The recent forays into public education reform from the No Child Left Behind Act, the Core Curriculum mandate, and standardized tests have all placed public education on notice that once again, our policy decision-makers have continued their assault on education. Unfortunately, all they have done has resulted in a educational system that continues to fail our youth. From the mainstream Republican stance of what they have done in issuing these mandates, they literally shoved down the public’s throats misguided attempts at education reform.
This is nothing more than political expediency. What has been occurring with all these mandates is a continuation of glossing over the real underlying problems facing education in this country. If education were run like a business, there would be far more accountability and structure in our public schools today. But, like everything else, our most stupendous governmental officials have done thrown tax dollars down the toilet. Meanwhile, our youth are far worse off today in educational standards than the rest of the world.
Someone once said just recently that teachers alone cannot change conditions in our schools. The only way to regain the supremacy we had in educational standards that prevailed in the 1950s and early 1960s will take nothing short of a revolution. Unfortunately, whenn we take a good hard look at the landscape of America today, we find that the US is indeed fractured. On the one hand, we have the wealthiest few who control the all too powerful politicians; Those self-serving bureaucrats continue to overlook the obvious distress that the majority of Americas are wallowing in.
Then there is the majority of the population, those multitudes wallowing in desperation, hoping that somehow someday soon things will get better. Meanwhile, our youth, the future generations of Americans continue to suffer the consequences of failed educational mandates and initiatives by a political system that by its own nature fails to grasp what really is needed to reverse the effects of years of meddling in educational policies that worked for decades before the late 1960s.
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Our illustrious bureaucrats always overlook the one key component in education reform where students in all grade levels can succeed. When we really look into America today, we find many children just like Bob and Jane Smith. Brother and sister both are sixth graders at Roosevelt Elementary. Typical children, but their teachers didn’t know until later, their parents lost their home when Mr. Smith got laid off and the bank foreclosed. So for over a year, the Smiths have had to live in a two-bedroom apartment in a not-so-nice area. And, with only one income, a minimum wage job at Walmart many a night, Bob and Jane don’t get enough to eat, let alone the proper vitamins and nutrition they both need during the day.
When we really stop thinking about what is actually occurring all across the country today, it is unconscionable to think that over one-third of the country’s school-age children are literally starving. The fact of the matter is nutrition really does play the most vital role in a child’s growth and development. But, what is so disconcerting is that those policymakers fail to consider that food, nutrition, vitamins, and minerals are essential for physical development and health but are necessary for mental growth and mental health in every human being.
When schools today are judged solely on test scores, the prevailing contention is that poverty should never be an excuse for poor academic achievement remains the stance of policymakers. And, as long as test scores are at par, our policymakers continue to be unconcerned if the pantries are bare, the parents jobless or worse yet in jail, and the gap between the rich and poor is more appalling than it’s been since 1929. As a result, we now have a whole society of mounting inequality. The wealthiest few totally ignore, are too blind to see, and just plain oblivious to the harsh reality facing countless millions of children every day.
Food insecurity of our nation’s youth continues to undermine this nation’s ability to compete in an ever-increasing global economy. But, it is not the only factor the has diminished this nation’s education prominence. When the Common Core Curriculum was implemented in so many states, it dismantled many of the founding building blocks in elementary and secondary education that stood as the standard for over 100 years.
This, regardless of all the new technology integrated into school systems, still will hurt generations of our youth. Take, for example, cursive writing. It is now obsolete in the minds of so many school boards. Their rationale is to spend time learning penmanship, where today, all you need is a computer keyboard. The time spent on penmanship can now be used for more useful subjects that are more relevant today. As many of us remember, it was a right of passage for generations to learn how to write. Signing your name is just one of the most useful tools we use today as adults.
This is only the tip of the iceberg in education reform that is already taking its toll on our nation’s youth. When one walks into any public school in Anytown, USA, many a baby boomer is quite shocked to see what is actually going on in our schools. All one has to do is read the latest paper to find that another school-age student was bullied actually to death. Never before has this country been inundated with so many social crises that allow public schools to be a haven for bullying. A moral crisis has taken over in so many parts of the country. It really does underscore that our public education reforms for the past twenty years and counting have only systematically rendered our public school system at the bottom of the heap regarding other developed countries worldwide.