America’s students: even WORSE news….?

This article comes via our old friend John Galt at ‘YouViewed/Editorial’ blog.

I read it last week, but had too much else going on to address it properly. However, today is as good (or bad, I suppose) a day as any to look at the ugly truth.

The first half of the article (the BAD news) is that our unemployment is actually ….really, really bad. We’ve covered that before, and there’s not all that much new there. So, I am going to go straight to the “even WORSE” news.

By Mort Zuckerman at

“Bad News, or even WORSE News….?”

It’s time to adjust the gambit that people in all situations commonly use when reporting results to a supervisor: “What do you want first, the good news or the bad?” The formula that more aptly applies to the latest indicator of America’s economic predicament is: “What do you want first, the bad news or the even worse news?”

The bad news is the disappointing June unemployment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The worse news is that we are failing to train tomorrow’s labor force for employment in a world of accelerating competition.

…..Here now is the worse news: America is adding to the length of unemployment lines in the future by falling behind today in skill areas where global competition has become so intense. Too few of our younger people are benefiting from what is called STEM education. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the human capital at the core of any productive economy.

America has long been a STEM leader. We have dominated the world in innovation over two centuries but most recently in computer and wireless power, the development of the Internet, and cellphones, and with those innovations came well-paying jobs.

But our leadership is at risk.

A stunning illustration of how far America has started to lag in training its youth is that we are only one of three countries in the 34-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development where the youngsters are not better qualified than their fathers and mothers. Men and women ages 55 to 64 have the same or better education than the 25-to-34 generation. The younger workers in most other OECD countries are much better educated than those nearing retirement.

This is an astonishing commentary on the limits of, and the deterioration of, America’s system of public education. The National Academies warned years ago that the United States would continue to lose ground to foreign economic rivals unless the quality of its science education improved. In a 2010 report by the academies, an advisory group on science and technology, the United States ranked 27th among 29 wealthy countries in the proportion of college students with degrees in science and engineering. In a larger study conducted by the OECD in 2009, American 15-year-olds were 31st in math and 23rd in science. Yet another study found American 12th graders near the bottom of students from 20 nations, and this doesn’t even focus on the achievement gap between low-income and minority students and their peers.

Again, this is just part of the first half of the article. As depressing as it is, it is a very worthy read.


Zuckerman’s conclusions are another in a long line of indicators as to why we need to improve our children’s education. Over the years, there has been a systematic drop-off in basic scholastic ability and results in our youth, and a decent portion of the blame must be placed on the public schools. Before I generate too many angry comments, let me say that I know of some superb public school teachers, and one of my best friends is among them. However, more and more the good ones are becoming the outliers, with others just “teaching to the test” and not imparting actual, useful, memorable knowledge to their students.

When did this happen?

Prior to college, I attended parochial grade schools and a public high school, so I have a different life experience than most. However, my best teachers (in either school setting) taught me how to approach my learning; how to look at it so that I would retain the ‘how?‘ and ‘why?‘ portion of the subject, not just the factual ‘what?‘ part. I can clearly recall the overwhelming majority of my grammar, as well as how to solve a polynomial equation, plus many others lessons. One of those subjects was taught by a nun, and the other by a very small town teacher.

My point being, it wasn’t money that made those lessons, learned so many years ago now, effective. It was the instructor’s method, and it was their skill.

So I ask: are our teachers today simply so less skilled than the teachers of yesteryear that they don’t have the ability to teach effectively? Somehow, I just don’t buy that.

Consider this an “open call” for any/all opinions: WHY has our education system gone to heck over the years?


****And, please: nobody say “money”, okay? Of all the things that could be the culprit, “money” ain’t one of them.

15 responses to “America’s students: even WORSE news….?

  1. livinrightinpgh

    It’s the money.

    You KNEW I had to say that, right?

    How can critical thinking be taught by anyone who doesn’t possess critical thinking skills? (This is an overarching comment of the system, ok?)
    We’ve pursued a path in this Country’s public educational system that rewards non-achievement, matriculates the uneducated and unprepared, and then wonder WHY we are in the spot we’re in? Get real!

    A cynic might be inclined to believe that this was the desired outcome. “Aren’t educated? Can’t find a job? Well then, step right on up to this line of similar folks who are going on the government teat.”

  2. Oh, you needn’t be cynical to have that opinion. That would be fairly reasonable at this point.

    Does John Dewey ring a bell, by any chance?

    • Thanks for the ping back. Pretty much whatever I would say, I’ve already said. Our kids have been purposely dumbed down over the last couple of generations, but really starting in earnest during the Carter administration. He’s the idiot who started the Department of Education. Before then, education was still mostly a local affair.

  3. livinrightinpgh

    Still….I think if we just SPENT MORE MONEY on education, everything would be fine…..


  4. godsbooklover

    OK, folks, if you have enough time and brain cells, here is a TRULY scary blog to plunge into: I chose that post as one good point of entry, but anywhere you start will have your eyes bugging out and your jaw dropping once you catch what this attorney is presenting with much, much, much supportive data.

  5. Here’s a link to another article on education. But read the comments, that’s where the grist is.

  6. My step-mom taught second grade for 40 years, she has witnessed the decline even in a good school like hers. She says the burden put on teachers because of the testing, limited resources that make it to the classroom have hurt. She also says the decline of the family has also made a big impact, too many parents not involved in their children’s education. I’m getting her to write some stuff for my blog as well, we don’t see eye to eye on many things but I promised to post what she writes.

    • I have a number of teacher friends, and their opinions on where to place the blame are all over the map.
      It’s kinda funny, actually.

      I’ll look forward to reading you step-mom’s take on this over at your place, Blaine!

  7. Reblogged this on The Peanut Gallery and commented:
    But hey – our kids all feel good about themselves – and they can tell you who won American Idol for the past 5 years. How bad can that be?

    • Thanks for the re-blog, Art! This isn’t a flashy topic, but it’s important.
      Even though we are homeschooling our boys, the failure of our public schools affects us all.

      And your American Idol comment, while pithy, is also 100% TRUE…….

      • It’s more than important – the current government indoctrination system has systematically destroyed our country over the last 50 years. We have raised a generation of Americans who know everything about seals and rain forests and nothing about our founding values and the uniqueness of this country. And – as you pint out – we are falling woefully behind on STEM courses. We are raising a generation that knows nothing and is prepared to do nothing except freeload of other people’s accomplishments. Our only hope is School Choice.

        • Please excuse the typos.

          • At least it’s a typo not a symptom of our education system not like this comment that was posted on an article about an English teacher and Bible School counselor being arrested for exposing himself to a girl at Bible School. When reading, keep in mind that he was an English teacher and obviously not a very good one.

            “I Don’t Believe that he would do this, Mr.Derossett is still the same English Teacher I had a Freshman.No I never had a crush on him, I respected him
            and He was a Great Teacher. I don’t care what anyone has to say or wanting to argue.If he did do as he was accused then that was a personal Decision.He has a Wonderful family and is an All around Nice guy.”

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