M1: “Ummm… where’s the North Pole?”
M2: “I dunno… up north I guess.”
M1: “where’s north?”
M2: “I dunno… but someone does… check Wiki.”
Would anyone like to draw a cartoon to go with that hypothetical exchange? It might be funny if it didn’t reflect a truth.
A recent survey by a fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH regarding attitudes towards climate change and science itself revealed that less than one in five Americans know that thousands of their fellow citizens live and work above the Arctic Circle (where’s Alaska?) and that less than half know where the North and South Poles are located. Although this survey was looking at the attitudes of different political supporters, it, along with previous studies regarding educational attainment and international testing, deliver a scathing indictment of the public school system. The most expensive public school system in the world isn’t educating its students for that real world! If people don’t know where Alaska or the Poles are, it’s not because of their political views, it’s because they never learned geography (even of their own nation). If people don’t know how our government is supposed to work it’s because they never learned civics. If, as business leaders have said, young employees can’t write a coherent sentence, it’s because they never learned English grammar. Likewise for science, mathematics, history, and any other subject.
Sadly, liberals who demand “one-size-fits-all” Common Core schools while ignoring successful alternatives like charter and magnet schools, are putting politics ahead of the children. If they think that kids need to spend more time “feeling good”, or feeling guilty for the actions of people 200 years ago, or questioning their gender, they’re only contributing to the decline in learning. Indoctrination isn’t education.
The first step in reversing this downward trend is accountability. Start by ending tenure, a luxury that other professions don’t enjoy. Taxpayers need to be asking what they’re paying for, e.g., will a shiny new school building really mean a better education or is it just a better resume for the mayor? Parents need to demand accountability, but so do teachers. It’s up to the parents to see that homework is done, to attend scheduled meetings, and to teach their children respect for others. The more we expect the schools to do the jobs of parents the less time the schools will have to do their own job: educating.
The second step is to get Federal government control out of education. Over fifty years of “Fed Ed” and a trillion dollars later we haven’t gained that much. Return control of the schools to the states, hand them a copy of my “Mission Statement for Schools”, and tell them to shape up. If the parents care and the states want to compete economically and attract business, they’ll deliver.
The third step is to “put America first” so that business can thrive. Make sure that trade agreements guarantee fair trade, not just “free trade”. Put citizens first by limiting immigration to what the economy can absorb without reducing wages or seeing US workers replaced by H1B visa holders. Reform our tax code and stop rewarding companies that move operations overseas. We don’t have to be isolationist, just sovereign. The future of our nation depends on it.