Friday, December 10, 2010


Earlier this week I ran across a shocking report in the Washington Post on-line edition addressing international student test scores covering reading, math, and science excellence. All three academic fields are vital for the future success of students, and the economies of the countries in which these students reside.

In the interest of conserving space take a look at this link from the Washington Post report of test scores from the Program for International Student Assessment.

Obviously the report is shocking when we see that students in the United States rank 17th in Reading, 31st in Math, and 23rd in Science, and students in Shanghai, China rank #1 in all three essential categories. When we consider all the billions of dollars we have directed to the education of the American student, it is clear that the efforts directed from Washington and the Department of Education have resulted in totally unacceptable results.

Educational excellence is a complex issue, but the record of the American system indicates a failing grade. Immediately our leaders should objectively investigate why Chinese students achieve top grades, and we better do it ASAP. Our economy cannot be competitive with a report card such as we see in this report.

Remember the Department of Education was created under President Jimmy Carter back in 1979, and it now has 5,000 employees with a budget exceeding 68.6 billion dollars. Personally, I support President Ronald Reagan’s suggestion to close the entire Department because it is a total failure. Current Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan is an effective educator, but his hands are tied by political compromises, appalling union contracts, and a federal bureaucracy that is dysfunctional.

Your Commander suggests we begin to enforce strict discipline, accountability, parental involvement, and the elimination of teacher union restraints. It is essential to get politics out of the class room. It is detrimental. The all-knowing New York Times has picked up on this story and reports that this test has stunned educators. It is about time. Also, the NBC Nightly News reported last evening that these test results are a wake-up call. The results of this report card analysis cries for prompt and objective remedial action. WAKE UP AMERICA!



Alan said...

National math test scores continue to be disappointing. This poor trend persists in spite of new texts, standardized tests with attached implied threats, or laptops in the class. At some point, maybe we should admit that math, as it is taught currently and in the recent past, seems irrelevant to a large percentage of grade school kids.

Why blame a sixth grade student or teacher trapped by meaningless lessons? Teachers are frustrated. Students check out.

The missing element is reality. Instead of insisting that students learn another sixteen formulae, we need to involve them in tangible life projects. And the task must be interesting.

A Trip To The Number Yard is a math book focusing on the building of a bungalow. Odd numbered chapters cover the phases of the project: lot layout, foundation, framing, all the way through until the trim out. The even numbered chapters introduce the math needed for the next stage of building and/or reviews the previous lessons.

This type of project-oriented math engages kids. It is fun. They have a reason to learn the math they may have ignored in the standard lecture format of a class room.

If we really want kids to learn math and to have the lessons be valuable, we need to change the mode of teaching. Our kids can master the math that most adults need. We can’t continue to have class rooms full of math drudges. Instead, we need to change our teaching tactics with real life projects.

Alan Cook

marccossss said...

I was reading PBS about comments you made about the education system in Korea: New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who has written widely on America’s faltering education system, says another difference is how much respect the society pays to teachers.

“Countries like China and South Korea are really recruiting their teachers from the highest levels of graduating classes,” says Friedman. “Teachers are paid like engineers and scientists, and that’s just not happening here in the U.S.”

In South Korea, for example, teachers are treated much like “rock stars” when it comes to pay as well as status in society. In order to teach in South Korea, China and Finland, students must graduate close to the top third of their college classes.

Your comment is just NOT CORRECT, it is obvious you haven't done your research, I have taught in Korea for almost four years now, in high school and elementary school, the teachers aren't treated like rock stars,, nor is their pay like engineers, I find it fascinating that journalist like you report things that are just not true, especially a reporter from the NYT who has won awards. Why don’t you go into the field and do some research, ask some teachers or go to some schools and find meaningful real truth, instead of general off the wall comments. I hear Obama say that the Korean students are at school more time than American students, this is so far from the truth, well this is only true for students in their final year of high school, they study until 11 pm, but only for a couple of months before they take their SAT, and when they stay in classroom there is no teacher, they only sit and study, usually not in silence, and after that they just play in the classroom. Students in elementary school finish at 1pm. students in USA finish 3:30 or 4 pm. Yes it is true Korean students go to school two Saturdays a month, but only for four hours and they usually watch movies.
In addition they cannot be given grades of D or F, only passed on, also I asked many Korean high school students how many continents there were and they said there were only five, Only selected top students take the international test given by the OECD and they are specially coached, while in the US the test is given at random. Also, when the Korean student enters university everyone knows they are just handed out grades for not doing too much, so they spend a lot of time prepping for tests to enter university but after that university is easy,, and the international test comparison says nothing about long run results,,,
So if you really want the truth you need to search out the truth, have you or the secretary of education ever been to Korea and studied the system in detail? Maybe you should come here and go to some schools and talk to teachers and give us all the right information………………….