This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Are Our Schools Doing a Lousy Job of Raising Our Children?

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

          This post will continue the debate about guns as the cause of violence.   Mass shootings inevitably lead to an outcry against the accessibility of automatic weapons.   My argument is that guns are not the problem--people are.   In my post Should We Ban (Insert Topic Here), I suggested that before the nation takes an overly reactionary response in attacking the Second Amendment rights laid out by the founding fathers of the United States, we might want to consider some other things that could be contributing factors to the violent incidents that have been seen in the United States.  Should we blame guns or something like the topic of this post?

Are Schools Doing a Lousy Job of Raising Our Children?

       I would imagine more than a few eyebrows were raised by the ridiculous question that is the title of this post.   Schools raising our kids?   Shouldn't parents be raising kids?   And what kind of job are they doing?

      The best they can would be my answer to the last question where it comes to a good many parents. Parenting can be a real challenge and there is no clear cut one size fits all manual handed to new mothers and fathers when they receive their child.  Raising kids is often a trial and error work of blind faith.

       Part of that blind faith comes into play when we send our children off to school.  Often we assume that the educational system has the best interests of our children in mind.   The question is whose mind and what mind?   Is this collective interest in sync with the minds of the parents?

         Don't get me wrong--I am not scapegoating the teachers.  For the most part they are just pawns caught up in the system.   My biggest concern is administration--there is way too much power in the controlling aspect of the educational system and too little left for the ones actually dealing with the kids.  Teachers and students are the ones victimized by screwy state programs and one-size-fits-all standards.  Performance measured by testing is detracting from the actual job that teachers should be doing.   Schools are becoming more like factories mass producing cookie-cutter uninspired graduates.

          Now I know this is not true across the board, but I hear more complaints about stressed out teachers who are burdened with more nonsensical work to appease the system as they have to deal with students who often don't care about education.  And frequently the parents are oblivious to the actual problem.  They'd just as soon blame the teachers before looking at themselves as parental figures or the ersatz childcare of television and video games.

          Many kids are left to sort things out for themselves with the dubious help of equally misguided peers and bad cultural icons.   When youth goes wild it seems easy to blame the ones who have had the biggest hand in raising them--the schools.  And when we think of schools we think of teachers.   They must be doing something wrong.

          Let's not forget that administration is a hefty part of the typical school system budget.  Pundits of educational theory come up with silly ideas that sound good in their brains and in the boardrooms.  Administrators fall for the nonsense and the politicians dish out the big bucks.   The teachers and students are the unfortunate beneficiaries of the great governmental hoax.

           After all, what do any of us know?   Government is here to take care of us all.  They will tell teachers how to teach and what to teach.   They will tell us what to eat and what to do.   Then the administrators will make sure it all gets done according to the governmental rule book.  

           There is still something missing here that is the common denominator of all the issues I've been bringing up.  I'll eventually address what that is sometime in May.   We shouldn't be blaming the educators for the way our kids our turning out and some of the anger that can eventually lead to violence.   But we might want to take a closer look at the ones who are tying the hands of those educators.

         To what extent do we need government telling us what we can do?    How much influence over nationwide education should the federal government have?   To what extent should state government dictate what needs to be done at a local level?     Do you think many kids become frustrated with school life?

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  1. All good points!
    Public education isn't an unbiased system either. No wonder so many home school or send their kids to private school. If I'd had kids, that would've been my choice.

  2. I haven't read the post; only the headline.
    A schools job isn't to raise children, it's to education them.
    Parents must raise their children!

  3. A complicated issue. While I chose to send my kids to public school (I tried homeschooling for one year and knew it wasn't for me), I understand the mass exodus of friends sending their kids to charter schools. One big difference seems to be that there is a partnership between parents and teachers/administrators to push the students to the highest standards. In public school teachers are dealing with so many expectations from parents and administrators yet no real partnership it seems. Teachers are often forced to bring classroom standards down to the lowest common denominator in order to make graduation rates acceptable. We even have school districts here looking at the possibility of pulling out of the state education system and forming their own charter schools. Something is messed up here.

  4. Parents need to take responsibility, not just for their kids, but for the school system. We are paying for it after all and should have a say in how its run.

    Anything run by the government has an agenda.

  5. I agree with a lot of what you're saying. As a high school teacher, I'm lucky to have great administrations to work for. The problems come from unfunded state mandates, poor parenting, and this crazy focus on testing.

  6. I'm going to keep this short because I gotta shower and go to work immediately.

    I'll just say that by and large, the K-12 education system is one big brainwashing factory mostly turning out graduates who are incapable of critical thinking and more likely to get right in line with the Socialistic agenda that they have been conditioned to accept and embrace.

    Most importantly, I would like someone, anyone, to show me anything in the U.S. Constitution (the self-proclaimed "supreme law of the land") that grants the federal government permission to play any role whatsoever in the educating of America's children.

    As a matter of fact, the 10th Amendment forbids the federal government's intrusion into American education in any way, shape, or form.

    Alright, I'm done.
    Shower and work, here I come.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  7. Alex -- Public schools seemed pretty good when I was a kid. I kept in fairly good touch when my kids were in school and monitored what was going on as much as I could. I think this is important for parents to do.

    Daniel --Thank you for reading the headline and your very perceptive comment in regard to it.

    Sheila -- Excellent points. There is a disconnect within the public school system partly because parents are not paying attention to what administration and government are doing and just trusting in the public school agenda. They need to participate more.

    L.Diane -- I think citizens often hand over tax dollars but don't hold the people spending them accountable for it.

    Susan -- My wife teaches kindergarten and to hear her tell it you'd think they were one step away from college. She gets so frustrated by the standards the state sets and the responsibilities they add onto the teachers each year.

    StMc -- You are right as you usually are. All school systems are not created equally and according to cultural and regional influences different schools may have different needs. Trying to bring everything to one level is unfair to the kids and creates a substandard educational system. Good I suppose if you are preparing grads to enter a substandard society.


  8. Thanks for the reply Arlee.
    This is what my book is about: parenting the child YOU (ie. the parents) created; not leaving it up to everyone else and then complaining when things go wrong...

  9. I honestly think that a child's upbringing is caused by several aspects, by the children's parents, the school or establishments they're educated in, the peers that they have and other external factors. With that said the sole responsibility in my opinion should lie with the parents but that doesn't mean that schools can't do more to become part of a solution to the problem rather than another par to the problem. I think that sadly our society is on a downturn and several issues should be examined and addressed so massive props to you for this post Lee, definitely gives us all a lot to think about today.

  10. Back in the 90s, my principal told me that parents are abdicating more and more parenting to the schools. He was correct.

    I have even had to teach 2nd grade students how to brush their teeth!

  11. Daniel -- Exactly! Parents need to start participating in the process and be aware of what their own kids are doing and learning.

    Yeamie-- You're right, there are many influences on child rearing. If we make it a good business model, the parents should take ownership of the kids and oversee what the sub-management of schools, peers, culture, etc are doing. Someone has to be the main one in charge and I'm not thrilled to see it be the government when it comes to family life.


  12. Kids spend so much time in school that the environment is bound to have some effect on them and their characters. Our son is currently in a private school because our public schools get low rankings. Whether or not we can keep him in private school is another story.

  13. It is up to the parents of the child to educate their children as much as possible at home....and it is ongoing. It goes well to tie your shoe, how many fingers and toes do you have...why is it that other countries are far superior in education then we are...that have so much? I think discipline and not being preoccupied with looking like a bum or a fashion platter in class for openers. Respect and responsibilities past making your own bed.

    Parents today are too pre occupied with themselves.... booze, boyfriends/girlfriends/drugs/tats/going out, gambling. Kids call the shots...well maybe they should after all I think most of them are considered to be just a tax deduction...I guess they should have some say in the matter! This isn't all parents of course!

    If you want to be a teacher, you need a Masters degree or higher/continuing education... You may even dress yourself and behave with your students in a more professional manner.

    Regarding gun control....a complete background check/mental health eval., and to include all members of the immediate family that lives in the home where the gun will live... paid for by the purchaser of the firearm. Updates paid for by the purchaser every year/every other year. Just like when you get the tags for your car...smog control...this would be called a mental health update if you want to be a gun owner.

    When laws were written I don't think the population was where it is at now, and in our wonderful as it all is....there seems to be a lot of hate and anger for those that have so much, and are seemingly so miserable... and mix it up with drugs/alcohol, diminishing quality of life due to politics...and things happen.

    I also think PD officers need more than a high school education. A lot of good ones out there...but a lot of...when I grow up I want a drive a car with a siren and pack a piece....I will be important types.

    I also think someone out there with a business mindset needs to run the is a business...not an ongoing popularity contest.

    Rep/Dem crap/club needs to go...They are like the McCoys and the Hatfields...It isn't working.

    All old cronies need to be replaced in the Senate and in the Congress, we need fresh young intelligent people with a business mind set/documented education and they need to be paid as public servants, not royalty with lifetime perks, above and beyond the rest of the populous ie., "The American People" we are referred to. Four year max terms. Let them hire their own security.

    Being in the hotel pay 329.00 per night plus the rate of the hotel pays 77.00 no tax...for your same room! On duty and off. Some get meal comps, you will pay for yours.

    Transparent profit and loss...I would like to see where every penny of our tax dollars go!

    At the city levels...most people have been paying homeowners taxes for years and years...why do their cities look....all run down. Where did that money go? What's it used for?

    Prisoners/delinquents/gang bangers need to be working in the cities to help clean it up. Paint/repairs/weeds/trash.

    Death row sentences need to be swift. They are a tax burden.

    I think those in government positions as above are about as bad as what we have in the entertainment industry today...they don't get my money from sales of their CD's...excepting a few of course!

    No sour grapes here...just speaking mind and telling it like I see it.

  14. Thanks for replying Arlee.
    You seem to have a brain between those two ears.
    Good for you.

  15. Lee-

    I've just scanned the comments and see my point has already been raised, but the title of the post says it all.

    Parents should educate their children.

    Schools are just one of the tools they may use.

    Once working couples became the norm, this responsibility was abdicated by most, leaving even schools with the best intentions in a no-win situation.

    Add the Department of Education to the mix in the 70's (with their various programs guaranteed not to work), and you have McCarthy's Socialist factory.

    This is not a rant against teachers. This is a rant against parents for not being more involved in their children's education, and voters for allowing Washington to take more and more control of the schools they send their children to.


  16. Just this weekend a friend and I were discussing the extent to which government is involved in our lives. I'm not exactly sure how to type a maniacal laugh, BUT if I could I would. The over involvement of government in our lives IS the problem not the cure and education just like everything else is suffering because of it.

    What we need is less government and more thinking people. Cue that maniacal laugh again, because the general populace has been so 'dumbed down'(imagine where that happened) and dependent on that same government, we are all getting exactly what they asked for.

  17. You have some great comments here, Lee. I agree with farawayeyes, DiscConnected, and several others who have voiced variations of the same. Ultimately I don't think I will say much that is different. The problems in educations are multiple. Parents don't back the teachers on discipline issues. Kids act out terribly. The power to discipline kids has been taken out of the schools.

    More insidious is what has happened inside the classroom. The content of the textbooks started changing to fit an agenda about 35 years ago. The teachers started to promote their own ideas about things instead of just teaching the material. This would have been UNHEARD OF when you went through school. Students had no idea that it was even wrong. Teachers were changing ideologies at the root. And it continued on at the college level.

    Meanwhile, the dumbing down that farawayeyes is talking about also started happening. Textbooks and teachers stopped teaching the ONE THING that would have made the difference: critical thinking. The only people that questioned what was going on were kids that were taught critical thinking at home.

    Ergo, there is a whole generation that went into education that is a product of this system that doesn't believe in critical thinking. They believe in spoonfed thinking. They teach spoonfed thinking. And the parents see nothing wrong with it because it is what they were taught, too. The only people even asking what is wrong with education are the people who were educated when critical thinking was still taught in school OR the people who learned it at home. Everyone else doesn't even see the problem.

    And that is what you are up against. You want to know how Rome fell? It fell from within. It destroyed itself. Of course. Do you feel the fire yet? My feet are burning.

  18. Unfortunately, teachers are college graduates. I know that statement sounds silly, but it has some merit. Now, before I say something "nasty" about today's American colleges and universities, let me qualify my statement carefully. Not all colleges and universities are the same. Furthermore, practical schools of science and engineering tend to be far different from the schools of liberal arts in the same institutions. Now, let me begin again... Unfortunately, most teachers come from schools of liberal arts. Oops, we need another qualification here. "Liberal" as in liberal arts does not mean the same thing as "liberal" in politics. Indeed, I don't have any real problem with liberals. Once upon a time, liberals and conservatives in American politics shared the same goals. No, today's problems arise from the inclination of progressives to "remake" America - bring about "fundamental change" (Obama's words, not mine) - while conservatives seek to preserve the Constitution and its vision of limited government and natural rights.

    Okay, for the last time, teachers (not just administrators) are the product of American schools of progressivism that are far more concerned with conditioning a new type of citizen, one who does not care about critical thinking, but rather seeks to "feel good" by being virtuous. Being "Green". Caring. Seeking to substitute "fairness" for equality under the law. Now, look at what's happening in American classrooms.

    It's much the same thing as happened in journalism. During the 1960s, progressives turned American colleges and universities into cultural battlegrounds. They won. They now turn out commentators in place of reporters. News is interpreted to fit their ideology. Before that time, many of America's best journalists didn't have college degrees. They rose from printers devils and copy boys, to writing obits, and then covering beats. I grew up reading some of the best, including H.L. Mencken. I read many newspapers every day. The Baltimore Sun. The Washington Post. The New York Times. Le Monde from France. Now, I don't waste my time with any of them. Nor do I waste my time with broadcast news. Amazing as it sounds, I see better reporting on Al Jezeera News. No, I'm not Muslim.

    So, there you have it. You ignited a rant. It's all your fault.

  19. Yes, it's not the schools' job to raise our kids, or anything else except teach them the subjects we all expect them to. It's the parents' job to make sure their kids are going to the appropriate school with the appropriate curriculum, to make sure they're getting all they can from it, to supplement their lessons and reinforce them, to make sure they do their homework and work as hard as possible. Schools are not babysitters, nor are they the be all end all of teaching. That's our job as parents.

  20. Susan -- Many parents don't seem to have the time to take care of their kids because they're busy with their own lives. I wonder why they had the kids in the first place.

    Sandra -- The very fact that the kids do spend so much time in school is why parents should be more concerned about what is happening there.

    Sandy -- You said a lot of good things here and I'm inclined to agree with all of it to some extent. Great comment.

    Daniel -- Public schools did me some amount of justice and my parents were right there all the time.

    Larry -- I think most teachers just want to teach what they're intended to teach and not meet assessment standards set by the state.

    Faraway -- When government agencies start deciding what size drinks we're allowed to buy then that's getting to be to much control. If people become obese because of their own bad habits that's an individual problem and shouldn't be the government concern unless the government is in charge of everyone's healthcare. Oh wait, I guess the government is in charge now.

    Robin - So true what you've said. Kids today are being programmed more than they are being taught. Teachers no longer have the same control over their classrooms as they once had. They have been reduced almost to the level of factory workers churning out processed minds.

    Jack -- Great points! I'm not a big fan of what the colleges (liberal arts departments) are doing. And the papers are a joke. If it weren't for coupons and the crossword puzzles I would probably cancel my L.A. Times subscription. In fact I've tried a few times now and they always lure me back with a better subscription price. I guess pretty soon they'll be paying me to take the paper.

    Nancy -- Now if only all parents would take on that job responsibility. Unfortunately in many areas they are not.


  21. Being a mother of three all now are adults I think it's the parents duty to raise their children. I raised mine with the same values I was reared yet two of them have cut me out of my life, Whilst at school my daughter was unfortunate to have had two knee operations and missed one years schooling, I had to go and nicely suggest they give her some work to study at home, in fact I went six times before she got some homework to do while she was off school.surely the school should have realised that being home for a long period she would be behind with the rest of her class.
    I say manners are taught at home and maths etc are left to the teachers,
    Good subject Lee.


  22. I have to go with Daniel on this one about parents and their role and responsibility in their children's education. I also hear the frustration about unfunded mandated programs that take teacher time and force them to teach to a test.

    I think that government dabbling in education is a lot like government dabbling in health care. We wind up with mediocre to inferior results.

  23. @ Arlee - Our educational system if not failing, our socialization system is failing. If it is not looked favorably open by their peers, students will not apply themselves to learn.

    Keep this theme going. Much more debate might uncover the roots of the problem and help to repair the system.

  24. I think the same idiots that run the welfare system also run the public educational system. And mental health. They come up with a bunch of rules for the providers to implement with no idea what actually goes on in the systems they are dictating. I had one teacher tell me that teachers don't have time to actually teach the students, they just give them all the information and the parents are responsible for making sure the kids understand it and pass the tests. My response is if I wanted to teach my child I would be homeschooling them.

    Unless you can afford private school, kids now are not well educated. You are right Lee in that its all about passing a test. Most high school graduates can't even count back change without the register telling them how much to give back.

    As for the Bill of Rights; well, that was written for another era. So was the constitution. There are so many ammendments and addemdums to both documents that some cancel each other out. The world has changed, and its time the laws change to accomdate.

    Its like the old west days when towns started limiting when a person could carry a gun because everyone was too willing to settle disputes with a shoot out. Modern society is back to that level of violence. No, I don't blame the availability of guns, or prevalence of violent games and movies. I'm sure all these are contributors to the problems; but I'm also sure it is the focus on perpetrators rights, as opposed to victim rights.

    Advocacy groups have their place and purpose (same as Unions) but I think society has grown too big and complex. Buerocracy tries to pigeonhole everyone into one box. That mode doesn't work for modern society. Not for schools, the justice system, equal rights, or gun control. Yes, I believe governments should be the ultimate authority on what should and should not be allowed. But, I also believe that puts too much power in the hands of a few self serving individuals. The solution is dystopia. Every minor population group for themselves :)


  25. Yvonne -- Even some of the school education can be supplementally taught at home. My dad used to coach me on math and my mom would help me with school projects. Not only manners should be taught at home but scholastic support given as well.

    C.Lee -- Yep, education, healthcare, or whatever--government should keep its distance. Protect us from enemies and such, but there are other things best to the people and the local communities.

    Daron -- Don't know how much my posts will solve, but the debate will be continuing in weeks to come.

    Donna -- made me smile with this. Maybe that's why that's such a popular genre. A lot of people are just fed up with regulations.


  26. I left teaching because I got sick of the system. I just wanted to teach, damnit, and it was all going so well until the "No Child Left Behind" piece of crap passed.

    Now teachers teach to the standardized tests.

    I couldn't take it anymore, and became one of many who leave the profession.

  27. I reacted to your title straight off, it is not the job of a teacher to raise your child, that is your job. The teacher's job is to inspire your child to learn.

  28. Anyone who thinks government can do it better obviously hasn't been to the DMV or a US Post Office recently. I just don't get how people think they can't get those right, but they can get the *next* thing they do right. SMH

  29. What a great post--and the comments, too! In 1987 we came back to the states after a 2.5 yr. tour in the Marshall Islands. Our daughter was just entering 2nd grade, and our son was 2. I heard an interview on the radio about values clarification and the progressive mind set that was being taught in the schools.

    I was very concerned and Ornery and I agreed that homeschooling was a viable option for us. I was a full-time homemaker and reasonably intelligent, even though I hadn't completed more than a few semesters of college.

    Now, 26 years later, my adult children (while certainly not perfect) are reaping the benefits of our choice. They both "think outside the box," are great problem solvers, team players as well as self-starters--even the one who would probably have been labeled autistic in the school system. They are contributors to society instead of saps on an overburdened welfare system.

    It was not a popular choice. We live in a very homeschool-friendly state in which home education is provided for in the state constitution, yet many people questioned the socialization options, how we would teach subjects we were unfamiliar with, how they would succeed in college, etc.

    Others accused us of sheltering them from the real world and stunting their social development--especially when they discovered we didn't own a TV! My reply was always, "What is a home if not a shelter? Children need sheltering until they can reason and what better place than in a home with parents who love them?" Who would knowingly throw a child to wolves if they had the ability to protect them?

    Instead our kids read--sometimes 40 books a week--about things they were interested in, and their interests naturally expanded with the more they learned. They participated in co-op classes where they did dissections or debated government issues on a college level, learned art, music, and advanced math. They learned public speaking from an early age by presenting book reports at support group meetings, and participated in a wide variety of individual and team sports in the community. They are both very articulate and our son is a remarkably good writer.

    They learned essential life and critical thinking skills (such as a strong work ethic) that are not taught at all in the public or private school setting, because Ornery and I were absolutely committed to making sure they were ready for adulthood. We made plenty of mistakes, but not only were our kids learning how to make wise choices, we were maturing and discovering what was important in life right along with them.

    We are continually amazed at the end product of public education today. Many students can't read, will not interact with anyone not their age, and refuse to participate in community from the family up to the government level. Most children have no discipline, and as a result as adults they don't have self-discipline.

    Whether it is the school's, government's, entertainment industry's or "expert" psychologist's fault for perpetrating this failure to our children's educations (or all the above) is anyone's guess, but ultimately the parents are responsible for the opportunities their children are exposed to and the security they feel to speak their minds and pursue their least until the government takes that right from us as well.

  30. Jay - I know several people including my wife who have stayed on in teaching. Most all of them complain about the government interference and they look forward to retirement.

    Jo -- My title was a come on intended to attract some attention.

    Jenn - Great examples. DMV is an exercise in frustration and the post office should be making a profit if it were run like a business.

    O's Wife -- A great testimony to the merits of homeschooling by parents who do it the right way. You have added another outstanding comment to this thread. Thank you and congratulations on your contributions to society which will probably be carried on by your kids.


  31. As a high school teacher in Alabama (home of the broke and pitiful)...Amen! Amen! Amen!

  32. Two thoughts -

    1 - Teaching children to pass standardized tests and teaching them to think are two very different things. When school funding is attached to the first one, what hope is there for the second?

    2 - I remember when parents supported their children's teachers. Bringing home a note or a bad grade meant I was in big trouble with my parents. Now parents defend the child against the teacher. "How dare you fail my child?" It's a no win situation.

  33. Standardized tests are awful. They aren't a fair evaluation in the slightest.


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