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What's Wrong With American Schools?


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  #1  
June 13th, 2012, 10:52 AM
foxfire_ga79
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What's wrong with America's schools? iReport wants to hear from you! – Schools of Thought - CNN.com Blogs


CNN asks, and I'm curious too. What's wrong with our schools and how can it be fixed? Or CAN it be fixed?
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  #2  
June 13th, 2012, 11:30 AM
*Jennifer*'s Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Where do I begin?

1. Social Promotion - It is okay if you fail. We will move you on to the next grade anyway.

2. Lack of parental involvement - Your child's education does not last only 6-7 hours a day. You need to do your part when it comes to your child succeeding in school.

3. Lack of consequences for unacceptable behavior. Students in class = more funding for the school = no suspensions for pretty much anything.
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  #3  
June 13th, 2012, 11:38 AM
AtomicMama's Avatar CopperBoom!
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#1 Issue:

I am not a teacher.

Honestly, though, I think that this question is so personal and individual. I don't think there are one or two or even ten issues with American schools that are common to all or most schools. I think that is the main idea behind locally governed education, it's so specific to the culture and demographics of each area. What is wrong with the schools and education system for me here in urban Kansas City is going to be different than, say, the schools and education system out in the rural plains of Kansas. Same state, even, but different issues.

Plus, the type of education necessary is going to differ so much between students. It's almost impossible to find one educational system or technique or cirriculum to fit the needs of every child in the classroom perfectly or best. For some students, the current model works great, for others, an alternative approach might be better. Is it even possible to allow for such varied learning approaches? I'm not a pessimist, but I really think it is not. I think public schools have to pick the approach that works well for the majority of students. It might not be the best for any, but it is good for many. There are some that it won't work well for at all, and that is a problem. I think that's the benefit to charter schools, alternative schools, on-line programs, and magnet programs available in some districts. You can pick the program that works for you/your child, but all the options are still public, and thus, free, or very low cost.
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  #4  
June 13th, 2012, 11:55 AM
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1. Passing special ed. students that are difficult to deal with through(who are not ready to move on)....just so they don't have to deal with them next year.

2. Not allowing parental involvment. Notes stating "no chaperones needed" or "no volunteers necessary"

3. Taking academic competition out of the classroom by getting rid of number grades and moving to a new system where the class does not move on until everyone gets a 3.5 on their "measurement topics". This is done because someone may end up with their feelings hurt.

4. Doing away with the honor roll. Really?!?!? Again, this is so no one feels left out or has to deal with disappointment.

5. Doing away with the "Student of the Month" award. Again, this is because its "not fair" in the eyes of some and hurt feelings.

Let's just say that while I still love our elementary school, there have been changes in the last year that have made things a little less personable and I'm not thrilled. Middle school/high school changes have happened too and it makes me go to think we are not to reward those who do well academically(no more honor roll).
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  #5  
June 13th, 2012, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tammyjh View Post
1. Passing special ed. students that are difficult to deal with through(who are not ready to move on)....just so they don't have to deal with them next year.

2. Not allowing parental involvment. Notes stating "no chaperones needed" or "no volunteers necessary"

3. Taking academic competition out of the classroom by getting rid of number grades and moving to a new system where the class does not move on until everyone gets a 3.5 on their "measurement topics". This is done because someone may end up with their feelings hurt.

4. Doing away with the honor roll. Really?!?!? Again, this is so no one feels left out or has to deal with disappointment.

5. Doing away with the "Student of the Month" award. Again, this is because its "not fair" in the eyes of some and hurt feelings.

Let's just say that while I still love our elementary school, there have been changes in the last year that have made things a little less personable and I'm not thrilled. Middle school/high school changes have happened too and it makes me go to think we are not to reward those who do well academically(no more honor roll).


Really to #2 on your list? Why do parents get turned away from helping out?We have the opposite problem here.
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  #6  
June 13th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by *Jennifer* View Post
Really to #2 on your list? Why do parents get turned away from helping out?We have the opposite problem here.
I honestly don't know. Parents are not turned away every(dh chaperoned one trip) time but its such a change from prior years when volunteers were always welcomed in the classrooms(younger grades mostly....preK thru 2) and slips always came home asking for chaperones or volunteers for field trips, after school activities, and field day. Now, its the opposite for the most part. It really made me feel less involved this year and I don't like it.
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  #7  
June 13th, 2012, 02:09 PM
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i feel like to try to scoop up and in one brush stroke say there's something wrong (or right) about american public schools is so broad it's almost worthless from a solutions perspective (that's aimed at CNN not the OP btw)....there are some great schools, lots of good schools, tons of mediocre schools and sadly a bunch of really awful ones too. And the reasons individual teachers, schools or entire school districts are failing are as varied as the kids attending them & the communities they support.

I guess in a nutshell my concern is that kids' needs are too diverse to be served by a "one size fits all" education model employed by most public school systems - that we bore our brightest kids and don't do enough to help the academically struggling and special needs students, while the kids in the middle just drift on through without a lot of attention. I'm supportive of voucher programs primarily b/c i think it lets parents better customize the type of schooling their child receives depending on that child's needs, whether that is a highly structured environment or the opposite (or something in between)...I do think some public schools are doing a great job, and (theoretically) even in a voucher model they'd survive even though they're not a private school.
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  #8  
June 13th, 2012, 02:13 PM
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This is something that is really hard to pin down. Each parent will feel differently. I know for NYC we did away with social promotion years ago. It's great, but that's about the only good thing about the schools lately. Teachers need to be given more wiggle room in the classrooms. This focus on teaching to pass standardize tests is doing more harm than good.

Also, teachers need to be given better tools to teach in the classroom. They're being given new curriculum to teach without tools to teach the kids. Healthy competition in everything, that includes sports and classroom. It's great to encourage kids and teach them that they're all special in their own ways. But to make it so everyone is a winner all the time does no good. It only raises spoiled sore loser children who believe that they deserve it all even if they don't earn it or work hard for it.

A personal one for me is giving kids a chance. To not just write them off and automatically give them a raw deal because they may be a bit harder to work with than others. I attribute this to larger class sizes and teachers that just don't want to deal with difficult children. Instead they rather kick them out of the class room and label them a problem student then wash their hands of that child.

Kev has experienced that this year. I know he's not the best behaved child on the planet, but he's not the worst either. He's just very immature still and very bright at the same time. So he gets bored in class and can act out at times. Instead of working with him the teacher has just washed her hands of him and never bothers to try. If another student does something wrong, it's his fault cause he "told" that student to do it. He is never believed when he doesn't do something. He's the type to fess up to something, not try and cover it up all the time. So now he's gotten to the point that if he's going to be blamed anyway, he's going to do what he's getting blamed for. It's been a very frustrating year for us both. It also annoys the teacher that he seems to not pay her any mind yet if asked a question he knows the answer. It makes him seem very smart arsed in her eyes.
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  #9  
June 13th, 2012, 02:20 PM
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I forgot to add parental involvement. A lot of parents have this belief that it's the schools job to teach and not theirs. Parents and teachers need to work together to teach our children properly.
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  #10  
June 13th, 2012, 04:28 PM
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These comments are already showing why Amy is right. Many of the things listed are not typical of schools around here.
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  #11  
June 13th, 2012, 05:17 PM
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I was thinking about this recently. One of the comments that caught me was that two students in the same town could receive a totally different education. That totally hit home for me. I teach in a town with five high schools. The high schools are either very white or very black. It is also very apparent which schools are preferred.

Another problem I see is class size. In the past four years, I have averaged 40 kids in a class each semester. It is very difficult to do devote the time it takes to teaching, as well assessing and providing meaningful feedback to that many students consistently. I also learned that it was not physically possible to fit more than 43 students and desks into my classroom.

One of the biggest problems I see is teacher burn out from the lack of support from administrators and parents. It's pretty hard to be a motivator to students when you don't have anyone on your side. There is such a high turn over rate for teachers. When morale is low, learning is not going to take place.

There are a host of other things that bring down education in the U.S. These are just some of the things that I see on a daily basis.
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  #12  
June 13th, 2012, 09:13 PM
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I agree with a lot of what every one's said. I'm just getting glimpses into the US school system, but a lot of what was said is also common in Canada too.



40 kids to a class just seems insane. We never had more than 27 in ours and even then our teachers struggled!



But you're right, some areas do great, some do poorly when it comes to how their schools work. I remember being told that a Pre-K teacher hated kids who came into school reading and writing because it made her job harder and made the kids bored so I should make sure my kids know the bare minimum by the time they go to school...... I know shes not the norm.. but I was shocked.
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  #13  
June 14th, 2012, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lesliek0211 View Post
These comments are already showing why Amy is right. Many of the things listed are not typical of schools around here.
It honestly depends on the area of the school. The schools where I live are wonderful. There is an expectation that the students will do well and everyone will become a high school graduate. It is also expected that most students will continue their education after high school.

It is the complete opposite where I work. We hope the students will become high school graduates, but are not surprised by those who don't. It is extremely disappointing and we do all we can to help those kids succeed, but it is difficult when we don't get parental support.

I really wish there were more job training programs. College is not for everyone, no matter where you live.
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  #14  
June 14th, 2012, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Jennifer* View Post
It honestly depends on the area of the school. The schools where I live are wonderful. There is an expectation that the students will do well and everyone will become a high school graduate. It is also expected that most students will continue their education after high school.

It is the complete opposite where I work. We hope the students will become high school graduates, but are not surprised by those who don't. It is extremely disappointing and we do all we can to help those kids succeed, but it is difficult when we don't get parental support.

I really wish there were more job training programs. College is not for everyone, no matter where you live.
You know, this is something that I can actually praise the school system for where I lived in Virginia. It's a very rural area, one of those places that seems to live up to hillbilly stereotypes, but the schools work hand in hand with the trade school.
High school juniors and seniors who have earned enough credits can spend half their day in high school and be bused for the other half school day to the trade school. Most of what the trade school offers are 2 year programs so if the kids start in trade as juniors they will graduate high school and be certified in something at the same time. My ex husband graduated as an arc and shield welder, his older brother as a mechanic. This trade school has a CNA and LPN program as well as auto body, shop and a few other things.
What surprises me is not so much that this area does it, but that more areas don't. What could be simpler?
I live in a more affluent area now in Georgia, not so far from Atlanta, where the mean income is more than double that of where I lived in Virginia. We have an alternative school to send the trouble maker kids to who failed too many classes, but no trade/vo-tech school. Seriously??
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  #15  
June 14th, 2012, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by foxfire_ga79 View Post
You know, this is something that I can actually praise the school system for where I lived in Virginia. It's a very rural area, one of those places that seems to live up to hillbilly stereotypes, but the schools work hand in hand with the trade school.
High school juniors and seniors who have earned enough credits can spend half their day in high school and be bused for the other half school day to the trade school. Most of what the trade school offers are 2 year programs so if the kids start in trade as juniors they will graduate high school and be certified in something at the same time. My ex husband graduated as an arc and shield welder, his older brother as a mechanic. This trade school has a CNA and LPN program as well as auto body, shop and a few other things.
What surprises me is not so much that this area does it, but that more areas don't. What could be simpler?
I live in a more affluent area now in Georgia, not so far from Atlanta, where the mean income is more than double that of where I lived in Virginia. We have an alternative school to send the trouble maker kids to who failed too many classes, but no trade/vo-tech school. Seriously??
Schools around here do this too. In addition to the nursing, there's vet tech, and computer programming.

And to the hillbilly thing, we're a bit rednecky here too. When ex came up for dd's graduation, he looked down his nose at all the cheering that went on. We're not an area known for elitist behavior
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  #16  
June 14th, 2012, 12:14 PM
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I live in a not so good school district so my experiences are not going to be the same as a better school but I see a lot of flaws. Lots of children fall through the cracks here. My nephew has a learning disability and has been labeled a troublemaker since the first grade. The school will not work with his parents who try to be really involved in his schoolwork.

The next issue is they got rid of the gifted programs here so no feelings are hurt. There is 4 kindergarten teachers for the 120 children entering school this year.
The last one is the worst of the list: bullying is ignored. It was ignored the 9 years of it when I was in school and I see them ignoring it now with my nephew. He tried to stand up for himself last year and got suspended for a week. Even the teacher taunted him calling him an idiot and making him stay in during recesses because " he is not smart enough to understand the homework."


Yeah it is bad here
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  #17  
June 15th, 2012, 07:40 AM
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well add this onto the pile of what's wrong with public schools (at least in CA): 'Teacher of the Year' gets pink slip amid budget cuts - U.S. News

Quote:
A district spokesman told KXTV the teacher layoffs were based on seniority, not performance, and mandated by the state.
So we RIF the best teacher in the district while keeping (potentially) poor performing teachers who happen to have been around longer....great idea!
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  #18  
June 15th, 2012, 10:04 AM
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Oh don't even get me started on tenured teachers. Some of them are great and deserve to be tenured and have that extra job security. But other simply do not. I can't stand it when a horrible teacher gets seniority over a wonderful teacher simply because of tenure.
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  #19  
June 15th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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Until we can figure out a way to fairly evaluate teachers, RIFing based on seniority is going to be difficult to do away with.
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