Social Question

stanleybmanly's avatar

Is there a crisis in American public education?

Asked by stanleybmanly (19121points) 2 months ago from iPhone

Or do the schools merely reflect systemic failures endemic to our society. A chicken or egg question?

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25 Answers

Zaku's avatar

Well there are both, but not all American schools are problematic, especially in places where they’re well-funded.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think the biggest breakdown is backing of the teachers from the parents. In the last 20 years there has been a shift from being told to do what your teacher tells you to do to (with exceptions, of courst,) to “OMG, poor little boy she was so MEAN to you! She’s just picking on your! I’m gonna go give her hell!”
Those same parents don’t make sure the kids get their homework done, then blame the teacher for the kid’s low grade.
And on and on and on.

notnotnotnot's avatar

Funding is definitely a problem. At least here in MA, public schools are funded by property taxes. What better way to perpetuate inequality?

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s one of the reasons I moved to this town. It just had a good school districts. The fact that they are funded by property taxes didn’t occur to me, but this town has it’s share of rich / poor and it all goes into one pot. There is no division between “Rich section of town” and “Poor section of town.

notnotnotnot's avatar

^ There are towns here that have poor sides and rich sides. The school districts for the poor sides are so poorly-funded, they hope to one day afford grass seed so the kids can play on grass during recess instead of dirt/mud. The other side of town has brand new schools with lush landscaping, and they resemble private colleges. Same town.

gorillapaws's avatar

@notnotnotnot I totally agree. Property taxes funding public schools are a huge source of inequality of opportunity which means the best kids aren’t getting to the top, it’s the ones with the richest parents, and that hurts the economy/country overall. A better system would have schools receive funding on a per-student population basis that was equalized across the state, or even the nation (with some cost-of-living adjustments like Medicare does for reimbursements).

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course there are towns that have “poor side / rich side.” Wichita does, which is why I left. We don’t have that problem here, in this town, which is why I moved here.

What other way could we find to fund education to offset that inequality?

stanleybmanly's avatar

How about the perception that the schools are increasingly expected to fulfill ever more roles formerly filled by parents and the society overall. The schools are in the same position on fulfilling social necessities outside their function as the prisons which are now the primary facilities for mental health in the United States. There can be no question about which institution is stuck with the unacknowledged duty to diagnose and treat “troubled” kids, regardless of the “trouble”.

seawulf575's avatar

@stanleybmanly I think the schools and the problems in them reflect much of our society. You ask about the schools taking on an increasing role that was formerly filled by parents. I think that is a part of the problem. There are many parents that aren’t engaged for any number of reasons. They look at schools as a place to put their kids while they do something else. Not all, but an increasing number, I think. But at the same time, they don’t want to give the schools the ability to properly oversee their kids. Schools are supposed to be a place for kids to learn. They learn a number of things such as facts and are supposed to learn critical thinking. But they also learn social interaction. Unfortunately, all these things work so much better if the parent is engaged with the school and their own kids. Our society is getting much like that. People are worried only about themselves and what’s in it for them…much like the parents of the children. Not all, but an increasing number, I think. The solution is not easy with society or with the schools, though.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@stanleybmanly Exactly. Well said and thank you.
People spend spend the first 4 year of a kid’s life turning him into a spoiled, violent, selfish brat, turn him loose on the schools to fix, and when they can’t, they blame school system for his behavior (and this is from up close and personal experience.)

stanleybmanly's avatar

Sure parents may attempt to spoil their kids, but the truth is that most parents work like pharoah’s slaves, and such luxuries as nurturing take a back seat to the wolf at the door. In fact, the most critical aspect of the schools is disguised but vital, and that is the daycare function followed for many families by the provision of government meals for a student body ever more defined as “the poor”.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III In our city, we vote in special taxes for the school. Even those of us without kids, vote it through. It’s kind of a running joke, it’s the only tax the people don’t gripe about, for the kids and school.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes, absolutely it is used as a daycare.

What I meant by “spoiled,” was not that they are given too much. It’s that they are given inconsistent discipline, or inappropriate discipline, or NO discipline, or are hurt or abused….and it turns them into very angry little kids that the parents expect the schools to fix.

We have those kinds of votes here, too, @KNOWITALL. Where you live is much bigger than where I live and you have several different sub districts within your main district. We don’t. We have ONE district and the money is allocated equally.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III Doubtful. I don’t live in the city where you came to visit, just work there. My city has 2358 people at last official count.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh. I see. So….do you have sections of town that can be considered “poor” sections, and do they have schools in those sections of town?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III We have one excellent school. We have a few streets in my political district that are considered poor, but we’re working on it. For us, we are very community oriented and we all put the kids first. Whether it’s cash or just attending a championship tourney, or donating to the school counselor (cash or clothes, etc…)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, yeah! We have some residents in certain spots that could use some facelifts, but the kids from there all go to the very same schools the more well off kids go to. That’s my only point. In this town, anyway, there is really no inequality. I’ve taught in every single one of them, too so I can see it with my own eyes.

BUT that is beside the point. Obviously that doesn’t happen in larger school districts. You know, that’s was “busing” was all about, trying to level out the education experience. It was a disaster, for course.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it’s many things.

I agree schools have a bigger burden than ever to parent children. It seems more children are now in school more hours a day than when I was a kid, although I don’t know the statistics. Now, many of the kids are there for breakfast and aftercare. Although, I was part of the latchkey generation. I was home alone after school from age 10 or 11 on, my sister was 2.5 years younger than me. It was just a couple of hours after school. Younger than that my mom was home or we had a babysitter if she was out.

It goes to the question of the changes in the American family. Extended family is often hundreds of miles away, both parents work, more now than before there is only one parent in the home, and neighbors are less likely to interfere with other children’s kids than before I think.

Money is definitely a factor.

There also is a huge trend the last 15 years away from supporting public schools. This is especially apparent in communities that traditionally a lot of the middle class in the area sends their kids to private schools. Maybe it’s not just the last 15 years in these communities, but for some reason this has become a big part of politics. We see it in arguments for vouchers, and the argument that throwing education to the private sector would be better. In my opinion that’s like throwing it to the wolves. Anyway, this attitude means that some parts of the country don’t care about education for other people’s kids. They don’t want to pay for other people’s kids.

Now, we have common core. Recently, I went to a lecture about text books being antisemitic and anti-Christian, and she called it commy core. She wants the schools to be run more locally, she obviously had a political agenda too. I have some problems with common core myself, but the truth is schools are mostly run locally, and if you have crappy administrators voted in, or safety issues in the community, or if children don’t have a safe and happy home life, it’s almost impossible for them to do well in school.

I also wonder if cheating is more rampant now. I hear students talking about it.

Also, too much homework at young ages now, and you have to read to do math at extremely young ages now, and you have to read incredibly early too. I think it’s a mistake. What if the old ways were better for very young children? I think that’s a reflection of the competitiveness in America today. Wanting to boast and show off and pride is one of the seven sins. Pushing children before they are ready. Some kids are held back to be more competitive scholastically and in sports.

Sorry for the long post, I just think there is so much they should be considering for the education of our children today.

@KNOWITALL Is there a private school within a reasonable distance of your town?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Too much pressure is put on students to compete against the world. Maybe the school system should ease off the pressure of relentlessly wanting more. Human children are not built to sit still for 8 hours a day. Education should be a taste of every career field and the basics to be a good citizen.

Dutchess_III's avatar

There is not too much pressure to compete against the world, not in America. In Japan there sure is.
Now we’re all in grateful tears if they just graduate from high school.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Dutchess_III Ok. Its been 25 years since I was in school. I went into special ed for a day in grade 4 and asked if they could teach me calc and they said no. I think that teachers should be able to help those students who show a desire to learn the material get what they want. Maybe a better sorting system for advanced and remedial students with the material custom tailored for each student. Maybe with computers. I missed elementary school grades that were broken up into detailed topics , and not just subjects. That way I could check what I need or want to learn.

stanleybmanly's avatar

RDG Did you have an aptitude for calculus? I’m trying to understand whether you are saying that your teachers weren’t qualified to teach calculus or weren’t qualified (or allowed) to teach YOU calculus. I wouldn’t expect a 4th grade teacher to necessarily have the skill set.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@stanleybmanly before grade 6 I was good in math and science. I was watching Star trek tng where a child was told that you still need to take calculus. I was curious and wanted to know more. I was blocked by my teacher from learning more. I got exasperated and started watching science on tv instead of going to school. All I learned on calc was from catch 31 on accesss education station in Alberta. I knew that it was meant to find the area under a curve but could not get more detail. The teacher should have fostered my curiosity and not quash it. I scored a perfect score on math aptitude tests. I should have been bumped up to a higher grade. Instead I was a trouble maker and class clown.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 what makes you think that just any elementary school teacher can teach calculus? Higher math like that requires a specialized degree. And special ed is for students with learning disabilities, not advanced placement students.
I can imagine 67 reasons why they turned your request down and not a single one of them have anything to do with your personally. Where were you supposed to be when you walked into the special ed room and interrupted the teacher?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Dutchess_III Their were only 3 students in special ed including me, and 3 teachers. So was a one to one ratio. The special education students were just left to spin in one spot until dizzy. Their were no educational plans. I should have stayed in special education till grade 7 It would have been a lot easier on me and I might have gotten a juice box every day and maybe free counselling. Deep down I still cared about my education, but I should have stayed in special ed, Seeing that I would not have disrupted class and would have helped out by not being in a normal stream. I liked the ten minutes and should not have felt horrified from the kindergarten like vibe that I got in grade 5. I tossed away the gift that was given to me. I would love to have recess again, and the freedom from pressure that I got in High school and beyond. I went from the ten minutes back to my old desk and nothing more was said about it. If I could change my past, I would have asked for a library card sooner and taught myself. Also I would preferred to be home schooled till university.

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