RR has been preaching for years the importance of education for our country’s continued prosperity, security, and its envied quality of life. Researchers and academics like Niall Ferguson have warned us that our public education system long ago reverted from operating for the benefit of the student to the benefit of education workers, especially those represented by the big teachers unions abetted by progressive legislators and academics across the land. The result has been a steady decline in the performance of America’s schools and its students, especially as they compare with their peers worldwide.
The detrimental impacts of this national dumbing down are apparent in our workforce skill levels, cultural degradation, economic/fiscal understanding, political ignorance/indifference, and overall literacy/numeracy. Today this downward spiral continues as reported in the just released results of the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). From the nearby figure (click then zoom) we see the big picture. In more detail, “the U.S. slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which gathers and analyzes the data in the U.S.” (more here)
PISA exams are arguably the best tests available in that they measure “whether students can apply (their) knowledge to real-life problems.” (Here in Nevada County SESF’s annual TechTest is designed on the same principle, and therefore challenges students in a manner that is absent in their normal classrooms.) It is that ability to transfer the use of classroom tools that most effectively motivates and measures a student’s critical thinking and problem solving abilities.
But our highest level government officials still don’t get what is happening. Witness SecEduc Arne Duncan, to him these results are a “picture of educational stagnation” that is “at odds with our aspiration to have the best educated, most competitive work force in the world.” Stagnation, my a$$! The sumbich doesn’t even know what stagnation means. Our nation’s intellectual capital is measurably deteriorating, not stagnating, and you can see how excited he gets when he soberly rolls out a mealy-mouthed assessment that all this is “at odds with our aspiration …” No kidding!
Instead, the alarm bells should have been ringing nationwide for some time now, exhorting us to try all kinds of different approaches to educating our kids. Instead, the union led teachers continue to oppose charter schools, parochial schools, home schooling, vouchers, parental choice, industrial strength curricula, vocational course education, … . The only solutions offered from these agenda driven sclerotic bureaucrats are demands for more money, more regulatory and administrative burden, less homework, politically correct learning environments, …, their list of ineffective and harmful nostrums is endless.
In spite of all this, ‘educational experts’ want us to temper our interpretation of these results by taking into consideration the diversity of America’s cultures, socio-economic conditions, and racial composition. I don’t know where they want us to go with this admonition except perhaps in circles, because the obvious interpretations and resultant remedies are not acceptable to progressives or the liberal mind. Meanwhile, America's fundamental transformation continues as our leftwing politicians raise the banners of class warfare, and seek ever greater wealth transfer programs to pay their constituents more for knowing and doing less.