April 30th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Why have high schoolers made little progress in reading, math since '70s?

Despite the tens of billions of dollars the U.S. spends on education every year, high school students have not made any significant gains in reading or math for nearly 40 years. A new government report known as the "Nation's Report Card" shows results for 9, 13, and 17-year-olds dating back to the 1970s.

While the two younger groups have improved in those subjects over the years, scores for 17-year-olds have barely budged.

On reading tests, the high schoolers' scores have improved by exactly one point out of 500 points since 1971. They have "intermediate skills," and can make generalizations about what they've read. As for math, the scores have gone up by just two points since 1973. Students can perform "moderately complex procedures" like using decimals or fractions.

Colleges and businesses, not surprisingly, say many high school students just aren't up to snuff; that they earn diplomas without learning the necessary skills for life. As one education advocate puts it: "If high schools were cell phones, they'd be considered in a dead zone."

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls the results for high school students "especially troubling." No kidding...

President Obama speaks about education being one of his administration's top priorities. This national report card suggests he doesn't have much time to waste.

The administration wants to make boosting high school graduation rates a key focus. They also want states to start using tougher common standards for both teaching and testing, instead of benchmarks that vary from state by state.

Here's my question to you: What does it say about the state of education if high schoolers have made little progress in reading and math since the 1970s?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Filed under: Education
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Dave Evans from Woodbirdge, Virginia

    It says that we need to stop giving tax cuts to the rich, so we can stop cutting the education budget. More like no wealthy capitalist left behind.

    April 29, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  2. Kerry Diehl

    Just like our government, politics are deeply involved!

    April 29, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  3. roger dowdle lockhart, tx

    People will live up to (or at least try), or down to the expectations placed on them. When you have policies for "social Promotion" and passing regardless of the performance level, there is no incentive to do your best. Grouping regardless of potential is supposed to bring the lower achievers closer to those with better abilities, and it may to a small degree. But the unfortunate result is that those who could perform at much higher levels are dragged down to a much lower level. Grouping by intellect, or by ability allows those with higher abilities to be challenged to do better, even if placed in larger classes. It also frees up instructors to place "underachievers" in smaller classes.

    April 29, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  4. LDR in Central Texas

    Marijuana is more and more powerfull nowdays, so the teachers cope better but teach really less. Lotsa pop tests with the answers on the overhead projector, etc...

    April 29, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  5. Susan from Twin Falls Idaho

    Teachers can’t teach in war zones. If they have to spend their days being police and psychiatrists there’s no time to do their real job.

    April 29, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  6. Susan--Crescent City, CA

    I think the lack of progress means we haven't set the bar high enough for both teacher qualifications and student achievement.

    April 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  7. Tony from Torrington

    When I was in High School and graduated in 1961...( the only year you can turn upside down and it's still 1961) teachers and student relationships were different. Teachers taught, they didn't indoctrinate.

    Politics were on TV and radio and we were concerned about girls and football. Studying for tests was important and teachers were helpful. I never had a teacher like Ward Churchill or William Ayers. Today many young students are taught to hate this country rather than to study about the great men that came before us and are responsible for the freesoms we have today.

    April 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  8. Dan from Alliance, OH

    Jack, This problem is not because of our schools. My children are very good readers but the only way this happended is that my wife and I read to our children when they were young. This was done nearly every night. By doing this we worked their imaginations and they wanted to learn more on their own. Teachers don't have the time to do this for our children, it is the parents responsibility.

    April 29, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  9. Michael H., Albuquerque, NM

    One reason is that we have had education cuts since Reagan was Governor of California. And, these cuts increased since Reagan was President.
    Another reason is that our kids are being taught by people that were educated in the '70's. That level of education is what they learned, so that is what they pass on.
    If you want the numbers to go up, teach how the subject is used in the students lives...I have yet to fiqure out how to apply algebra in my life...

    April 29, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  10. Chryssa

    Because they already know it all, Jack. Any teen could tell you that.

    Boise, ID

    April 30, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  11. Geri - Mead, OK

    One can not expect anything much different when the prevailing philosophy since the 60's has been the survival of the fittest theory, bottomline economics, with a little humanism sprinkled on to make this philosophy more palatable.

    As long as children, teachers, and schools are seen as an expense and long term liability on the balance sheet of America's bureaucrats at the federal, state, and local levels the educating of America's young will always be relegated to the back seat.

    Are we there yet?

    April 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  12. Barbara Middletown, NY

    It says that teachers have to spend too much time on things like discipline for bad behavior. The schools are inundated with unruly, disrespectful little monsters. I often hear some of the people I work with blame the schools for their children misbehaving both in school and on the school bus. Today's parents expect the schools to teach their children things that the parents should be teaching–respect, personal responsibility, manners, acceptable behavior and yes, personal hygiene. Teachers don't have time to teach when most of their time is spent raising the children of irresponsibile parents. And no, I'm not a teacher, but I've made a point of finding out some of the reasons for the failure in educating our children today.

    April 30, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  13. Daniel Indiana

    It proves that the administrators have managed to dictate their agendas and not allowed the teachers to teach their subjects. Leave it to administrators to run down any corporation and blame the workers for their failures.

    April 30, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  14. Pablo in Tejas

    The answer is Grammar and Syntax. Neither has been taught in elementary school for more than 40 years. Today's students do not know the Parts of Speech; the functions of the Parts of Speech, or how the Parts of Speech act upon each other in a sentence. Ergo the students can neither read for content nor read for comprehension. This in turn negatively affects performance in all other subject matter including Math and Sc ience. Worse still, today's teachers cannot teach Grammar and Syntax effectively because they were never thoroughly grounded in it themselves. It should be taught K through 12; high school is too late to start. If the US wants to be first in education we will need mass remediation in Grammar and Syntax, the most basic of Basics. Failing this, we'uns ain't got no chance, no how.

    Arlington Texas

    April 30, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  15. Jack Martin

    I remember well both my grammar school my and high school days.
    Every day was a challenge. Only two newspapers were allowed. No games were allowed and if you created any kind of disturbance you were tossed out. One of my fellow students was expelled for fighting just two months before graduation and never came back. We were challenged every day to learn and we learned. Or else! If all disruptive students were under a real threat to be kicked out or placed in special schools the teachers could teach.
    Jack in Boynton Beach FL

    April 30, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  16. pat in lexington, ky.

    Respecting others starts at home. If demonstrated there, that respect will transfer out of the house and into the school.The teachers must know their subjects and how to transfer their knowledge to the students.

    Seems as though we have become so conscious of our political correctness and our "rights" as individuals that teachers must walk on eggshells and students know they can cause trouble and get away with it.

    I think it's up to parents – and that opens up a whole different can of worms.

    April 30, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  17. Michelle, Philadelphia, PA

    Jack, When have most teenagers (myself, nerdily excluded) cared about academics? I don't think that hasn't changed much in 40 years. I don't think our kids are any less capable of achieving that which other countries have achieved.

    April 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  18. Sutirtha, Ann Arbor, MI

    Part of the reason has to lie with the moral relativism that has gripped us. We can all do well, if we were just nicer to each other. We could all do well, if we just took care of our communities and heeded the needs of our planet in peril. We can all do well, only if we could make class room sizes smaller. We can all do well, (insert your favorite fantasy here). And oh, I did not mention the fact that, enlarging a large state and feeding the welfare syndrome is the surest way to improve test scores. After all, that's a lot of incentive for people to pull up by their bootstraps.

    Fact of the matter is that sometimes people have to be told the hard truth, that they are not cut out for it. Sometimes people have to be told, that, yes by golly, you need to remember this by heart. Sometimes it means telling people in a large group, that the only thing I can be completely sure about is that half of you are below average.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  19. Thom Richer

    Time and numbers.. There is not enough of it to teach and reach the masses that we attempt to educate. With so few teachers, funds and facilities it is not possible. Not all learn or develop alike or on the same time-line which makes our system of education out-dated, redundant and increasiling fruitless Not to mention the negative attitude of the general public and legislators toward educators and education itself. Lack of respect and worth of both is an anchor that prevents reform that will work to make headway. We have cut and continue to cut programs that are essential to have a working society in all fields of labor. ie. Hands on programs (vocational), and non-college bound areer programs. We send our children to school too early and graduate them too young. There is no time any more for parent nurturing, individual child development, maturation or readiness. Let alone time in school to actually learn.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    April 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  20. Alison Rome

    It's called parenting!!! Parents expect teachers to teach, parent, etc. Learning should occur at school and at home. Children should be challenged. These days everyone gets an A for effort. We can't hurt anyone's self-esteem.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  21. Ray Kinserlow

    Education has failed to keep pace with information technology. Learning is best done by integrating it with play. Why not pay and require some high octane video game companies to put some reading and mathematics in their shoot 'em up video games?

    Ray Kinserlow
    Lubbock, Texas

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  22. Daniel, Englewood FL


    I donts know, maybe its bad teachers or bad edjucation.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  23. Brittnay Palm Beach, Florida

    Teachers have lost all authority. You read more stories about teachers being reprimanded for providing discipline to a student than you do about our failing school system. These children rule these classrooms and they know it. Cell phone photos. Videos. If a teacher raises a voice its all over You Tube and that teacher is black listed. Give the classrooms back to the teachers.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  24. arlene in iowa

    i think if you want kids to learn more teach them in a way they want to learn . kids are stressed out too much already.. i graduated in the 70's and have raised 2 boys..i can tell you one thing and that is they were taught reading and writing way earlier than we were . work they were doing in high school i never even heard of let alone understood it..
    i think if you are going to change the school system, do year round school,teach more effectively, raise teachers pay, and give them a break cause the majority of them are pretty smart kids. don't burn them out too early..

    April 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  25. Mickey

    Well speaking as a Canadian, I would say on general observation because you were complacent as a nation that you were the best and the brightest. That takes lots of money and work – not wishful thinking. Other countries demand more of their teachers and their students. Teachers in my province have a minimum of a degree (in Canada this means 4 years minimum) most have more. Several shows on education have highlighted that you have teachers with one year and two year post-secondary education teaching....ummmm that's just not good enough.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  26. Bill in South Jersey

    Because we betrayed parents and students of all races by (1) dumbing down the curriculum, (2) passing everyone, even if he or she earned failing grades, and (3) throwing out all discipline.

    Now we're trying to tell ourselves that the most important issue in American education is whether we teach the Bible as science and history.

    We ought to have our backsides kicked. By our kids.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  27. David Gerstenfeld

    Parenting!!! Stop the cell phone, twittering, e-mailing. texting, video games, etc., UNTIL they deserve them. Without stricter parent involvement it won't happen.
    David, Las Vegas

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  28. Remo .............. Austin, TX

    Jack, it's not the kid's it's the parents. How much study time is wasted on texting, twitter, and 150 television channels. In my day when there were only 3 television channels, the television stayed off until my studies were done. My parents taught me about life, morality, and respect. They didn't expect a school system to do so. If I got out of line I had the grim task of answering to them, needless to day I didn't do that often.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  29. David Bebeau,Springfield Missouri

    Because we have blamed our great teachers for all ills in all kids.We
    train teachers to be babysitters and allow them very little leway from the so called criteria.We will not/do not give parents credit for private
    schools.Thus we keep our broken schools open for administrators
    to plan more blame on teachers who are not allowed to teach.So kids
    can't learn.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  30. Pete, Fla.

    As a high school senior, I can tell you that teachers (at least the ones I know) seem to be getting less interested in students and teaching. Sometimes the teacher will just pop in an "educational" video, maybe they'll tell us to read on our own, or just let us talk amongst ourselves if nothing is planned (that's what we did today in my AP English class). However, I must say my opinion is biased, as you can always trust a student to blame the teacher.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  31. Joe Public - Glenns Ferry, ID

    Until education is a big enough priority to put money behind teachers salaries and technology in schools, little improvement will be made. Our town has computers in the school that are older than some of the children using them. And things are better now then they were several years ago! If teachers can't make a decent living off of what we are paying them how do we ever expect to attract the best and brightest to a career in education. if we can't do that how do we expect things to improve?

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  32. Larry, Ohio

    Jack,it says that the educators in the public school system are not ,in general,doing their jobs.whenever I talk to students that are home schooled or are in private schools I can tell immediately,that they are getting a better quality education than the public school system.It seems teachers in the public school systems just want to go through the motions and get the most for doing the least!!

    April 30, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  33. Jan P.

    To Michael H., re: Algebra

    You may not realize that you are using algebra in your life, but you surely use algebraic logic. Being able to use what facts you know, and determine what else you need to know before you make a decision is a skill that is reinforced by those same Algebra problems you learned (or didn't) in high school.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  34. Ron K

    Hi Jack:

    It is because the comprehension level is not there. In most cases long involved novels or technical reading is not compatable to a high school students attention span. There are too many distractions that tend to be more interesting to a student of that peer group. The parents and family need to be better involved in reading. It helps to have a support structure, when a kid is reading something that can turn out to be very involved and difficult for someone with a college level reading skill to follow.

    I felt overwhelmed in highschool by some of the reading I had to do.

    Ron K Temecula CA

    April 30, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  35. Jim

    Three reasons:
    1) Low expectations - schools keep dumbing down the requirements for a standard diploma, so now someone has to get a masters or AP-like diploma for it to mean much and THEN a large percentage of students who go to college have to get HS-level remedial classes before they can really start on college.

    2) Lack of discipline - as mentioned above, some schools are all but war zones where teachers literally fear for their safety. Many others have no choice but to tolerate kids who routinely, and substantially, disrupt classes because the school administrations refuse to expel, suspends, or otherwise discipline them because their parents will always defend them.

    3) The same failed solutions tried over and over again. The education industry and teachers' union cannot offer any "fix" for education other than throwing ever more money at the problem. They talk about reform and the like, but it's always more money. Coincidentally, some of the worst schools in the U.S. (D.C., N.Y., etc) spend the most per child - it's not because doing so has helped, it's because spending money seems like action.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  36. Jim

    Micheal says that, "If you want the numbers to go up, teach how the subject is used in the students lives…I have yet to fiqure out how to apply algebra in my life…"
    a) That would make sense if all we were teaching kids was "just in time skills", instead of education that's of (theoretical) long-term enlightening value

    b) I see many cases in day-to-day life where I use basic algebraic principles and I suspect most people who grasped the subject do. Some people just don't realize they're doing something "algebraic" and others just consider things "insoluable"

    April 30, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  37. Charla in TX

    Because, Jack, here in Texas my kids are barely taught math, reading, science, etc. They are taught how to pass the State assessment tests, in our state is it called TAKS. Many of the classes do not even use the subject textbooks anymore, they just work right out of the TAKS practice workbooks. The school's goals are to get as many kids as possible to pass these tests so the district does not lose state funding. Funding which the high schools use to build pro-style football stadiums with state of the art astro-turf, track surfacing and scoreboards. All this in hopes that the football team might win a state championship and more state money. Oh, and maybe they'll produce a couple of upstanding pro-football players once in a while, too.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  38. Jim

    Dave suggests that "... we need to stop giving tax cuts to the rich, so we can stop cutting the education budget."

    This belies a misunderstanding of reality. Education budgets have skyrocketed nationwide for decades. Even when someone talks about "cutting education", it's usually a matter of ONLY giving them a 5% increase in spending instead of the 10% they asked for. For those who misunderstand (like Congress) - that's not a cut.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  39. Cheryl

    It's a combination of factors. Movies, socializing, and entertainment are much more important to kids now than they ever were, especially now that all are available at the touch of a button and in hand-held portable devices. Many parents are not teaching their kids to read, asking kids about their homework or report cards, or talking to them about college. Then when the kids don't learn, some blame the school system! If the teachers try to discipline their kids, some parents sue! And it doesn't help that some of the teaching methods and equipment are outdated, making classroom instruction even more irrelevant to the kids. And many laws about accountability are based on totally ignorant and unrealistic expectations (created by politicians, not educators or scientists), like penalizing schools with large immigrant populations for not reaching certain benchmarks on standardized tests when research shows that kids who immigrate later in life may need as much as SEVEN years of instruction to reach a native speaker level of academic competence in a new language.

    As a society we need to put more value on education and respect our teachers and schools. Working with them to modernize their equipment and methods would also help, as would creating more flexibility so that gifted kids could move more quickly through the system, adolescent immigrants and special ed populations and others outside the mainstream could get educations more in line with their capabilities. One size does NOT fit all in diverse populations.

    Houston, TX

    April 30, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  40. JONIQUe

    I too graduated in 1961. We had poor learners during that time alo.
    those folk just dropped out of school, went to work performing menial jjobs. We had a very poor school system in the South. we had problems then– but not the problems of today. Mothers have to work, Dad may not br around, the street becomes our kids best friend. Teachers cannot teach in confusion. Yes, a few poor teachers, but not all. It starts in the home.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  41. Incognito

    While working at a university English lab, I had access to the grades of students taking exit exams in English grammar, which were required for graduation. The tests covered basic English grammar that I had learned in elementary school. I was alarmed to discover that the lowest scores - including MANY failures - came from the department of Education, among those who were studying to teach our young people – indeed who would likely be teaching them the following fall. This would seem to prove - in a very unfunny way - the validity of the old saw: "Those who can, do, and those who can't, teach."

    April 30, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  42. Kevin ,Florida

    Jack, first off tell that Virginia Socialist Dave Evans the real reason our children are no longer progressing in schools.....1. They have become very spoiled and lazy, half of the parents in my neighborhood dont even make their children do chores let alone bust their butts in school, yet they buy them cars when they become teens? 2. No discipline ....Teachers cant discipline children for fear of being sued, and parents dont have time or are delinquents themselves. 3. In a "me" Generation children do not have goals anymore......they figure mom and dad or perhaps the taxpayer will foot the bill.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  43. Nancy, Tennessee

    I think, there is a vicious cycle going on. The teachers that are now trying to teach math bdon't have a good background in the subject. Unless you truly understand math, you cannot teach it. I know because I get math and hold a B.S. with a major in Math. I have taught math at a technical college. The students said no one ever explained it to them before where they could understand it. We need to send our teachers back to school.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  44. JT

    Education is a gift that is played down. Unless the community you live in sees education as important for all only a few will progress. Some take education for granted or feel that they can do more by being basic. I would love for us to show that everyone is a continous learner. That learning doesnot stop when graduate from any level of school but continous until your last breath.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  45. John in San Diego

    What can we expect from an education system that has produced government leaders like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, who, by the way, are now part of the same governments that control the future of our education systems.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  46. Charlie T.

    Jack: Lowering the bar does not improve our standard of education. All it does is take education to the lowest common denominator.
    Charlie T. Biloxi,Ms.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  47. Alice NEWYORK

    computer test ! small paragraphs to read and and answer from multiple choice. I was watching a little boy and said "pencil" he(3yrs) ,he said "whats a pencil? h

    April 30, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  48. Tom Mytoocents Fort Lauderdale Florida


    In the 1960's schools became a political football for social issues. Performance became secondary to a wide range of issues that did not seek to improve education. Everthing from the teachers to tranportation was crtisized for equality rather than education. Teachers should be hired for abilties and students should be advanced due to performance. Teacher's should be responsible for only teaching...

    April 30, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  49. George in Pa.

    Seemed we were doing great untill the Federal Goverment stuck thier fingers in it.The schools in pa. used to teach trades now there is very few trades taught.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  50. George in Pa.

    Seemed we were doing great untill the Federal Goverment stuck thier fingers in it.The schools in pa. used to teach trades now there is very few trades taught.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  51. Cory

    Maybe the teachers are better than ever before, but the home environment is worse. One problem could be the introduction of video games. Some kids spend all their time on their x-boxes and just do what they have to in order to get by.

    April 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  52. Alice NEWYORK

    multiple choice computer tests. I was watching a 3yr old and I mentioned pencil, he said whats that?I will admit they do well on computers, How will you ever write thesis if you can<t write. Oh thats right they don't teach penmanship and geography. Just watch game shows, some of the answers they give

    April 30, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  53. Jack from Columbus, OH

    It says that we have a major problem in this country. Politics and Parenting are our major problems here. We need to create a realistic national standard for classes and remove political ideas like creationism. Second is that parents need to get more involved in their child's education. It's not the teachers job to teach police these kids. Until we get these problems fixed their is little hope of improving anything. Sadly, the real question here isn't so much of "why" as its a question of "how"

    April 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  54. ANDRES SAENZ(Albuquerque, NM)

    I think part of the problem is that many high-schoolers have a math phobia, and I was one of them. I'm not naturally good at math...I really had to work at it by getting tutoring help and by getting into study groups. I believe that anyone can become good at math, it's just a matter of dedication and hard work.

    Another problem may be that their parents didn't go beyond getting a high school diploma, and that really shapes their mentality about going to college. They probably think, "My parents didn't go to college, so why should I?".

    And yet another problem that needs to be included in the equation is that most high-school teachers are REALLY underpaid.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  55. Kevin

    Jack, this is the penultimate issue of our time. If future generations are incapable of adequate reading and writing skills, what does that say about our future? Throwing money at it is not the solution, accountability is. It amazes me when my kids come home from school and only have homework 1 out of the 5 days, sometimes none for the whole week. Parents have to be involved and care enough about their kid's curriculums our future is at stake folks.

    Warren, MI

    April 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  56. Jerry, Malvern, Arkansas

    Who thinks they need an education when it pays more to play some kind of ball than it does to become a teacher, a research scientist, or just about anything. The hours that our parents made us study are now spent taking the kids to play football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, tennis, soccer, golf...anything where they just might get that lucrative career that comes with all the endorsements. We haven't placed the right value on education and have placed the wrong value on other things.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  57. Jeff from Stratford

    You need to fix the idea that school is not important.
    We disinvest in schools, have little to no consequences for laziness in Middle School and younger.
    We keep kids grouped by age instead ofability so that the ones who struggle hold back and make bored the ones who could excel. Boredome takes a kid out of being a part of his own learning.
    Waiting till highschool to teach how to think critically and do simple Algebra simply creates and reinforces an environment of laxness with regard to studying. It gives the kids the understanding that studying is just not important.
    We need to hold kids to higher standards and do it younger. And teach study skills early.
    And, as a culture, have to be willing to PAY for education.
    And yes that means I get taxed to pay for educationg other peoples kids. Someday thiose kids will be fighting for my freedom and paying my social security, so I have no problem paying taxes for educaton.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  58. Pat

    Not enough qualified teachers.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  59. circy in new mexico

    It means discipline is a thing of the past. The only students succeeding are those who really want to. The others are just coasting.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  60. Jim H.

    By "education cuts" I assume you mean when an increase of 15% is requested and "only" a 12% increase is granted. That's the standard definition of a "cut" in funding. If the level of education spending drove results, D.C. schools would lead the way in academic performance but we all know what the record shows.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  61. Al M

    The government needs to get out of the education business and let privated schools take over.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  62. Bob in Florida

    In Florida, the students are taught to learn the answers to the FCAT test "they MUST pass" in order to advance. Memorization, NOT learning. There is SO MUCH EMPHASIS placed on the FCAT scores that REAL deductive reasoning is NOT taught. One can memorize the "times tables" but if the logic behind the mathematical concept is not learned, then further "learning" DOES NOT HAPPEN.

    The Florida education system treats students like calculators or computers. The calculator or computer SPITS OUT THE RIGHT ANSWER, but the calculator or computer has no idea how it got the answer, it only knows 1's and 0's.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  63. Rodney from Little Rock, Arkansas

    Jack, the fact that we are so obsessed about a few sick people, that 300 people have answered your question about our tolerance of the issue (which is only about a week old) and only 9 have made the effort to say something about our education system, should go to show that we just don't care about our education system at all and are far more concerned with what's happening on TV. Schools just can't compete with premium cable channels.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  64. Paul in Nevada

    Students are only taught to pass standardized tests. They are not taught the skills of critical thought. Parents have abdicated parenting responsibilities to the schools. Schools are powerless to do such "parenting" or discipline the little darlings. Parents indulge their little angels with gadgets and toys which schools are powerless to prevent from school grounds. Parents stress out their kids with a zillion extra-curriculars so they can get into the "best' schools instead of making them do their homework. When did acceptance into Pre-K become competitive? Shall I go on?

    April 30, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  65. Dan from New York

    I'm a first year teacher in New York. I think the reason our reading and writing test scores have barely budged in thirty years is simply that we have not taught our children to value a good education. Now, its all about who has what, who has more, who has better, who is better–school has become a culture of materialism, and being "smart" is not a material the majority of our children desire.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  66. James in IL.

    Jack it is Class room size all our kids can make the grade, they need more one on one. No class room should have more than 20 students at a time. 30 to 40 kids and you don't have a teaching atmosphere you have a police action! Thats how you improve reading and math.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  67. Stephen R. Collier

    They obviously need to convince students that learning is sexy and to not stay academically abstinent.

    Virginia Beach

    April 30, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  68. Michael Donovan

    It states that parents are not as involved in their children's education as they should be. I'm in my mid 20's and both of my parents helped me with my homework and made sure I did it as required. It also shows that teachers are not doing what they should be doing. We should have higher standards not only for students but for teachers as well. I'm happy to see Obama feels the same way, and only when standards are made for both students and teachers will the education system be improved. Teaching to standardized tests will not get the job done and hurts students more than it helps.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  69. Karen - Missouri

    Not enough basics taught in early grades. Students are RUSHED through math and reading in early grades and never get the chance to become excellent in the basics and having taught junior and senior high...it now really shows. By higher grades, curriculums are out-dated and behind the times so students become disinterested. Schools are also TOO BIG in most cities...that greatly takes away from a student's learning and more individualized education. Too many distractions in big schools and too much violence and lack of backing teachers on discipline matters...and trust me, the high school students know how to circumvent the system. And what's with giving first graders a bunch of homework? Like that's really going to help...they're already tired after all day in school and on buses.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  70. Greg Mechanicsburg, PA

    It says loudly and clearly that we have not addressed the real issue that is crippling our nation's educational system. Jack, I feel so strongly about this issue that I called up the Whitehouse and left a message for President Obama. Nearly every public school has a core group of students that disrupt everything that they touch. These students need to be identified and separated from the other students so those who can learn have the opportunity to learn. These disruptive students are good kids, but they have too much baggage for public schools to deal with. These students need additional support that is not offered in today’s system.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  71. Stephanie from Atlanta

    Four years ago, I left Corporate America to teach high school. The education system in this country has little to nothing to do with knowledge, learning or development. It's more about teaching "discipline", and is therefore run like the military. Students are taught to find the authority figure in the room, and then do what that person says with no argument or input, for threat of punishment. It's hard to produce Einsteins, Mozarts, or Barack Obamas in an environment of "sit down and shut up".

    April 30, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  72. Diane, Barneveld, NY

    It means take away the computers and calculators and make them use their brains for a change. It will do wonders for math and go back to English 101. So Dick and Jane were a boring couple and repetitive, but reading and spelling resulted from those Dick and Jane readers.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  73. Troy

    Every parent in this country knows how to do everything better than the school and every kid they spawn is a genius. The statistics must surely be lying.

    Sellersville, PA

    April 30, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  74. Sarah Niemer

    I think that the reason our schools stink so much is that we placate to mediocrity. We fail to challenge the students. We fail to fail our students, and then we join hands in a round of kumbaya.

    Our educational standards stifle out of the box thinking, we are taught to accept and not challenge ideas. Also, here in CA we keep lowering the high school competency graduation standards. Rather than asking our students to rise to higher standards, we lower them. We are collectively communicating our expectations of our students. We think they are not capable of excellence and make excuses for there poor performance. Generally, our standards are too low. I

    April 30, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  75. AndyZ Lynn, MA

    Guns and drugs in schools, disruptive psychophants disguised as students disrupting all learning activities, more discussion on how to beat the newest x-box game than on any school subject, kids more computer literate than their parents surfing all the sites they shouldn't see until they can vote. Gee, I don't know Jack, what do you think?

    April 30, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  76. Steve Batts

    Jack I had to explain Trigonometry to my step daughter in 1983. I had a 9th grade education. Teachers get tenured and make income withing books that schools adopt. My step-daughters books were so inept, that the didn't make sense. I pulled a 1940s book off the selves and got her through her courses. Same now with a granddaughter.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  77. Barb from Hazel Crest, IL

    Some teachers are not trained properly, the education curriculum needs to be updated, the school year is too short, and parents aren’t being responsible by making sure their child is well behaved and doing their homework. Other than that everything is ok.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  78. Beth - Spokane, Washington

    The problem is grade inflation and people who should fail being passed by a broken system that feeds students on mashed horse puckey and empty platitudes. The education system can't afford to educate the ignorant or to integrate the kids who simply do not learn well on the lecture model - a number increasing as the number of distractions to which they are exposed and difficulties they face at home also increases.

    What the education system really can't figure out how to do is motivate kids who are taught not to care - and how do you get them to care about their education, when they see very well how much you get the same lousy job with a BA as you do with a GED? As the quality of education has remained stagnant at best, the value of education has inflated dramatically and with depressing results.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  79. Nebraska Val

    No child left behind. We are spending to much time on special needs children. Trying to bring mentally challenged upto to gifted level is not possible. We are all created by God and all have unique learning abilities. Federal funding for gifted programs should exceed special ed programs for the challenged. I own a business and the one thing I notice on job apps is that penmanship has also gone out the window.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  80. Annie, Atlanta

    Because Republicans have been in charge for most of that time. The dumber we are the easier it is to pick our pockets.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  81. Corinna

    The kids are incredibly intelligent but the materials are taught by extremely non functioning methods. Students are expected to learn at a slower pace than they live, read, do a little homework, take a test. When they play video games or use the computer, they learn differently. Faster, interactive with much more repetitive actions to build their skills. Adjust the teaching methods and information to meet the child's skills and gain a child who can outperform faster than they can text.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  82. Weldon from Canada

    I think that the biggest problem is electronic takeover of the two subjects involved. When did you use spellcheck and the like when you were being educated. They have so many symbolic representations for communicating in this day and age that they don't recognize proper English.

    Did you ever happen to be at a checkout when the store has had a power failure or have the "exact change" when you arrive at the checkout?? Totally amazing. They think you are from another planet.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  83. Amy E. Yakima WA

    With all of the distractions teenagers face today its no wonder they can't perform in school. Many of them have no idea how the things they learn in school will effect their current or future lives. Youth need to see real world applications for the things they learn in schools in order to make them relevant and therefore important in their lives. I remember when I was a kid my Mom would balance her checkbook by hand every week. Both my parents would read to me at night but I would also see them reading for pleasure themselves (and more then just a computer screen too). Kids need to see their parents and other adults using the skills they learned in school, otherwise how are those skills supposed to compete with video games, movies, and the internet? Many schools are strapped and trying to teach kids what they need to know to pass their exams. When children think that they only need to learn enough to pass the test they inevitably fail. Stop overtesting students and show them how knowledge is power, inside and outside the classroom.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:50 pm |
  84. Emma Ashtabula, Ohio

    It says that the free market fanatic ideology of privatizing all public schools in the U.S. has totally fragmented public education . Get the private sector out of all schools until the 12th grade. Close the schools to private sector interference and let the teachers teach. Public schools worked for many successful old people like me.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  85. Peter, Kansas City

    We have turned schools into a system where "everybody is a winner" but if you don't have to try your hardest (or at all) to be a winner, then no one ever will, and our nation will become the loser, to the chinese and everyone else.

    No more trophies for last place, no more passing with strait D's, if it makes someone feel bad about themselves then someone should be there to help them try harder, instead of twisting the system so that they don't have to try at all.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  86. KimSmith, Dodge City, Kansas

    Our Pop Culture demonstrates the myriad reasons why students are awash in stupidity. There aren't many role models that kids see that aren't sluts, pimps, drug dealers, illiterate sports stars or just plain criminals. Intelligence has taken a back seat to being "like totally fabulous, girlfriend".

    April 30, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  87. jwb

    Because of STUPID standardized testingt that prevents teachers from teaching and forces them to teach towards "dumbed down" standardized tests that prove nothing.

    Get back to hard time academics and children will succeed and stop this stupidity of standardized testing.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  88. Crystal

    Because we don't have the same committed, true teachers, teaching our children. All we ever see are teachers raping, killing and abusing children. Not everyone can be a teacher and there needs to be a better system of getting qualified teachers who truly cares about their students and not just getting a paycheck.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  89. Larry from Georgetown, Texas

    Jack, when I was in College in the early 70's at a major university some of the football players could barely read nor do simple math. I doubt if much has changed at this level since football is more important than learning how to do math or read and especially here in Texas.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  90. Sherry, N. Calif.

    Get the big P's (politics) out of our education system and put the three R's back. End tenure!

    April 30, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  91. Barbara Middletown, NY

    It says that teachers have to spend too much on things like discipline for bad behavior. The schools are inundated with unruly, disrepectful little monsters. I often hear some of the people that I work with blaming the schools for their children misbehaving both in school and on the school bus. For too long parents have expected the schools to do their parenting. They expect teachers to teach their children manners, respect, personal responsibility, acceptable behavior and yes, personal hygiene. Teachers don't have time to teach when most of their time is spent raising children for irresponsible, disinterested parents. And no, I'm not a teacher and I don't work for the local school district. I am concerned about future generations competing with the rest of the world.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  92. Julie Austin, TX

    Allow the teachers to spend less time teaching just so the kids pass the TAKS tests and other tests like it. Most of the school year is spent making sure that the scores on these tests are good and the teachers are not able to focus on whether or not the children are actually absorbing the information they really need to learn.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  93. Tony IL

    What do you expect. With the introduction of video game systems from years ago, Atari, to today’s XBox, what kid wants to read anymore. Then there’s the advancement of the computer and calculators so that all kids have to do is enter in the math problem and get the answer without figuring it out for themselves. Of course, everyday you hear of kids texting, sexting, and just out right using cellphones while in school, it’s no wonder why kids haven’t gotten any smarter. Kids rely on electronics for everything and without them, they couldn’t make it.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:06 pm |
  94. Pat from East Amherst

    It says that kid see no incentive to do better. Families are not getting involved in lower income homes, and communities. Even if we spend the same amount on each child, if there is no incentive, why bother? maybe putting the spending towards our national debt would actually do something.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  95. Greg Mechanicsburg, PA

    It says loudly and clearly that we have not addressed the real issue that is crippling our nation’s educational system. Jack, I feel so strongly about this issue that I called up the Whitehouse and left a message for President Obama. Nearly every public school has a core group of students that disrupt everything that they touch. These students need to be identified and separated from the other students so those who can learn have the opportunity to learn. Let the teachers teach. These disruptive students are good kids, but they need strict discipline and tons of love that the public school system of today is not equipped to handle.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  96. Didi

    Because we've forced the schools to focus on standardized testing rather than on critical thinking. Children are just learning enough facts to past the next test. They are not building life long lessons. It's frightening.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  97. Louise in Alabama

    A long time ago I learned 2 + 2 = 4. What is it now? I cannot figure out these new video games.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  98. Sherry-Tuscaloosa, Al.

    It's simple- unequal education funding. Education funding should be equal across the board- not based on the tax base of communities. America is the sole industrialized nation that discriminates against its own children based on the richness of lack thereof of the neighborhood in which they reside.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  99. Tim S from PA

    It may be that kids must deal with so much more these days, it's hard to study if your worried you could be shot or some thing like that.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  100. Doug

    Simple Jack...Proof positive that the liberals have completely derailed our educational system having taken it hostage 40 years ago. Remember...the goal is social indoctrination, not actually teaching reading and writing.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  101. Joe, Los Angeles

    It means that the government should get out of elementary and secondary education. If the Founding Fathers learned that the government was educating children, they would roll over in their graves.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  102. kathleen eslteacher

    GET RID OF THE 'NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT' another Bush admin. mistake. . . . use outcome-based criteria and find out what the business community needs from its future employees to determine curricula, which I use to teach abroad.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  103. matt in omaha

    The bottom line is that we spent all this money on all these programs over a period of decades and we got a 1 percent improvement. I guess this proves the futility of big government programs. Let's get the federal government out of the education business, and leave it to local governments where the kids are.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  104. Matt in Stafford, VA

    While budget cuts do not help, the main problem I see is a lack of effort and discipline. I am a senior in high school, and the sheer lack of effort is seen in every class I am in. Students sleep through class, text on their cellphones, and chatter away. Instead of studying to learn material, students do what is needed to pass the test, then move on. No Child Left Behind didn't help the situation, but until something is done about the students who refuse to learn, I don't see the problem being solved any time soon.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  105. Fred

    Jack, maybe it means that what we learned it "all" in the 60s and 70s and today's kids are still learning it all - no improvement. 🙂 Yeah, right! The real question you should ask is how much we are spending today to NOT teach what we spent so little to teach in 1975.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  106. Charles Chaffin

    Until we as a country invest in education, our results will not get any better. We as a country do not want to pay our teachers, our schools look like prisons, and parent apathy is at an all time high. Plus standardized tests measure inert facts that have little to do with any of the skills that are associated with contributing to society. Students enter our schools with interest in learning as five year olds and by the time they reach second grade, it is sucked out of the, because of teaching for the test. No, I am not surprised at all.

    Champaign, IL

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  107. Stephen

    I am a retired teacher in Pittsburgh PA and the problem is the discipline in the schools is horrible. Students are allowed to do whatever they want in some schools and the parents do nothing to stop the behavior. We should start putting a foot down on the children and hold them accountable for their actions. There are many very good teachers in the system that do not have a clue about classroom management.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  108. James Sasser

    Wat doo yoo meen, Jakk? I graduated high school in the 70s, and today's kids seem just fine. They've got a recessed economy to grow up in, a tough job market to look forward to when they graduate, two wars they could serve in, a broken infrastructure, a dying American auto industry, and ever increasing college costs! Why, they everything we did in the 70s and more!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  109. Chuck Sheldon

    The problem is teacher unions and tenure. Bad teachers must be fired and good ones paid more, period. The superintendent in DC has it right and her example should b e followed everywhere.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  110. Ken in NC

    Teachers are to busy making sure they justify and satisfy every rule and regulation set forth by the US Dept. of Education to keep the money coming from the FEDS. Then they have to teach all on the same level while a class of 32 students may have 32 different levels. Also teachers do not take the time to sit down at home and call a parent to advise them of a problem their son or daughter is having like they used to do and finally, many parents do not care very much as long as the school keeps their kid during the day so they do not have to take a day off work to stay home with their child or take a day off to go to the child’s school. You get my drift Jack?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  111. Rob Slockbower

    The problem is we are using an out dated eduaction system and not engaging and capturing the attention and imagination of our youth. We have a nation of young people qualified to ask... "you want fries with that?"
    Sussex, NJ

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  112. Gary

    Education in this country won't improve until parents are held accountable for their childrens' education. But that will never happen because alot more parents vote than teachers.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  113. Kimberley, New York

    Maybe because we don't teach to learn, we teach to take a test. Standardized testing has caused gross tunnel vision removing the focus from the 3 R's.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  114. Zac

    I think many times we focus too much on the negative and not enough on copying the positive. I invite everyone to come out to Nixa, MO, and see how we are constantly achieving high standards with a low per-pupil expenditure and have been recognized by state organizations for that. Money isn't always the answer. We need it to buy things and repair buildings, but a good team consisting of teachers, administrators, and support staff can achieve what money can't buy...results!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  115. Felicia

    I teach post high school students and a vast majority of them cannot perform basic math calculations. Fractions are impossible for some and I recently have discovered that Roman Numerals have not been taught. I have also had several students not know how to read a ruler.
    Quite a shame indeed.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  116. Michelle

    I think it would be a great idea for there to be a National standard for public schools. My oldest child has one more year until she reaches 'school age' and just the thought of the level of education she will currently receive scares me to death. I would like to know that where ever we move in the country that my child will get the best education she can.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  117. Tuan Ta

    Hi Jack!

    What does that mean, you ask? It just goes to show that we're as dumb as we always was!

    Seriously, though, it shows that the system of keeping old, outdated teachers is not working. We need innovative, outcomes based programs that promote good teachers and get rid of bad ones, despite how long they're been working there. If you (or your students) don't perform, then you're out of a job.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  118. Val

    Well, Jack this sounds like a pretty good reason for the mess that we are in right now.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  119. Mike


    Funds for education are primarily raised from local property taxes. The schools with the most needs are the ones with the least funding, and we cut their funds when they don't perform and demand they act like business.

    Also parents are working to pay for healthcare, mortgages, and food costs decreasing the quality time spent with kids in this country. There use to be full time parents in those homes, and now they work. Its not a simple answer of money going in and good math skills coming out.

    "Teachers are protected." They don't earn anything. If educating the kids is so important, pay them more and stop complaining.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  120. Tim

    It means that the movie "Idiocracy" does have a lot of truth to it. If this keeps up, unemployment in the future will be extremely high, because people want to hire the best and brightest not some dim wit.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  121. NDP

    People still remain afraid to use the D word–discipline. Teachers are afraid of attacks from certain students and from lawsuits from parents.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  122. VeryConcerned

    I don't know that they have made any progress. It seems to me they have regressed. In the last 5 years, our high school students have become the most illiterate and grammatically-challenged group that I have ever seen. It is sad. They can't spell, can't read, can't even speak with proper grammar. On basic knowledge, they are severely lacking in all areas. I credit much of this to the parents. There is a tremendous difference in kids whose parents are involved and concerned and the ones whose parents just let them do as they please. School and education is of utmost importance in our home, because our kids are worth it.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  123. Joe, Los Angeles

    Why is the federal government involved in education at all? The Dept. of Education has done nothing since it was created except waste money. Leave public education to local governments rather than distant federal bureaucrats.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  124. Jenk Stephenson

    Parents are the problem in education but no one wants to say it. Parents set the tone for their kid's standards and their bar is set way too low.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  125. Sly, Alpena, Mi

    It just shows how dumb America is.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  126. Jasmine-Spokane, WA

    The real problem is because the programs being used in high schools do not teach what is needed to be used in college. If our schools actually taught us to think as an individual and not in groups we would have a chance of graduating college. I am a senior in high school taking a college prep math class, I remember some of the stuff I am learning now from the seventh grade. Schools in my district have discovery based learning which does not work in all subjects. This is just depriving us of a valuable education, it isn't primarily the teacher's fault, it's the system that they have to follow.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  127. James

    I'm not sure how to answer since I apparently didn't do well in high school english. I thought my diploma said I did but I'm not the expert.

    I know what the problem is: too much focus on dominating the world oil reserves, pushing democracy into other countries and completely ignoring the needs of schools, teachers and students. We need more qualified teachers and yet the government, that supposedly works for us, ignores everything we tell them.

    Must be because their english is better than ours.


    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  128. John Becker from LA

    Just think, mmm... When teaching a subject, like math, you really think, Did the formulas and postulates change much in 30-40 years. So why would student achievement be up? Math is still taught the way back in 70s, like it should.

    J Becker
    Las Angeles, CA

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  129. SY, Oviedo, FL

    You can't teach anyone to think if one teaches a test. The overall goal of public education in this new century has been anti-classical, anti-content, and anti-reasoning. What young people today take home from school is simply the value of having a correct answer, not the thrill of discovering one.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  130. Jay

    You failed to mention one important factor in your discussion. You can't place all of the blame on teachers and administrators. At some point parents have to play a role is a child's success too. Also, the politics and bureaucracy in education does nothing but hinder the process and usually do not have students best interests in mind.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  131. Jason

    Texas has no teacher unions and we still lag behind. It is wrong to blame the the teachers. The idea that all kids should go to college has made us dumb down the curriculum, those kids need options other than academics so we can focus on those that want to be there. Stop blaming the schools and look at the society. Tell someone your a teacher sometime and see how they respond, most common will be " Why would you do that?" or "Those that can't teach". If you don't respect the people willing to do YOUR JOB of education your children than don't complain when your kids don't learn.


    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  132. bill burch

    Jack, I'm a 52 year old graduate student (MA Photography.) I graduated high school in 1974. Seeing young college students today I believe they are less educated than I received in my public school education in Los Angeles way back when. We're too afraid to hurt someone's feelings so we pass them on to the next grade without requiring they learn. Too much TV and video games and not enough homework and consequences.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  133. Josh from Chicago

    As a educational administrator, I'm offended that you don't think we don't work as hard as teachers. The problem with education today is that we teach kids to take tests and not for learning. Get rid of the scan-trons and #2 pencils

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  134. Debra

    Is is amazing how much misinformation permeates understanding testing results. The class of 1979 is not the class of 2009 and the tests have changed – it is uninformed person that thinks these tests can be compared for any meaningful conclusions.

    Can we do better? Yes. Will more tests help us get there? Obviously, No.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  135. Elias from California

    Its pretty simple!!! Education is not a monetary priority for politicians, some parents and some education administrators!!!
    We are supposed to be a super power! A superpower of what????
    Pretty soon a superpower of (how do you spell it?) iliterates ( I think thats how you spell it)........................

    April 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  136. Delia

    It says that when families were forced to have 2 incomes, we neglected our children. We allowed day cares to instill values in our children that they were incapable of doing. Let's face it - most day cares are available just to corral kids. Parents were too tired or too busy to pay much attention to their children. Of course, this situation was even worse for all of the single parents out there. High school problem start earlier than junior high! To fix this national dilemma, parents need to reinforce the positive aspects of education to their children.

    PS: This may be hard to do right now, since even those who have degrees can't get jobs!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  137. Al

    Jack, I worked with a college student and when his cellphone died he could not tell the time on the analog clock on the wall. It was near quiting time but he admitted he had no clue on how to read a clock with hands. I am surprised that skill levels actually went up at all in 40 years. It seems like just the opposite.
    Peachtree City, GA

    April 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  138. Dieter Heymann

    Because too many parents blame only the "system" but care too little to get truly involved with their children themselves.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  139. maggie from NJ

    The methods used to teach haven't changed for 40 years either. There's a saying about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
    All kids have different aptitudes and those are the things that should be encouraged. If a kid hates math there's nothing that's going to make him/her love it. If a kid loves reading nothing will stop him. Feed into the positive. Change the way we teach and get different results.
    So to answer your question – The state of education is the same as it was 40 years ago. Dull.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  140. Rex Phelps

    Don't blame the teachers. Florida is overblown with admin salaries for people who are not really qualified. They have an M.Ed., but little or no leadership skill. I teach urban, low socio-economic youth and we have missed the boat in my county. Our reading level is 34% reading at grade level and we are pushing AP courses. That's quite similiar to the "let them eat cake" philosophy of Marie Antoinette. We are not meeting the wants and needs of the low end kid, and there are more of them than there are Merit Scholars. Don't look for the Achievement Gap to close anytime soon!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  141. george

    it all begins at home........lack of giudence and a parent(s) that is involved tranlates into children who are not interested in school or even a higher edgucation.

    to me this is just another sypmtom of were we have come as a society over the past thirty plus years...fat,lazy, in debt up to our eyeballs,broke and just plain dumb.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  142. Philip

    Maybe, on average, people just aren't all that smart. We maxed them out in the 70's. All the extra effort and money spent since the 70's is like trying to pour a gallon of knowledge into quart size brains. It just flows out onto the ground.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  143. Dorothy Richey

    Jack. I was a business teacher for 30 years, teaching Finance, Business Math, and Practical Skills for Life (checking, taxes, etc.) Business Math was dropped from the curriculum because the math department claimed the students needed more Calculus and College Math. The enrollment in the Finance and Practical Skills classes declined because the school added other electives, such as Sports Broadcasting and WII fitness. Is it any wonder that our students haven't improved when schools are so focused on everything that looks good on paper (percentage of graduates going on to college) and what is fun for the students? Thank goodness I'm retired.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  144. Vinayak

    Hi Jack,

    I enjoy the comments people post on your blog and your opinions on "Situation Room". Subject of Education is close to my heart and thought to write my first comments.

    I am an immigrant and came here for my Graduate studies in Engineering. Back home we spent 2$ per child per month unlike thousands here and yet majority have great math skills. I feel it is not the money that is causing the problem it is the attitude of parents and teachers. You cant get good math skills unless you work hard on it. The whole American education system tries to reduce the education burden trying to make things easier. How will someone be good in math when he start using calculator at 6-7th grade? Back home it was in Grad school that you were allowed any calculators.


    April 30, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  145. Beth Fox

    It says, among other things, that our best universities need to encourage their best students to go into teaching. My son graduated Cum Laude, in the '80s, from Duke. He wanted to go into teaching, but his profs discouraged this. He went on to get his PhD in physics, went the suit route, and has finally returned to his first love ... teaching.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  146. Hooker Jay

    Jack, these results reflect that the corporate elites that fund and bankroll education are getting exactly what they wanted - a return on their investments in the form of a dumbed down illiterate work force of wage-slave consumption addicts content with their breads, circuses, happy meals, American Idol, video game consoles, HTDVs, and FOX NEWS pill-poppin' pundits. No critical thinking skills whatsoever! It keeps them on the plantation ...

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  147. Doug Ruffier, Butte, MT

    In America we love to talk about how inferior our schools are, yet we never stop comparing ourselves to foreign countries with completely different systems, apples and oranges, Jack. You also insist on perpetuating the myth that bad teachers can't be fired. My wife who was an adminsitrator fired bad tenured teachers. Was it work? Yes, is there something wrong with that? Administrators who sit in their offices don't know who is doing well and who is not, but that is where you will find most of them. Just like NCLB, we can not expect all students to perform at high levels. Perhaps we have reached our max.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  148. Laura, CA

    Given the changed nature of the student population in our schools, nearly 25% English Language Learners in CA and classes of almost 40 students for example, it's remarkable that our students have made improvements at all since the 70s! The challenges of educating our children are very different than they were 40 years ago. Keep in mind also that this shows that our students are doing just as well now as they were back then, not worse, as the standardized testing advocates like to claim. Our nations schools are not failing, and in order to really succeed we need to focus the money where it can be most helpful, in keeping our classes smaller and focused on the individual, not on more mandated testing.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  149. Angela Tacoma Washington

    Most schools still have the same teachers from the seventies...that is why they too should have to take a test or upgrade skills, then parents need to make sure they are doing their part and stop counting on the school system to do it all most parents have not read a book since high school....

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  150. Jennifer C.

    As a special education teacher in a public school, I can tell you that there are some great students and great teachers out there. However, I don't have much time for my students who are actually interested in learning because I have to deal with severe behavior issues from the rest of my students. I've been kicked, punched, spit on, bitten, and called every name in the book. I've got students whose parents are in and out of jail, are illiterate, are nasty to me, and simply don't care about their kids. So before people start complaining about the state of their schools, how about looking in the mirror and honestly thinking about whether YOU as the parent are the real problem!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  151. Duop in Colorado

    Jack, the reason why those kids haven't improve their skills in math and reading is because their government failed them for too long. All locals, States, and federal governments must come up with a competetive way that can attract students to participate in math and reading.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  152. Marge

    Jack, it's HOME, HOME, HOME, not school, school, school, that has failed. When the parents in a home do not value education ABOVE ALL ELSE, including sports, TV, etc...., kids have no desire or impetus to learn. WAKE UP PARENTS, not the poor teachers who are struggling with discipline problems, attention deficits, drugs and God knows what else. PLEASE, STOP PICKING ON TEACHERS AND PLACE THE BLAME SQUARELY WHERE IT BELONGS...IN HOMES THAT DO NOT VALUE EDUCATION.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  153. Terry Moran

    Those who are quick to jump on the poor test results from our high schools need to look in the mirror to find the primary source of these problems. It's our broken, disfunctional families that explain most of the poor test results.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  154. Sheri in Tennessee

    Jack, it says that in this country, we no longer value what an education does for us, like allow for personal growth and the ability to see things beyond our own perspective. What we do value is our electronic bling, and everyone knows that you don't have to have an education to acquire it. I guess education just isn't as sexy as a blackberry.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  155. Peggy Moore

    To me it says we need to look at "Lesson Plans" "School Funding" and "Tenure"

    Peggy Moore- Greeneville, Tennessee

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  156. Dave

    Well, Jack, here in Florida teachers seem very motivated in teaching one subject: sex education. And the seem to be willing to teach first hand after class. Yes, teachers deserve better pay. But we need a better class of teachers before we can have a better class of students. The unions representing these felons ARE a big part of the problem.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  157. Bill

    Look no farther than to the interests of American youth – NASCAR, soaps, reality shows, extreme cage fighting, rap stars, violent movies . . and on and on. In comparison, math and science must seem pretty boring.
    So does the solution have to involve restrictions on what can be on TV or in the movies, like in the 50s ? ? Or are we doomed to suffer the ills that complete "Freedom of Speech" spawns?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  158. Louis

    I am a young high school social studies teacher in Orlando. I too was amazed at how low our students reading is. What most people don't understand is that merit pay is not realistic and is not fair for all teachers. All teachers have students of varying levels. Teachers should be assessed by their administrators and the administrator should determine a raise not a test. The saddest aspect of our education system today is that I have students who are limited English proficient and they take the same test IN ENGLISH, all they are given is a Spanish-English dictionary and we are told to hope for the best. Sadly, many children are being LEFT BEHIND to politicians should not dictate education policy but teachers and education professionals should make these changes not POLITICIANS IE No child Left Behind!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  159. Tam Warner Minton

    What does it say? It says many things: education is not a priority in most states, in most families, or for most people. America is quickly getting to the point where we will not be able to compete in a global marketplace. As a former university Lecturer, I can tell you that college freshman are woefully unprepared. They cannot write well, and they do not have the basic knowledge one would expect for a first year college student.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  160. Lisa Wyatt

    It's yet another indicator of culrural decline...Those who can escape public education, do. Those left are stymied both by negligent parents, low or no expectations and a host of system challenges. Blaming the schools alone is far too simplistic. It's a combination of expectations by adults and communities as well as motivation and persistence by students and families. It certainly predicts a tough, rough life for those kids who finish high school and aren't prepared. Moreover, it generates a huge expense for taxpayers and others if remedial education is required in local community colleges. Tragic? Yes, we get only a few important years to attend to human development via public education....Where's the action plan?

    Dr. Lisa

    April 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  161. Jose Federico

    The fact is you can't talk about "Education in America" because the federal government has not unified academic standards nation wide. Rather the appropriate question (within today's academic policy) is how is education in Arizona, or Michigan, or Florida.

    In order to have an American Education system we need unified guidelines and benchmarks for all schools, which means increased federal funding for public schools and higher education institutions. We can spend trillions funding unpopular global policies, but not educating the generations to come.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  162. Frank

    This is misleading. The material required for students to learn has increased dramatically over 30 years. Right now, what we expect our high school students to learn was not even taught till they got to college even just 20 years ago. Compared to other nations, we are treadding water over the last 30 years. If we can get parents to take responcibliity for thier kids, teachers would be able to teach them and not have to spend so much time with dicipline and can actually teach.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  163. Iain M. Guthrie

    There has been no perceivable change in the abilities of High School students since the 1970s because parents have stopped caring about their children's education; their kid wants to watch MTV instead of doing homework? OK. Want to go out with friends instead of studying for a test? OK. Don't have a definite plan after High School? Ok. But, I wouldn't be so hard on the US – almost all (non-Scandinavian) countries in Europe have exactly the same problem.
    Iain M. Guthrie, an (Oklahoman) English teacher, living and working in Germany.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  164. Max in NJ

    Jack I think we need to raise the standards of students in this country. Learning standards should go up over time based on the advance of the national development. I've been told this nation is developed, but that doesn't mean that American standards of education and standards of living should stop going up. Every day there is more to be known in the world, more discovered, so why aren't the nation's children learning? We are already reforming health care, maybe the state of the nation's educational system needs some reform of its own.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  165. Kermit

    I am a sophmore in high school, My school does not have a library, enough computers, old books, and the roof leaks. Yet we did have enough money to spend on a new football statium, and gym equipment.

    It seems sometimes that our education is not the schools top priority

    April 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  166. Skip Dunbar

    I know how to increase skill levels and eliminate high school drop out reates all together. If you need to withhold driving privilages from teens who do not graduate high school, you can almost guarantee that your teen will want to stay in school. Other incentives can be put in place for students as well to increase skills scores. It isn't that the students do not want to learn...sometimes you need to "dangle the carrot" in front of them to get them to want it. Most of us with a modicum of common sense knows what needs to be done. We just need to knuckle down and do it.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  167. Marko from Redlands CA

    Well Jack thats not a very simple question to answer. There are many factors involved in the process of educating a child, but the major issue here is the education itself. My cousin worked as a teachers aid in a public school and than quit to pursue other interests, because of how emarrassingly unqualified many of the teachers were. Infact many of them were not very concerned with educating children, and were far too concerned with collecting a paycheck.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  168. Roman Deutsch, Butler, PA

    It says, our students are lazy and dumb. It says the school system needs to get creative. It also says that maybe two parents making a living is not the way to go. If one parent was constantly at home hounding their kids about their school work, America wouldn't be in this situation. Then again, if the Arts were paid more attention too and used specifically to enhance a child's reading, mathematical skills and science then maybe our children would learn more. It's a proven fact that a great artist incorporates geometry into his or her paintings and music is definitely in the math game. Creativity is the name of the game to get our kids involved in learning reading, writing and arithmetic.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  169. JoAnn C in San Diego CA

    Jack, I think it's a number of factors. Many of our kids now feel priviledged and are too busy on their cell phones texting, playing their Wii and watching too much TV to get any homework in. They're now after school activities everywhere and the "two" parents who work are too pooped when they get home to help their kids. I just think the mind set of excellence in education was lost along the way. Hopefully Obama will turn things around in the next few years as he's always speaking how parents need to be the most important factor in the school experience of their child.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  170. Keiva


    I believe that students haven't made progress in reading or math since the 70's because in reading, schools no longer teach phonics, the basics of pronunciation. If children know how to break words down to pronunciate it helps them in reading and spelling. Since they struggle with the very basics it frustrates them to learn. As far as math goes schools need to again focus on the basics and not pass and promote children until they have a solid foundation. We are promoting children because school teachers and administrators, like some parents, just want to get rid of the children who are having difficulty, not realizing we are throwing away our future. We need to return to the basics of learning.

    Columbus, Ohio

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  171. Michelle

    What this says is that we need to take a hint from systems such as Japan's! The only way we're going to improve learning is to make school more challenging – lengthen the school year, stop grade inflation, and make these kids really work for their grades so that real learning can occur. Additionally, all schools across the nation should get the exact amount of money, penny for penny, per child to help level the playing field.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  172. Janice in Plainview, TX

    It's not the teaching. It's the parenting. I see my grandchildren who go to the best schools but rarely hear the word NO from their parents. They watch too much TV and have too many video games are are always having trouble in schhol. I agree with the President. Why can't any one else seem to hear him?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  173. Mikey B

    Because educators are taking the wrong approach! Students should be praised and celebrated for succeeding. Teachers should know the names of their students and take interest in their dreams. If students misbehave, they're put on Ritalin and thrown in the ADD program, instead of just seeing a counselor and helped to improve. Boys and girls are taught in the same classrooms when it's been proven different teaching strategies are required for both. Pumping money into schools is not enough, it's how the students are treated and respected by their elders.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  174. Paula, Shelby, NC

    Jack, it's not students' or teachers' inepititude – it's the influence of pop culture pressures and ACCREDITATION agencies. In the Southeast, it's the So. Assoc. of Colleges & Schools (SACS). Schools have to jump through all kinds of unnecessary hoops – financially and timewise – to satisfy some of their inane requirements. As a biology teacher, I don't have sufficient time to explain SEX because of SACS! Which is more important?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  175. S. Spilka

    Mr. Cafferty,
    How about Internet addiction which destroys reading and writing abilities as well as other cognitive functions? Sure, teachers must be held to account, but what about the students? Why are they not held to account? Why don't we insist that they be diligent and disciplined? Frontline created a program on this problem, and it should be a subject for national debate. Kids are caught in cyberspace and have great difficulty detaching themselves from their secret cyber tunnels, where they get support from friends who encourage their worst tendencies. It is time to pay attention.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  176. Joseph Wardy...Randolph, NJ

    As a retired high school teacher, the answer to this dilemma consists of a variety of factors. First, the system of teacher unions promote the rights of teachers without the accountability. Tenured teachers employing "on the job retirement" are protected at the expense of the kids.

    We are also experiencing a "dumbing down" of America stemming from a false sense of self esteem telling kids they are doing great when in fact they are not and hence the practice is a disservice.

    Lastly, the revolution of the computer with texting and its instant gratification is killing off creativity . Our education system is not teaching our kids "how" to think.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  177. StevNYC

    Of course American students aren't progressing in education. Just look at postings on blogs & other places the public writes, the adult population can't write, read, or apparently think in a deductive or organized way. Teachers are not alone in the blame for this, parents who are not aware that their 17 year old child can't read write or do math are first in the guilty line. If you decided to have a child & raise it, you have an obligation to that child. That he/she get every opportunity possible for a good life. It is the parents' obligation to assure that their children are getting a good education, clearly this has not been a priority.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  178. debbie vaishnav

    As a teacher I am tired of taking all the blame for the lack of education of our students. I spend hours and hours each week grading papers, writing power points and working to make my classes more interesting to my students, but I find that they are more interested in anything but learning. Why should they care about education, our society is not focused on education. Our schools receive more calls about the sporting events and when they are scheduled than any calls about student learning. I would be thrilled if education was a priority for everyone, it would make my life easier.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  179. Ben V

    Were failing high schools because we gotta fund an enormous array of people. We try to use gimmicks & cheap unengaging curriculums to quickly shuffle out graduates. I think we nuture kids too much, what ever happened to failing a test or losing a game? We pretty much made it ok to be dumb.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  180. Charlie from Tennessee

    Jack, my wife recently retired from being a speech and language therapist with the local county. Over the years, her rate of promoting students from needing therapy was always very high, but also over the years there was an ever increasing administrative burden. It seems that bureaucracy needs to justify itself by requiring more forms and paper work which means less time with the students. The shame is not that we have a bureaucracy sucking money from the system, but that it also takes away from those doing the job.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  181. VeryConcerned

    Tony from Torrington......EXACTLY. Teachers no longer are allowed to teach, they are required to indoctrinate our children. I agree with your view exactly. But also, with social services becoming more and more involved, teachers and schools are no longer allowed to discipline children in any way, and neither are parents. Abuse and discipline are nowhere near the same thing, and never will be. The government tries to raise our children instead of letting the parents be parents. I do, however, also believe that families who put value on their kids' education lead the pack, because the kids naturally pick up on the importance of knowledge and work to achieve better for themselves. Ask me how I know.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  182. Elizabeth

    Hi Jack,

    More expected outcomes is not the answer. Many parents are forgetting that they are a big part of the equation (no pun intended) in their child's success. Teachers can teach until they are blue in the face, but if their students are not following up with their homework and taking courses that challenge their ability because they are not receiving pressure from home to do so, they are not going to choose to challenge their learning. My parents were not involved when I was younger. They told me to take "college prep" courses, and study everyday, yet I still took easier courses because at the time I did not want to work hard. A parent needs to be in their child's business in every capacity. If we want our children to make more progress than we did, we need to be involved – we should not place all of the responsibility on our overworked teachers who only have a finite time with our children.

    Thanks. Elizabeth – Ann Arbor MI

    April 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  183. Robin Eller

    Before we get too busy blaming teachers, we should remember that the most important teachers a child has are the parents.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  184. ALLAN

    i dont know jack i grad-u ated in 83 i can read and write and do math just fine quite frankly i dont buy it.....there are not alot of college graduates that dont have 2 cents worth of street smarts and we can all invent a test no one can pass we have M.C.A.S. here in MASS..and the test had more flaws in it than u can shake stick at right answers grade wrong several times this happend so the test show nothing to me and the results from who ever you got this question from

    April 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  185. Matt from St. Louis, MO

    As a recent high school graduate (2008), I can say that the problems begin in the elementary schools. Teachers are pressured to pass students in order to keep their jobs and pay checks. It saddens me to know that students that I went to school with still couldn't read at a high school level or even tell time, let alone do algebra.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  186. Bill

    Scores in education have not risen because we insist that everyone has the same ability level. Education has made gains, but these gains are masked by students who are told by school administrators that they can acheive anything they want. Well, not everyone can, and we need to accept that some students will fail – not simply change the grading criteria.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  187. Chris Battles

    As Junior In College and an education major, I've experienced the reason for this first hand for a decade and a half.

    Two reasons:
    1 – Students are learning test to test, cramming information into short term memory – no long term learning or application.
    2 – GREAT teachers inspire students to realize that class is not a chore like doing dishes... great teachers are great people who can't put up with the bureaucracy and BS from government and administration.

    Chris Battles,
    State University of New York; Potsdam

    April 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  188. Kevin; Havertown, Pennsylvania

    This lack of improvement means that our education system has fallen dangerously behind. Our schools are giving kids little practical intelligence, and it is because of our broken system. We need a complete change in the way we see education, or when the students of today become the leaders of tomorrow, America won't have a fighting chance at maintaining it's stature.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  189. William H

    Teachers are always the first ones blamed. It is very difficult to make someone who is 14, 15, 16, etc.,do something that they refuse to do. All of the consequences that teachers once could hold over their students has been taken away. Lets place the blame where it belongs...on the students and parents.

    William H
    Mobile, AL

    April 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  190. t damiano

    1970– Here in the we had a powerful military, NASA program had achieved greatness, health care was affordable to the masses, our cars we're the best, we for the most part, were respected by all. Take a look at recent US history and it would take a fool not to see a pattern. We are fat, slow, and content to sit and allow our country to collapse from within. Is anyone surprised that our schools are no better than the crumbling infrastructure?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  191. Susan

    Ever wonder why education is never number one in a national poll? Adults don't get it when it comes to the importance of teaching our children in this country! Maybe we should rename our problems with education as "education flu" and have the CDC raise the situation to a level 6 as the pandemic of complacency continues to rise when it comes to our children's education!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  192. joyce

    If our students would spend as much time getting educated as they do with all the other events of high school, they would get educated.
    When did excelling in band, sports, making bulletin boards, editing the yearbook, selling candy bars, setting up recognition dinners, planning clothing & accessories for the day, etc., etc?
    Ask an experienced teacher: are the teachers completing the textbook each year. My children's teachers admitted that over the years, they were getting fewer & fewer chapters done due to time taken away from classroom time.
    Our students are not be encouraged to learn, to read, to inquire. Instead it is how soon can we get out of school, skip our homework, & go to work. Our families have to be asking for more in-depth education. Instead of extra cirricular activities, that time should go into reading, learning, & improving their education.
    There is a lot of room for improvement in our school systems.

    From the administration of schools, why not let the states set the calendar, the curriculum, order supplies across the state. Each district is not qualified to set-up independent school policies & economies. Do it on a state level or on a regional level. Each school district could select some variations within the regional plan, but the standards should be set at a high level.

    Yes, our student are great at making videos, but we need them to be able to read the Federal Papers, do advanced Math, & understand more history of our world. Anything that you can do, Jack, to bring this information to the appropriate venue, please do. Our students need your intervention.
    JOYCE, mother of three adult children

    April 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  193. Sanford Bishop

    Presumably the scores are for students still in school. How about the 40% of teens who do not even graduate from high school? What a waste of our potential. As a 30+ year of teacher of graduate students, post bachelor degree, I have seen our graduate program progressively filled with foreign students. Why? Because there are no applicants from American students. Little wonder that we are not able to compete with the other countries in the world. Our society appears to covet the multimillion dollar fees earned by sports players, entertainers, and "entrepenuers". What has happened to the good old standard of working and saving in a steady job for 30+ years to earn a good retirement?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  194. bob

    Simply put, the schools systems have to go back to the basics and built on them. I spoke to several teachers about this when my daughter was in school and they found them to boring to teach. The result, exspecially in English, she can not write or express herelf as well as she wants. She fells the education system failed her. Basics basics basics.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  195. Marilyn Klaiber, Clifton Park, NY

    In NY, there is so much teaching to tests EVERY year, that there is not enough time for TEACHING!!!! I have a daughter, now a top collegiate graduate, who left NY to go to a private HS, thanks to a great aunt, as she wanted in depth learning and a small class size. The advanced kids here were like sardines in their classes and did not even have time to ask questions. Right now, my youngest is in college and I am surprised at how well she is doing! Public schooling did not help her and I thank God I have naturally bright daughters. However, my son is one who fell through the cracks due to a learning disability that was not easily detected but my pediatrician felt was real. By then, my son was labeled as lazy and turned off by the educational system. I am an educator and am upset by what the state reductions and mandatory testing have done to tie teachers hands. Now, further cuts are going to make things worse for our students, our nations future and those who will be providing the monies to sustain the Social Security system!!!!!!!! If they are not well educated, then they will not get good jobs to make the money to add to this fund so their parents will have benefits at retirement!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  196. Joel

    Maybe it's not the students nor the teachers, rather it be the methods used. The way students are taught have essentially not changed since the 1970's, so the scores should be no surprise to anyone. Do the same thing get the same result... Isn't that how it works? I think it's time for schools to innovate and get with times.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  197. Mike, TN

    Bad genes.
    Disinterested parents.
    Peer pressure.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  198. Nick

    I graduated high school in 2007 and my opinion is that learning has become about cutting corners and just getting good grades. These kids could care less about what they learn, parents and other people have put extreme pressure on children to get good grades and because of this pressure, the actual learning has been pushed aside. There are two ways to get an A, you can actually learn something or you can memorize facts the night before a test and forget them within the next week and that is what is happening now. We need to put an emphasis back on what is actually learned and not just the grades.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  199. Mikyle

    Jack, what your stating is a severe problem. I am currently a senior at a New York high school. I believe the reason you dont see much of an increase is because of how excrusheatingly harder they made the work! I look around and see that manyof my friends cannot make it through this new millenium system. Its not that were dumb their trying to keep us up with the same standards as Chinese students and many students stuggle so bad they just drop out, and thats good for everyone....right?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  200. Dan Orellano

    It is astounding to me that the Obama Administration's goal is to simply increase the number of high school graduates rather than increasing the number of graduates that can read, write, and do math. And we wonder why the teachers union doesn't want teacher testing. They can't read, write, or do math either.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  201. John Fullam

    Dear Sir, Is it possible that maybe the students have not failed at the task of learning, not the teachers failing at teaching. Maybe it is the fact that the curriculum in a whole is out dated and past it's time. i know that the schools these days are more concerned with getting a passing grade on the apptitude tests that are put in place by a board of education that lower the bar of knowledge to make their schools look better. Maybe the "No Child Left Behind Act", while it's heart is in the right place, it is the worst thing that has happened to our nations schools. It forces teachers to lower the standards of what would be quality education, to accomadate weaker students therefore wasting the time of exceptional and average students class time. thank you for reading yours truly John from New Jersey.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  202. Stephen Charchuk

    The problem is that American culture puts too much on standard of living and not enough on quality of life. If you want to see what this means take a look at Canada where quality of life is far more important. Our education system is also ranked one of the highest in the world as well.

    I feel sorry for Americans who still foolishly believe that being socialized is evil. Our banks didn't fail.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  203. Debbie Coffey

    I speak as an educator. What the statistics say is that there needs to be national curriculum standards and a national completion exam in order for students to receive a high school diploma! The same requirement should hold for teachers before they can even enter a classroom.

    No need to reinvent the wheel. Choose the state with the best student results, use that state's standards and make it the rule of the land. Kids rise up to any expectation that is set as long as there are teachers who are willing - and who know how - to get them there.

    Having said that, a national standard would be a political death-wish.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  204. Joe S

    As a highschool student and son of a teacher, it is very easy for me to see the flaws in the system. Teachers are confined to a cirriculum, a book and standardized tests. To some extent, the students even confine them: To get into to college, good grades are necessary and therefore anything extremely difficult or progressive is simply not taught because on a test the average grade is likely to be low. In addition, teachers confine students to novel historical facts and theorems that are simply irrelevant. So even if a student desires progress, their grades must suffer due to the time that is needed to memorize or understand them. This is what all this regulation due to an influx of funds has produced, and I'm stuck in it: college or relevancy? The fact that this is the choice says it all.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  205. Michelle, Madison, Wi.

    Dear Jack,

    As a mother of four with two in college, I can tell you what some of the problems are. One is that teachers (even the good ones) are practically prohibited to work with children efficiently. They have a quota of assignments and courses they must meet within a certain time frame regardless of their class size. They literally are forces to cram and shove assignments and courses at these kids in such a fast pace that they spend their grading time at home every night and are unable to take the time required to actually "teach" these children.

    We need a complete over-hall of our education system and we need to find a way to get more parents to participate. It's unfortunate but the fact is that not enough parents take the time to work with their children on learning.
    Thank you,
    Michelle – Madison, Wisconsin

    April 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  206. in the trenches

    Jack, stop blaming teachers! I have a Ed.S (specialist degree) and National Board Certification. Guess what – After 21 years in education, I'm at the top of my pay scale at $61,000. per year. The state I live in just changed the law and reduced my National Board Bonus by 3,500.00 a year. The National Board bonus the state promised they would pay for 10 years (the life of my certificate).
    The school I teach at has 90% of students in poverty, little parental involvement, and lots of students with behavior problems.
    These students are worried about mom or dad in jail or going to jail – where will I sleep tonight – willl I get dinner tonight. And yet we are expected that these students will achieve as well if not better than those in middle class homes.
    I'm not saying it can't be done – I'm saying we need schools with social workers, health care centers, food pantries, and psychologist to help with the enormous task schools have in front of them.
    Please, come volunteer at an inner city school. Wrap your arms around schools who are trying to make a difference instead of bashing teachers and making teacher morall lower than it already is!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  207. Lee In Minnesota


    In traditional words, it is in the toilet. I am happy we now have a smart President that is making education a high priority. Our country demands on it for our future. I think the last Administration was focusing on outsourcing it to some foreign country.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  208. Darrell, Washington DC

    Does it really matter if our scores are higher or not, anyway? As has been stated before, outside of a relatively few number of intellectuals, much of what people learn in school (And what is tested by these tests) doesn't reflect what most people need in real life. Does a surgeon really need to know the symbolism behind Hamlet? Does a Kindergarten Teacher need to know the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus? Does a Real Estate Agent need to know the reaction mechanisms for Organic synthesis reactions?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  209. joel hamilton

    It says, as Bertrand Russell wrote in 1911, that our industrial capitalist democracy is interested in having our general population's educational levels only high enough for workers to be useful. Too much education supports too much independence of thought.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  210. Steve Taylor

    During my 31 years of high school teaching, I have seen MOST of our resources and attention shift to the goal of getting large numbers of mediocre students to pass tests of minimal competency. The motive behind No Child Left Behind, as well as our Ohio state tests, was noble, but overly simplistic. In practice, the effect has been to work hard to achieve large-scale mediocrity, completely neglecting the brightest. Statistically, of course, that makes it very difficult to pull national average scores UP...

    April 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  211. jackson


    1) Because the school populations are saturated with undereducated students (meaning below the level they should be), many of which are here illegally.
    2) Schools are unable to enforce discipline.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  212. Terry

    So why are kids supposed to be smarter today than in the 70's??? I am a product of the 70's and I don't believe that kids of today's generation are any smarter than I am/was. As a school teacher myself I see many students that are extremely bright but they are no smarter that the smartest kids I went to school with myself.

    Kids do face a lot of problems, however I don't think anymore than we did – but the problems just seem bigger to them. They have less developed coping skills, they have less developed skills in seeing problems in the abstract and that are less mature than kids of our generation at their same age. Additionally, they have no strong role models to model their behavior from.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  213. Carol

    How can we expect students test scores to improve if their IQ's
    aren't also improviing? I don't believe that our teachers are any worse
    than they were 40 years ago.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  214. Deborah Maszka

    Jack, Jack, Jack, what it says is that those who hold the strings of power in the field of education, refuse to let go.I substitute in both elementary and secondary schools and hold autism certification for special education in the state of Wisconsin. What I see on a daily basis would curl your hair. The curriculum has been dumbed down and teachers now want to be friends to their studentss rather than holding the kids' feet to the fire for homework and class participation. Parents don't back up the teachers who are trying. We have tinkered around on the edges of the problems but real change takes courage.
    Our whole system, unions included, needs to be scrapped and we need to face the fact that more time and effort – not more money needs to be dedicated to this problem. I would love the chance to be a part of that discussion!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  215. L. E. Burnette

    I'm 45 year old grad student in social studies education and a retired firefighter. I can tell you what's wrong with education; politics! The politically motivated law known as NCLB has restrained us from teaching higher order thinking by forcing us to teach "Jeopardy" style so that the kids can pass the fragmented quiz questions that make up a standardized test. As a professional firefighter I did not have politicians and others coming up and telling me how to extinguish a blaze, but everyone seems to think that they are professional educators! Go to a federal system of funding schools so that we don't have one public school with $500 per student while another gets $5,000, then let professional educators do their jobs without all of the B. S. of subjective standardized testing and the rest of NCLB.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  216. Dennis Jansen

    Kids haven't advanced and of course we find all the excuses: it's the administrators fault, we can't get rid of bad teachers, we don't pay enough for good teachers.
    That's all B.S.!
    Lets get rid of the bleeding heart school boards and put folks on those boards who will let the teachers know THEY not the teachers unions that run the schools.
    Make testing of teachers mandatory! If the students are failing, send the teacher to remedial training with no salary increases.
    Automatic salary increases does not encourage the teacher to better themselves.
    Use the military standards, if the majorty of the students are failing it is the instructor tha is not doing an adequate job and is replaced.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  217. Jennie from Tampa

    As a teacher for 37 years these are some reasons:
    Parents not making education a priority.
    Many parents don't read and don't read to their children.
    Too much TV, video games and internet.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  218. Bonnie Warren

    Well, it certainly is easy to blame it on the teachers and the administrators and while there certainly are poor teachers and adminsitrators, the real problem is the inability to fail students who deserve to fail – they know they'll be passed on regardless of their performance, so why try?

    The real problem is the refusal of parents to let their children reap any consequences for their lack of effort and for their behavior.

    The real problem is widespread parent unwillingness to take any responsibility upon themselves for knowing what's going on with a child's grades and behavior until the nth hour and then blame it on the school for not keeping them informed.

    The epidemic of parents defending what used to be indefensible prior to the '70's – from the failure of high school students to bring writing utensils and books to class to the lack of motivation, studying, reading and simply doing homework – ties the teachers' and schools' hands. . Nope, can't be the kid's fault; must be the teacher's.

    Until this attitude changes, there will be no improvement.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  219. Paul (Virginia)

    As a high school freshman living in the DC suburbs, I see a mix of ethnic backgrounds and people from all different walks of life and I can say that education has changed dramatically in recent years. We can spend all the money we want on education but test scores, student achivement will never get better unless we change the ideology of how the students learn and how the teachers teach. We must set higher standards for our work ethic and actually learn what we are being taught. Americans must live in a more proactive society and stop being so lazy.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  220. Beth

    We spend more time in schools addressing those issues that were formerly addressed by family, home and neighborhood environments, church, etc. than we spend on teaching basics of reading, writing, math, and critical thinking skills. In junior high and high school, the focus becomes popularity, sports, group acceptance, and relationship building rather than refining those higher order skills that can lead to productive employment (if college is not an option) or further education. As it stands now, more students must take "remedial" courses as they enter college just to be able to enter their first year. So, we haven't made progress since the 70's? It's because we don't value public education as a process that can lead to a productive citizenry. Rather, it is viewed as the substitute for what other institutions formerly addressed.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  221. Jane

    How about taking the legislature out of the classroom and let teachers teach? National Board Certified Teachers have proven that they can design an appropriate, challenging, and effective curriculum. I teach in a public high school program that blends high school and college classes. 98% of my students graduate with a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree concurrently.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  222. Shawn Johnson

    There are a few possible explanations for the lack of increasing scores. One is that there are now more immigrants, many of whom enter our school system without much formal education. This would mitigate any increases in scores by other sectors of the student body. A second explanation is that students today rely more on electronic computational devices and therefore do not practice their math skills as much as students in decades past. Lastly, there must be a natural limit as to how high any group can score on a set of tests, and it may be that the US student population has reached its natural limit. I would suspect the real answer is a combination of these three explanations.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  223. Patrick from Endicott, New York

    The current stimulus-response, classical-conditioning classroom management has been outdated for decades. Teachers who continue to utilize this fear-based approach only widen the distance between themselves and their students who will then resist formal education. After 18 years in the psychology field, I have never met a perfect person. When teachers demand unreasonable levels of behavioral perfection from students while they themselves model the "imperfect" behaviors of anger, intolerance, and distrust, what other testing results can they expect?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  224. Mia

    I work in a high school in New York City-and I see first hand that
    1-The supplies are minimal-no paper, no pens, no textbooks, no working computers.
    2-Teachers are always to blame-while administrators are the ones that are supposed to be in charge of curriculum, budget, and management of personnel-which they are not trained or prepared to do so.
    3-There are so few resources in New York City for people with both low incomes and no health benefits-such as mental health clinics for them to be referred to.
    4-When parents and guardians have never trusted the education system in our city and are not part of their child's education it is extremely difficult to get them involved.
    I would like to see both Wolf Blitzer or Jack Cafferty try to teach one class in my school amd see how long they last! Give us a break!!!!!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  225. John Miller Pace NY

    We are doomed as a society. Salaries are more important than ensureing our students are educated. Administrators are grossly overpaid. They have way too many on staff.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  226. Lejus

    One reason for the lack of progress is the lack of parental involvement in the education of the children. A good number of kids are left to their devices. They come home and plop down in front of a television with a remote control or a game controller.
    Another reason for the lack of progress is the constant change in educational laws and regulations. The worst change was No Child Left Behind. NCLB has placed pressures on school districts, administrators and teachers. Teachers are strongly encouraged to teach the test in order to achieve the necessary scores.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  227. walter collins

    The two largest factors are removed from the direct relationship of student learning and school administration updating curriculum (ii).
    1 – The thrust for ERA and the migration of mothers into the workforce, increased the roles of (1960-70s) television and a babysitter child care industry – hence the realization that neither alternative replaced the students home listening matron/device (mothers). 2 – School Boards having budgets that led them to commercializing lunchroom and classroom technologies without respecting the costly open classroom techniques which required more dedicated and educated educators.
    Kinda like flying in airplanes who awarded contracts only to low bidder!!!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  228. Ben V

    Jack, I graduated High School 5 years ago during my sophmore year using an online credit program. I would sit on a computer, press the next button a couple times, & the class is done. Gotta love our failing school system!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  229. Jerry

    Jack, they're fat lazy and their parents don't care as long as they are not bothered. As long as we teach things like dance, basket weaving, pottery, baton twirling, how to roll cigarettes and proper way to open a beer bottle don't expect the grades to improve, schools need to get back to the basics like math, science, english, civics and history, they also need to make all the little fat butter balls take physical education instead of visiting the candy machines between classes.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  230. Rachel Foy

    While it is true that there are some "dead beat" teachers, the great majority of teachers are dedicated professionals. While some school districts may be "top heavy" in administration, a strong and responsive administration is essential for leadership in education, just as it is in government and industry. As an experienced teacher for many years, I will tell you that the LACK of a STRONG STUDENT work ethic and the LACK of RESPECT for teachers (and adults) and, indeed, the process of education itself is MUCH more to blame for the current state of our educational woes. Fixing the crisis in education cannot rely so heavily on just teachers and schools – students and parents need to shoulder a great deal of responsibility. Parental support is woefully inadequate in too many cases – especially in high school students.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  231. Dave Borish

    Unless a child goes home to an environment where education is stressed you won't see scores increase. Education is a partnership between the home and school. With all the single parent homes who is reading to the children at home? Who is making sure that their homework is done? With 40% of children currently being born out of wedlock this problem will only get worse. It's too easy to blame the teacher when the problem is actually societal.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  232. Karl from SF, CA

    Over the years we have repeatedly cut back on education funding to the point that the next couple of cuts will amount to shutting the schools down altogether. More importantly, parents need to get involved with their kids education and schools need to stop promoting failing students. Is there still such a thing a summer school to make up classes failed? Kids are going down the production line of education, but they aren’t getting all the part they need when they get to the end, real life.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  233. Charlie

    When schools quit making students behave, when a teacher couldn't make a student do what she/he wanted them to do without hurting the student's rights, when the schools quit teaching READING, WRITING and ARITHMETIC then we have nobody to blame but ourselves for the students standing in the world. Parents of today don't want their kids to learn or they would let the schools TEACH them instead of giving them a place for social gathering!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  234. J.T. Richardson


    I told my kids several years ago that I got a much better education in the sixties than they did in the eighties. Today basketball and football are MUCH more important than education. I've had disagreements with teachers and principals over per rally's during school hours, eliminating the arts and music to save sports etc., etc.

    We teach our children not to think. Our government doesn't really want critical thinkers, consider what that would do to their reelection.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  235. Rosie Murray

    Results have actually gone UP!? I'm a child of the 50's, my SAT tests were in '71-72; school at that time was interesting and inspiring. Can't say that for my younger brethren, even 5-10 years after me, the feeling at school was "amuse me and don't demand anything of me." The material they covered seemed totally useless to me. Then came the age of technology, now everyone seems lost in cyberspace. Is it a surprise that students can barely handle basic tasks? Their strengths lie elsewhere, I suppose. Computers require a totally different approach to education, the 3 R's, paper and pencil are practically obsolete. You have to be "in-sync" with these machines.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  236. Rob Horsley

    Please remember what we had in 'the 70s'-we had Jimmy Carter, gas lines and a pass/fail (but make sure everybody passes) attitude in 'education. The liberals decided that everybody had to 'feel good' and never experience 'defeat' (actually responsibility). I'm a retired teacher and I can tell you that it wasn't our choice to have touchy, feely education...we knew what was going to happen-and it did! Now a classroom teacher has every conceivable situation in class-ADD, ADHD, non-English speaking, illegals, down syndrome, profoundly deaf, emotionally handicapped, physically handicapped, pregnant, drug addicts, alchoholics as well as a non-cooperating attitude among students and parents. Although, thankfully, attitudes regarding special needs children have changed it is a terrible burden on the teacher and the class. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to expect students to do the work and do their best and ....if it's difficult-work harder!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  237. Matt from Sparta, NJ

    Maybe high school administrations will finally catch on that schools work better for businesses and less for people. Schools keep their curriculum centered around statewide tests which leaves little room creative and intellectual development. We need new ways of teaching like Socratic methods that don't set up children to fail before they even find the answers to questions. Perhaps it is also the fault of parents who more often expect good grades over true intellectual development that create a rift in our educational system. It is clear that we are at a turning point in our methods of education, I hope President Obama will not continue to just throw money at the problem as we have for decades.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  238. Chrisitna

    As a high school mathematics teacher it says to me that we haven't changed the way we teach math and reading to our children. Most of us learned math by lecture-practice-lecture-practice. The facts are parents aren't working with their children at home. So students come to me less and less prepared each year. I can either complain about it or figure out a way to solve the problem. So as an educator I have to find ways to motivate and inspire my students to learn. I also have to show them that I believe that they CAN learn no matter what "side of the tracks" they live on. We have to not only teach them the material but we have to teach them how to problem solve by giving them situations where they have to apply what they learn. We can't limit thier education to teaching them a set of procedures. Procedures have their place, but I think companies are looking for employees who can think outside of a procedure.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  239. bforbes Phoenix, AZ

    Hi Jack,
    I believe the school system here in America is letting our students down. Over the last couple of years, I have lived in Washington State and now Phoenix, AZ. I have high school kids. In both states, I was shocked when I learned that the schools in the area did not have enough money for books for the students to take home. This is unacceptable especially when some students are not great note takers and do not have a good reference to study from at home.

    Nevertheless, parents also play a large part in their children's development. Unfortunately, many good parents are losing a foothold with one of the best motivational tools that was standard when I was a child, and that's warming their seats. There are too many laws against reasonable discipline, which should allow an occasional paddling if necessary, it certainly kept me on point.

    Phoenix, AZ

    April 30, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  240. Joan Mazulewicz

    You may recall that the 70s ushered in the era of "anything goes". Student dress codes and codes of behavior went by the wayside along with grades that recognized true achievement and not just seat warming.
    Nowadays, when some students get upset or annoyed or inconvenienced by the demands of a teacher, they call their parents on their ever-present cell phones and register complaints. Parents frequently believe their children's protestations including any "spin" with which the student might embellish it and head straight to school administration to have their issue redressed.
    Been there!
    Watertown, NY

    April 30, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  241. Beth from St. Pete, FL

    I taught middle school for ten years. I left because I could no longer put up with student behaviors. I was popular with the kids and yet I was still subjected to verbal abuse every day. Kids don't do their work and then ask "why did you GIVE me an f?" Their parents don't make them behave or make them do their work. The administrators are afraid of the parents. Kids and parents have to take some resposibility! I can't teach a child who refuses to learn! When strict discipline with real consequences returns to the classroom, so will acheivement! ...and so will I.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  242. Owen I. - Georgia

    The information age is a good source of the blame. Kids (like me) are too busy online to care about language which wastes time and maths which NEEDS practice. There needs to be much more practice when it comes to maths and english, especially at our age; I find it hard and I down even twitter! Also, as seventeen year olds, I think we are old enough to study, practice and take more interest in school on our own. If we can't, it's a real shame...

    April 30, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  243. Michael Coleman

    I just got out of high school, the problem was the administration and teachers. No child left behind had everyone trying to get out of the red but it made them forget the students. We need better teachers and administrators. We need to be more like Japan and put education first, students there go to school 6 days a week and are required to do more academic activities.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  244. Aaron (Brooklyn)

    You can draw a line between these statistics and this economic mess we're in. If only they taught us how a mortgage worked, or how a college loan works and how to read through the documentation. Why do we all have to learn the hard way??

    April 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  245. len

    math grades eh?this is why kids today are just sqeaking by in school;play stations 1,2,3 x box,game cube,wii,texting,facebook,youtube,how would a kid ever fit school work into a schedule like that?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  246. Leesa

    A lot of the state of education has to do with the state of parenting. As a veteran teacher of 21 years, I have watched in amazement as parental support decreases in direct proportion to public demands for higher education standards. I work very hard every day to meet the individual needs of my 117 high school students, but I only have them for one hour each in classes of 20-25. During that time, I am not only expected to provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary for academic success, but I am also supposed to teach and model responsibility, respect, honesty, dedication, and other important character traits. During my planning time, I make phone calls or send emails to parents requesting information or meetings to help those who are struggling with my class or to delve into deeper problems such as substance abuse or behavioral issues. Few and far between are the parents who set regular study hours, who monitor their children's activities and academic progress, who make sure their child gets proper nutrition and sleeping hours, and who work with their child's teacher(s) to help that youngster be the best s/he can be. Nine times out of ten, the parents say they have neither the time nor the emotional fortitude to deal with the child's issues. Instead, they expect the teacher to not only teach "the three R's" but also provide guidance in all other areas. Then, when that teacher holds the child accountable for his or her actions, it is the teacher–not the child–whom the parent considers to be at fault. Perhaps instead of increasing the educational standards, we should establish a nationwide standard for parenting.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  247. Janae

    I believe that high school students are not improving their grades drastically is because of this technology, that is used as an addiction. Such as, cell phone text messaging and the internet. We need to find some way to reach out to students through this addiction.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  248. SAT

    First, let say that that country has many wonderfully talented students and teachers. Second, while the scores have not risen–they have not dropped either (hmm, let's look at that one)! Finally, this situation involves many stakeholders!

    The stakeholders are the key! I enjoy your commentary, even if I don't always agree with you, but your reasoning is not usually so flawed! Why look only at teachers? Teachers have been examined and re-examined! Perhaps it is time to look elsewhere. If STUDENT scores have not risen, why not try looking more closely at STUDENTS? What about the support and expectations of parents? Community members? How about (gasp) even the media? It is not reasonable to conclude that a problem as widespread as this is the result of poor efforts on the part of a single group. Jack, you can do better than this!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  249. susan

    Why don't you put the blame for educational deficiencies where it belongs for once, not on teachers and buildings, but on parents who have no interest in education and shouldn't be parents. The kids doing badly on these tests and dragging down the averages are kids who were years behind when they started school. That's because their "parents" don't take any responsibility for their children's education and neither do the students. If the parents became literate, read a book themselves, turned off the TV and read to their pre-schoolers, they wouldn't be failing behind before they start school. Don't blame schools and teachers for what is an impossible task, which is to compensate for inadequate and destructive parenting. There are plenty of American kids who do their work, put in the effort, go to good colleges and excel. These averages are misleading because they include 50% of urban youth who don't even graduate.
    If you wonder why there is such a high rate of unemployment among certain minorities, start looking at their parents and early years. Stop blaming teachers. But of course that wouldn't be politically correct for CNN to actually tell the truth.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  250. Grace

    If you want to turn the page of education first the President has to do away with the No Child Left Behind Act. Since the 70's state's have instituted mandated testing which at first was beneficial; however, when the prior administration put this act in place it forced teachers to teach to the test for going much of their curriculum. Why, teachers feared loss of merit raises or jobs and school districts feared the loss of federal aid. This pressure doesn't create a learning environment it hinders it. Teachers spend the better part of their day./week teaching students how to pass a test, but ask these same students when the Declaration was signed and you would be amazed of their answers.
    Such a query was made of seniors in a particular city and two questions I remember were, When was the Declaration signed and who was Michaelangelo? Answers 1941 for the first and a ninja turtle for the second.....egads! Stop the madness, allow teachers to teach; yes, give benchmark tests at the beginning to see where a student is lacking so you can institute strategies to help him/her and again at the end of the year to monitor progress. When learning is fun and challenging students learn, but just taking grueling practice tests and you see the results.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  251. Sam

    It shows a lack of resolve in our politicians. In every election, the candidates tell the American people that education will be a top priority, yet it always seems to be at the back of the agenda. But it goes both ways, voters are not pressuring their representatives on the issue. Throwing money at the problem, however, is not the solution; there is a cultural problem in the United States where far too many Americans don't value a good education. Motivating kids early on and providing challenging opportunites for students as they get older are critical. We need to take action to see results, even though the solution is elusive.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  252. rebecca

    I bet if you run the same statistics on private schools there would be much better results. The amount of money invested and the terrible return recieved is shocking but not unexpected. The answer is not always throwing money at a problem, but if you talk to any public school system administrator that is all they will talk about. Private schools do a lot more with a lot less, and I surmise would have much better results. Are these really the people we want in charge of our health care too?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  253. David

    I believe the standards are not high enough. There are teachers who don't care if you use cursive writing or not. You see most of people using plain print. Lots of students talk at the start of courses and by the time attendance is taken and people are quiet you have around 30-35 minutes left in class. One thing I believe High School's need to do is put more of an emphasis on career education and personal finances. Also high schools should teach people about calorie balance and metabolism. Very few people are great in every area. I am strong in History, English, Psychology, and I am rather weak in Math, Geography, Science. Teachers who want to spend extra time to help students should be compensated. Teachers who want to work in the summer should have the opportunity to work at the same pay rate they do during the year. I am studying to become a guidance counselor and personally i hope Obama makes the school year 12 months. I want to be able to have a year round job and help kids out. I think the public education system will improve but it will take time. 1 more thing, i believe heavy emphasis should be placed on the negatives of drug and alcohol usage as well as cigarette smoking.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  254. Karen, Nashville

    Jack, it's a simple fact that the average IQ is 100, and nothing is going to change that. Not everyone is cut out to be a scholar. Perhaps a better way to handle this "problem" is to make parents, students, and educators stop looking at the trades as some kind of failure.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  255. Kathryn C Joyce

    Teachers are underpaid, undervalued and subject to thoughtless comments from idiots like you, Jack. School problems are automatically attributed to "bad teachers we can't get out of the system"n although that may be the least of the problems.

    In the school I taught in there were more than 250 applications for every teaching job, even in the face of slashed budgets, impossible and still rising class sizes, antiquated or inadequate equipment and more and more demands–i.e. do you want the schools to teach life skills? go back to basics? concentrate on test scores? teach non-English speakers and integrate them into the social order? take care of the retarded and mentally disturbed? mainstream the specially challenged? teach drivers' education, arts and crafts, music and physical education? industrial and automative shop? how about all of the above and more?

    I don't justify bad teaching. But it does seem to me that you ought to be a good deal better informed than you apparently are about the changing nature of students as well as the teachers and test scores in the last forty years. Maybe then it wouldn't be the brightest and the best that "we" can and do get out of the system, burned out, exhausted, depressed and cynical.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  256. Jayne

    Well,Jack, I'll tell you why from a teacher's point of view. Students better start studying and parents better start parenting. End of case...

    April 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  257. Kristeen Roessig

    Primarily, teachers today do not have the support from the homefront that they enjoyed in the 1970's. Parenting is a lost skill for many people today. I once had a parent ask me why the SCHOOL was allowing her daughter to attend the dance that weekend even though her grades were poor [this was after she told me she had seen her daughter's biology book gathering dust under her bed but thought nothing of it]. As a teacher I've had parents complain that their high school students had homework every night, that they were expected to remember skills they had learned the previous semester and been informed that I was ruining their child's life because I was denying them a college education by flunking them [this was 2 weeks before graduation]. Until parents are part of the solution in aiding students to achieve their full potential and work as partners with schools and teachers, I see little hope for improvement over the next 30 years.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  258. Janet

    Actually, Jack, I am surprised that the average scores have gone UP at all since 1970. I graduated from HS in the 1960s and over the past 30 years have taught at the college level. When I was in HS (and even elementary school) we were expected to actually READ books and do reports on them. The undergraduates I encountered felt imposed upon when asked to read a book. In the 5th grade I did a comprehensive report on the 13 original colonies. We were expected to know how to construct a sentence and a paragraph. The papers undergraduates write have deteriorated in the past 40 years. I don't think we even had handheld calculators in the 1960s for taking algebra and trig tests. In the past few years of my teaching students were as likely to be texting as participating in class.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  259. Angie in Georgia

    Apples to Oranges.... (Bracey, 1998, pg. 41) The original SAT test takers were 10,654 students from the NE, 98% white, 60% male, and 41% attended college-prep high schools.... In 1996, the SAT test takers were 1,127,021 students, 41% of the nation's entire senior class, 30% minority, 54% female, 83% public school attendees, and 26% from families with incomes of $30,000 or less. The pool of SAT test-takers has been truly democratized..."

    Go figure...
    Angie from Georgia

    April 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  260. T. Santana

    Much of the problem with education is that we as a society don't value it. This is evident in low teacher pay among other things. Another issue is that when people open discussions about the ills of education, the answers usually start with getting rid of the "bad" teachers. If it were really that simple, things would have improved years ago. Truth is that no one wants to do what's necessary for education, and that's change the entire structure. Oh, except our C student former president who left us with the gift of the NCLB Act which flung American education into a deeper abyss. The current system was designed to get students ready for work in factories. Real reconstructive work to the education system would be costly in time, resources, and money. Bottom line: education doesn't immediately improve the bottom line. Therefore, politicians repeatedly push the issue of education on to the next administration to fix. I could go on for days, but this platform isn't big enough. Thanks for listening, Jack.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  261. mike in michigan

    Does this really surprise you? After all let's truely look at the statistics of who actually is graduating from our colleges. Are they not being filled with students who are coming from other nations – China, India, Japan, Korea, Africa? Also, Jack, many of our students are now going to Canada to earn their degree. For this is less expensive for them and their families.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  262. Paulette,Dallas,PA

    Because the education system failed. Where I live teahing jobs are "sold." At present all area school districts are being investigated by the FBI for selling teaching jobs and awarding other contracts. Not all the time is the best or most qualified teacher in that first grade classroom teaching these young students how to read. Parents are also to blame. They put too much emphasis on extracurricular activities. So much so that the kids are burned out and too tired to study. Parents need to make education a priority and show the kids that this is high in their value systems.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  263. Joann Ossont

    There are plenty of qualified, dedicated teachers out there, believe me. I'm one of them. Thanks to standardized testing and NCLB, we now spend most of our time preparing students to take the test (read: teach to the test). I'm all for accountability. I would welcome a standardized test that was specific to the course I teach. Let's be accountable every step of the way. Most states use tests that are far to broad to be useful. Schools, in any case are only a part of the problem. The bigger issue here is work ethic. It's sorely lacking in society today, far more than it was in the 70's (when I was in high school). We can teach our hearts out, do everything right, and still not reach about 75% of our students. We just can't do it without them. I'm not at all surprised at the lack of progress. It's just sad.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:30 pm |

    The reasons are SIMPLE , why AMERICAN EDUCATION standards have been in freefall since the late 1960s. STUPIDITY, BLINDNESS, POLITICAL POSTURING and mindless bickering. The divisions in this country have become so acute that nobody has been able to see the TRAIN coming at AMERICA. A simple fact that has been ignored for a long time is that EDUCATION is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FOUNDATION of ANY SUCESSFUL SOCIETY and COUNTRY. Being 29 th in the WORLD in SCIENCE,MATH,and other fields , and falling is a statistic that should make ALL AMERICANS ashamed .and especially worried. WE face a A CLEAR and PRESENT DANGER of being left behind by the REST of the industrialized WORLD if we dont change our arrogant attitude and the direction of AMERICA . PRES. OBAMA is the first president to really start addressing these FACTS.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  265. R. L. Knapp

    While there are many flaws in our education system, I don't think all of the responsibility lies there. Our culture has changed due to advances in technology and also to the fact that in general, parents have been and remain forced to focus more and more on breadwinning and less and less on parenting.. For many reasons, the babyboomers didn't instill the same values in their children that they were taught during their own childhoods. It's an atypical child that strives to achieve their true intellectual potential. That wouldn't leave enough time for "texting" , I-pods, American Idol and simply "hanging out" with friends. And if you think that the state of affairs is bad today, what do you think we will have in 20 years?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  266. Scott

    Jack it comes down to a mix of culture and money. We have a generation of kids that have only one parent and the federal and state governments do not spend nearly enough money on education. We are the richest nation in the world and should have the best schools there are.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  267. Beth Gerrish


    As a private school teacher whose children graduated from the same school, I feel it's important to get back to the basics (math, reading, writing), the importance of which public school seems to have lost sight. Too much time is spent worrying about standardized testing, based on which, money is awarded to schools. There is a lack of involvement by many parents, who fail to make their children accountable for their actions. They expect the schools to rear their children and teach them life lessons for which they should be responsible. An example of this is character education, taught in many public schools for the past decade. I learned about the treatment of others with dignity and respect at home.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  268. Red

    I think that I have some insight in this issue. I graduated from a high school in an affluent community in 1975. I have been teaching in that same high school since 1980. There are many similarities and there are many differences about the "state of education" in the two eras.
    First, as we know, test scores have not changed (neither have the kids...they're still kids). Next, when you compare teacher salaries, not much has changed either. I think the starting salary today would be about the same as a starting salary in the 1970s...with inflation, etc. So stop hammering teachers.

    The differences are simple and alarming at the same time. Today, kids have too many other "priorities" that take away from their education. The demands of every athletic/activity program, after school jobs, increased amount of homework in all subjects (due to the demand for improved grades and increase in curriculum demands), preparation for external assessments (SAT, IB, AP, ACT and so on), pressure from teachers and parents (that I didn't get in the mid '70s) and the stress of being accepted to the "right" university/college with their increased expectations (not to mention with peers....GPA), I think that kids today (who are the same as the kids that I went to school with) are overwhelmed. I could go on and on.

    I teach in the AP and IB programs in my school. The demands of my class in the last 10 years have not changed. The students have. My students have too much on their plates. Add that to the expectations of parents, they have real difficulty managing everything they're forced to manage.

    Don't be concerned that the scores haven't changed...be concerned that what we expect from our young people has dramatically changed since the 1970s. They're just kids.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  269. Robert


    That high school NAEP scores are stagnant since the 1970s is a powerful indicator of the resistance to change that characterizes many high schools. Parents of the 1970 students can walk into any high school in the country and immediately recognize not only what is being taught but also how subject matter is taught. Though elementary and middle school education has seen significant changes over the years, in both teaching strategies and subject matter, high schools have largely been stagnant. Why would you expect test scores to change when instruction stays the same?

    Robert – Yerington, NV

    April 30, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  270. steve

    School budgets are the first things cut, whenever there's a budget shortage. The combination of sky high deficits and uneducated citizens, leaves the future of our country at risk. The people of America need to provide for the future of our youth, and do a better job at holding the politicians responsible for us all.

    Los Angeles

    April 30, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  271. Andrew

    As a public school administrator, all I can say is that we can't all be blow hard journalists!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  272. Bruce - Texas

    Because no matter how much money we throw at education, nobody will ever get an real education until Washington and the NEA keeps its nose out of local school business and teachers finally are able to teach, instead of being wild animal tamers.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  273. Marion Brady

    Student performance has been flat for 40 years primarily because a fundamental problem is being ignored. In educating, the curriculum is where the rubber meets the road, and the curriculum in near-universal use in America's schools and colleges was adopted in 1893. Yes, 1893. It's a relic of a bygone era, at odds with societal needs and human nature. The big push right now is for more RIGOR, which means just doing with more determination what brought education to its present state. It won't work. The 1893 curriculum maxed out about mid-20th Century, and no matter how much the rigor screws are tightened, student performance will stay flat until the real problem is addressed.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  274. Nick in Orlando

    I myself am in high school (grade 10) and honestly I believe it has to do with the state test, in florida we have the FCAT. All year long we spend all this time on learning "fcat material" alot of which is basic math, english, and science. All this money is wasted in fcat prep courses instead of new material, new techniques for teaching, new innovations. Instead my county (orange county district 8) settles for money to be spent on paper, paper, paper, for the Fcat. The FCAT is not fundamental to our actual learning, I may be young, but I certainly know when things do not work. And stopping the learning proccesses to sit around all day and work on a test that is easy and always passed, however if it is not passed, teachers, principles, administrators lose there jobs, is why I believe for at lease florida EDUCATION SYSTEM IF BROKEN AND IS IN NEED OF SOME SERIOUS CHANGE. Eliminate state testing, cut programs that dont work, pay teachers more, treat them like the people they should be treated as, good teachers have quit do to under pay and 100 percent county/state control that is not working, at least in florida. If Britney Spears, can make millions a year not singing, not writing music, just being a good looking professional, then teachers should all be as rich as Bill gates, and the bush family. Thats all I have to say on why we have not advanced since the 70s. P.S I am 16 years old and yes I have a very strong opinion on this topic, and maybe you think I am just the everday juvenel delinquent that hates school and wants to trash it. The truth is I would love to learn, can my country, the country I love and support, please help me out? After all jack, I am your future.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  275. Justice

    Kids will stop failing when unions are stopped from being prioritized over the needs and rights of children and held accountable, and when government is ready to truly invest in changing the violence, poverty and drug infested environments that kids live in. Kids will stop failing when education becomes a true value in America, and parents are afforded the resources they need to work and earn a decent wage, and raise their children in a nourishing environment. Kids will stop failing when parents share in the responsibility for helping children become successful.

    A failing report card for 40 years, and we answer that failure, and the continuing devastation of failure in graduation rates by claiming teachers need more money and this will solve this national crises?
    How about putting the money into the kids this time around? Meanwhile, we just rewarded banks and investors who literally created economic calamity with billions in tax payers dollars, even as we are about to reward teachers with raises for repeated failures in educating our children.

    Does that sound like a good plan to you?

    When will childrens rights come first over unions demands?
    It's a national disgrace.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  276. Mickey

    Hey Jack! Think about it a little...Thanks to our cell phones and computers, in TODAY'S world, you get use a calculator and a spell-checker! It stands to reason why you don't need to improve in high school! (yes, I used my spell-checker before sending this to you)

    April 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  277. Laurent iadeluca

    It means that high schools have curriculums that are designed to accept students with a specific level of prerequisite knowlege that should have been acquired during their years in elementary schools. The problem is that many children leave elementary schools with so many deficiencies in the basics, that they are overwhelmed when they arrive in the upper grades. My neighbor's son should have repeated his 6th grade. He couldn't grasp certain basic arithmetic priniples. ( he still has to count on his fingers when I ask him certain multiplication questions) Unfortunately for him, "no child left behind" was the bugle call of the day. Its interpretation by the school district (which was different than what I thought the cliché meant) took on a dimension of "everybody gets pushed into the next grade ...even if they're a dumb as a fence post". Today this young adult is still deficient in the basics, and is now old enough to consider dropping out of school completely . He was an intelligent bright eyed 10 year old 6 years ago. today he's withdrawn and introverted. I just can't believe he became stupid with each year that passed. J'Accuse!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  278. Bruce Marshall

    It is 25 / 75 Teachers get 25 and parents get 75 percent of the blame, it is easier to give them 25 dollars for the mall than sit down and do home work with them.
    If you look at those who do good you will see a student who applies them selves to their school work.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  279. Steve

    During my 31 years of high school teaching, I have seen MOST of our resources and attention shift to the goal of getting large numbers of mediocre students to pass tests of minimal competency. The motive behind No Child Left Behind, as well as our Ohio state tests, was noble, but overly simplistic. In practice, the effect has been to work hard to achieve large-scale mediocrity, completely neglecting the brightest. Statistically, of course, that makes it very difficult to pull national average scores UP…

    April 30, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  280. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    In 1957, the Russians launched Sputnik – and the resultant 'race to space' created a frenzy to learn.

    I attribute the lack of educational success to several inter-related factors:

    1. yesterday's decline of qualified teachers and

    Ironically, that 'bubble' of the 60's and 70's caused a departure from the lower- compensation teaching of many of the best-qualified teachers.

    2. today's lack of opportunity

    Ironically, that 'bubble' also spurred 'instant' global communication that made technical careers 'outsourceable' to India, China and other nations where labor costs and conditions are comparably much lower than what we've got here.

    3. Our complacency.

    For years, we were complacent about our education standards because we had no immediate competition. Now, in large part due to the advances we made in telecommunications spurred by the 'space race', we've got that competition from almost everywhere in the world.

    Now, we've got Bill Gates telling workers in Bangalore, India: "You're the best".

    April 30, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  281. Theresa

    Jack, all you mentioned is part of the problem. When I was in grad school I was shocked at the low IQ of many of the students. It's expected that grad students earn As & believe me many times it's just given (this includes administrators who don't know proper English). I believe there is another prime issue that is never discussed. Schools have lost the control of students and their behaviors. Presently the school district where I work in VT allows,or shall I say, ignores all kind of dress. The blame for this comes from the top; if principals ignore and don't carry through on the dress codes teachers don't feel backed and just ignore. The boys wear their pants by their crotch with all the underwear showing & girls wear skirts that are so short no way can they sit and not reveal all they have. Text messaging goes on constantly as well as head phones being worn. Tell me how any of these students can learn or want to. They are out to impress the opposite sex.. Talking about sex we have a number of pregnant girls, one as young as 13. Until we take back the schools the students will run them and the country loses.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  282. Jane Christman

    Dear Jack,

    When I first started teaching years ago, I had 24 students in a fifth grade class. Guess what? All 24 parents came to the first PTA meeting to meet me? Today, you are lucky to have one fourth!

    Just think how society has changed sine then! What about all the sex and violence children are exposed to on TV and the violent video games they play!! Do they ever have time for homework??
    How many students come from a one parent family today? Most of these parents work and when there are too they both work. Teachers can hardly wait to retire today because of unruly students in high school. Let's not be too hard on teachers and the school system!!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  283. Nick in Orlando

    I myself am in high school (grade 10) and honestly I believe it has to do with the state test, in florida we have the FCAT. All year long we spend all this time on learning “fcat material” alot of which is basic math, english, and science. All this money is wasted in fcat prep courses instead of new material, new techniques for teaching, new innovations. Instead my county (orange county district 8. ) settles for money to be spent on paper, paper, paper, for the Fcat. The FCAT is not fundamental to our actual learning, I may be young, but I certainly know when things do not work. And stopping the learning proccesses to sit around all day and work on a test that is easy and always passed, however if it is not passed, teachers, principles, administrators lose there jobs, this is why I believe for at lease florida THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IS BROKEN AND IS IN NEED OF SOME SERIOUS CHANGE. Eliminate state testing, cut programs that dont work, pay teachers more, treat them like the people they should be treated as, good teachers have quit do to under pay and 100 percent county/state control that is not working, at least in florida. If Britney Spears, can make millions a year not singing, not writing music, just being a good looking professional, then teachers should all be as rich as Bill gates, and the bush family. Thats all I have to say on why we have not advanced since the 70s. P.S I am 16 years old and yes I have a very strong opinion on this topic, and maybe you think I am just the everyday juvenile delinquent that hates school and wants to trash it. The truth is I would love to learn, can my country, the country I love and support, please help me out? After all jack, I am your future.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  284. Joy from Alameda CA

    I graduated in 2005 from an inner city in San Diego Ca. I saw so many differences in the education and facilities available and used by my cousins at his school in a better part of town. There are so many problems in our schools I can list a TON from personal experiences. First off I agree with President Obama we NEED to improve our facilities and raise standards for teachers. Yearly standard tests are a waste of time. It completely interrupted our lessons because the admin were too concerned with tests scores. Also I agree with doing away with the old school year calendar. Yes, I would have been sad had it happened when I were in school. But I am sadder to learn after high school how much I DIDN'T learn compared to students around the world. I also really want to put out there that most years in both high school at the start of each year there were MANY times there were NOT enough seats and we had to STAND in old bungalows. Oh yes and taking classes where up over five students had to share ONE lab station. I was also under constant worries over the loss of the music program that I was a part of. Please help our schools, because now my fiancé and are left with plans for raising our future family in the UK, anywhere with better quality education (and healthcare) than ours.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  285. P. Wolfe, New Mexico

    When was the last time you saw a kid collecting bottles for extra money? Perhaps mowing a yard? Shoveling a driveway? Kids don't need to, all they need to do is ask mommy or daddy for a handout! Same thing in school. They don't need to learn, (or want to), because whether they do well or not they'll pass. Kids need to be made more responsible for their actions. Problem is this starts at home and parents seem to be to involved in their own lives to care about what their children are doing. The education process needs to, I hate to say this, (trickle down) from the parents.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  286. Kris

    Lets look at the difference in Culture first of all. I mean the culture of my parents is vastly different than mine. I have access to technology, internet, and other convienent items. I have not learned how to calculate in my head, not that I was ever good at math in the first place. Also we are in an age where almost EVERYONE can go to a university or get some sort of secondary education, this can contribute to the dumming down of elementary and secondary education. There is also the problem of teachers constantly being beaten down by kids, parents, and the school board. If a child is disruptive everyone will point at the teacher and say they are not in control. However when they do take control, people get equally angry because they dont want anyone to discipline their children. Some might say that it is the parents not pushing their children enough and some might say that it is the education system. I say it is both. Whatever it is lets look at the culture of today and see how a change in the education system would work and stop comparing to the 70's. Past is Past.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  287. Sofia Lazaro

    As a 17-year-old high school student attending the most competitive public high school in her state, I can say honestly that one thing I've learned is that everything has a bias... and that includes many of the statistics you just referred to. What standards are you employing to compare the 70s student to the current student? There are many factors that cannot be ignored when comparing the two. In the 70s, many students DID NOT graduate. Policies implemented in the last 39 years (No Child Left Behind anyone??) have not only greatly decreased the number of students that drop out, but have also increased the number of students applying (and attending) colleges in America. So how are the statistics misconstrued as showing the ineffectiveness of our public school system, when the fact scores have increased slightly as graduation and college attendance rates shot up actually indicates improvement? If the student that probably would have dropped out of high school in the 70s, not only graduates but attends college in this day and age without sacrificing the levels of achievment the graduated 70s students established, America should be commending and furthering their economic support of the education system, rather than attacking those of us who work hard to maintain education standards.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  288. Kate Saratoga Springs NY

    I am a substitute teacher for grades K-12 in mostly small town and rural districts. I see this all. There are several reasons for this in my opinion:
    1.No child left behind has resulted in the dumbing down of the curriculum so no one WILL be left behind.
    2. A lack of emphasis of basics. Most middle school students I see never learned their basic multiplication tables. They need a calculator to answer 8 x 7.
    3. A breakdown of respect. I don't think this is just because i am a sub either. Often I see students more interested in socializing both in person and by texting than in what is being taught.

    Having said that, I have seen some really creative teachers help their students want to learn. it is a pleasure to sub in those classroom because the respect they give their regular teacher spills over when I am there.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  289. Will, New York City

    As a calculus teacher I'm not surprised that students have not improved especially in mathematics. Its hard to teach a teenager a complex subject when most of sociecty takes a negative perspective on it. I have had parents excuse their child's underachiement because when they were in school, they didn't need to learn it. And the state must not take it seriously becuase all you need is 34/84 points or 40% mastery in basic mathematics to graduate.

    P.S.And to make you feel better that 40% gets scaled up to a 65%.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  290. Beth from St. Pete, FL

    It says that student behavior and lack of personal responsibility has taken its toll. Parents blame the teachers even when they know their child refuses to work and disrupts the classrroom. They simply say "that's your problem". Administrators are afraid of the parents. When we return to strict classroom discipline with REAL consequences we will see higher gains. I didn't leave because of the pay, I left because of the incredible disrespect and verbal abuse....and I was a popular teacher!

    April 30, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  291. David

    Don't blame the youth.I graduated HS in 2008 and have attended both public and private schools,while either had differences the most profound and startling difference was with the quality of teachers. Public school teachers just frankly suck.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  292. Joan

    Jack Cafferty is spot on when he talks about schools keeping mediocre teachers and letting excellent teachers go. To me , part of the problem are the idiots they hire to oversee school programs. In order to be a good administrator you need to have a well defined vision of what your school is and where it should go. Good administrators are constantly refining and improving their schools. That includes knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each teacher and letting teachers go that don't fit the bill. Likewise, allegiances to certain faculty just because they're well liked, but aren't effective teachers is also wrong. The culture of a school is so important. Not everyone who has a P.H.D. from a diploma mill makes a good administrator. I think a lot of teachers get turned of by the all the stupidity.. Anymore, it seems like teaching at Middle and High School is just expensive babysitting.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  293. Roland - St George, UT

    Speaking from experience, having lived and worked abroad, I think part of the problem is a bit of American superiority complex. Unfortunately, Americans have a history of being unwilling to look to other countries for advice. However, we could really learn a lot from the European countries' educational systems if we would just be willing to. True, the people pay higher taxes there, but in return for it, their students get quality education (among many other things–and a generally higher quality of life overall.)

    April 30, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  294. yolanda esquivel

    Jack, there is still too much racisim in many of our schools. A large amount of teachers are Anglo American and do not know how to teach African American and Hispanic students. School Districts place their most imcompetent teachers at schools who have the largest minority students because administrators know that those schools have the least parent participation. Parents don't participate as much in these low performing schools because they are struggling to survive day to day. I worked at a middle school in California that had 1500 students. There were 12 teachers teaching math, out of those 12 , 7 were completely unable to teach the subject. That meant that over 1,200 students per year were not being taught by a knowledgeable, competent teacher. The administration knew this fact, but couldn't fire the teachers because of their Union. When parents complained that their children were not learning, the administration and the Union together would gang up against the student and the parent and lie to protecht each other. We all knew this was happening, but did nothing. The education system we have is set up to protect the employment of teachers and administrators not to educate those who desprately need it.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  295. Marty Topel

    The lack of progress in reading and math in high schoolers indicates the continual need for competent, dedicated teachers. However, it also points to a cultural problem within the American society. As a teacher, I had always found that those parents who truly value education had kids who came to school, excited to learn, and worked hard to achieve. In the case of reading, parents need to establish a home of literacy, immersing them in reading beginning with reading to them as babies, sharing stories together, modeling for them by the parents' reading of newspapers, novels, nonfiction, etc. – which then also stimulates valuable discussions. By reading, children develop insights into other people's lives, increase their vocabulary, improve their writing, and learn, learn, learn so much about themselves and their world. Television and video games have helped to rob us of an environment of excitement for learning. The world is filled with so many interesting people, subjects, and places to read about. We need both teachers and parents to bring learning alive to our children.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  296. Robert

    Why would it surprise anyone that the schools are not up to snuf in America? The fact that George Bush could get elected for President twice should be a clear indicator of how uneducated the people are.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  297. Nestor, Austin, TX

    One of the few things I agree with the president on is incentive pay. Give the teachers who are getting results bonuses. Also institute school vouchers. If we institute free-market principles in our schools, the results will improve due to competition and teacher recognition. Even though the inflation adjusted money to schools has more than doubled over the past 40 years, the results are not any different. Obviously just pouring more money into schools is not working. Schools and legislators need a paradigm shift when it comes to education.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  298. Terry from Illinois

    In the 70's when I grew up, usually only one parent worked and was their for the kids. Today, most households have two working parents and kids have more freedom and less expectatins than before.
    American society has been transformed into a "anti-family" when it comes to a father being able to make enough so that the mother does not have to work, yet its blamed on the teachers who have nothing to do with a kids drive or curiousocity to be better and learn more.....

    April 30, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  299. Allen in Hartwell GA

    In my humble opinion it says that the high school graduating class of 1968 was the pinnacle and no one else will ever compare. Besides, how much better can they get?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  300. Ron in Reno

    As an early "boomer" I observe that the US is one of the few nations who can exemplify the success and growth that we enjoy due to our commitment to support education in the past.

    Since my graduation from college in 1970, I am shocked by the decline of support for the INVESTIMENT in education by politicians, and the level of apathy among parents for education for their off-spring.

    When parents (voters) cared more at home, government invested more into education.

    April 30, 2009 at 6:46 pm |