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