instead we jump on whatever educational bandwagon that seems like an easy fix to our problem-du-jour. Then we jump off after a couple of years and start something new, never really giving anything a chance. Oddly enough, the NCLB testing requirement has been around awhile and does not seem to be going away, despite a stack of evidence that it is doing nothing to increase learning. Even the National Academy has published a report to that effect. Our school system is headed by politicians, not people deeply rooted in the education of children.

      August 17, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  35. giggity

    nope, we are doing just great:
    1- no money for research
    2- high school graduates can barely ready

    August 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  36. Irving

    I guess, then, it was Eisenhower's fault. The "New Math" came in to my grammar school in 1958, when I was in sixth grade. The motivation had nothing to do with teachers' union. It was spurred by the launch of "Sputnik" in October 1957 and the ability of the Soviet educational system to produce engineers and scientists who were able to create space technology ahead of the U.S.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  37. toydrum

    This type of debate actually underlines one of the most basic problems in education - and so many of our other societal problems. Too many people in power are quick to use the discussion to blame their particular scapegoat, usually a single, simplified piece like unions, poverty, bad teaching, unmotivated students, uninvolved parents, etc. After assigning blame to a simplfied target (which is never truly simple, anyway), they can then throw up their hands and say "I told you what was wrong, but you can't/won't/don't want to fix that, so it isn't my problem."

    There are several truths we all want to ignore because if we accept them, we understand that there won't be a quick fix to this problem.

    1 – Education is a common good and must be considered a critical investment by every level of society.

    Even those that don't have children themselves (including myself), benefit from a society that is educated enough to be able to contribute to society in terms of economic growth and tax generation. The children in school today will be paying your social security in the future. Wouldn't it be nice if a high percentage of them could earn a good living and contribute to social security, rather than being sidelined by jobs that are offshored because we have lost the capability to compete in the modern world?

    2 – Education takes effort and is not always fun.

    There is no magic switch and it is not entertainment. Cute explanations and entertaining pictures may help motivate, but you can't replace memorization of the multiplication tables and understanding of other number facts with dancing cartoons and cute songs. That effort requires the investment of time, no matter what methods the teachers, parents and everyone else bring to the table. We can not just complain about shorter attention spans and say the kids can't learn the way the used to. Children learn what they live. If they see a society that learns everything in 30 second commercials or news stories, or jumps on the internet to read what someone else wrote without any understanding of the factual basis of those stories or critical thinking, that is what they will learn. If they see adults that stop and analyze what they read and discuss points of view courteously and with an open mind, that is what they will learn.

    3 – Assigning blame does not actually fix any problems.

    Instead of blaming teachers, parents, coaches, television, etc, we should be encouraging them all in their own ways. We treat policemen and firefighters as heroes for their contribution to society - we need to do the same with teachers. They are not the enemy, and if they are, why are you entrusting our future to them?

    Stop reviling parents and insisting that they just aren't doing their job. In many cases they are doing the best they can but are faced with their own ignorance or constantly competing demands from work. Encourage them and offer help if you can, even if it is just by modeling better parenting skills.

    Stop blaming the children. They didn't choose their parents, they didn't choose their economic level and they didn't choose the environment they live in. They were not born with the knowledge you have gained through education and experience any more than you had all that knowledge when you were a kid. It is pointless to blame them for poor study skills if they have not been exposed to good skills. Instead, try modeling the behavior that leads to success. Explain something you know to a child - how a car engine works, how laws are made, how to bake a cake. Read a book in public, volunteer to tutor others in something you are good at, whether it is making music, riding a bike growing flowers or writing a computer program. We need more people to be positive rather than negative, in order to turn the tide.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Robert

      I am a 50 year old teacher. Nothing has changed over the years. Some kids like school, some kids don't. Some kids are bright and motivated, some kids are not. Some kids misbehave, others are models of good behavior. We were the first nation to land men on the moon in the 1960s, and we were the first nation to land large exploration vehicles on Mars in 2012. Some time ago politicians decided to use education as a tool to rile the public in an effort to get elected and the general public has unwittingly drunk their kool aid. The US still produces, and will continue to produce, the greatest scientists, doctors, inventors, etc. What has Finland, Poland, Denmark, France, or any other country that is higher on the "list" accomplished?

      August 17, 2012 at 12:32 am |
      • billybart

        You can't take the accomplishments of a few and equate that to educational success. By the same token I can attribute our scientifc achievements in the US since 1920 to immigration policies.

        Nuclear technology, our space program and military, the foundations of which were larely established by immigrants, defectors and appropriations.

        People come from all over the world to take part in our higher education system and we cannot find enough students in our own
        I think it is in part cultural, we do not take our public school systems seriously nor do we expect achievement. We encourage inividualism, creativity and acceptance. Our colleges every year produce more and more international students who return to their own countries. In china, they even have a name for them, 'sea turtles' they are called. They come to the US, receive the best education at extremely high costs of international student tuition and return home to help their own country.

        Meantime in the US we produce children that value basketball, football, Kim Kardashian and raves.

        There are a lot of things i do not like about China, but the technocrats in Beijing will be eating our lunch in 20 years. You do not need to produce the highest average test scores, but you need to produce enough people out of your education system to satisfy the needs of society.

        August 17, 2012 at 2:10 am |
      • etm

        I do believe that our Universities are one of the better in the world. What concerns me is why a lot of those who qualify for college are concentrated from races on a particular region of the world, Asia. I have attended a University of California San Diego Graduation ceremony last summer and I was surprised, when they were calling the graduates by name, almost 80% are Asian names. My conclusion is Asian parents value higher education and are willing to sacrifice to send their kids to college, while the other race do not give a damn and can't wait for their kids to reach 18 years old so they can kick their butt out of the house. This is just my opinion about our society and I hope I am wrong.

        I have only one child and it is intentional on my part just to have one. When we got married we anticipated how expensive college would be when it is time for her to go, We wanted the best education for our child and we knew that we can only afford it if we only had one, so one child it was. We both worked when we were young but we saw to it that either one of us was always present to guide her, teach her, we did not rely solely on the school system. We always believe that it is our obligation to guide and nurture what we brought to this world, so It was us and the school educating my daughter, not just them nor just us. She got in to the GATE program ( Gifted and Talented Students) while in middle school and high school, got accepted at a University of California and now has her Masters. She did finish her Masters when she was 25 and at that age was still living with her parents.
        This is what we believe and adhere to, we will never let our hatchling leave our nest until she is ready to fly. I just hope other parents will do the same.

        August 17, 2012 at 11:56 am |
      • oneworld2

        You do know that German scientist got you on the moon right?

        August 19, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • Alice in PA

      EXCELLENT POST!

      August 17, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  38. drphil

    US teachers are overworked, underpaid, and are being scapegoated by politicians who are to blame for the nation's lower test scores. I just finished up 20 years of teaching in North Carolina where I am making $40k/yr. I am getting ready to move to British Columbia where I will start at $45/yr and be at $70k/yr within 10 years. My family's health care cost dropped from $1,000/m to $128/m without deductibles or copays.

    Canadian School rank within the top ten internationally. How do they do it. Less stress. One of the mottoes in the Victoria, BC school system is "avoid rushing to avoid stress." Think about it. Does the human brain learn better (especially creativity) under less stressful or more stressful situations like is artificially being created with testing in the US. According to an interview I heard with Bill Clinton a few years ago, the US ranked in the top ten internationally in 2000 and has since fallen to about 18th. Other studies show that "No Child Left Behind" benefitted 5% of the overall student population at the expense of the other 95%.

    If politicians are serious about improving US test score then they should model their systems after the top ranking systems like Finland where teachers are unionized, paid high salaries, given total academic freedom, and are not subjected to endless high stakes tests. If we elect politicians who are trying to implement the opposite policies of Finland, then we as a nation should expect the opposite results. Who is intentionally trying to undermine the US school system? The politicians doing exactly what Milton Friedman, an economist, told them to do. Friedman, who believed that a market system is the answer to everything, said the best way to convert the public school system into a private system is through vouchers. Friedman has also said that creating a crisis is a good way to bring about policy change. Why do the politicians insist on expanding the voucher system with a miserable 5% success rate? Because they hate government. Studies show that the less educated one is, the less one trust the government. If you are the party of "government is bad," and the less people are educated the less they like government, then what is your party going to want to do with its nation's public educational system. Destroy it.

    When high stakes testing was forced on us 20 years ago in North Carolina the general protest from the teachers was "this is not the way you teach a child." Personally, I think the market system is a great tool, but it is not a religion and the answer to everything. It is like fire. Properly controlled, fire can do amazing things. Let fire get out of control and it becomes destructive. You can not impose a cold-hearted market system on the school system because education is heart based.

    I went into teaching because I cared more about making a better future than I did making money. I love teaching because of the expression I see on my student's faces when they learn something. I enjoy teaching because I have surrounded myself with professionals that went into teaching for the same reasons I did. Imposing a high-stress, market-based model onto our students will not work because it destroys the heart of why we educate our young. Not for a profit, but because we want them to have a better future.

    Although Canada ranks better internationally than the United States in education, my school in North Carolina is probably better academically. The "bad teacher" campaign that is being imposed on US teachers by politicians is false. The entire world's educational system is undergoing growing pains because of changing technology. Other nations model US schools because they are still the most innovative in the world. If we as a nation are serious about improving our educational system, then lets act like the reason-based democracy that we were designed to be. Lets study the most successful educational systems like Finland and then model our system accordingly. Let the teachers who know how to educate children and who have the heart for it design our schools systems, instead of the politicians whose goal is more profit.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • NC Narrator

      DrPhil, My husband has been a high school science teacher in NC for seven years now. He started in the lateral entry program – which was described as a "fast track" to getting highly qualified teachers into the classroom. We quickly realized that he was cannon fodder.

      His "mentor" was in her last year of teaching and ended up being more interested in surviving until retirement than helping him figure things out. He was hired in mid-October and dropped into a classroom with no training at all on those little details like lesson planning or classroom management (and this was 8th grade – arguably the worst year for behavior issues, it turns out). In addition, his principal had taken all of that grade level and shuffled them the week he was hired to move every student who was struggling in math or had caused consistent classroom disruption into my husband's class. (He found that out just before Christmas break, when several of his colleagues gleefully filled him in.) It was trial by fire in the worst possible way. He left at the end of the year and didn't go back for almost two years.

      I convinced him to try again but at the high school level. He'd tutored me through chemistry (I was an English education major...chemistry and I were not on speaking terms), and he'd tutored friends through physics and upper-level math classes. He has the enviable ability to explain a concept from a hundred different approaches, and a truly incredible understanding of all things science. I knew he would be an awesome teacher, if he could get the basics.

      Second time around was the charm, but not without pitfalls. He never did get the training he really needed for classroom management. He struggled with students who were disrespectful and uninterested in education in any form. Then he started teaching at a magnet school in a "disadvantaged" area, and fell in love with his kids – like all good teachers seem to do.

      This school works...mostly. The kids have a plan, and their parents are supporting them. They are low-income, and have just about every disadvantage you can think of, but their families have made education a priority. The kids are interested in their own education and see it as an opportunity. This is the biggest difference we've seen between the school where he is currently teaching, and where he's taught before. It has become a mantra in our house that a class full of average kids who want to learn beats a class full of honors kids who couldn't care less every time. Guess which one learns more?

      And that's where the biggest failing in the argument about education happens. Are there bad teachers? Definitely! There are also bad doctors, bad dentists, bad customer service reps, bad mechanics...any work environment has their fair share of bad workers. The difference here is that the teachers are also catching the blame for what their students are choosing to do, and not do.

      If a dentist has a patient that refuses to brush their teeth, refuses to come in for regular cleanings, refuses to participate in their dental care in any way, would you blame the dentist for their cavities? Of course not! If a mechanic has a customer that refuses to change the oil in their car, refuses to have even the most basic maintenance done, refuses to even bring the car in for repairs, would you blame the mechanic because the car won't run? No, that would be stupid, wouldn't it?

      Yet, my husband has struggled with students who refuse to come to class, come to class without even a pencil and paper (and won't use either when it's provided), students who refuse to participate in any way in their own education...and when those students fail it is not the students we blame, it's the teachers. On the flip side of that coin, when students are actively involved in their education succeed, we praise the student and ignore the teacher. Both sets of students are sitting in the same classroom with the same teacher. The difference is, only one set of students was actually there to learn. A teacher can be the the most amazing teacher on the planet, infused with divine inspiration and all the best techniques, but they still will not be able to teach a student who isn't interested in actually learning.

      Meanwhile, regardless of his performance in the classroom – the state of North Carolina hasn't paid out a bonus in over five years, and of course pay has been frozen for that length of time as well. He teaches because he loves it, and we both believe in the profession, but it would be nice if we didn't qualify for public assistance. It would be nice if he didn't have to work through the summer at a local plant. We don't want to be rich, we just want to pay our bills. And in the meantime, it would be nice if he got a tiny bit of respect for doing a very difficult job...one where a lot of people say "you couldn't pay me enough to do that!" How are his students supposed to respect him (which is essential in the classroom), when the public discourse denigrates his profession as a matter of course?

      August 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
      • Alice in PA

        Why did he think that he could do the job without any experience or training teaching children? Would he do that with surgery or accounting or engineering? Why did the school hire him? Would a hospital or accounting firm hire an unqualified employee? Educating children is both a science and an art. There is a basis of theoretical and practical knowledge that teachers need in order to be successful, including how to really know if you are successful ( hint: it is not a fill in the blank, matching or multiple choice test given at the end of the unit). Unfortunately, the most vulnerable or our kids get the least educated teachers, including the TFAs.

        August 17, 2012 at 10:54 am |
      • ncnarrator

        Alice:

        He didn't! He was told – as are all incoming lateral entry teachers, that he would receive the training he needed to teach effectively. Unfortunately, the school he started at used lateral entry teachers as fillers and nothing more, and none of the promised training materialized.

        The promise of training was realized when he started at the school where he currently teaches – which is in the next county over. He's received a lot of support, not only from his mentor but from those who administer the science curriculum in their school system and his administrators. The difference is like night and day! In the first school, lateral entry teachers rarely lasted more than two years...and a high number left after a year...for obvious reasons.

        The reason for the lateral entry program is because, while plenty of people are more than happy to yammer on about what an easy job teaching is, and how much they'd LOVE to have teaching job with all those amazing (and mostly mythical BTW), benefits, the number of teachers has been dropping for years. Particularly in certain subjects, and especially in traditionally under-served populations.

        By the way, as I'm sure you are vitally interested, although he teaches chemistry – easily one of the most hated subjects in any high school – he is also one of the most popular teachers in the school. This also in spite of being one of the most demanding teachers as well. Why? Because he spends hours and days and months researching techniques and approaches to help his students learn a very difficult subject. He does this because he is an incredible teacher. He's introduced gaming theory into his classroom, and worked to bring technology to kids who know how to text at 60 characters a second but can't do even the most basic research or write a paper.

        And also because there is a huge difference between those professions you listed and being an ACTUAL teacher. My dad is an accountant (now retired), and he'll be happy to tell you that accounting is accounting. There may be some deviation in application, but at the end of the day...it's accounting. Most accountants (and other professionals as well), don't have to be concerned that three kids in the class are visual learners, two kids are tactile learners, seven kids are auditory learners, four kids have language processing issues, and two kids don't know if they have a home to go to after school because the adults who are supposed to be caring for them aren't. Most engineers don't have to figure out where to put three more kids in a 15×12 room that already has thirty kids sharing ten desks.

        If you are a teacher (and I'm assuming you are), you already know all of that, but you decided to make some snap judgements anyway. Point in fact, you sound a great deal like the "mentor" assigned to my husband at that first school. Remember? The one who had better things to do with her time than actually mentor? She was offended and irritated that someone who didn't go to school to be a teacher actually wanted to teach (his degree in physics wasn't good enough for her), and there was no way she was going to help anyone who tried. If she'd succeeded in discouraging him, a lot of my husband's students would have missed out on their chance to actually understand chemistry.

        August 19, 2012 at 1:32 am |
      • Pam

        NC Narrator- Your husband should have learned his methods in his college courses. Of course the training grounds are in the classrooms. His education was incomplete if he did not learn these basics. did he do a student teaching program or was he thrown into it by a program such as "Teach For America?" Teaching is a calling, because you do not expect to make as much per every 3 years as you paid for your eduation. And Thanks Dr. Phil good comment. One thing: The countries such as Finland, start at 6th grade and split them into academic or skilled tracs. The US tests everyone, special ed and all. these countries do not. Public schools can succeed. I am in a school that is 116 of 2500 in our state, and we are not a special program schools and poverty is a problem, It is true, poverty schools will have lower scores not because theyare poor, but they usually do not have an adult supervising them or reading 20 minutes daily and helping with homework. Try teaching when a child has a meltdown in class and you have 40 minutes to teach. Chances are you have lost at least 15-20 minutes dealing with the situation. Let the politicians make a law for that one.

        August 19, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Scott Hieger

      I have been teaching for 20 years and am very concerned with the amount of hatred thrown at educators. What most people seem to forget is that ALL of the countries with the highest scores are mono-cultural, whereas we a multicultural nation. Yes, there are bad teachers that need to be removed, however, the vast majority of teachers do an amazing job teachjing an incredibly diverse student population. Look that the scores of the minority populations in China as compared to the majority Han. The minority academic scores are abysmal! Only 35% of Tibetans graduate from Han schools. The U.S.A. really does do a great job teaching ALL students.

      August 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
      • Scott Hieger

        sorry about misspelling teaching!

        August 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
      • drphil

        Yes, what Scott is saying is the truth. How the politicians are selling us as bad teachers is the lie.

        The politicians are full of other lies too. For example, "There is no way socialized healthcare is affordable." Until 2007, Canada had a balanced budget and that is with socialized health care. Canada will be back to a balanced budget in 2015. US health care cost 19% of GDP. Socialized health care systems cost 10% of GDP .

        Another example, "Unions are the problem because they protect bad teachers." I am sure there are a few examples we can talk about for a long time, but the numbers tell a different story. States with strong unions also then to have the better test scores. Likewise, nations with strong unions, like Finland do the best on international test as well.

        The truth is in the numbers, not in the names we call each other.

        August 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  39. CZ1

    To better assess education in America, we need to see where that education takes place: the classroom. I recommend the 2008 French film, "Entre les Murs" (Between the Walls), that airs as "The Classroom" on American TV. This is a fair look at the challenges facing teachers, the struggle to get students to engage in learning, the seeming uselessness of a classroom education by the students, the constant mind-games between teacher and students to take control of the class, and the perpetual demands of students to justify what is being taught.

    This film not only captures what goes on in a Parisian classroom, but also what happens in many classrooms in America. It's difficult to win the battle if you don't understand and anticipate the terrain.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  40. george

    Some time in the 1980s schools started including students vwith learning disabilities in what is called 'general' classes. Those students took the standardized tests along with their classmates. You can clearly see a corelation between this and test scores. Other countries that we compare ourselves to do not include these students in the classes with students without learning disabilities.
    So we can do one of 2 things:
    1. stop comparing our test scores to countries that just test students who are university bound (we also do not track, we have students who do not plan on going to university also taking these tests.
    or
    2. stop providing educational opportunities for all, regardless of the educational potential.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • really

      We also have to remember that in countries such as Sri Lanka, India etc, only the truly gifted students are even allowed education beyond the very basics. I don't know for sure, but I am guessing China is the same way. So this of course skews the statistics dramatically.

      Here in the US, nearly everyone has an opportunity to complete at least high school, and getting into college is much easier than those countries I have mentioned. Remember this when idiots try to tell you that 'china is whoopin our butts in education and they spend less money!!'

      August 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • One of the Young Autistic Men

      I wrote too much on this board but is because education was so significant in my life. I am not going to be truly offended. I have a "disability" and given the golden opportunity of a normal education. I was in all-special education classes and my mother held me back in order for me to have a normal education. My grades were higher than the "normal" people in high school. Right now in college, my GPA is above 3.65. I am proud of having parents who treated me as an equal rather than just a man with a disability and thank my teachers and my professors. I rejected the idea of stopping providing equal opportunity for all. I believe in myself and others.

      August 17, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Bill in Rochester

      This sentiment is dangerously close to one I've heard expressed by educators who want to blame poor performance and high cost on the cost of providing special education for students with disabilities.

      Both of my kids have dyslexia as a result of problems in infancy. In the case of both children, the likelihood of this was known for years before they started school, and testing clearly revealed that issues were present. Still, we found out how difficult it is to get help from the school district. And, we had to get the school district's blessing before we could look for outside help. As a result, the kids spent two years learning to hate school because they could not keep up with the other kids.

      When the school finally recognized what our private psychologist had diagnosed much earlier, the children received some common sense modifications to their learning requirements. They got reduced homework assignments, because what took an average kid an hour took them four, and twice a week, a part time special ed teacher who served four schools would spend half a day with them. Fortunately, I had private insurance through my employer that paid for private tutoring. My kids still spent about 2 hours a day longer in school than their peers, but at least they were making progress.

      We hear politicians calling for 'early childhood education'. I'm a big skeptic. Denmark did a trial years ago where they did not attempt to teach reading until age 8 – the age when almost everyone's brain, and particularly the speech center, is fully developed. As a result they claimed that there were no cases of dyslexia reported. Trying to teach reading before a child is ready for it is counterproductive. My kids were both delayed. One day, they struggled with any kind of reading. The next day, when their brains had finally developed, it was as though someone turned on a switch somewhere – they started reading. The tuoring helped to catch them up to where they should be.

      Anyway, my kids turned out fine,and I'm grateful for all the assistance. The younger one graduated with honors from High School and is a B+ student in her last year of college now. The older one has a good job and is going to school part time. But I get pretty incensed when I hear politicians and educators try to blame their other problems on kids like mine.
      We DO need to figure out why things are they way they are, and we need to honestly evaluate the real benefits vs. hazards of things like early childhood education.

      August 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
      • Dan McConnell (@DMaxMJ)

        My oldest daughter had the same struggles. I am an elementary school teacher, in the district she attends. I am on top of all 3 of my girls with books, activities, ideas...We don't have much money, but we probably have "enriched" experiences within our means. No. 1's reading/writing struggles stymied us because she was so articulate, interesting, into story telling, very smart (she had all the lines to all of the parts in her 6th grade play memorized with little effort-it just happened). Now going into 8th grade, she reads at the 12th grade level, and devours all sorts of books and genres (I have her reading "The Shining" now because she's a little twisted)

        My no.2 girl was the exact opposite. Not quiet as deep, strange and thoughtful, but had read every Harry Potter book that had been published by the time she went into 3rd grade. She was the "go to" in her kindergarten classroom when kids needed help reading stuff...it was as if she was born reading.

        All through this, my wife and I aside, were public school teachers who actually get kids, know they are not standard widgets, and don't expect them to be. They do what you can get them to do, when they are ready to do it.

        August 18, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  41. NoWonder

    Well... parents sue schools/teachers for prohibiting kids from texting and talking on cell phones in class. If a teacher attempts to correct a student for bad behavior in any way, parents sue the teacher and school and get the teacher fired. Too many parents think their kids are special snowflakes these days... no discipline and no boundaries. Schools have to call the police on kids misbehaving because parents will sue them for making their child feel bad, then the school gets blasted for calling the police. It's a no-win for the teachers and schools. So, kids skate through and we get stuff like we saw about the Olympics... "I saw on the olympics that they are 3000 years old... how is that when there have only been 2012 years?"

    August 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Guest

      You do realize that there have only been 2012 years AD, but the olympics were started in B.C.

      August 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Too funny

      "I saw on the olympics that they are 3000 years old... how is that when there have only been 2012 years?"

      That was too funny, I actually laughed out loud when I read that. The Onion should steal your quote and use it for an article on the sad intellectual state of the average American.

      August 18, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Scott

      @Nowonder; I agree. My ex roomie was a K-6 teacher. His stories were sad. One third grader told him to f-off after being asked to turn off his phone. This kid then told the principle the very same thing in the hall way. A co-worker of his had a fourth grader ask her when "she was gonna f-him". Nice eh? These are not low-income kids either; middle class and parents with money. Last time I knew him he taught music and almost every week some middle-aged old broad would trance into his classroom demanding something because her little snowflake "felt bad". American Parents today are clueless, classless, and think the world revolves about them and they have taught their kids the same mentality.

      August 18, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  42. macmb

    I grew up in a third world county and learned how to read and write in two languages faster than my kids can learn how to read and write English here in the US. Teachers tell me that every year the California education board has a new system that they want to try out. Why don't they stick to a system that works and stop using my kids as guinea pigs??? Then the lazy pot smoking teachers here tell me that it is my obligation to teach my kids at home and all they do from 8am to 2pm is check my kids work. Teachers to me are lazy and don't want to teach kids anymore. All they want is an easy job. They are lazy.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • AnotherMom

      No, education does begin and end in the home. A teacher is there to expand that knowledge. Sorry!

      Just a couple of examples: We have several prisms hanging in a west facing window – those prisms refract the light, causing dancing rainbows all over the house. My granddaughter who is not yet 2 knows her colors because of these little, bouncy rainbows. She also is aware that the sun shining through the prism is what causes it. If it's a rainy day she will say, "No bows Nana, it's rain". My children learned fractions while they learned to cook. They understand wind (weather) because we flew kites. We had sleep overs for their friends during eclipses' and meteor showers. We have one young man who still comes over for those evening sky events although my his friend, my son, is grown and lives out of state.

      As a whole parents are too into themselves to be a good teacher and push it off on someone else and the believe that they (the parent) holds no responsibility other than making sure they make to school – some don't even do that. I'm the president of my youngest son's PTA. Out of 100 families whose children attend the school, there are only 3 or 4 parents who will take the time to attend meetings. The rest won’t even once a year let alone once a month!

      It's just sad! Put the smart phone down, log off Face Book, turn off the TV and spend time with your children people!

      August 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  43. humtake

    And in the end, as with everything else, all that will happen is people will argue and nothing will get done. If you want to truly fix things, you have to start with that problem first.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  44. relmfoxdale

    When a lot of our college freshmen can't handle the work being given them, we have a problem. I went to a university with a 50% freshman drop-out rate. Obviously, the college wasn't selective, and that's its own issue, but those freshmen should have been able to handle that work–none of them should be academically defeated by having to write a damned essay. That's pathetic.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  45. rad666

    American children do not need to be educated to pull a trigger on the battlefield.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  46. Flor

    When USA starts to prioritize education over all and let teachers TEACH not test 24/7; we might start to see some changes. Provide a set of books for home like other countries; put our children first! Stop the CA budget cuts!!

    August 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • macmb

      I grew up in a third world county and learned how to read and write in two languages faster than my kids can learn how to read and write English here in the US. Teachers tell me that every year the California school district has a new system that they want to try out. Why don't they stick to a system that works and stop using my kids as guinea pigs??? Then the lazy pot smoking teachers here tell me that it is my obligation to teach my kids at home and all they do from 8am to 2pm is check my kids work. Teachers to me are lazy and don't want to teach kids anymore. All they want is an easy job. They are lazy.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  47. Andrew G

    Ravitch says that, "Family poverty is the most reliable predictor of low test scores," and that America has a much higher poverty rate than other countries.

    HA ! Think Relative Poverty.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  48. Kurry

    You can't help kids that don't want help. It's up to the parents to teach their kids better values. The problem is and will always be parents.

    Can teachers help? Sure. I recall a scholarly journal saying there's a direct correlation between a good teacher and good students but that and poverty are secondary to the aforementioned.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • macmb

      Teachers need to roll up their sleeves and start teaching instead of delegating their job to the kids' parents. They spend 6 hours a day with the kids at school and send them home with all the work. What do they do for those 6 hours that they can't teach kids??? If I spend 6 hours at work doing as good as a job as teacher I would get fired.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
      • Ben

        Since you don't even take the time to care about what your kids learn at school, it's no surprise to me that your kids don't learn that well.

        August 16, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
      • Cheetahe

        This is basic, but a lot of parents do not get it. Homework; as the name denotes, is work that needs to be done by the student at home. I do not want my kids to be doing homework at school. I want my kids to concentrate on learning and asking questions from some one who knows the subject matter, their teacher. If they have difficulties with their homework and their parents cannot help, the next day they should stay after class and ask for help.

        August 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  49. Ana

    Doing science at the university here in USA...not many Americans are around, mostly Asian and Europeans, coming with good knowledge gained in PUBLIC schools overseas..think about that – USA is importing brains because it can not produce them here!!!!! My child is going to public school but we also work at home a lot because system here sucks...

    August 16, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • One of the Young Autistic Men

      Like you, I have a science major. Based on your post, you did not say what science major. My majors are Chemistry and Mathematics. In the college I attending, there are more American students that foreign who are science majors. I wish that was not case for majority of the universities. My hope is that more American students become science majors.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Jon H

      While I do agree with many of what you are saying, I wouldn't go as far as to say the schools suck. More like it needs help. I was born here and went to a pretty poor, beat up, public school, and I still learned quite a lot. So did many of the students that went to that school. It isn't just one thing that is the problem. It is the education system, the teachers, the parents, the students, the beuracracy, many things that can hinder a student's ability to learn. Although, since you are teaching at home too, then I would say, "you have a good head on your shoulders".

      August 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Scott

      @Ana; great messsage Ana and you're exactly correct. My ex is from France. Her education was top-notch and if she got out of line, the teachers would wack her behind also. They learn higher math, language, and second languages in middle-school. They have homework and are expected to learn, memorize, and have it handed in on time. Parents are not allowed to dictate anything inside the classroom but also parents leave teachers alone to do their jobs.

      August 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  50. Greg_D

    Here are three problems I see:
    1. The U.S. system doesn't grasp "use it or loose it." Part of Leave No Child Behind is that high school principals with doctorate degrees have to take the high school exit exam. Some have failed that test and the reason they did was they have forgotten the information. K-12 should teach only what people actually use and not use the Greek system of teaching a little bit of everything and hoping it sticks. One thing that should change is micro and macro economics should replace world history. People buy things and most sell things, but no Americans were there to see the rise of any empire and the fall of most.
    2. We are all told that education is suppose to help not only individuals, but also nations. I believe that should be the real measuring stick. We are technologically ahead of everyone else combined in every field. If the people in these nations were so smart, they wouldn't be decades behind us in technology.
    3. The education system, like other government systems, know that weakness equals more money. The trouble with that idea is that money and education are not linked. Utah spends the least K-12 yet has ranked second among the states in high school graduation. Other countries also spend less yet have higher graduation rates. California is one of the top spenders yet ranks lower than many states that spend less per student. I believe the reason is not poverty, but strong families produce better scores and at least the U.S. government has been unable to create strong families.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Michael

      Sorry, I don't mean to be the grammar police, but it's really hard to take one's opinion on education seriously when you spell "lose" as "loose".

      August 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
      • Greg_D

        It's hard for me to care about your opinion when you brought nothing to the table.

        August 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • george

      I teach both world history and Macro/Micro Economics. Both are needed to be a citizen in a country with so much global power.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jon H

      1. You cannot just completely get rid of an essential part of education such as History. Without understanding our past, how will we ever understand the present and future. The future is built on the past. Nothing is insignificant when it comes to learning.
      2. Yes, we are quite technologically advanced, more so than these higher ranked countries. The reason for that is we rely on foreign students. America is literally stealing brains from other countries.
      3. True, strong families do produce better learners. Although, that isn't the only factor. The education system is a factor too, as well as the teachers who teach the students.

      August 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  51. Paul

    Parents, for all your complaints about poor teachers and the system that protects them please realize that you share the same amount, if not more, of the blame for your child's failed education.

    When you make every effort in the world to make sure little Billy gets to every football practice and game on time but you don't make sure he gets his homework done correctly and on time you don't get to complain about the failing educational system.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • tRAVIS

      Thank you...finally someone with a brain and the realization that you have to take responsibility for your child's education. What is more important, the fact that you complain non stop about their playing time in basketball or that they can't get a better grade than a C-. Most parents have a tough time with this and more than likely care only about their sports playing time.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  52. Jerry Sandusky

    Somebody needs to reach out and touch these children!

    August 16, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Flame thrower

      I don't know whether to love or hate this comment.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
      • Jon H

        HAHAHAHAHA

        August 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Paterno

      I am right behind you!

      August 18, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  53. ROMNEY2012

    All Teachers practice the three U's:

    Ugly
    Useless
    Union

    Take children to your local Church and teach them about the love of GOD. GOD's path will teach them all they need to know in order to contribute to society. The evils of today would not be here if liberal trash wasn't so interesting in perverting the minds of our children.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Steve

      Ya.... no. I want my kids to be taught to think logically and I want them to question authority and see the world for what it is, not the world in the eyes of a magical sky creature that in his own book is hypocritical.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • wicked

      ya right. the Love of God which is shown through his people with gossip and browbeating , and give me more of your money, dont worry God will take care of the preacher!

      August 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • AnotherMom

      No thank you on church! My sister and I have children the same age – all in their early 20's now. My sister taught in their local private baptist school, and my brother-in-law is a deacon in their church.

      My parents didn't like to take my sisters children out in public. They didn't know how to behave, they would run and scream and would cause such a sight that they often ended up leaving. My children on the other hand know to hold doors, shake hands and what fork to use during a formal sit down dinner. I taught them respect – respect of their elders, authority, and the universe around them. They didn't learn it at church...

      August 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
      • Michael Chapel Hill

        What they taught in the Church may not be visible now... it will be.

        August 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Ben

      Classy. Keep up the good work. You found words that start with U. However, you misspelled:
      unselfish
      unique
      unbelievable
      untiring
      understanding
      underestimated
      unequalled

      August 16, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • red

      Um . . . I think we're seeing in some Middle Eastern countries exactly what happens when you deny the populace an education other than religion.

      August 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Nat

      Perhaps more people would take your opinion seriously if you had learned standard English.

      August 18, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  54. Brian

    Another issue is that the countries we are going against focus 100% on school. There is no baseball, cub scouts, or dance. Once you come home from you 10-12 hour school day you eat and then hit the books until you go to bed. They also study all weekend and there is no tolerence for failure at all. Child abuse if you ask me.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • red

      That's exactly how I was raised (in US). I don't think I would be in the profession I am today without it, so I wouldn't necessarily knock it, although there should always be room for some fun and childhood. But I saw exactly what happened to my peers that focused on sports etc at the expense of academics. No thank you.

      August 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  55. Stonecarver

    To John Martin CNN,
    I read the article, and then the dozens/hundreds of posts, and then re-read the article with your updates.
    You did a great job as moderator. Thanx

    August 16, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  56. mrglobal

    Education standard is US caters to free thinking and innovation. But is it weak is basic science and math and does not have a standard way of assessing the skills. The result is graduating mass middle student population that is weak by any standard you put it up against. What is the good if we have a few smart people and the majority cannot compete in the workplace. The ugly fact even at higher wages, companies like Foxconn won't manufacture IPhones in US because the skill level is not there in the high school level labor pool. I was oversees posting in the thick of things so I am not pontificating. I see Teachers and PTA being defensive all the time when comparisons are made. We all better wake up.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  57. jjk

    Start by turning off the TV. How much time is wasted in families that could be spent reinforcing what is being learned in school by simply turning it off and spending time talking about ideas, learning critical thinking skills and reinforcing things learned in the classroom? If the parents exhibit some disciplne, the kids will too. The teachers only have them for 6 hours a day and can only do so much in that time. That being said, I've seen plenty of teachers that prefer to put on a video and slack off than make sure the kids are getting the concepts that should be communicated to them. There is plenty of laziness to go around. TV is at the crux of it. Total mind pollution and a lazy person's pursuit. Disciplne begins at home and is the only way kids will succeed in school.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  58. hollander

    I can say that many parents see public school as their personal baby sitter. They don't help with homework, or even make breakfast for their kids-and you can forget about lunch. That is the school's responsibility, as is transportation and every blessed supply, including mittens,coats and scarves so the kids can play outside. Now there is a move to have teachers stay after school to do homework with the students since parents won't. Maybe you would like for me to come to your house and give your kid his bath tonight. I know you can't be bothered.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  59. OMG

    I have to take manner/responsibility class when I grew up, is mandatory in my home country . Is the teacher job, not the parent. I learned how to get up, and give up my seat to elderly people on the bus from school, not from my mom.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • doughnuts

      "In Soviet Russia, class teaches you!"

      August 16, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Oh Emm Gee

      Then your mother failed.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  60. Seenenough

    Let's keep the [liberal] politics out of the school.......I had my fair share of teachers that spent too much time on their personal politicians and not the three Rs.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  61. OMG

    Get rid of The National Education Association. They are the problem for all kids in America

    August 16, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Ben

      You misspelled NRA.

      August 16, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  62. George Hayes

    Forget a decent educational system until discipline is restored and teachers are put in charge of the classroom and not the parents! If you compare the school systems that are suposedly better than ours and I'll bet they are very strict in the class room. All the money in the world will not fix the system without discipline.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • OMG

      Have to go both side. Teachers as well, there are to many bad teachers out there. They don't give a shi t as long as they receive their salary, The National Education Association back them up.

      August 16, 2012 at 11:26 am |
      • Randy

        I work 80 hours a week for the same salary as I would if I worked 40 hours! As for you comment about the NEA, in more than a decade in education I have never worked in a union system. If you look at data, the best scores come from union districts. If you want to improve education, get politicians out of education. I recently met a state literacy director who makes over $100,000. When I asked him how long he had taught before moving into that position, he informed me he had never been ia classroom teacher. So people with no knowledge of the classroom are writing rules telling teachers how to teach.

        August 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Hue

      Totally agree. When my son transferred from a private school to the public school, he said, " Kids in the public school keep talking when the class starts and teasing others when the teacher writes on the blackboard." My son moved to the first row after his mom talked to his teacher.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  63. One of the Young Autistic Men

    As an autistic man, I faced many disabilities, such as my communication skills. However I have abilities, such as calculation skills, that outperformed most students. I know throughout my learning, there are kids who has the opportunity to success, but hardly do work and ended up failing. I also hate that there are shrewd students that use their "disability" as a crutch.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  64. RLmk

    The problem is parents who think the teacher should be a discliplinrian, a babysister, and then a teacher.
    Some of parent can't read so they are handicapped, and this make their children also handicapped. Some parents
    are too busy making money, and giving their children every gagets there is, instead of love and rules and regulations
    of being a person. They watch too much TV thnk that what on TV is reality, then wakeup and realize it is not.

    It is time to remember what schools are for, it is place of learning, and how to become part of society, not for who is the most popular, fashion show or for mating. When adults learn this, we can get back to learning.

    August 16, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • OMG

      I have to take manner/responsibility class when I grew up, is mandatory in my home country . Is the teacher job, not the parent. I learned how to get up, and give up my seat to elderly people on the bus from school, not from my mom.

      August 16, 2012 at 11:30 am |
      • Randy

        My mother taught me to be a gentleman. I learned to be respectful to adults long before I entered a public school. I was taught at church, at home, and in public if needed.

        August 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
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