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There's An Educational Crisis in the US. Does Anybody Care?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

The downward spiral of learning in American K-12 public schools continues. Does anybody care? Where’s the outrage, headlines, or breaking news? Congress and Big Media are too preoccupied with the impeachment scam in Washington D.C., to notice a real crisis in America. Our fourth and eighth-grade kids can’t read, and they are struggling to subtract a two-digit number from a three-digit number to come up with the correct answer

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, fourth-graders are the only ones to make a statistical gain and by only 1 point in math. Lest you see the light at the end of the tunnel by this increase in math, let me advise you that it is an oncoming train. That gain produces a score of 241. That’s out of a possible score of 500 — big deal.

But don’t take my word for it. Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner for the National Center for Education Statistics, said, “over the past decade there has been no progress in math or reading scores.” She further noted that “we see lower-achieving students made score declines in all of the assessments.” Read lower-achieving students to mean black and Hispanic kids. The president of the Thomas B. Fordham education think tank called the outcomes, “disappointing.” I call them abysmal and predictable. They blamed the declines on the recession and cuts in education spending. Folks, that’s what I call a swing and a miss. 

In my home state of Wisconsin, state-mandated test scores were just as dreadful showing that “fewer than half of Wisconsin students are scoring high enough on state tests to be considered proficient in math and reading.” The achievement gap between white and black students continues to widen as well; all of this is occurring while education spending in the state continues to go up.

The educational system is so horrendous in Detroit that a former public high school graduate has sued his previously attended district for failing to educate him to a point he couldn’t pass any of the courses at his community college. He called attending high school a “big waste of time.” He recalled in his 11th and 12th grade English classes that students were given material to learn that was marked for third or fourth graders. Long-term substitute teachers also failed to teach, showing movies instead. The lawsuit included an eighth grader who, after his teacher quit, had taught math to his classmates for a month. Stories like this describe most large urban school districts attended by black and brown students across America. Sadly, there is very little uproar. 

These horrible scores are reflected internationally, too, as the U.S. continues to slide in comparison to 15-year-old students of other nations. Accordingly, the U.S. ranks 35th in math, 25th in science, and 24th in reading. Singapore leads all countries in each category. Hong Kong follows. I doubt that these nations spend on education per pupil what the U.S. does. Asian culture might play a role here too. I know that will rub some liberal apologists the wrong way, but too bad. I care about our kids' prospects to reach their God-given potential. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, we spend $648 billion a year on education. We are getting nearly no return on our investment. Yet, all we ever hear from school officials and education advocates is that we need to increase school spending. Why? So we can produce more kids who cannot read? Kids who can’t read and are uneducated end up living life at the bottom. They live in poverty and in need of government welfare services to survive. They are more likely to engage in criminal behavior and make other poor lifestyle choices like dropping out of school, fathering kids they can’t support, becoming involved in gangs, or abusing drugs. I thought that the millions spent on Head Start, K4, and now K3 kindergarten was supposed to bridge the divide between black kids and their white counterparts. The test scores aren’t showing it. Why are we still funding these programs?

Recently, former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced a new non-profit initiative to fight poverty. Here we go again. After over 50 years of the War on Poverty that saw taxpayers spend $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs, poverty increased. Yes, increased. Note to Paul Ryan: Unless a kid has a great cross-over dribble or can run a 4.4 40-yard dash and become a professional athlete, the best anti-poverty program is an education. It will equip people to thrive in a knowledge-based economy. That will lead to gainful employment. Instead, he’ll raise millions from foundations to finance white papers that will suggest more of the same like increases in education spending they now call “investments” and think tank-suggested experiments on new approaches to teaching. Federal grant money will also be sought for this junk. 

My suggestion is the K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach. Teach these kids to read, write, add, subtract, multiply, and divide at the appropriate grade level and make parents step up to fulfill their responsibility and role in the education of their kids. Stop letting school boards dumb down the curriculum that fills kids' heads with useless social justice nonsense and expect more from our kids. These school board social justice activists are no different than Nancy Pelosi or that creep Adam Schiff, or the rest of the like-minded members of Congress and Big Media, who are so obsessed over impeaching the president that they're clueless to the world around them. Or do they not care?  

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