What is going on in our schools?

This is probably going to be a fairly weak rant but oh well.
At the ripe old age of 22, I dare to say I officially have seen it all. There have been two serparate incidents in the past month that have made me wonder the state of affairs that schools are in.

I was helping my 12 year old cousin with her geography homework one night. We were talking about how remote some places were. She told me that she would never want to go to alaska because it wasn’t near anything. Jokingly I told her that it can’t be so bad that because it was near russia. She argued with me for a half hour about whether alaska was near russia or not because on the map they are on opposite sides. So I had to pull out a map that was circular for her to get it. Then she asked me where Hawaii was if alaska was so close to russia- because on her maps alaska and hawaii are right next to each other. Summoning as much patience as I could I explained to her that some maps put them real close together so you could see that they are indeed there without putting canada and alot of ocean in. the next day she came back and got my book with the circular map that shows alaska and russia= because her class mates also did not believe they were anywhere near each other- Her teacher told her that they weren’t “too close” together so she wasn’t wrong in thinking that they were no where near each other. Now maybe I am the moron here but when I look at a map- they look pretty close together to me.

The other incident involves my room mate. We were playing a trvia game last night and it was her turn to answer a question. the question was " what country is Nelson Mandela president of?’
My room mate promptly answered “Africa”. I looked at her for a minute and then asked her to be a bit more specific. (also insert vales of laughter) This is when it wasn’t so funny, because my roommate thought that africa was one country. I thought that she had to be joking- But she did indeed think that africa was the name of the whole continent and country. I asked her where she thought Nigeria and Ghana and rwanda were, she had no clue. When she took world history they didn’t even cover africa- just europe and south america- anda little bit of Asia- no middle east or africa.

Maybe I am a bit off here but What the hell is going on in schools?
Isn’t geography kind of important? My roommate also Had no clue that pearl harbor was in Hawaii- skip geography- what about a little history? My roomie is no moron- and she got decent grades in school- How do you not learn this stuff in school?

I have a few relatives that went to school outside of the country(USA) and it seems like they are learning so much more than my relatives that live here. Are we really so behind? How are we as a nation supposed to keep up with other countries if our children can’t even identify countries on a map? Or do the math that almost everyone needs to get by now a days.

In my hometown there is a guy who used to be star of the basketball team- he was always on the honor roll but everybody knew he couldn’t read- and he graduated along with everyone else anyway- and went on to college to play basketball- Unlike highschool- the college refused to pass him on and he was soon back in our homewoten, basketball scholarship gone. But how did he ever make it that far in the first place? Are our teachers so bogged down that they just pass people anyway? Did they do him a favor by passing him along when he couldn’t read?

Even as I write this I am not sure what to do about the problem, I want to be a school teacher one day- But will it even make a difference? I am hoping that I am the one behind and this is not a big as problem as I think it is.

I realise that this post is probably lacking in the vitriol needed for the pit- but I am truly angry as I write this- so if it makes any one feel any better feel free to sprinkle random cuss words throughout this post.

My son is in 8th grade.

In his science class, very few of the students could name the nine planets, much less put them in the right order. (Yes, my son is one of the few :D)

He did not know, last summer, that Lincoln was assassinated.

We are trying so hard to save up for private school…

My friends get mad at me when I talk about stuff like this, because I went to a private school most of my life, and they say I can’t relate. But let me tell you from what I am seeing, when I have kids they won’t be anywhere near the public school system is this is where we are headed.

The First Dictum of Education: “Never let your schooling interfere with your education.”

If the schools are shit, the children must be motivated enough to learn on their own, and the parents must be motivated enough to help them. Schools are only enablers as well, something that has gotten lost in the `No Child Left Behind’ nonsense.

Unless you get on the honors track, most teachers in public schools only care about maintaining order. If you’re quiet, you can float right through without a problem. Even in the honors track, there are usually huge gaps in basic knowledge.

Me, I’ve never had any world geography. Ever. In my senior year of high school, during a Pictionary game, I drew the Mediterranean Sea in the middle of Russia. That’s honestly where I thought it was. It’s sort of sad.

Here, I had learned close to no history up until 8th grade. Only the middle ages and only Europe to boot! I’ve learned most of my history thru reading(which I do alot).

I went through public schools and I turned out fine. Of course, I also had parents and siblings who cared about my education and would have fed me to a bear if I acted anything like some of the kids I see everyday.

I blame standardized testing. No, really. Teachers are so involved in teaching the test, they don’t have time to do anything else, like make sure there is “no child left behind” (and that idiot program’s a rant for another day). The tests have become so important that everything else in the schools is secondary. There was a nifty investigative series on this phenomenon here a few years ago.

Okaaaaaay, that link was supposed to be to the whole 3-article series. The first two parts must be vacationing in the Land of Wind and Ghosts.

I was switched form public to private schools when I was in 5th grade. (Catholic school) The private school was way behind the public school in most of the courses.

That may not help. While all my kids went to private school, I’ve noticed now that even some of them have slipped. My youngest is a senior this year. One problem is, thanks to vouchers in my opinion, some of the bad kids from the public schools are getting in. these are the kind of kids I didn’t want my kids associating with, and is one of the reasons why I sent them to private school.
Now I’ve noticed that this private school has a huge disipline problem.

Some of the things my youngest has said .:smack: Jesus! I don’t know whether to smack the shit out of him or go beat up his teachers!

“What house did we live in when President kennedy was shot? I don’t remember that happening”:eek: Christ! I myself was only 3 when it happened! Then there is the violent arguement his friend was willing to have insisting the U.S. never had any war with Mexico! My older kids went to this same school, the fucked off alot, but weren’t this stupid!
yeah, I think private schools might be slipping too.

Lincoln was assassinated last summer? Wow – it didn’t even make the news here.

I think flat maps give kids a warped sense of geography (case in point: I still have no concept of how big Greenland is relative to other places). Buy your kids a globe.

I had no African or Asian history when I took world history in high school. We were told the first day of classes that we’d be skipping certain chapters. They were all the chapters on Africa and Asia.

I got no history beyond US/European/Church history until I got to college.
I went to private (Catholic) school.

Yep. In fact, Alaska and Russia are only 2.5 miles apart (Big Diomede/Little Diomede Islands). Going from mainland to mainland, it’s still only about 50 miles. There’s even been talk on and off about building a bridge or tunnel from Alaska to Russia:


I have to agree with ** pkbites ** on this one. I went to private school, and the “academic standards” were, to put it kindly, laughable. (You need to do a LOT of research before making this leap.) If I were not a voracious reader, I wouldn’t know where Alaska is, either. We had no geography, 3-rd grade level history, no science, and no literature.

Of course, public schools aren’t much better. According to a book I recently read, something like 13% of graduating seniors could not name who our enemies were during WW II.

Exactly this kind of thing made me do some reading, think hard and ultimately change my mind completely about homeschooling. Causitive factors seem to litter the landcape but–IMO–the problem of flat-out inadequate education seems to be getting worse instead of better. Or maybe I’m just more sensitized to it.

That’s not saying some kids in some public schools don’t get fine educations but they seem far from the norm. Like others have said here, I’ve seen too many kids who just plain haven’t been taught (or learned) completely basic things.

Anecdote: I was horrified when an elementary school teacher stormed up to me at work (a library), ranting that our geography books were useless. She was teaching a unit on Egypt and none of our books on Asia even mentioned it. She got huffy when I pointed out–gently–that in point of stern fact, Egypt is located in Africa. Before teachers get defensive, I 'm the daughter of one of the finest, most dedicated teachers who ever graced a classroom. I’ve met many others who were just as good. Every profession has some duds. But I found it appalling that this woman had ever been allowed to graduate w/ and an Ed. degree, much less been turned loose on kids in a classroom. (And yes, she was tenured.)


Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, that’s pathetic. I hope …

[pause for experiment]

Whew. My 5-year-old was able to name four planets, and my 7-year-old rattled off all nine in order. At least it’s not as bad here.

My kids are both in public school, but I’m not expecting that they’re learning as much at school as at home. It helps that child #1 is almost as fanatically intellectual as I was at his age (he’s sitting in front of the TV right now … reading a book), and child #2 is almost fanatically obsessed with being able to do anything his big brother can. They both read something to me or their mother virtually every night, they have a virtual library (including a globe) in their room, and they take advantage of every opportunity. But I don’t really know what their classmates can do …

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to teach? Just the crap teachers have to wade through outside the classroom, in regard to administration, etc., would be enough to to bring most people to their knees. Then we step into the (crowded, broken down, poorly funded) room and have to make miracles happen with largely unprepared, unwilling, even hostile students.
I love what I do and I understand that there are bad schools and bad teachers, but let’s not forget that the very best of teachers can’t teach a child who’s not ready and/or willing to learn. I’ve presented wonderful, knock-your-socks-off lessons and had students fool me and demonstrate they hadn’t paid a damn bit of attention. Who’s to say the OPs friend hadn’t been taught that Africa wasn’t just one big country but spent that time wondering if Dad would let her borrow the car friday night?
Sincerely, I’m sure everybody here has raised great kids who value education and are the bright shining faces who remind me how teaching is supposed to work. Your sweeties are in classrooms with an entire system that manages by crises-- not because they want to, but because our society as a whole has very clearly stated it doesn’t want to accept any responsibility and wants the easiest, fastest ‘solution,’ not the best.
I’d like to urge everyone to occassionally spend the day with your child at school. Most of us could spare one day a year if we truly considered what was at stake. Get a good look at what’s really going on so you can be informed when you present your concerns (or flabbergasted compliments) to the school board. School should not (and cannot) be some big building you send your child to, so that you can collect an educated being in twelve years’ time, never having darkened it’s doorstep the entire time yourself.

The problem is that there is so much blame to go around that no one wants to take any of it lest they be charged with all of it. EVERYONE is to blame for the shitty state of the educational system today:

**The general citizenry: **
Here’s an idea: the next time the schools have a referendum on the ballot VOTE FOR IT! Oh, jeez it’ll cost ya a few extra dollars per year, but shit!! How do expect the schools to run if they don’t have money?

Quit saying you care. You don’t. You know that an intelligent electorate would never let you get away with half the shit that you do. And this “No child left behind” schtick is for the birds. How about “No moron promoted”?

You are not a privileged class. You are an employee who has a set of tasks and responsibilties. Its time to stop the “romanticizing” of teaching, that is rivaled only by that of the “family farmer”. Tenure? Bullshit. You do a job and you do it well or you get shit-canned. Just like the rest of us. Afraid of standardized testing? Bullshit. If you teach geography and one of your students thinks Africa is a country you deserve to not only be shown the door, but have their “teaching” degree (and yes I said “degree” not “certification”) revoked.

Your job is to set the tone of the system. Running schools is no different than running a business: you have costs, revenue, personell, etc. Your product is well educated individuals, but you’ve lost control and the spine (if you ever had it) to stand up to any special interest that complains. The inmates (the teachers, students, parents, etc) are running the asylum.

Too tired to do homework or go to school board meetings or parent/teacher conferences? TOUGH! Its your kid! No one told you being a parent was going to easy. “Oooooo, life is hard. I don’t have the time.” Bullshit. Welcome to the real world that all your teachers prepared you all so well for.

Education Academia
The classroom is not your personal little laboratory. When someone says that PhD stands for “Pile it Higher and Deeper” nowhere is this more true than some of the social engineering bullshit you dopes lay on the world.
I probably left some scoundrals out of the mix, but I guess the overall message is one of tough love. No one’s willing to really lay blame and no one is willing to accept it.

And worse no one is REALLY willing to anything to do about it.

I know a guy on another message board whose 13-year-old friend was doing a report on 9/11. She asked what state Peal Harbor was in, then proceeded to ask what state New York City was in.

I’m not kidding.

That was my experience too. The public school I went to was capable of dealing with students at different levels… the private was not, so there I was, in 6th grade doing work that I had literally done 2 years earlier because that’s where the lowest students were. Same books, same assignments. Complete waste of time. Luckily, I was out of there the next year, and back into public school, where again I had decent to great teaching.

When I hear these stories, I wonder what’s wrong - because that wasn’t my public school experience at all. (For one, we had globes around). And we were intentionally untracked, so it wasn’t just the honors students who were taught geography or whatever, all students had to go through it.

I don’t remember things like this and I haven’t been out of school that long.