From institutions of learning to daycare

Four hundred eighth graders in Dallas returned to school over their summer break this week to retake the math portion of the TAKS test. Apparently the state was concerned because too many of the students received a “commended” score.

This is another example of a world where up is down and down is up.

Too many students do well on a test, and the administration automatically assumes cheating was somehow involved. Only this time, they didn’t implicate the students in the cheating. Well, who else? Did the teachers stay behind and secretly change answers on the answer sheets? Most of America’s school children are being taught in a system that assumes failure. What does that say about the quality of education?  (The teachers themselves are, on the whole, outstanding.  The system in which they are forced to work…with all the emphasis on standardized, multiple choice tests rather than well-thought-out arguments in the later years or memorization work in the early years…requires that they are just as trapped as their students.)

I recently attended an outstanding parent practicum of Classical Conversations. The next one in Texas will be held in July in San Antonio. I strongly urge all parents, whether they are homeschoolers or not, to attend one of these free 3-day practicums. The information you learn will change the way you think about education in America. It will cause you to question your own learning and might lead you to conclude, as I did, that most of the political and economic problems in this country today are directly the result of the inadequate education our current leaders received in schools.

I consider myself one of those who was inadequately educated. Like Leigh Burton, the founder of Classical Conversations, states in her book, An Echo in Celebration, I have a college degree. I graduated with a 4.0 average. Yet I can only speak one language. I couldn’t tell you the names of the constellations or even the names of the countries in South America. When it comes to political upheaval in other parts of the world, I am hard-pressed to find them on a map. I find it extremely difficult to debate anyone on any topic without breaking out in a cold sweat. Sometimes I even suffer panic attacks when a good debater challenges me on my statements because I get so flustered. I always assumed it was because I just wasn’t a debater. Come to find out, it means I am undereducated. Debate skills come naturally to a few, but rhetorical skills can actually be taught to everyone. They weren’t taught to me. I had 28 separate teachers throughout high school that taught me different subjects — yet I did not achieve a rhetorical understanding of any of them, nor do I remember much of what I supposedly learned. I was not taught how to train my brain.

Neither were our leaders. We are now faced with an entire generation of leaders in our governments and our businesses whose members were not taught to think on their feet. They were not taught the tools of learning. Is it any wonder, then, that they do such incredibly dumb things such as these?

  • Pass a stimulus bill authorizing over $700 Billion in taxpayer funds…without reading it first.
  • Give bail-out money to automobile companies…only to find out after the fact that the money wasn’t enough, forcing GM to declare bankruptcy. Why did the government have to do anything anyway? Lots of companies go bankrupt and restructure and reopen leaner and more efficient!
  • Impose term-limits on our President but not on our Senators or Congressmen.
  • Fail to fix the Social Security system
  • Continue to add more and more legalese to the income tax laws which now stack so high that they reach 20ft in the air…rather than scrapping the whole thing and starting fresh
  • Focus all the “health care crisis” debate on government intervention…when there are many alternatives on the table that would eliminate fraud and waste and save taxpayers money

I could go on and on here. I’m not just criticizing the current administration. I could bring up examples from the Bush years and the Clinton years, the Reagan years and the Carter ones…all the way back to the 1950s.

As a nation, we have no common sense anymore because common sense is extinct. It is not being taught in public schools, and public schools are now where most of our kids spend about 1,440 hours each year. Education is now viewed as an entitlement rather than a privilege. Parents rely on our schools to baby-sit their kids. That is an ugly truth.

When Ft. Worth schools temporarily shut down in an effort to contain the swine flu, parents got mad. Why? Not because their children missed a week or so of learning, but because they had to find daycare.

One thought on “From institutions of learning to daycare

  1. Everfaith,

    This is truly a fantastic article. As a public educator, I could not agree with you more. We are attempting to turn out automatons, instead of instilling creative thinking and problem-solving in our students, much to our detriment. They might be able to perform well on a multiple-choice test, but I’m pretty sure life does not really expect us to do that very often. Life has other plans and we are not giving students the tools to prepare for it. Thank you for your powerful statement.


    John VanPelt
    Vantage Point Productions

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