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Why is Public Education Failing? By Tom DeWeese
Intellectual Conservative ^ | 13 January 2008 | Tom DeWeese

Posted on 01/13/2008 6:57:00 PM PST by K-oneTexas

Why is Public Education Failing? By Tom DeWeese

Children are coming out of school dumb because they aren't taught academics. They have, instead, become experiments in behavior modification.

It's a fact. Most of today's school children can barely read or write. They can't perform math problems without a calculator. They barely know who the Founding Fathers were and know even less of their achievements. Most can't tell you the name of the President of the United States. It's pure and simple; today's children aren't coming out of school with an academic education.

Colleges know it. They have to set up remedial courses for incoming freshmen just to prepare them for classes. Parents know it. Their children grow dumber everyday.

The politicians say they know it. They hold hearings to grill education "experts," and they hold high-powered education "summits" to debate and discuss the "problem." And they keep coming up with more federal programs and dictate more standards and spend more taxpayer dollars to fix the problem. But the problem continues to explode. Why?

Frankly, any parent can find the answer simply by looking through their child's textbooks or taking a close look at the classroom structures that their children are forced to endure.

That's just what I'm going to do for you and when I'm through, see if you still wonder why there is an education crisis. And ask yourselves why all the politicians, with huge staffs to do their bidding, can't seem to find the problem.

Restructuring the Classroom

It comes under many names; block scheduling, group learning, cooperative learning. It's all part of a radical change in the way children are handled in the classroom.

Children are paired with others for group grades. Individual achievement is de-emphasized. Under block scheduling a number of subjects are tied together in one long class. For example, math, science, health and physical education have been combined in one school. Children are supposed to learn these skills by working on class projects, such as launching an imaginary rocket to the Moon.

Presumably when faced with various problems in building their rocket, students will seek out the necessary information. They'll need math to calculate the projectory, science to find where the Moon is and health to know what to feed the astronauts. Obviously health is for astronaut training. Children are not instructed on how to do the math calculations or how to find the information they need. They are to find it for themselves. And children who can't keep up are to be helped along by other children in their group. It's called "kids helping kids." That's why teachers are now called "facilitators."

"Cooperative learning" is nothing more than a classroom-management technique that provides a convenient hiding place for bad teachers and under-achieving students. The student who doesn't care to learn, or has failed to grasp a concept, allows the rest of the group to do the work and yet gets the same grade.

What students coming out of such classes cannot do is perform math problems, recite multiplication tables, conjugate a verb or structure a sentence. Random facts picked up in the rush to complete a project do not supply the proper base or structure to understand a subject.

Math

Perhaps the most bizarre of all of the school restructuring programs is mathematics. Math is an exact science, loaded with absolutes. There can be no way to question that certain numbers add up to specific totals. Geometric statements and reasons must lead to absolute conclusions. Instead, today we get "fuzzy" Math. Of course they don't call it that.

As ED Watch explains, "Fuzzy" math's names are Everyday Math, Connected Math, Integrated Math, Math Expressions, Constructive Math, NCTM Math, Standards-based Math, Chicago Math, and Investigations, to name a few. Fuzzy Math means students won't master math: addition, subtraction, multiplications and division.

Instead, Fuzzy Math teaches students to "appreciate" math, but they can't solve the problems. Instead, they are to come up with their own ideas about how to compute.

Here's how nuts it can get. A parent wrote the following letter to explain the everyday horrors of "Everyday Math."

Everyday Math was being used in our school district. My son brought home a multiplication worksheet on estimating. He had 'estimated' that 9×9=81, and the teacher marked it wrong. I met with her and defended my child's answer. The teacher opened her book and read to me that the purpose of the exercise was not to get the right answer, but was to teach the kids to estimate. The correct answer was 100: kids were to round each 9 up to a 10. (The teacher did not seem to know that 81 was the product, as her answer book did not state the same.)

Children are not taught to memorize multiplication tables. Those who promote this concept believe that memorization is bad. Instead, children, they say, should be taught to "discover" multiplication. Students, they say, learn to multiply over several years by "thinking about math."

Social, political, multicultural and especially environmental issues are rampant in the new math programs and textbooks. One such math text is blatant. Dispersed throughout the eighth grade textbooks are short, half-page blocks of text under the heading "SAVE PLANET EARTH." One of the sections describes the benefits of recycling aluminum cans and tells students, "how you can help."

In many of these textbooks there is literally no math. Instead there are lessons asking children to list "threats to animals," including destruction of habitat, poisons and hunting. The book contains short lessons in multiculturalism under the recurring heading "Cultural Kaleidoscope." These things are simply political propaganda and are there for one purpose – behavior modification. It's not Math. Parents are now paying outside tutors to teach their children real Math – after they have been forced to sit in classrooms for eight hours a day being force-fed someone's political agenda.

English, Reading and Literature

Conjugate a verb? Diagram a sentence? Learn to spell? This is language class. We have more relevant things to learn.

In a seventh grade language arts class in Prince William County, Virginia, children are given a test entitled, "What makes you good friendship material." Children are to circle "yes," "no" or "maybe" to questions like, "Am I someone who is trusting of others; likes to have close personal friends; is able to influence others; enjoys sharing with others; can keep a secret? If you answered yes to most of these then you are really good friendship material. If not, you need to work on yourself."

One book being used in classes is called The Book of Questions. Designed around situation ethics, the authors openly admit that "this book is designed to challenge attitudes, values and beliefs." Again behavior modification – not academics — is the root of this exercise.

Here are a couple of sample questions from the book of Questions:

(1) On an airplane you are talking pleasantly to a stranger of average appearance. Unexpectedly, the person offers you $10,000 for one night of sex. Knowing that there is no danger and that payment is certain, would you accept the offer?

(2) A cave-in occurs while you and a stranger are in a concrete room deep in a mineshaft. Before the phone goes dead, you learn that the entire mine is sealed off and the air hole being drilled will not reach you for 30 hours. If you both take sleeping pills from the medicine chest, the oxygen will last for only 20 hours. Both of you can't survive; alone one of you might. After you both realize this, the stranger takes several sleeping pills and says it's in God's hands and falls asleep. You have a pistol; what do you do?

And so it goes, in Geography where, instead of looking for Colorado on a map, children are instructed to make a "Me" map to psychologically profile the children. In Civics, instead of learning how the government runs and of the great checks and balances that the Founding Fathers installed to protect our liberties, children are taught how to be "global citizens" under the UN's Declaration on Human Rights." In Health classes children are taught about Mother Earth — Gaia — with lessons on the Sierra Club as heroes.

Children are coming out of school dumb because they aren't taught academics. They have, instead, become experiments in behavior modification to prepare them to be citizens of a global village. The fault lies with the U.S. Congress, which now dictates curriculum and perpetuates the Department of Education, from which all of these evils flow.

Tom DeWeese is publisher and editor of The DeWeese Report and president of the American Policy Center, a grassroots, activist think tank headquartered in Warrenton, VA. ampolicycenter@hotmail.com http://www.americanpolicy.org/


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: deweese; education; publicschools
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To: The_Reader_David
I did go to a private Mennonite college. That could have something to do with it. Many of the classes I took that were for just the education part of my degree were very useful. I use many of the things I learned in class and apply them in my classroom today. Luckily we did a lot of observing other schools,(as a freshman you were placed in a classroom right away to enable us to decide if thats what we wanted to go into) teaching lessons to many different grade levels, and did student teaching. By the end of it all you knew if you were cut out to be a teacher or not. Of course I said many of the classes (not all. There was one that I really felt was worthless (at the time). I praise the college I attended. It was a liberal arts school and the education department followed a 5 C framework. They helped us become Christian, Committed, Competent ,Compassionate, and Collaborative teachers. It is an amazing school!

I agree that there is definitely something wrong with the public education system! That fact I will not deny. I was only trying to get the word out that not all teachers are air-heads.

201 posted on 01/14/2008 1:36:57 PM PST by Trystine
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To: Bob

You posted, in part: That’s true but, unlike 9x9, there is a way to actually multiply 10x10 without having memorized it. That was the point of my questions on the steps to do it and how you’d teach someone else to do it.
***

Sorry, but can’t resist, for some reason. You are correct about how to multiply 10x10 without memorizing it. Of course, you have to memorize the component mulitiplications, 0x10 and 1x10, then add them together, another product of memorizing (although I guess one could count on fingers). The question that was involved here could have been made much more “estimable” by changing it to 8.9x8.9, rather than 9x9. Estimation ought to be a means of having to do fewer calculations rather than more.

On the larger picture, this whole discussion has made me think, at least a little, and THAT, for me, is the essence of education— teaching students to think and solve problems on their own.


202 posted on 01/14/2008 1:46:26 PM PST by NCLaw441
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To: NCLaw441
The question that was involved here could have been made much more “estimable” by changing it to 8.9x8.9, rather than 9x9. Estimation ought to be a means of having to do fewer calculations rather than more.

I agree completely. Using this multiplication (which should have been memorized by the time estimating is introduced) is a terrible selection of an example.

203 posted on 01/14/2008 2:00:11 PM PST by Bob
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To: K-oneTexas

liberal democrates!


204 posted on 01/14/2008 2:09:57 PM PST by ronnie raygun (Id rather be hunting with dick than driving with ted)
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To: Trystine
Not to mention, less parents are working with their children at home. Everything is put on the teachers and the teachers are blamed for it all as well.

This is true. It has been so long since good education was widespread that even parents no longer recognize what it is. They don't understand that they are responsible for their children's education, that the state is (at best) a caretaker. The parents believe it is the government's job, and it breeds laziness.

205 posted on 01/14/2008 5:20:49 PM PST by Zack Nguyen
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To: Bob

Your examples in #139 agree with my contention. The examples make use of correct calculations using rounded or estimated numbers. The numbers are estimated; the calculations are exact.

This started out with 9 x 9 as an example to be estimated. What the sense of estimating that with 10 x 10, or 9 x 10. It’s nonsensical and serves no purpose. And if a kid hasn’t learned the multiplication tables, how can they calculate 10 x 10, or 9 x 10 to make the nonsensical estimate rather than the exact 9 x 9 calculation.

The 9 x 9 example asked for an estimated calculation of exact numbers. Utter nonsense. We don’t estimate the calculation, but we do estimate numbers to be used in exact calculations, as your examples show.

The 9 x 9 test question was an totally asinine exercise for a kid learning math to be asked to answer as some sort of estimate, and it’s not really an estimation. It’s nonsense. Test questions involving real estimates and exact calculations could have been easily developed.


206 posted on 01/14/2008 11:26:54 PM PST by Will88
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To: firebrand

ping


207 posted on 01/15/2008 5:54:47 AM PST by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: Will88
Your examples in #139 agree with my contention. The examples make use of correct calculations using rounded or estimated numbers. The numbers are estimated; the calculations are exact.

Exactly. The rounded numbers just make the math easier.

The 9 x 9 test question was an totally asinine exercise for a kid learning math to be asked to answer as some sort of estimate, and it’s not really an estimation. It’s nonsense. Test questions involving real estimates and exact calculations could have been easily developed.

I agree. This teacher should find a new line of work ("Would you like fries with that?") if she understands her subject matter so poorly that she thinks 9x9 is a good example for teaching estimation.

208 posted on 01/15/2008 6:25:42 AM PST by Bob
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To: NoLibZone

Yes, it’s unions. What unionized industry hasn’t tanked or would if it wasn’t government funded?


209 posted on 01/15/2008 6:33:09 AM PST by Let's Roll (As usual, following a shooting spree, libs want to take guns away from those who DIDN'T do it.)
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To: nmh

I recommend going up grade levels for math if your kid is doing exceptionally well. My parents went up 2 grades for me (I only did it for 3 years), and it worked wonders (Scored 99%+ on EOG/CAT all 12 years of grade school and placed out of 2nd semester calculus for college with a perfect score on the AP exam). None of the textbooks we looked at for same grade were difficult. This was about 15 years ago though so I wouldn’t have a clue as to what type of textbook to use now. I think we used Abeka but I might be wrong.


210 posted on 01/15/2008 8:49:14 PM PST by rb22982
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To: G Larry
Refusing to expell or suspend trouble makers from the classroom, because school funding depends on daily attendance totals,

A friend of mine who went into teaching (briefly) started at on "OK" high school in my county. He had to teach math for 11th/12th graders below par for technical math. He was allowed to send kids to the principles office just THREE times all year! After 2 years of dealing with the administrative idiocy, he left for data analysis in the private industry.

211 posted on 01/15/2008 8:56:14 PM PST by rb22982
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To: rb22982

I recommend going up grade levels for math if your kid is doing exceptionally well. My parents went up 2 grades for me (I only did it for 3 years), and it worked wonders (Scored 99%+ on EOG/CAT all 12 years of grade school and placed out of 2nd semester calculus for college with a perfect score on the AP exam). None of the textbooks we looked at for same grade were difficult. This was about 15 years ago though so I wouldn’t have a clue as to what type of textbook to use now. I think we used Abeka but I might be wrong.


Her school uses Saxon ... what I might do is get the homeschool version a grade up and challenge her in that way. IN the summer I supplement and I am familiar with Abeka - another good vendor!

Thanks for the advice.


212 posted on 01/15/2008 9:06:02 PM PST by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God) .)
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To: G Larry
I believe it is you who is missing the point. At the school level teachers have no contact with the NEA. I personally have never discussed homosexuality with any student. I have never distributed birth control, or worked at any school where this has occurred.

As for population control, I can't even begin to imagine what you're talking about there, so I'll say no comment. As for global warming, I agree that it's a fraud and have written several newspaper articles discussing this fact. But, the theory of global warming is in textbooks and has to be covered, so I always present both sides and make it clear that I personally do not believe in global warming.

The reason that religion has played a smaller role in school is because of court rulings. Even if I believe prayer should be allowed, I can't break the law without losing my certificate.

However, the religious beliefs of the Founding Fathers and the first settlers is discussed in social studies, so you're incorrect about that.

I agree that troublemakers should be suspended, but if they are special ed students, they cannot be suspended for more than 10 days per school year, and not without holding a meeting to determine if their behavior is a manifestation of their special ed eligibility. That's federal law, not the NEA.

I am not sure which political agendas you are talking about that are passed off as science. You could be talking about evolution. If so, you can disagree with the theory of evolution, but also understand that Creationism is based in faith, not science.

As for telling the students that parents have no real authority over them, I can only say, What have you been smoking?

As I said, there are laws and court rulings that have had a much more profound effect on public education than the NEA.

213 posted on 01/16/2008 4:47:16 PM PST by SALChamps03
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To: SALChamps03
Given your particular experience in special needs Kindergarten, isn’t it possible that your exposure has been limited?

I didn’t make this stuff up!
Teachers in Washington, California, and Colorado have been telling their students that they can report their parents for spanking....NO! Not BEATING! Spanking!
(In the early ‘70’s my brother found out that my Father wasn’t very impressed with his teacher’s pronouncement.)

I can walk you into HUNDREDS of Middle and Sr. High schools, that have pro-homosexual textbooks, Nurses offices & counselors who will drive any young girl to an abortion clinic WITHOUT NOTIFYING THE PARENTS! (Haven’t you noticed this subject being debated on election ballots around the nation for the past decade?)
Do you not recognize the roll the NEA plays in selecting text books and curricula?

214 posted on 01/16/2008 5:58:35 PM PST by G Larry (HILLARY CARE = DYING IN LINE!)
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To: G Larry
I have also worked in fourth and fifth grade and in an alternative school setting. I've had dealings with every grade level. Look, I hate the NEA. I'm not defending them. They do not represent me or my views, especially since I am not a member. I admit they are one of the problems. They just aren't the only one or the biggest one. I also believe that there are plenty of success stories in public education.

I just don't think that everything is all bad with public education. I agree there are some ridiculous things that happen. I just don't believe that every school in America is a bad school. I don't even believe a majority are bad schools. I also think that the majority of teachers are highly concerned with the success of their students. We have to be in it for them, given the level of criticism we take, and the fact that we're lumped in with all the bad apples, who don't help when they do stupid or evil things like having sex with their students or presenting inappropriate subject matter.

All I'm saying is please cut us some slack.

I can walk you into HUNDREDS of Middle and Sr. High schools, that have pro-homosexual textbooks, Nurses offices & counselors who will drive any young girl to an abortion clinic WITHOUT NOTIFYING THE PARENTS! (Haven’t you noticed this subject being debated on election ballots around the nation for the past decade?)

I do not believe that any school official can drive a student to an abortion clinic without notifying the parents. There is no way that a dangerous medical procedure can be performed on a minor without parental consent. That's just not true. As for the "pro-homosexual" textbooks, I will ask you specifically to define "pro-homosexual. That's too vague of a claim.

215 posted on 01/17/2008 4:48:05 PM PST by SALChamps03
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To: SALChamps03

I applaud your contributions and your values.
I’m afraid your dedication has left you little time to be aware of the national culture.

>As of 2007-JAN, six states and the District of Columbia do not have parental notification or consent laws. The consent or notification laws in six states are on the books but not in effect.<
>In the United States, a pregnant woman who has not reached the age of majority may not be able to decide on her own to obtain an abortion. The age of majority for health matters is 18 in most states; it is 19 in Alabama and 21 in Pennsylvania. States vary in abortion access for young women. Planned Parenthood web site reports that, as of 2007-JAN:
No restrictive laws: Six states (CT, HI, NY, OR, VT, WA) and the District of Columbia allow a woman to obtain an abortion without telling her parents or court-appointed guardian, and without obtaining permission from them. This is a reduction from 28 states in 1999-FEB. <


216 posted on 01/17/2008 5:18:36 PM PST by G Larry (HILLARY CARE = DYING IN LINE!)
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To: K-oneTexas

Public Education is not failing. Tom DeWeese just doesn’t understand its goals.


217 posted on 01/17/2008 5:27:35 PM PST by arthurus (Better to fight them OVER THERE than to have to fight them OVER HERE!)
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To: Tax-chick

The interstates were originally justified as for Defense because Eisenhower had long noted that it was very time-consuming to move military supplies across the country. The I’states vastly improved that situation as well as made it easier to go visit Grandma.


218 posted on 01/17/2008 5:30:06 PM PST by arthurus (Better to fight them OVER THERE than to have to fight them OVER HERE!)
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To: arthurus

Yeah, I understand the “justification” on the Interstate Highway system. It’s up there with all the other uses of the Interstate Commerce Clause for expansions of Federal power.

But I still like the result!


219 posted on 01/17/2008 7:24:21 PM PST by Tax-chick ("How inscrutable are His judgments and how unsearchable His ways!")
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To: G Larry

You might more accurately say that 44 states do have parental notification laws. It seems you are accentuating the negative.


220 posted on 01/19/2008 12:08:54 PM PST by SALChamps03
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