Top 10 problems with public schools

1) Teacher’s Unions – This is the biggie, so it belongs at the beginning.  Teacher’s Unions are just as bad as all the other unions out there.  They shelter the lazy and incompetent and at the same time discourage and beat down the eager and hard-working.  Kick the unions out of the schools, move to merit- and performance-based wages like most other private business, and you’d quickly separate the good teachers from the bad.  Then get rid of the bad and hire new teachers who have plenty of ambition and energy.

2) Lack of discipline (corporal punishment) – Look, I  don’t like the idea of someone spanking my kids without me knowing about it either.  But, you have to admit, there was a lot more respect and learning happening back when the kids all thought that paddle in the principal’s office could start swinging at any time.  Looking back, I can’t remember that paddle or the one on our bus ever getting used, but we THOUGHT they could, and that’s all that mattered.  Somewhere along the way we not only took away the ability for teachers to punish our kids, but we opened our big mouths and told our kids they were untouchable.  We were supposed to handle the punishment ourselves in exchange – too many of us didn’t.  It’s time to make our kids behave.

3) Focus on the basics – Kid’s reading, writing and arithmetic skills are just pathetic.  Yet, they can tell you all about being “green” and saving the planet.  We’ve lost focus on the building blocks of our education.  I found out this week that my 8-year-old is doing pilates and yoga at school.  Between that and various assemblies and Covey skills, not a whole lot of time is left over to make sure kids can read and write well.

4) Social programs intertwined with school – Some of the schools in our area have gotten involved in programs where kids can get breakfast at school.  The idea is that kids aren’t getting fed at home, so let’s feed them at school, right?  Seems like a good idea on the surface, until it backfires, like all socialist programs do.  In this case, the program makes it EASIER for the parents to NOT feed (neglect) their child, and have them eat at school instead.  Of course, the more kids in the program, the better for the school running it, as social programs are typically funded by participation counts.  Most people don’t realize this, but many sources of funding in a typical public school are directly determined by free and reduced lunch counts.  Schools actually benefit by trying to get as many kids onto the free and reduced lists as possible, because the state gives the most funding to the schools that appear to be the poorest.

5) Rules have gone by the wayside – Teachers are letting kids chew gum in class, get up and walk around without asking, talk to their friends in class, goof around in the hallways…  Dress codes have loosened so that boys can walk around with their pants halfway down their butt and girls can look like crack-whores from COPS.

6) The public school system is far to focused on student’s age. Kids are put into rooms based on how old they are, with usually no bearing on ability or skill level.  Yes, some schools have limited gifted programs and pretty much all have “special ed” for the challenged, but more need to forget the emphasis on age and group by learning level.  Teachers would find teaching easier, kids would learn faster.

7) Public schools are falling into the non-competition trap.  No-one wants any kid to feel “bad” about themselves because they didn’t win the race, or game, or contest.  Smart kids are made to feel guilty and ostracized, while the average kid is held up as the model for the rest.  Well, guess what?  The real world doesn’t reward average, it rewards the best and the brightest.  Who’s going to explain to the average kids why they aren’t getting the promotions?

8 ) Public schools are teaching our kids that it’s okay to fail.  A few years ago, our system implemented a new policy that allowed any kid to re-take any test once.  All they had to do was ask, sit through a study session after school, and then take the test after school.  Again, seems reasonable, right?  Give the kid a second chance in case they blow it, right?  Well, tell me what incentive any kid has now to work hard and study for the first test?  Why should they?  They’ve always got the safety blanket waiting for them.  “I think I know the material, I’ll take the test and see what happens.  If I fail, THEN I’ll spend time studying.”  Sorry, real life doesn’t usually offer us second chances, do-overs or rewinds.

9) Public schools are teaching our kids to be lazy.  Teachers accept late assignments without penalty.  I know a kid that has 15 missing assignments in one class.  They just needed to be turned in before the end of the semester.  There was no penalty at all for being late.

10) Public schools push one-sided revisionist history, IF they teach any real history at all.  Critical information is conveniently glossed-over to emphasize other points.  In public school history, there were no violent indians, only the South had slaves, and all slave-traders were white.  Yes, this country has some tough history to explain, but overall we’ve had a positive impact on the world and THAT should be the emphasis

60 thoughts on “Top 10 problems with public schools”

  1. My daughter will (hopefully) be a teacher soon, after she finishes the current semester student-teaching. Over the course of the last few years we’ve had some pretty intense discussions about many of the points you raise.

    To my surprise some of her views have swing from being quite left-leaning (no surpise there) to more ‘traditional’. As she begins to assess her life and the impact of various teacher and administrators on her education, she’s beginning to see a pattern. And I believe it is starting to help her formulate how she will interact with her students.

    Number 10 had me concerned for a while — seems like each time she came home to visit I just had to know about the latest injustice that the US inflicted upon someone or something in our history because, you know, you have to make sure that enough emphasis is placed on the bad things that occurred. After time, however, things have moderated. Maybe it’s not necessary to focus on the bad things. I’m OK with mentioning them, but not to the exclusion of the positive impact of our nation’s actions upon the individuals and society as a whole.

    Maybe it’s a WordPress thing — because number 8 is nothing to smile about :-). I’m one of those students who was able to get by, for many classes, by cracking open the book the day before (or morning of) an exam, doing a quick skim through the pages and then routinely pulling a ‘B ‘or better. Even in college. (Used to really piss my friends off). But it was in college that I finally found that was becoming less possible. Dammit – I had to devote some serious time with some tedious text. With the “do-over” method I would have quickly learned how to turn the first attempt into real-time Cliff’s Notes and to hell with any studying. Maybe this one is also designed to work in correlation with the ‘book rental’ policy — since we can’t permit kids to bring the texts home, we have to resort to the ‘do-overs’ to keep those PSAT and other scores high (enough).

    Excellent points — and post.

    Grade: A-
    Notes: see me after class to discuss.

  2. One of their problems is that, in the interest of fairness, which has become one of our primary goals, they’ve had to replace common sense with rules.

    For instance, if you bombed a test in the past, it was always possible to go to the teacher and explain the circumstances and ask to retake it. If you weren’t a problem student and the teacher was reasonable, it’d be no problem. But there was always the chance that an unreasonable teacher wouldn’t allow it, or a teacher might play favorites and allow some kids to do it and not others, or you might ask the teacher on a bad day. So to be fair, the teacher can’t be given any choice in the matter, so you need a rule that covers all situations.

    It’s a bad way of doing things, but having a rule for every situation is the only way to make things as fair as we insist they be.

  3. If a teacher does not allow a child to retake a test it is usually because he/she has seen how the child hasn’t been doing the work of the rest of the class or how the child chooses to underachieve. Do we really want to cheapen the success of the achievers to be fair to the lazy and irresponsible? What message would that send to our children? Do we want children who work hard and still fail to learn from their mistakes? or to always expect a second chance? Are we preparing them for life or preparing them for mediocrity?

    I think the current warped view of fairness is why most children are the lazy entitlists that are so prominent among today’s youth. Fairness in education is how our children learn to be good little socialists.

  4. I agree particularly about the discipline area. I’ve been subbing for a few years now. I was offered my own classroom. I don’t want it. I wouldn’t take it. Everyday I see teachers in each building going through hell. Why, you may ask? Because they can’t simply gain the students’ attention or respect. They wind up running around the room like a chicken wihout a head trying to control each one again and again. It’s maddening and pathetic. Do parents help? Sometimes. But sometimes they admittedly can’t. Life has gotten too overwhelming. So yes, I say, give the teachers back the paddle. Let it hang in the background and be used on one or two so that the rest settle down. And let the courts and judges be sympathetic to the adminstrators and teachers who have responsiblity for these kids half of the day

  5. I completely disagree with almost everything you have just said. Creativity is an incredibly important aspect in the development of the child. also, it IS okay to fail, because through failure you learn. If you are so afraid to be wrong, then you will be too scared to try ANYthing new. Curriculum in public education is structured like a pyramid, with math and science at the top and the arts at the bottom. Creativity is stifled in children’s upbringings to fit into a mechanical social system where it is ideal to be exactly like everyone else, a cog in a machine. Sir Ken Robinson says “it is education that’s meant to take us into a future which we can’t grasp.” We are basing our education off of our past, and what would have worked then, however what needs to be looked at is our future and creativity; which is what should and will propel the ideas needed to succeed in our very near future.

    1. We DO learn through failure, but teaching kids that it’s “okay to fail” is doing them a disservice. When failure and success produce the same reward, they become equivalent in the kids’ minds and they have no reason to try to succeed.

      Curriculum MAY be structured the way you say, but implementation definitely is not. Far more time is spent on the arts than on core subjects. Kids that excel in sports, music, etc… are recognized and rewarded far more than kids that excel in math, for instance.

      As far as being stifled and fitting in to a social system, you’re describing public schools. The driving force in a child’s school years is their desire to “fit in”. Kids fear being seen as different, which is why peer pressure is such a problem. Kids want so badly to be just like everyone else that they’re willing to do things they wouldn’t normally do. The school system by it’s very nature suppresses those who don’t fit into the mold.

      As for your last comment, what has changed? If, as you say, what worked in the past won’t work now, then why? In reality, kids haven’t changed. They are just as capable of learning and creating and succeeding as they ever were. We’re trying to fix something that was never broken, and in the meantime we’re turning out poorly-educated unmotivated “adults”.

      As a student of public schools, I was given few opportunities or reasons to succeed. The majority of extra-curricular activities were centered around sports or music. Awards ceremonies were for those as well. The schools resisted any attempts to advance me to higher-level classes, so I languished while the students around me learned what I already knew. I became bored and disinterested. I graduated 35 out of 55 in my class because I saw no reason to try. Because of my ACT and SAT scores, I was accepted into an engineering school, where I quickly realized that I was completely unprepared for college. I had spent 13 years in the “system” learning that it was only important to do well enough to pass to the next grade, and I had never learned how to study. I had no idea how to succeed, and it took me several years to figure that out.

      When I look around at the kids being “educated” in the public school system, I see all kinds of the creativity that you’re concerned about. I also see poor grammar skills, poor vocabulary, poor math skills (kids can’t make change without a computer), and general disrespect and laziness. The system is broken.

  6. I have 17 years of teaching behind me, in various environments, from private school to public colleges. My experience is that the BEST learning happens as a consequence of a student becoming a DISCIPLE of a good teacher. If this is true (as it used to be for millenia, see Greek schools, the Illumination ages etc) there are two essential ingredients that must be present for an efficient teaching environment:
    1. A good teacher (i.e. having the GIFT)
    2. A student pursuing a relationship with that teacher.
    #1 can happen quite easily even today, as the GIFT is widely represented in a lot of teachers; however, we did everything possible to kill any and all possibilities for #2 to happen. When we allow the teachers to be disrespected in the classroom (by not giving them status, authority, freedom to rule and organize the class to the best of THEIR unique and individualized talents, and by allowing scum to become teachers and to bring this long-honored and vitally-important occupation into disrepute) we kill the possibility of any meaningful teaching-learning exchange. The moral stamina and example of one good teacher does more good to a student than a million well written but dumb-dead rules in the hands of some nobody could do. We’re so stupidly concerned by an elusive and finally impossible “fairness” that we would rather have all people equally dumb and common than all people beautifully different and unique. Then, we wonder how come “people” are so dumb and allow the media and corrupt politicians to rule them with lies… Hopeless, unless we decide to go back to the classical and well-proven and tried system of schooling that created well rounded persons as well as geniuses in the past, people who we still admire as individuals as well as nations…

  7. you have no idea what you’re talking; that is how you alienate students. You obviously haven’t been to school lately 6 hours a day full of homework isn’t anyone’s ideal life unless you make it creative, relaxing and inspirational experience. We are finally getting out of this whole cycle of boring textbooks and lectures. GET SOME REAL FACTS DOWN.

    1. I spent many years in school. I never came close to spending 6 hours a day doing homework. I have 4 kids in school right now, and none of them average more than 1 hour a night. As for whether it is their “ideal life”, I don’t see how that’s relevant. You’d be hard-pressed to find any kid whose ideal life includes going to school, regardless of how fun you try to make it.

      I’m not sure what you think will alienate students. Can you try again to explain? Your grammar and punctuation make it difficult to understand what you’re trying to say. I’m assuming therefore that you’re a recent product of the public school system. Maybe your teachers should have spent more time on the basics and less time on the creative and relaxing things that you loved so much.

  8. These reasons are ridiculous, teachers unions and other unions are there for a reason. Education is failing due to lack of funding, the closing of many of our public schools, lack of parent involvement, lack of community involvement, and hate and fear of people that are different. If you punish children in school that come from broken homes where they are punished, they will just turn away from school. Saying that lazy students is one of the reasons for public school’s downfall is just ignorant. Maybe if we promote kindness instead of punishment, maybe our children would do better in school.

    1. Please show me statistics that tie student success rates to funding levels. They don’t exist.
      I’m not sure where you think hate and fear of different people exists. In the public school system kids are so beaten down with political correctness that they are afraid to recognize the differences that exist in our society for fear of being labelled a racist.
      If you allow kids to be lazy, they will be lazy. Expect and demand more from them and they will respond. In your world all we need to do is be nice to kids and they will succeed.
      The liberal concept of touchy-feely relativism in education has failed. Time to go back to something that works.

  9. 6) The public school system is far to focused on student’s age.

    Maybe the author needs to go back to school. It is unbelievable how many times a “professional” author misuses the word “to” or “too”.

    1. That is quite an amazing rebuttal! You should be very proud of yourself! You really proved me wrong with your mastery of proofreading!

      I’m not sure where you got the impression that I am a “professional” author. I certainly never claimed to be. Why don’t you take your nitpicking hate elsewhere? If you’re not going to offer any constructive criticism of the topic at hand or offer your own opinion, what is the point in bothering to comment?

  10. For Number 1 it is well documented that in the 5 states where teacher unions are strictly limited that student performance is horrid compared to the averages from the other states in the United States. In addition if teachers were paid minimum wage for the hours they work their salaries would be much larger than what they are. You are clearly an individual who does not have a clue what they are talking about. I am in High School right now and I gaurantee you that I would outscore you on the SAT, or a high school examination

    1. Please cite your references for “Number 1”. I’d like to read the research that ties limiting unions to poor student performance. I doubt this exists, but if indeed it is well documented as you claim it is, you should have no problem providing said documentation.

      As for your minimum wage claim, I found a listing of teacher salaries here: The lowest starting salary listed is for North Dakota at $24,872. North Dakota’s minimum wage is $7.25/hr, meaning that someone would have to work over 69 hours per week to make more money at minimum wage than the lowest-paid teachers in the state. That’s based on starting salary. If you look at average salaries, South Dakota is the lowest at $34,709, which works out to over 96 hours at minimum wage. Show me a teacher that’s making either $24,872 and working more than 69 hours a week or $34,709 and working over 96 hours a week. There aren’t any.

      Attacking my intelligence is hardly a valid debate point, which you would know if you were truly as intelligent as you claim to be. High school isn’t capitalized unless it is part of a proper noun. You spelled guarantee wrong, you placed a comma after “SAT” where it didn’t belong, and you forgot to end your last sentence with punctuation. Those errors in spelling and punctuation don’t make your opinions wrong. Being uninformed and making outrageous claims makes your opinions wrong.

  11. First, the comma after SAT is not incorrect. The use of a comma before yet, and, but, and or has become passe (just so you don’t attempt to correct me I know an accent belongs there). The comma’s use in those situations is still taught by Jesuit schools such as Georgetown University.
    Second, my sources:

    Third, you neglect to note the extra time put in by teachers throughout the nation. Teachers spend their time grading, making tests, providing extra help, and formulating lesson plans. There are also those teachers that go the extra mile. Every Friday I attend readathons sponsored by the Literacy Circle (a branchoff of the old Literacy Volunteers of America) and with our teacher, we read a book together until 9:00 at night. My advanced placement Physics teacher provides an hour of extra help every morning and another hour every afternoon in order to make sure that whoever needs help has the opportunity to recieve it. Perhaps you had a horrible experience in high school which set you up to dislike the education system.

    Fourth, in my AP U.S. History class we learn both sides of the issue. We learn about the Holocaust, but we also learn about the unspeakable things that our country did to the Japanese during World War II. We learn about the Native Americans who tried to adopt to white culture and had slaves, but we also learn about the white politicians who may have forced white ideas upon them. We learn about the NYC draft riots where innocent blacks were dragged through the streets. We learn about the Kennedys and their possible illegal activities, but we also learn that JFK quite possibly was the most effective head of the executive branch in our nation’s history.

    Overall, teachers are shaping my future and the children of America’s future and I can wholeheartedly assure you that I have gained an enormous amount of knowledge. Your list also speaks that high school students are lazy. Where is your source for that? I am a volunteer lab technician at my local hospital doing cardiovascular research. I do at least five hours of homework a night plus studying. I have not missed a homework in three years. Thanks to individuals of the older generations, my generation will have to figure out how to fix their mess. The problem with today’s education system is people do not actually know what is truly going on in our nation’s schools.

    1. Wow. You really are missing the point with the comma. I explain that making a few errors in spelling and punctuation do not invalidate someone’s opinion, and rather than admit that you also are not perfect, you lash out. Why such anger?

      Thanks for the links. I read them, and they are hardly conclusive. Even those studies that indicate higher student performance in unionized states don’t determine the cause. They are sprinkled with speculation such as how unions may encourage more team spirit within the teachers at a school. Speculation is just speculation. They also make sure to mention how in many cases there are other variables that were not examined, and how the studies varied based on how they chose to analyze the data.

      As for the rest…. blah blah blah. I didn’t neglect to note anything. There ARE some teachers that go the extra mile and put in extra hours. You made a claim that they would make more money being paid minimum wage. Based on the math, they need to work over 69 hours at best to do so. Show me a teacher that works over 69 hours a week for $24K per year.

      You may indeed be in a school surrounded by wonderful teachers and overachieving students, where everything is rainbows and unicorns. Everyone is in AP classes doing 5 hours of homework a night. Oh, and they all study on top of that 5 hours of homework. Those in sports must not be getting to sleep until midnight at best. How do all of you find time to polish your halos?

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but high school students are typically lazy. Stating my opinion based on 40 years of observation from within the system as a student and from without as a parent does not require citation of sources.

  12. First off your facetious response was not appreciated:
    “How do all of you find time to polish your halos?”
    I am a student with a great drive to accomplish my goals. I endure many sleepless nights and early mornings to make sure that my grades are where they need to be. I make many sacrifices to ensure that I won’t wake up one day having not achieved my goals. My education is not a joke to me sir.

    The union research also says that of the studies conducted, the ones that had pro-union results came from more sound research techniques. And if you read into the studies instead of just skimming the surface, the results are much more conclusive than they are portrayed to be in some of these articles. After reading many research papers and studying statistical analysis, I feel qualified in saying that based on the Statistical T-Tests there was a statistically significant difference, not just a trend, between the unionized schools and the non-unionized schools.

    The information you have gained from your observations as a student and parent is absolutely wrong. The points you bring up all occur in the minority ane not the majority. Yes, there is a small number of students who are lazy, and there is a small number of students who aren’t disciplined, but in no way, shape, or form are they even close to a majority. In addition, test retakes are a rarety in today’s high schools. It seems you have a very limited perspective on
    the issues. When was the last time you had 3 tests, a quiz and a paper due on the same day? You have been out of the loop for a while. As a teenager, I can assure you that you are not getting the whole story from your children. And your personal experiences are a tad outdated.

    Also, you are very quick to correct other commenters’ grammar, yet when I present the fact that your correction of me was neither true nor false you ask as to why i felt the need to correct you.

    You mention that “you saw no reason to try” in a previous comment, but the high school students of today are self-driven. You need to give us and our teachers the credit that we deserve.

    1. You don’t like the halo reference? I’m not sure how that would insinuate that you take your education as a joke. Obviously you take it so seriously that it’s all you can think about. You live and breathe scholarly excellence. You’re practically sweating education as you feverishly pound out angry responses.

      Let’s skip to the easy one. You still don’t understand what I said about grammar. I admitted my mistake and pointed out yours, explaining at the same time that grammar mistakes have nothing to do with differences of opinion or debate. You keep harping on that. Most people would accept my mea culpa, offer their own, and move on. I’m not sure why you are so angry about that.

      How about this. I’ll accept that you’ve read far more research papers than I have extolling the virtues of unions. Obviously nothing you might read offering the opposite viewpoint will sway you to believe anything other than perfection from unions. Your personal experiences as a teenager are vast indeed, and my experiences cannot possibly be valid. I’m imagining what my kids are going through and the conversations that I have with teachers and principals. I’m confused because of my age, being out of the loop and all, so I just don’t understand what is happening. Must be the dementia setting in.

      You gave references to support your “facts”, and I thanked you for them. I admitted that those studies support the union but were not conclusive and did not show causality. Studies exist that show the opposite, if you look for them. I didn’t agree with you completely so you just got more upset. I pointed out that your claim about minimum wage would require a teacher to work a bare minimum of 69 hours a week to be true, and you went on a tirade about how wonderful your teachers are. I said that the typical student is lazy, with the exception of yourself and everyone in your school of course, and you attacked me for having a limited perspective. I agreed that some teachers DO put out more effort, and asked you to indicate any that work >69 hours a week. You dodged that one, unsurprisingly, but that didn’t make me irate. I’m actually smiling as I write this because I enjoy the debate. Bloggers don’t blog because they want everyone to say, “Me too!” I’m actually enjoying this.

      I think you need to find some perspective of your own. No one your age should be so righteously indignant all the time. There’s nothing wrong with being sure of yourself and your position, but there is no need to be so angry about it.

  13. My apologies, your generation was absolutely perfect. The education I have recieved is nothing and won’t be anything when compared to yours. I am just another lazy teenager who insists that they know everything, but truly lacks the math, reading, and writing skills that the members of your generation mastered. In fact, when I wrote my college essay about how public schools are suffering because individuals are drawing conclusions and offering opinions based upon their narrow knowledge of the public education system, it was so bad that the admissions officer at Yale went so far as to send me a personal letter along with my acceptance emails/letters. He wrote how about how nice it was to have a student who was so well-informed on the issues concerning teaching unions and education, and the hard-work of the overwhelming majority of students and teachers being washed away by a few bad seeds. He also said that he was delighted that I would be attending Yale next year where I could further my knowledge of revisionist history and being green, while continuing to let my reading, writing, and math skills fall to the wayside.

    And to answer your question my AP Physics teacher works a total of 74 hours a week. My source, I showed him the blog and he agreed that you were an ill-informed individual and said that I could cite him as an example if need be.

    So you’re absolutely correct, the individuals who could quite possibly change your children’s lives just as they did mine don’t have the right to have someone negotiate a higher wage for themselves, or recieve health insurance at a low rate as a benefit. Ohhhh and those unions they are worse than the high school students could ever be, helping the teachers with their salaries and benefits. How dare they try and make it possible for a teacher to survive and live comfortably? So yes sir, we should let teachers recieve poor salaries and have them be tenants in the slums of America, because they have no business living amongst us humans. It isn’t as if they have quite possibly one of the most important jobs in our nation today.

    1. Congratulations on attending Yale next year. I’m sure you’ll be a fine student and a credit to your generation. Colleges need someone to succeed so we actually have leaders in the next generation. If nothing else, you definitely have drive and passion. Patience will come with time. Odd though that Yale admissions would make a point of noting how significant you are if you are typical of your generation. They must get lots of applications from prospective students like yourself, since there are few bad seeds. You must have really stood out as an over-achiever. Good for you! Make the best of college while you can. Us old codgers can’t manage it, something about old dogs and new tricks, you know.

      I’m happy to hear your AP Physics teacher works so hard. Is he ready to switch to minimum wage yet, so he can make more money? I don’t know about you, but I won’t work 74 hours a week for a little under $27K. I wouldn’t expect him to either. Guy needs to have a life, you know. If he switches to minimum wage, maybe he can move out of the slum he’s living in!

  14. The letter was not about being an overachiever. I was the average admitted student there. The letter was about how he was pleased that a student took the time to write their essay on this pressing issue with sound and logical arguments. I am sure it wasn’t the best, or the worst of application essays. Nice job of dodging all the points that I brought out about curriculum and healthcare. So keep preaching that public schools are filled with horrible students and teachers who are represented by horrible individuals. The facts do not matter at all.

    1. Well, bully for you regardless of your being average for Yale. It’s still a big achievement.

      As for curriculum and healthcare and slums and yada yada yada… You can make claims all you like that without unions teachers would be sleeping in the streets. Claiming it would happen doesn’t make it true. Millions of people work every day in non-union jobs and get low-cost group health insurance. They are able to negotiate for better pay by being a better employee instead of just by being part of a group. It’s called merit. It’s how you got into Yale when others could not. You worked hard and performed well, therefore you are rewarded. Jimmy down the street slacked off and now he’s fighting to get accepted to community college.

      I didn’t say anyone was horrible. I said that schools are filled with lazy undisciplined kids, and I said unions shelter the bad and/or lazy teachers to keep schools from getting rid of poor performers. If I were to characterize union leaders, I would say they are power-hungry and greedy, using the phrase “it’s about the children” as a shield from criticism.

  15. I like your list….and I’m a teacher. I agree, PARTIALLY, with #1. I hate that the union protects bad teachers, but at the same time….I think teachers need some protection. Remember, when the profession first began, teachers were not allowed to even be married. I don’t want an administrator telling me that I have to coach a sport, spend personal time tutoring, etc. in order to keep my job. Those are things that should be compensated and undergone willingly.

    The one thing this list is missing….is the parent’s support of the school. Parents have lost their backbones. Parents need to support the endeavors of the school….and not what their child “wants”.

    I’m not a parent, so I can only try to imagine how parents want to believe their child’s version to every story. But, believe me, the child’s version is often skewed.

    1. But why do teachers need protection? I work in the private sector. I don’t have any protection. Either I perform my job well or they’ll replace me with someone else. If that happens, it’s my fault and I deserve it. If I don’t like my job because my employer makes me do things that I don’t want to do, I can make the choice to leave and find another job. I don’t need a union to protect me.

      Yes, parents need to support the school. By that I mean parents need to insist their children be respectful, polite, etc…. Instead parents defend their children’s bad behavior.

      I’m a parent of 5. I’ve heard the “my teacher doesn’t like me” excuse so many times it’s ridiculous. Yes, there are a few psychotic teachers that want to make kids miserable, but I give the teacher the benefit of the doubt.

  16. Though you bring up many good points rules being slackened in schools is not one of the top 10 problems public schools struggle with. In fact many studies show that chewing gum is actually beneficial because it helps improve blood flow to the brain and release nervous energy many students struggle with. I agree that many style trends are in fact ridiculous it does not affect the students ability to learn.

    1. If you look hard enough, you can find a study to support any hair-brained idea a person can come up with. Tell the janitors that have to clean up the gum that it’s beneficial.

  17. Good stuff!! Love the comments. Your back and forh with young Zach was enlightening. I have lots to write on the topic of public schools. But not right now…

  18. The summer after I graduated from college, I could not find a job in PR, so I took a temp job processing applications for the Free and Reduced Lunch program in the 13th largest public school district in the country. I can tell you, our supervisors were very adamant that we try to keep as many families from qualifying as possible. Your assertion that schools try to get more students into the program simply is not true, in my experience.

    1. Was that district in Illinois? The Illinois E-Rate program bases state funding for Internet and other services directly on the percentage of families in the free and reduced lunch programs.

      Your experience says one thing, mine says another. All my friends who are parents have experiences that agree with mine. I think I’ll stand by my statements.

      When it comes right down to it, people get into education, social services, etc… because they want to help someone. They want to have an “impact”. If the programs don’t have people in them, there is no one to help. With no one to help, the person feels unneeded. There is a natural tendency to try and increase participation in the program because that is perceived as making the program successful. Teachers, for instance, feel the most fulfilled when they are teaching kids that need their help. A classroom of kids that don’t ask questions and don’t need things explained to them makes the teacher feel useless. Another example is Head Start. Head Start is constantly trying to grow the numbers of kids enrolled. A Head Start with low enrollment is viewed as a failure. The more kids they get into Head Start, the more people they are “helping”, therefore the more “impact” they are having. It makes them feel good about themselves. It’s completely understandable if you consider the emotions involved. But being understandable doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

  19. A classroom where kids do not ask questions and don’t need things explained…Do you and your other parent friends all have children who are supergeniuses and know all of the subject matter already? “How do they have time to polish their halos?” You are changing your stance. You write that students are performing poorly, but now choose to write that there are classrooms where students know every answer before a teacher even has to explain the topic.

  20. This writer trolls all who love life in this world. Republicans are heard in this country, its time we the people speak.

  21. Just curious as to how old your children are? I only ask because the experiences of my friends and I demonstrate an exponential increase in homework between the middle(junior high) and high school years. As an individual who is a college professor with little tolerance for ignorance and lack of writing skills, I can assure you that I have come across a negligible amount of lazy students in my career. In fact, the writing of many of my students is comparable or better to how my colleagues and I wrote during our youth.

    1. I’m 40, and my kids range from 5 to 17. I have many friends with kids in the same range or somewhat older, and their experiences mirror my own.

      If you’re saying that you don’t run into many lazy kids in college, I think we can assume that the worst were culled out by the college application process. I think it would also be highly dependent on where you teach, as some colleges are more particular than others on who they will accept.

  22. I teach history at the College of William and Mary (a public university). I feel that the largest problem with education is the lack of involvement from some parents. The student, Zach, who commented above was self-motivated as most intelligent students are. I also feel that his responses can be derived from his personal experience and the experience of his peers. Perhaps you need to consider his poin of view; you basically ripped apart his entire life for the past 17 or 18 years of his life: you made generalizations that he had a poor educational foundation, the history he learned was all false leftist, revisionist theory, and you put down his teachers. I would specifically like to address this point. I do not feel that it is fair for you to judge all teachers as one; it is such a diverse profession with the pupils ranging from 5-18 in all different areas of study, especially when an indicidual reaches middle and high school. Teachers have the great power to inspire many, an ability that is not solely specific to teaching, but more common in teaching than almost all of the other professions.

    What type of course load is the oldest studying? When students study in the IB program or take many AP courses, the amount of work is extremely different.

    1. I’m sure Zach is wonderful. I think that point has been made. I did not rip apart his entire life. That’s just silly. He responded to my article by making outrageous claims about how long his teachers work, how they would make more at minimum wage, etc… When I pointed out that his claims did not hold up in reality, he just kept trying to change the subject. I obviously didn’t put down HIS teachers, mainly because I don’t know HIS teachers, and also because HIS teachers are all wonderful. At some point he either got tired of baiting me or I got tired of responding, I don’t really remember anymore.

      Go back and read what I have written. I don’t judge all teachers as one. There are good teachers and there are bad. The good ones should welcome a merit-based system where the union doesn’t protect shoddy performance.

      As for William and Mary, I don’t know if I’d consider it a typical college. It looks to be reasonably difficult to get into, so I’m guessing you’re not getting too many slackers even bothering to apply.

      1. I am a teacher and have been for a very long time. Our union helped to get pay raises and health benefits. We as teachers had no power or say. In regards to pay I would have made a lot more money if I had been paid for babysitting. I also did not get paid during the summer. I worked at the race track during the summer selling hot dogs. I made more money in salary and tips than I did teaching summer school with a lot less responsibility!!!

        1. YOU said it…but I was thinking it. It’s ALL about the money with these teachers. Our district is the HIGHEST paid in the county and in the top five of the tri-county w/ a superintendent at 130k/yr. These liberal greedy bastards had the audacity to whine at contract time about money and their “increased” health costs. Seriously. The same LIBERALS that voted ObamaCare now pissed off. Classic. Karma…and I relished every moment of their moans. They pull in with they Lexus SUVs…oh yes, it’s a TERRIBLE pay for them. They ought to, in this economy, get on their KNEES and thank God they even have a job!

          Here is your lovely stellar Union harassing a teacher in Michigan.

          I have ZERO time for public schools and even less for unions.

  23. what about authenticity in everything we do, no matter who e are – the principal, the teacher, the care taker, …? Authenticity in the education sector, i am convinced, is the key to success in academic performance.

  24. Well, you are not INFORMED, or you should know that every teacher teaches differently, and you put the stereotype on all public school teachers, because there are some very strict teachers everywhere, and many students to receive the knowledge they need, so get informed before you make a statement.

    1. I sure hope you aren’t a teacher, because that was just awful.

      Now, go back and read the article. You’ll notice that the very first paragraph specifically states that there are some good teachers. The problem is, there apparently aren’t enough good teachers to outweigh the bad ones. Think about merit-based pay, for instance. Why is it that teachers’ unions fight so hard against merit-based pay? Surely if the majority of the teachers in the union were good teachers doing a good job, they would welcome such a system? It would allow the good teachers to be rewarded for their efforts. Yet, the unions fight the idea tooth and nail. We all, even myself, know good teachers. My mom used to teach and I have friends that are teachers, and good ones. Unfortunately they are in the minority.

  25. I think it depends on the school districts. Smaller districts at least in my opinion has better teachers.

    1. That’s possible. Without revealing your district, Andy, what do you think about the overall good/bad ratio in your system? Given the chance, would a majority of the teachers you know welcome a merit-based system or fear it?

  26. I can honestly say that we have way more teachers that do a good job. It is harder to hide in small school. I can say it is an Adams County School. I can’t think of one that not is very good at least at 5-8 grade level.

  27. This is not true… He should not give the same evaluation to teachers because teachers have different ways of disciplining our children… Some teachers are even compromised to discipline our children because no right has been left to them. Some parents are sensitive when it come to disciplining… I have tried teaching children and I have seen the reality, Public school teachers are experienced teachers compared to teachers employed in the private schools. PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS usually come from private schools. We should not be JUDGMENTAL to our teacher but let us try to think our part as parent to help our children be disciplined inside the classroom.

    1. You’re a teacher? What subject?

      As for the rest of your assertions, care to share any sources to statistics showing that public school teachers are more experienced than private?

    1. Personal experience both as a student of public schools and as a parent of children in public schools. It’s an opinion column, not a reference paper.

  28. Oh ok. I was going to use you as a reference for a paper I’m writing, that’s why I was questioning.

  29. I can completely see why parents homeschool. It’s an entitlement mentality from ALL angles! These schools also want to take no responsibility for what happens behind their doors and are quick to pass the blame elsewhere when they’ve realized they’ve dropped the ball.

    I’m just AWED at the amount of disrespect kids have nowadays and I partially blame the school system. Parents also learn from them when they need suggestions with their kids, etc. I remember when my kids were in preschool they used this 1,2,3 magic system with kids. These kids get until the count of three before they get a “time out”. Oh yes…that’ll teach them (NOT). They can be asshats for a few seconds longer and boooo hoooo may have to sit in a chair alone for time out. SO HARD (said nobody ever). I didn’t get any counting. My ass was blistered and you better believe I didn’t repeat my action.

    Have an instance now where this kid is being mean to my son (third grade). I’ve made inquiries to the teacher who swears they are friends and are no problems. My son came home again the other day visibly upset. This kid supposedly punched him. I had it. Time to go into mommy from hell mode. I saw this kid today, was polite because I DO know my limits and said “johnny’s mommy doesn’t like it when other kids are mean to Johnny”. Bully got the point as he went back to HIS parents who, in turn, whined to the principal. Principal calls and says I can’t be talking to a student like that. I laughed and told her if they don’t take care of the problem, then I would. PERIOD! What is her entitlement self going to do to me?! But see how this goes? They didn’t nip it, it went too far and they know it..and now want to blame ME and not address the problem kid. Soooo typical.

    Overpaid babysitters.

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