How can we restore confidence in our public schools?
June 26th, 2012
03:15 PM ET

How can we restore confidence in our public schools?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans' confidence in public schools is at a 40-year low.

A new Gallup Poll shows only 29% of those surveyed say they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in public schools.

That's down 5-points from last year.

And it's down from 58% who had confidence in the country's public schools when gallup first asked the question in 1973.

It should come as no surprise that Americans have lost faith in our schools when you take a look at the dismal state of education.

One international assessment of 34 countries shows the U.S. ranking 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading.

Many of our students graduate high school without the skills they need to survive in a global marketplace: things like reading, writing and math.

Meanwhile there seems to be little - if any - accountability when it comes to our schools and our teachers.

Just last month in the Cafferty File we told you about how Florida lowered the passing grade on the writing portion of a standardized test - after students' scores plunged.

And the latest example comes courtesy of New York.

State lawmakers voted to shield the job-performance reviews for hundreds of thousands of individual teachers from the general public. Instead - the new law allows parents to see scores only for their child's current teacher.

Supporters say it's the right balance between the educational needs of the students and the parents' and teachers' rights.

What about the public who pays these teachers' salaries? Aren't we entitled to know who's cutting it and who isn't? Yes, we are.

Credit the political muscle of the teachers unions with stifling another attempt to restore accountability.

Here’s my question to you: How can we restore confidence in our public schools?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Alex in California:
Jack, We used to have very good schools in this country. We used to know how to do this. No longer. As a former high school teacher, I know what happened and who's responsible. Our schools were ruined by the same catastrophic liberal experiments that ruined our families and the larger culture. America, and our schools, fell as liberalism rose. We won't fix our schools until the liberal mindset is swept aside,

Tom in Texas:
Stop selling war and purchasing every piece of military hardware on the planet, cut the defense budget by half, then reallocate those funds to education. Forever. We will still have a bloated military but now those in the military will be able to read the operating instructions of the equipment.

Mark in Houston:
My wife was a teacher with three advanced degrees for 45 years. When she had the right to "run the classroom", there was seldom a problem. Students who didn't behave were disciplined, students were taught to think not just take tests. No Child Left Behind changed all that. Now if a student does poorly, no matter his behavior or family support it's the teacher’s fault. Education, if that's what it's still called, is nothing more than a concept that places blame everywhere but where it belongs: on the students.

We can start by teaching the basic reading and writing skills that so many of our high school students haven't apparently learned yet from elementary school.

Susan in California:
Stop using the school for babysitting. Leave technology at home. If you need your parent, the school will call them for you just like they did back in the dark ages when I was in school. If the parents make excuses for their children's poor behavior, they will become poor excuses for adults.

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soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Russ in PA

    Give it up, and end them. Let the free market handle the problem, which would result in competitive learning environments, and less cost for all. Of course, that also assumes that one ends the licensing monopolies that now exist due to government intervention. But how many people are willing to return to a free market where the consumer is the one with the true power, rather than government? Answer: probably not many, as so many as most are products of the public school system...

    June 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  2. Overby

    Get rid of the stinking unions so we can fire the lousy teachers and hire some good ones....

    June 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  3. Paul From Round Rock, Texas

    Maybe by starting to pay good pay to good teachers and retain them. Stop tests that mean nothing a put in tests that really do prove a student has learned something. Parents should also be sure to make kids study before fun and texting.

    June 26, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  4. Karl in Flint, MI

    Are we THAT stupid? Schools were doing fine until education funding had to be cut back to accommodate the tax cuts for the wealthy and finance two wars. Teachers took the brunt of the blame to justify it. Get the funding back and we'll restore the confidence in our schools. Tax cuts to the wealthy paid to put their kids through private school, which they would have done, anyway, so they don't care about public education at all.

    June 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  5. jk in MN

    It's not by taking funding from them in hopes of giving it to charter schools. It's going to take collective America (the majority anyway) supporting good public education that is available to all children, not just the wealthy and a government that realizes how important public education is and funds it properly.

    June 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  6. MNResident

    Here ius a simple way to restore confidence-have the schools DO THEIR JOB!!! After years and years of failure, all you hear back from the people in the schools is "we just need more money!!" After a while, people have come to realize that all they are talking about is to just throw money down a rat hole and have no tangible results to show for it. Test the teachers? "Forget about it." Test the students? "That's so unfair!!" There is an old addage: Those who aim for nothing are destined to hit it. It's about the only target the schools are hitting right now other then the target of propagandizing the student on left wing ideology. But that is all the public schools system was really set up for in the first place, anyway, correct???

    June 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  7. John from Alabama

    Jack: When a student is identified has needing remediation in math, language arts, reading, or science they should recieve help in the subject matter. To many children are not getting the basics in pre-K through 3 grade. The American School systems need to streamline their education programs now not later. Public schools need to stop passing students to the next grade without mastering skills. Public schools need to be all year round, rather than a vacation of 12 weeks every summer.

    June 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  8. Doug Ericson

    You have to get rid of the School Departments, like the Superintendent of Schools. The School Departments are nothing but Hack Heaven Thugdoms. Eliminate the Guidence Counselor positions. I can not recall a single Guidence Counselor who ever did anything positive for any student, at any time, at any school. You have to get rid of the School Committees. You have to take the politics out of it, if you want the public schools to be learning centers, and not indoctrination camps. The bussing is a dissaster too. Locally, the buses stop at every single kids house, even if they are right next to each other. Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    June 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  9. Lee in Wyoming

    Confidence can be restored in public schools only by better academic performance on their part.

    The Dept. of Education should take a hard look at extra-curricular activities, especially the emphasis on sports and hiring coaches who are also teachers. Also, a serious study should be done on the major shift to a touchy-feely style in schools. "Rote memorization" has become an ugly term. No Child Left Behind did major damage by dumbing down the whole system. We've got to take a look at what we really want the kids to learn.

    Yes, I will go so far as to say that some power has to be taken away from local school boards and administrations. That sure won't be popular! Politics are running our schools and spending our education
    tax money.

    June 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  10. Pat in Michigan

    It is very simple Jack. First stop blaming the teacher for the kids being too lazy . Stop defending your child when they wont do the assigned work.If a child wont listen they wont learn. one last comment. Who was the idiot who said our teachers cannot hit a kid in self defense. Let's force a senator or two to substute teach for a week and see how they like it.

    June 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  11. Gary in San Jose, California

    We can restore confidence by getting more involved. As parents and grandparents we need to encourage children to pursue a good education and help the schools where we can. We can all give time, money, and expertise to the schools while demonstrating the importance of education through our actions.

    June 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  12. Annie, Atlanta

    I don't know Jack. Teachers these days have to treat children with kidd gloves. They can't hold them back a grade for failing or even scold them for fear of hurting their feelings or bringing on the wrath of the "not my Johnny crowd." When I was in school I behaved for fear of a wooden ruler across my knuckles, turned in my work and did a good job for fear of public humiliation. You would think the great minds in this country could come up with an alternative to that or what we presently have, but I'm not so sure anymore. Are there any great minds left in charge, or is education like everything else just about money these days?

    June 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  13. Annie, Atlanta

    Untie the hands of the teachers who have to now teach to the tests, stop letting the rightwing demonize them for God's sake, and stop letting billionaires decide what propaganda is taught in the institutions where they contribute heaps of money. What in the world is going on here? Is no one paying attention? Do you have to start dancing and singing the news to get Americans' attention?

    June 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  14. ken, atlantic city, nj

    We can restore confidence in our public schools when teachers start caring more about the kids and less about their salaries, tenure, pensions, and free health benefits. A little competition would help like eliminating mandatory education at 16 years of age, private school vouchers, and giving parents the choice of online k-12 education for their children.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  15. Ken in Pinon Hills, California

    Maybe we have to restore the American parents ability to provide good students to our schools. Mom and Dad are slaves to our market system, and too busy working for it with little time for their children's educational needs.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  16. Jenna Roseville CA

    How can we restore confidence in our public schools?

    Jack, have you seen the state of most public schools here in America? Terrible.

    1. Build New Schools
    2. New Textbooks
    3. Pay Teachers what you pay doctors
    4. Put dicipline back in school – paddling never killed anyone
    5. Make school year-round with a week break every 3 months and from 8am to 5pm (no homeowrk)
    6. Make sure that not only the basics are taughts but much more – Art, Music, Languages, Sports
    7. Up to date computer labs in all schools
    8. Accountability for students/parents – not just teachers
    9. Seperate School for BULLIES

    This would be a good start.

    Roseville CA

    June 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  17. Pete in Georgia

    The logical sensible way, but impossible in this day of liberal lunatics, is to get rid of every public school union that exists from Maine to Hawaii. Keep teachers who have no other agenda but to improve our system.
    Go back to basics. Teach basic reading, writing, and arithmatic. It only helped build the greatest country in the world..............America.
    Not only allow, but INSIST that teachers have full authority in the classroom in every issue of discipline. Get rid of the students who today POISON classrooms everywhere because of zero parenting at home................if they even have a home.
    All of these remedies have zero chance of implementation due to our liberal submissive society with no backbone.
    A tragic shame for all decent young Americans.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  18. Larry in Houston

    How can we restore confidence in our public schools? Too bad the question isn't : How We "Cannot" Restore confidence in our public schools. The answer to the "cannot" one, is : ask Gov. Perry – he knows how NOT to restore confidence. With his republican legislature / he's got it made. I guess as long as they keep the education underfunded, and continue to keep cutting education everywhere here in texas, the republicans Just love it. This way, they can hire all the high school drop outs – and pay them minimum wage – ( or less, if they can get by w/ it) Then Perry can toot his own horn, saying that "his state" has hired more people than any other state. Pitiful isn't it ?
    Vote Democrat – for the middle / working class people – 2012

    June 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  19. james in north carolina

    Who doesn't have confidence in public schools? I see many students gradutating each year who go on to the finest universities. These same students then become successful in every field of endeavor. The opportunity is there in the public schools. The problem is those who refuse to take advantage of the chance they are given. So how is that the fault of the public schools? Parents don't want to accept the blame so they blame these same schools who are turning out scholar after scholar.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  20. Steve from Concord, CA

    First, we can start by teaching the basic reading and writing skills that so many of our high school students haven't apparently learned yet from elementary school. Then, we can vote out of office the same politicians who keep mismanaging school funds that keep our students in academic limbo year after year.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  21. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    If we keep wanting to cut teacher salaries and benefits like Romney and the Republicans want to do. We can forget about restoring confidence because schools are only good as the teachers that are in them. But I guess this is fine with the Republicans because they're more interested in private schools than they are in public schools.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  22. Michael Bindner

    Quit using standards and let each school and teacher judge the progress of their students. Cut central bureaucracy and make Principal the highest paid position in any school system. Have a school board for every institution rather than a PTA with no teeth. Publicly fund private schools, provided that doing so comes with increased taxes that capture what is now paid in tuition and on the condition that funded schools must allow teachers to organize. Having one parent controlled system should give everyone confidence. Oh, and get rid of comparisons of the entire US system to EU members – either compare the US and the EU at-large or compare state performance to EU members to maintain the same scale. Iowa will always be #1 and Mississippi and Arkansas will always lose. Once we know that, we can simply make Mississippi look more like Iowa by doing adequate spending and letting those teachers unionized too.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  23. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    Hold teachers in the same esteem as Singapore and our global competitors do. That means paying them a living wage, guaranteed pensions, and a sensible class size.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  24. Michael Bindner

    Of course, the more sinister answer is that many white kids opt out of public schools – which means that schools that education primarily minority kids are considered second rate for entirely racist reasons.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  25. Mark, Oklahoma City, OK

    Jack, it's always the rotten, gang infested, minority majority inner-city schools that get spotlighted. I assure you that a HUGE percentage of public schools in the suburbs are doing a FINE job of educating students. A better question might have been "What can inner city parents do to improve THEIR lives, therefore improving everything around them including schools?"

    June 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  26. Mark in Houston

    My wife was a teacher with three advanced degrees for 45 years. When she had the right to " run the classroom"there was seldom a problem, students who didn't behave were disciplined, students were taught to think not just take tests. , . No Child Left Behind changed all that. Now if a student does poorly, no matter his behavior or family support it's the teachers fault. Education...if that's what it's still called is nothing more than a Bush leadership concept that places blame everywhere but where it belongs....on the students and the idiot that instigated the program.

    Get rid of Government financial control and requirements, let the teacher teach...and students will learn. How can anyone expect a student to learn when bureaucrats like those in Texas lower test standards to the point where 37% is considered passing or the insane policy of..."if you fail a state test, we will consider you passing because we've come up with a formula that says you will do better next time". All done so local government can show educational progress in order to secure government funds.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  27. Pete in Florida

    Get all the gov'ts, federal, state and local, out of our public school systems, fire most of the adminstrators, put the teachers back in charge of the schools, and tell the parents to "shut up and get out of the way" of the educators. This is how it was when I went to school in the 50's and 60's – the teachers were IN CHARGE, everybody knew it, especially students and parents, and they did a great job.
    But it's kind of a pointless question, since the Repubs are going to end public education once they're fully in charge.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  28. Mel - Houston

    The first step I think would be to elect legislators that believe in public education. The elimination of the Department of Education in this country would be like taking five quick steps back to segregation and "seperate but equal". What a joke.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  29. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: My son is a special education teacher-–and he is the best at what he does--it is just too bad that they don't pay teachers an equitable salary for what they are doing for the youth of the next generations.--–if you are going to invest in the future-–invest in the next generations--and not the betting palor of Wall Street!

    June 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  30. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Only hire teachers that are in the top 10% in college and pay them to teach not learn to pass a test. We're in serious trouble as a country and we need up and comers that are challenged to learn. When, not if, we hit bottom in this country we may never recover in my grandkids lifetime.

    June 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  31. Tom in Desoto, TX

    Stop selling war and purchasing everything piece of military hardware on the planet, cut it by half, then reallocate those funds to education, forever. We will still have a bloated military but now those in the military will be able to read the operating instructions of the equipment.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  32. Ed from California

    First step...stop making teachers the enemy!!! Second step, hold the parents accountable for their child's learning. Yes, teachers instruct at school, but, they all need someone to make sure that that the kid completes their homework assignments each night. We have become this entitled society......except it ain't working people!! I don't see a street full of billionaires.....What I see, is a street full of violent-drugged out-deadbeats, thinking that one day they'll hit it rich. because a Physic, or a Teapot says so.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  33. Richard Texas

    What we need to do is get rid of cell phones and text messaging video games and reality TV shows and hours upon hours of mindless television. We need to get back to our parents teaching our children right and wrong and ethics and morals. Leave school to teaching them how to read and writes and science and literature.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  34. Ray in Knoxville

    First and foremost, we have to realize that teamwork is not something that is only found on the football field or basketball gym. Parents and teachers have to work together to make sure that kids partake in the educational process. Parents, teachers and kids all have to be held responsible for education.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  35. Frank Poynton from Los Angeles

    I know its a stretch Jack but how about turning our public schools over to a bunch of Nuns? They could at least restore faith in the system, and what is confidence without faith?

    June 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  36. Cee.La

    This is a nobrainer......... when parents become more involved.......period.......dont blame it on the teacher, school board, put it on the lack of engaged parenting........When we have 1/3 of the classroom on meds, 1/3 needing meds, that leaves 1/3 who are actually learning........its a bit dismal.........when kids start Kindergarten and cant sit still, cant follow simple directions,they have NO self control what so ever........it means they are raising themselves....no mealtime, no bathtime, no bedtime, no story time,no structure....before a teacher begins to teach the 3 R's Jack, they have to teach them the most basic social behavior skills........Its America's dirty little secret........

    June 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  37. David of Alexandria VA

    The only way to broach this is to see results - not on some standard tests, but in the spirit and minds of the students. Stucents who both want to learn and understand that thier future is joined at the hip with their learning. We need parents who get this as well and support their kids learning. We need more teachers who are inspired by their own ability to teach and their outcomes and not just by theri union negotiations. Most of all, we need a society which stops giving excuses for people failing at an early age and obligating itself to a lifetime of the social costs associated with their failure.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  38. David Gerstenfeld

    First & foremost is taking away the power of the teacher's union. They SHOULD have an oath like doctors, "due no harm".
    David, Las vegas

    June 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  39. DT - Saint Paul, MN

    Um. Ok. Well teachers shop at Walmart... So every performance report of every employee should be made public... I mean the public pays the bills at every business, so we should get all the information we want right?

    Lol. Honestly, trusting your child's education with a school is like trusting your money with a bank...

    June 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm |

    Maybe, just maybe, if the TV talking heads and analysts would for a changespend as much time praising the good teachers as they do decriieing and puting ournoverworked, under paid teachers, why the students would learn something.
    If you fought 1/10 as hard for school staff renumeration as you do going afterhigh six and seven figure salerys for your selves we would have more teachers.
    You know, I keep hearing that they, teachers, are paid with taxes. That is true, fair taxes at that.
    Let me sugest something, so are you. You make nothing that can be sold or used or resold. Can't tpuch it, smell it or eath it. if most news casters, TV stars and athletics ceased to be, in a month no one would care and people would have more money in thier pockets. The price of food, autos and a host of other things would be cheaper. We wouldnt have to pay you.
    You see, advertising is a tax on those who by things.
    True, an auto has a four hundred to aone thousand dollar advertiseng charge on it Right on the top. That goes to pay you.
    So please\, stop puting down teachers and schools, public workers and such, we can't get along without them. Those like you, we can. METALWORKER

    June 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  41. Gary H. Boyd

    America's public educational system is fine Jack. The problem lies with those unwilling to take advantage of it. The phrase "stupid is as stupid does" applies here. Uneducated parents are to blame. Such parents do not encourage and insist upon school attendance by their off spring. That leads to the growing number of uneducated in America. This nation was founded upon a belief in good education for its citizens and has provided for it. It's not the system Jack, it's those who fail to take advantage of it.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    June 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  42. Sandstone

    "It's more about where students go after class. Is there a night-school in their area, if/where students can seek help?
    Then after (end of term?) leaving school is there enough summer school. If the kids don't have enough confidence in
    themselves, then neither does the employer."

    June 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  43. Allan Hanson Placerville, ca

    I would blame the students that come to school totally unprepared and with no desire to learn.
    All students should be taught what they need to survive in the outside world. Very few are able to survive in the real world.
    Not all will go to college. Others need "shop classes".

    June 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  44. Loren, Chicago

    We can restore confidence in our schools by tempering our expectations. I am fortunate to have been educated through the public school system as have my children. What we get from that education is what we put into it. If we expect that our teachers can force the lessons of school down our throats, then our expectations will never be met. If we understand that it is only through the concerted efforts of teachers, parents and children that those children can achieve their highest potential, then we will likely see our expectations met. There will always be bad teachers and bad parents, but children are the innocents here and we owe it them and ourselves to commit to their education as parents rather than continue to point the blame at our school systems, their administrators or their funding.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  45. John L From Wantagh

    When our politicians stop villifying public education and start working together in supporting public education.

    June 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  46. Kim, Dodge City, Kansas

    Send all our kids to school in India or China, they know how to properly motivate a student.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  47. Gigi Oregon

    First of all let's not blame the unions. That's a lazy persons way. If more parents (Problem #1) took an active roll in their child's school and their child's progress and study habits then quality education would develop. Teachers are better prepared today than ever. It's politics in the schools (Problem #2). If free computers had been put in US school's instead of 3rd world countries, we would be hiring engineers and scientist from students from our own country (Problem #3). If we put money into our schools instead of fighting wars around the world, (Problem #4) we could fund Education. And be the number one educated country in the world and we would not be ashamed to list "knowledge of world history".(problem #5) Just a few of the problems off the top of my head... to build confidence our US education.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  48. D.Wise

    It's easy! Fire the teachers that are not qualified to be in the classrooms,much less teaching our children!! Oh the Unions, tell them to take a hike!!!

    June 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  49. Larry

    Its a three step approach, 1 How about teaching the basics again, reading, (English) writing (grammar) math, and expand to history, a second languate and some technical training. Do you remember having 7 or 8 periods of school a day? What happened? 2. Teachers- must be for what they do and dont do. How can we let sub-standard teachers stay?
    3. Parents- who holds them accountable for what their kids do? maybe cut down extra activities, internet and tv use. Do they monitor the homework? Its not rocket science, its basic attention to children

    June 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  50. Mr. D

    "You live by the sword, you die by the sword." The politicaly correct dumbing down of the U.S. has us in a free-fall. Maybe it's time we take an honest look and see what we are working with. It is not just a matter of throwing money at the problem. It's a total culture thing. "You pays for your pretties."

    June 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  51. calaurore9

    Pay good teachers more. Fire bad ones.

    C. in Ma.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  52. Oliver El Paso, TX

    Our government can not believe that other country have a much better program to teach there children to read and write and be very strong in math. One country believe or not is Mexico, they only have grade school 1-9 and the children are strong in math, reading and writing, a lot of are kids at high school, can not read or write and our poor in math, WHY?.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  53. Renee, Illinois

    Take a closer look at those countries out-performing us in the education dept. They're putting a lot more money into their educational system while the U.S. is cutting back. They're more inclined to reward good teachers and get rid of bad ones while we're doing the 'shield the job performance review' crap. Small wonder our kids are falling way behind in the global statistics. We already know how to restore confidence: stop looking at the education of our children – undeniably our greatest resource – as an area that needs cutting. You get out what you put in, we have no one to blame but ourselves for letting this happen.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  54. Jim Charlotte NC

    Be serious Jack. With Conservatives complaining about how much teachers make and all the benefits they receive we will go back to the 1960's when no one wanted to be a teacher. It was so bad then that our Government gave deferments to young men if they would take up the teaching profession. Why would anyone want to spend money going to college to work in a profession and have people hate you.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  55. Reggie53

    When we get rid of those lazy tenure teachers who are backed up by the unions then we will see a major improvement in our public schools. If we can get rid of the unions as well that would make it even better. Also, I find teachers dress so sloppy that sometimes you cannot tell the difference between student and teacher. Such a lack of respect for the classroom from both teachers and students.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  56. Kevin in CA

    The best way to restore confidence is through a good Wall Street marketing firm. As a matter of fact, at this point it may be the ONLY way.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  57. Sandra from Texas

    Step one, return to the days when teachers were allowed to actually fail and pass students based on their abilities. We can not continue to allow students to graduate from classes who are unable to read or write. We can no longer allow students to slip through biology because the parents think the class is just too hard. If a teacher is truly a poor teacher, let's get rid of that teacher and hire a new one. It's time to go back to a time when students learned the material or failed the class and teachers presented the material or lost their jobs. It may seem old fashioned, but it used to work just fine.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  58. Ann from Charleston SC

    We can restore confidence in our public schools by:
    1) giving teachers the authority to control their classrooms
    2) allowing teachers to teach the children before them rather than a program purchased by the Board of Education
    3) accepting that teaching is an art as well as a science
    4) getting parents to demand of their child that he/she adhere to the rules of the school

    June 26, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  59. Susan from Ca

    Stop using the school for babysitters. Leave technology at home. If you need your parent the school will call home or work for you just like they did back in the dark ages when I was in school. If the parents make excuses for their children's poor behavior the will become poor excuses for adults.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  60. Phyllis G Williams

    How can we restore confidence in our public schools?

    One way is that Children should be told by parents in their own words that if not Born Again (St.John 3: 3)
    Man leaves earth's temporary problems for permanent fire (Revelation 20: 15)
    refusing HEAVEN, God's offer to overcomers (Revelation 21: 7)

    June 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  61. Doug in San Diego

    Simple ... do something about the Union control: 1) get rid of K-12 tenure for teachers; 2) treat teachers as employees in private jobs, ie FIRE them when they don't do the job

    June 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  62. Jim Dud

    Go back to the 40's and 50's system..We put people on the moon.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  63. phil o from Florida

    It must be those unions again right jack,you sound like a broken record. Think i'll change the channel!!!

    June 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  64. Matt from Arizona

    Get involved. We gripe about our teachers, but our students won't complete homework. Parents speaking to their children about the importance of education and hard work is the first step that needs to be taken. Students, educators, and parents are all in this together.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  65. Alex, Indiana

    Stop allowing people like Gov. Mitch Daniels with business degrees decide the budget of the public school system. I laughed my rear off when I learned he will be the next president of Purdue Univ.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  66. Shawn

    I think the traditional way of school has run its course, we need to redesign the way schools are run and build off the strengths of a student. Some children find the whole concept of school frustrating. If you don't have the strengths required for school you are left behind and who wants to go to something and have people tell you not good enough.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  67. Kevin from Danbury, CT

    If the evaluations you speak of are the same ones that use flawed test scores to evaluate teachers then they should be kept private. The latest round of test scores to evaluate teachers in New York proved that the system is deeply flawed.

    How do you evaluate teachers who do not give standardized tests? In Tennessee they get to pick the subject they want to be evaluated in. Teach art and think your school does well in math, then choose that to be evaluated on.

    Teachers don't mind being held accountable, but it needs to be fair.

    If Gallop polls show faith in public schools dropping, its likely because the public is starting to believe all the lies and half truths sperad by so called education reformers who are funded by big business.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  68. GatorRat

    How bout it Jack?
    I pay your salary by watching CNN commercials and buying their products. Can I see your performance review? Responsibility for my Childs education falls squarely on me, the parent!

    June 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  69. doug

    The problem is these modern helicopter parents, technology and superstardom. Kids want to be famous even though they have no talent at anything. They do not appreciate the world around them, and their parents are too scared to let them grow up and learn from their mistakes. Teaching is babysitting and avoiding an elephant in the room when there is a problem with student’s grades or behavior. Kids earn their grades and should not be forced by a parent to change them, which I’ve seen happen, I work in the public school system.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  70. Anthony- AZ


    We will regain confidence in public schools when Republicans admits government actually has the preform (and fund) this important job and Democrats are given the electoral mandate to take on teacher unions.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  71. Midwest Jim

    Public Schools are not failing. Some union staffed US public schools have the highest scoring students in the world in most subjects–it's the schools in poverty neighborhoods and poor rural areas that are scoring lower than some nations' averages. We demonize the teachers, cut funding, and expect them to be the best in the world. And pop culture celebrates bad behavior and does not support academics.
    And, teachers are accountable. About 50% leave the profession with the first 5 years....how does that compare with news commentators and other professions.
    Where's your job evaluation Jack?

    June 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  72. chuy from la puente

    1. Give the teachers the same pay and benefits as the police and firefighters.
    2. Rescind union bargaining rights for anyone earning over 100K

    June 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  73. vicky

    Our children are been blamed for been bad, however some teachers are worse than the students and if we complain to the board of education, we are ignored. They\re are many evil, useless teachers whom our children are learning street trash from. Teachers are protected by unions, therefore no one is defending our children.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  74. Pamelaorris

    How about letting people who really WANT to teach and have a passion for it, teach, and stop making them jump through all these "no child left behind" hoops?? Just because teachers have all these "credentials" doesn't mean that they are good at teaching!!!

    June 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  75. Leon Stepanian

    Teachers are basically brain farmers. If this years crop fails despite having the right rain levels, sunny days and earth qualities, then the farmer should bare some of the blame and be held accountable. So why then should the teacher get off the hook so easily?

    June 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  76. Tyler Sprague

    We can restore confidence by having math and science related majors receive 2-4 years of college tuition paid for. Short, sweet, and effective.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  77. Lynn

    How do we restore confidence in public schools?
    Quit broadcasting crap like that! The vast majority of teachers are working their rear ends off for way less pay than they should get. There are other variable factors that come into play on test scores folks. Parents, poverty, motivation, etc. Teachers are not Gods. And test scores are not the answer. Guarantee – if the successes that take place in schools every single day got the media coverage that one professional athlete gets, confidence in schools would skyrocket.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  78. Terry from New Mexico

    You can't it's hopeless the best you can do is teach them Chinese because our grandchildren will need it soon.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  79. Rajesh Khullar

    Jack, I understand the accountability is not just teachers. My father has taught for 30 years and admins who try to cover their tale and not understand that its hard to teach a child who has been passed up eigth grade math but yet has a 4th grade level that can be difficult. I think older teachers going back and getting continuing education in how to change strategies for this generation is one way. But a lot of it Jack simply is conduct of students, poverty of students, lack of discipline visa vie the home, and other factors that are social in nature and are simply beyond any instructor or administrator. I do think that more power should be given to teachers and as we have seen the countries that have top math and science scores and reading scores are the countries that make their teachers have a minimum requirement of Masters for a teacher AND in addition give more freedom in how they teach. Those are the only ways this country can go.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  80. Alex Landi

    Jack- We used to have very good schools in this country. We used to know how to do this. No longer. As a former high school teacher, I know what happened and who's responsible. Our schools were ruined by the same catastrophic liberal experiments that ruined our families and the larger culture. America, and our schools, fell as liberalism rose. We won't fi x our schools until the liberal mindset is swept aside,

    June 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  81. Christopher

    I AM a public school teacher. I can say with confidence that we do NOT go into teaching for the money. We love what we do. The teachers I work with would do anything to help their students. The public values education, but they are not willing to pay for it. This way of thinking needs to change. Shouldn't we fund the schools the way they should be? We are behind other countries because they are willing to put money into the education system. We as taxpayers are not willing to do more than what is absolutely necessary.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  82. Alex

    We need to increase funding to schools. We need to hire more teachers, reduce class sizes, give teachers more tools to excel. To say teachers are "lazy" is disgusting. When soldiers fail a mission do we give up and say they were just "lazy"? No. We look at the mission, look at the equipment, look at the training, and we learn from it. Why don't we apply that logic to teachers and schools?

    Columbia, SC

    June 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  83. Louis R Z

    What does confidence mean? I'm still trying to figure how many pennies makes up one dollar. I think it's about 30 cents based on 1974 one dollar value. You confused yet!

    June 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  84. Allen

    Accountability is not the problem. Schools are more concerned with scores than ensuring that the children learn something. I know kids who get straight As and have no knowledge of history or world events. That is why I homeschool.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  85. Keri

    We can restore confidence in our public schools when America restores her COMMITMENT to EDUCATION. Everyone is culpable- parents refusing to take responsibility for working with their students (especially at a young age), students believing a "C" is good because they "pass", administrators for bending to overbearing parents or lowered state standards, politicians for merely complaining about the state of education and refusing to STAND UP and make real change, and teachers for "dumbing down" classes to match everything I mentioned above.

    Keri in New Albany, OH

    June 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  86. Grant

    We can restore our confidence in public schools by investing more in our teachers, we test the teachers for the same reason we test students, to show how well they perform in a subject and to know where to improve. Not revealing their scores is a step in the wrong direction.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  87. Frank Wiegand

    Frank Portsmouth, VA
    A teacher's job, obviously, is to teach. A student's job is to learn. Until we figure out how to hold each side of this equation accountable our public (or private) education system will continue to be inefficient and ineffective. Yes, I am a teacher.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  88. Vicki in Florida

    If we expect the educational system to improve we have to start at home – each kid's home and the parent(s). If expectations of success are demanded by Mommy & Daddy then the child will excel to the level of the teaching he/she is provided with. Once the number of children showing success improves, then the level of expectation inside of schools will rise as well. If electronic toys and iPhones are already part of the child's life, then the parents should be requiring that at least half of the kid's on-line time be spent learning and prove it by writing an essay daily. We, as a society, have to realize that we cannot compete in the world market unless the importance of education is recognized ... otherwise we will just continue to sink lower in world-wide ratings.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  89. Elaine Short

    I strongly disagree with your comments...our children attended schools in our small community, the best schools around. Come and visit, during school hours, the best dedicated teachers, also families that care about the kids education, that is a key. Most dedicated school board and leadership anywhere in the country, no actually lots of dedicated teachers in our public schools. Where have you been, big eastern city schools, what about the flyover state of Ohio? You are so wrong on this one.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  90. jonlarosa67

    The problem is not with the public schools - not the teachers, not the unions, not the curriculum, and not the resources. The problem is that more than 40% of the kids in this country are raised by a single parent who is often indifferent and apathetic to their child's education. Until you change that, you will never change the performance of our public schools and that is why they have not materially changed in the last 40 years.

    Jon Ruskin, FL

    June 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  91. Joyce Ritchison

    A friend of mine is a Special Ed teacher in high school and has excellent results. However, she states that in these comparisons between countries, no one takes into account that the U.S. educates EVERYONE! That is not true in many other countries. They have tests that students must pass to carry on with their education, and if they fail they are routed to vocational education. It isn't really fair to compare apples with oranges here. A breakdown of like with like should be done before believing everything the scales say. We are actually doing better than most countries in educating ALL of our students to a pretty high level.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  92. Sarah Middleton, OR

    I'm not ready to give up on our public schools. Its been a long time, but I feel I received an excellent education in public schools. The problem is they don't have the financial resources to maintain any kind of quality. The other problem is that now both parents work and the school has had to become a "co-parent", sometimes including providing meals. The school is not qualified to do that, nor should it have to.
    If the economy were better, parents would not have to work so hard to make ends meet, and could spend more time with their kids, and the schools could go back to just teaching, and then things will improve. As it stands now, its just another case of class warfare, as the rich can afford their better, private schools for their children, ensuring their affluent place in society.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  93. Linda in Arizona

    If I had children (not possible because I would never bring a defenseless being into this hell hole of a world), I would send them to private schools. The public schools have always been deficient in every way, and now more than ever. And it doesn't have anything to do with the teachers unions, as diligently and predictably as you tried to blame it on them. Look at it this way, Jack, you don't really think the powers that be want a well -educated populace, DO you? The dumber the people are, the easier they are to control. That is the end goal, and once you realize it, you would keep your child safe from the public school system as assiduously as you would from a sexual predator.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  94. Michael

    Change the entire system. Shools have been teaching our children using essentially the same methods since WWII while childrens methods of learning have dramatically altered due to technology and many other modern influences.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  95. mikerwinna

    First, Jack.. we can step off the public school-bashing and teacher-bashing bandwagons. Public schools are under scrutiny because the expenses are paid for by tax dollars. If we applied the same standards to private enterprises, where our consumer dollars are spent, we'd have much more to say about what's going on with the consumer marketplace. Instead, we focus on the "poor grades" of schools, students and teachers.. because we don't have the mental resources to critically examine the private sector. At the end of the day, Jack.. there's no point in trying to improve the quality of education when we continue to accept a system that rewards professional sports and greedy wall street traders more than it does professors, teachers and those who have the thinking skills you are assuming more important!

    June 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  96. jds47ca

    Let's put the accountability for learning on the learners and those responsible for the learners, their parents. Teachers are teaching. This is a partnership, to blame one group and their professional associations is scapegoating. Parents and students should be working with, not against, educators.

    I spent 33 years teaching all comers. I would accept responsibility for my students progress, if I could select them and their parents. Student motivated to learn and parents dedicated to their child's schooling.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  97. John J. Grimes Watertown, Ma.

    There are far too many teachers who can't teach and provide little inspiration to their students. There are also too many parents who oppose testing and oppose homework assignments while doing nothing to stimulate the learning experience for their own children.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  98. Teacher in Southern State

    I cannot give my name, as I do wish to keep my job. The main issue with education right now is the fact that all states give standardized tests starting in the 3rd grade, but if a student doesn't pass this test, we still "socially" promote said student, so that we don't hurt his/her self esteem. It is a numbers game, and that is all. Students need to be held accountable for their failures, as well as the teachers. Students will flat out tell you they will fail a test, because if they all fail it, then the teacher must either excuse the grade, or give the test again. The students have made a game out of this. Discipline is a joke, as administrators would rather keep problems in the classroom than to see the school's online report card to show a large number of problems. Furthermore, there is too much stress put upon the graduation rate, and not the quality of the students we are graduating. It is simply a "get them through in 4 years how ever possible" than actually caring that they can't do the specific skills needed to be successful in math, science and reading. Until we actually start holding students accountable for their actions nothing will be changed.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  99. C. R. Cook

    I am a teacher, and proud to be one. And, I can respond to your question. We as teachers know what is wrong, and for 99% of us it is not poor teaching. It is two things: First, the state-mandated testing that truthfully does not prepare our students for college,and we teachers know that!!! Second, the biggest factor is what is happening outside of schooll. 80% of what influences a kid's learning is out of my, and every other teacher's control, but we are being held accountable for that, also. Parents have to step up and take away the IPods and cell phones, and MAKE their kids care about doing well in school. WE are in trouble, but teachers, for the most part, are not the villains here. As a good teacher I do not want my union, and we need the union, to protect bad teachers, but the union is needed. It just needs to step back and let those teachers that make us all look bad, be gotten rid of, for the good of all of us!!

    June 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  100. gypsyalso - swartz creek, mi

    we need to get rid of bad teachers and retain good teachers – and the unions have to work with the school system regarding confidence in schools -. my kids had a lulu of a teacher – back in the 80s. woman was a fruitcake – she danced on the desk when reagan bombed gaddafi – she told the kids she was raised by wolves – and that the manna that was sent down from heaven for the israelites to eat was really CAROB chips. she was crazy – when enough people complained she was moved – she now is a counselor for the primary schools. ye gads! first step – bad teachers need to go! second step – schools need to be able to discipline students – and three – parents need to be involved! that is a start.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  101. Mike Walton

    Education starts at home. The public needs to realize that well rounded, well educated kids learn in and out of the schools. Too many in the public are very quick to blame the teachers for their failing kids. Well I hate to break it to you but, it's not all their fault. If you don't work with you kids and become involved with their studies and school work, then your kids are are gonna grow up not being able to read or count to five. YOU, public, have to man up! The lousy teachers? Cut 'em, get rid of 'em! Demand a performance rating on these so called teachers and if they aren't making the grade then flunk 'em. I know a LOT of recent graduates looking for work in the education field who'd be more than capable. It's a two way street people, figure out which side you're on and fix it!

    June 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  102. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafaferty:

    Thanks to CNN and what I am learning about politics, and my experience in public education is that the school systems, run by appointed superintendents, are political in nature. Thus, when one asks how can " we" restore confidence in public eduction is already misleading as to who is going to restore anything. There will be political maneuvering, smoke and mirrors, and threats like the bussing will have to be stopped, and the days will have to be longer, no extracurricular sports etc. ...anything to disrupts the equilibriium of the familys to extort support for and the illusion of improving educational services. In short the "perceptions" that things are improving is a lot easier to sell than actually improving anything so that in the end there is no net change. Ain't politics a wonder?

    June 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  103. Steve from NJ

    Cafferty...this time you got it wrong...the teachers do not cause the problems, it's the politically correct administrators preventing teachers from doing their jobs. Parenting has a lot to do with it, where the goal seems to be babysitting a lot of the kids of lowlifes without trying to insult parents (or single parent) from calling the situation what it is ...social engineering. If anything, we need to put the teacher at the pedastal calling all the shots because more often than not I find teachers to be dedicated people who care. Villifying them is wrong for the most part, anyway.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  104. Cee.La

    Its easy to see by some of the comments that the Conservatives......and their ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council] agenda have sold their koolaide....easy to blame teachers for their failure to teach some of the products of our dysfunctional sociatal problems, or the unions.....so lets privatize public schools, abolish teachers unions, hire Teach for America, teachers who have had a crash course in teaching...2years and they are gone...lets give parents of at risk kids a voucher to send their kids to private/parochial schools....taking about 8500 dollars per student away from the public schools......with no accountability.........for the money.....Yes thats right blame everone else but the parents......how convenient.......

    June 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  105. Kevin Dennis

    This sounds like a great idea! So why not? Aside from the practical aspects – no parent will clamor to have their child placed in the class of the second-best teacher – it is interesting to note the same situation exists with doctors, lawyers and other professionals. Even hospitals have fought 'comparative ratings'. Their argument is it is very difficult to produce them objectively. They will always be subjective to the viewpoint of the single person doing the performance review, or they will be measured by outcomes – over which control is often limited

    Public companies all collect performance review information on their employees. No one would consider making this public. Heaven forbid we should share it even inside the firm!

    Unlike the media, which can use ratings data to evaluate the performance of its anchors, evaluating other kinds of performance is often more art than science. Even the current trend of rating teachers by their students' test scores (which is analagous to patient outcomes) is unreliable as it measures a good deal more than just teacher performance.

    It's too simple a suggestion for too complex a problem.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  106. brettnik

    Mr. Cafferty, you are part of the reason that this confidence has eroded. I am really surprised that you would go on air on this issue with so little information. The rating system is not a scientific formula, teachers who have no state tests are not rated at all and therefore not accountable, teachers scores are not calculated taking into account the number of students repeating the course or their attendance patterns so that teachers with classes of students who have failed before or who rarely attend are rated with little difference alongside their peers who teach classes of motivated, high performing students with great attendance. Maybe America's confidence in public education wouldn't have eroded so much if the media actually researched the issues into today's schools rather than trying to gain audience shares on the backs of America's educators.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  107. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Shorten the school year and increase the school hours. You'll kill two birds with one stone; it would decrease teachers pay if they aren't performing and the students will feel the pressure of learning or the threat of failing.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  108. Bethany

    Critical pedagogy is the key to restoring faith in our public schools. This involves a curriculum that inspires the whole child, taking into consideration culture, life experiences, and individual interests. Critical pedagogy is rooted in radical love, a passionate, sensual, deeply sincere love for all human beings. Our children are not inspired because we are teaching them a test. We need to engage our children in negotiable curriculum that encompasses the basic foundations but also helps our students find their voice. Bethany in Hammond, Louisiana

    June 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  109. BZR

    Really! Teachers work hard to help students with reading, writing and math!!! Unfortunately, it's not possible to screw of the tops of their head sto pour the information in. Remember the saying, "It Takes a Village?" Well it really does. The majority of teachers are on board> What about students wanting to learn, parents being held responsible, and those with authority over education being held accountable?

    June 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  110. Jason

    Easy, get the federal government out of our educational system and hand over responsibility to state governments and local counties. We need to respect teachers more in this county. In Finland, which has one of the best educational systems worldwide, teachers are given the same status as doctors and lawyers.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  111. Tim

    All schools promote studying through memorization, it's causing toxic side effects to our creativity.
    In my honest opinion, this is not engaging whatsoever to students. If we started teaching our kids to learn how to learn, maybe we will be able to save our public schools.
    We also desperately need to unify a standard curriculum. So many more families move nowadays.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  112. Eric Of Rochester MI

    Come on! Oky – I want the details of Wolf's and your review/rating. I mean as teachers effect children – your constant brain washin on TV effects us. If you want to set standards – fine (as in x number of years of a low rating means you go on probation and then an additional x year(s) leads to termination. IF you want to know who really needs to be challenged and monitored it is the parents. Children entering school that don't even know their colors or how to count to 5. The enemy of education is poor parents not poor teachers. P.S. – I am not a teacher.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  113. Janel

    Take the politics out of education and hold everyone accountable. No political figure will dare tell a parent to be responsible or blame a student for not trying. Parents, students and politicians should look in the mirror and quit blaming everyone else. My daughter deals with it every day in school, classmates that don't give a crap. That comes from their parents and is enabled by politicians.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  114. Reg

    Keep politics out of the schools. Develop vocational schools. Increase disciplinary consequences for violent and drug dealing students. Increase teacher pay to attract the brightest individuals. Allow teachers to retire after 25 years of service. Make education the responsibility of four parties equally: administrations, teachers, parents and students.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  115. Jean Davidson

    You are making so many assumptions. Other countries get to eliminate students that do not perform to standards. Their regular classes are equal to giving our teachers only honors students. We teach everyone. Secondly, the tests are poorly constructed by companies that make tests only. These are not educators. By the way, valuable teaching time is shortened to accommodate testing time. Finally, students are not cogs or widgets. They are as diverse as the communities from which they come. They are crowded into large classes ruining any chances for individualization. Teachers are not the enemy! Put your money where your mouths are and stop referring to that as throwing money at education. These students are our future. Act like it.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  116. JP

    I am sick and tired of the media crucifying the public school teachers. Parents should see the evaluations - not the whole city!! We don't see evaluations of the police, firemen or sanitation workers! Parents should take such an active role in their child's education and support the schools.I would love the mayor to sit in a small crowded classroom that has 34 fifth graders in 98 degrees with no air conditioning, with students that barely know or see their parents, and don't speak English. He has no clue what its' like to be in a classroom– but he's very good at criticizing and condemning the teachers.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  117. Heather Lyon

    We clearly need to eliminate tenure for teachers! In what other occupation are you guaranteed a job REGARDLESS of your performance? Teachers need to be held accountable for standards of teaching, rewarded WELL for exceeding expectations, and put on warning – then fired for repeatedly not meeting these standards! Apply supply and demand principles to the teaching industry – pay the teachers who are in high demand and get rid of the ones who are not! Also, training our teachers in INTERNATIONAL best practices is critical! It seems that we are set on repeating our past mistakes by continuing to teach what is not working – both to our students and to the teachers. We need drastic changes in this country to begin to compete with the world ; if we don't, we will be left behind!!!

    June 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  118. Jim

    Jack, I have always respected your work, however, you sound just like the nut job governor of the state of Connecticut. Let’s regulate the teachers unions, hold the teachers accountable etc.etc. Until the legislature in any state or the federal government can regulate and mandate PARENT involvement. You will ALWAYS have a failed system. Blame the teachers, it's soooooo much easier than blaming ourselves. .

    June 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  119. Ed in sacramento

    Dear Jack,

    Couldn't help noticing that shortly before you asked this question there was a piecce about schoolchildren in New York defacing the 9/11 monument. The design of the monument was reported to be part of the reason for their missconduct...REALLY!!!

    There's your answer Jack. People won't take responsiblity for thir actions nor their children's. If schools are to be responsible for what parent's shoud be doing, then I have complete confidence in the failure of such a society!

    Old and cranky in Sacramento!

    June 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  120. Dan-CA

    If test scores are the best means for evaluating teacher performance, the special education teachers should be fired at the end of each year. Remedial teachers would be next and AP teachers would all get bonuses. Simple solutions for the simple minded.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  121. clarke

    If we take 1/4 of the money we spend on any of the wars and invest it in the education system. We would see a true turn around. Also whatever happen with several state's lottery monies going towards education?

    June 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  122. Joe from Indiana

    Everyone has a solution to the problem. Everyone in America seems to have clue. As an educator, I witness firsthand public education and I do not believe we are in peril. We may not be #1 in reading, writing, and math and that is OK. America loves competition and those numbers provide a small glimpse in what actually happens. Bad teachers do get fired and new laws are going to change the landscape in education for years to come, especially in Indiana. America needs to stop comparing itself to other nations and look in our own backyard. We have great schools and many great students graduating and moving on to do great things. We have amazing teachers we can all learn great things from. We just need to restore faith and change public perception of teachers and schools. We need that to come from the public and not the teacher's union.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  123. Mario

    The question is ill-posed as confidence is attainable by illusion. The question should be "how do we improve the education system"...and the main problems are false self-confidence and laziness. The solution requires many things, but most importantly, (a) the hiring of quality teachers and retraining of others, (b) stop lowering expectations and rewarding students when none should be given. Teachers cannot be afraid to fail students, and students should be partly motivated by the fear of failure. Look at China/India, those kids work hard in school...they come over to the US and joke about the utter simplicity of the courses here.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  124. Ben From Ohio

    Teachers unions have way to much power when it comes to our public school system. We need to increase pay for good teachers and fire those who aren't making the cut. If we really want to improve student performance, students should be separated based on how fast they learn and those who struggle should be given individualized attention. However because this solution isn't politically correct (it might hurt some students self-esteem) I highly doubt it would be implemented anytime soon.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  125. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    When ignorant parents refused to let teachers discipline their children and the techers had to put up with children who were rude, cursed out the teacher, acted up in class failed to do their homework and in general are just plain brats that the teachers have no control over whatsoever, until schools revert back to where the teacher had some authority over the students in their classroom then grades and the ability to function as a young person that wants to succeed in life. If I had came home with a bunch of failing grades it would have been the following year before I could have went anywhere. My son who is an attorney has a rule that is not broken, thirty minutes rest when the boys get home and then it is homework time, had better be done when dad gets home another rule, had better never get a call from the principle for bad conduct or acting up in class that required a parent to go to school because of bad behavior.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  126. Michael Greenway Eagle, Idaho

    This is an easy solution, pay teachers more and at the same time hold them accoutable. If a teacher is bot performing well fire them just like most jobs if you don't do well you're canned it's very simple but you have anti-teacher republicans and unions that make it impossible to fire bad teachers and we are left with a big mess. In the inner cities it's harder because you have students who are more interested about shooting an opposing gang member than learning in the class room. For the majority of the country though the solution is simple pay teachers more and hold teachers accountable if you do that are country will lead the world in education, guaranteed .

    June 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  127. RA Jones

    For those passing judgement from outside the classroom, there is more to holding the education system accountable than rating a teacher based on his or her performance – which often is a direct focus on the academic scores of students. If you'd like to go on a witch hunt, find the witches in Congress and state governments haggling over education funds needed in the classrooms; find the witches in the homes of students whose parents send them to school hoping the teachers can do something about their work ethic, their atitude about life in general, and expect teachers to do something about the child's behavior because the parent can't. For the witch-hunters outside the classroom, annual test scores from a particular school does not tell the entire story. Some have absolutely no clue about the dedication and sacrifices made by some of the teachers in those schools deemed as lowing performing.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  128. David Hannah

    Hello Jack, These school children would be able to read, write, and add if they were taught with the books I used in 1960. Now, if power was given to the school for misbehaving children you would solve most of the issue. #1 disruption of any kind, call the parents at work place and tell them to pick up their child in 2 hours or a policeman will deliver them to said work place. If you cost the parents wages, embarrassment in front of their boss, you will have a completely different student after their 2 day suspension. Getting the picture?? You got the picture with students harassment of a grandmother last week. We have free education for any and all that wish to take advantage of the program. No I am not a teacher, yes I am a grad student of a public school .

    June 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  129. Lauren

    1. The ability for teachers to actually fail a student who cannot read/write/do math/master whatever subject is being taught.
    2. The ability to call home about a behavior problem and not have the parent tell us that we need to just deal with it. And if you say you're going to "deal with the problem" you probably shouldn't send your kid to school with a brand new I Phone the next day.
    3. If we are going to test, make the test relevant to the information taught to students.
    4. Understand that teachers have to teach the students they are given. I have students who only get one meal a day–that gross hamburger in the cafeteria. I have students who have to watch their mom bring Johns home at night to pay the bills or who have become the "parents" at home because the adults are too busy/too high to bother. I promise you that if some my kids had a better homelife, they would do a lot better. They are smart, they just have way more important things to deal with.
    5. Quit cutting money from schools. We need good teachers and the resources to teach the children in today's global world. Bad teachers are the only that should get cut.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  130. E. Johnson

    Teachers are damned if they do, and damned again if they don't. Dumbing down tests is wrong in any fashion. However, when the tests become too difficult the parents complain that the tests are too hard, or it has a racial bias. You can't just blame the teachers without including how our culture is changing and parents won't put an effort into parenting as they should. They want to take the easy way. And it's not just the unions. I've seen many teacher unions willing to work with their districts for fairness. There is no easy fix for improving test scores and unfortunately our broken government can't even ix itself.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  131. Dawn Payne

    Look at the trend scores. You cannot evaluate a teacher's effectiveness or performance based on one year! There are too many factors that need to be considered when evaluating a teacher based on student scores- class size, students with disabilities, socio-economic status... PLUS, when do we hold the parents accountable?! We teachers can beg our students to read every night or practice math facts, and we desperately need the help from parents and the community. We teachers are getting dragged through mud right now, but we only have our children 7 hrs a day, 9 months. Who fills in the other gaps? And don't even get me started on how funding gets cut .... Or governor walker .... Dawn, 4th gr. teacher in Wisconsin

    June 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  132. Ken from Los Angeles CA

    My father retired early from teaching because the new crops of students kept getting worse and worse. Granted, there are some bad teachers, but the fault should squarely be placed as well on parents and students. It is a partnership of Teachers, Students and Parents that make public education work. Many parents simply don’t have the time or interest to participate in their children’s learning process. They use school as a babysitter. The current generation of new students is even worse. There is a general lack of drive to learn and preoccupation with social media. Cheating is rampant. Teachers end up policing bad behaviors instead of teaching. The real problem is parenting or lack of it.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  133. Peggy

    One thing that would really help would be for all of you to stop looking for the magic solution........it DOES NOT EXIST!!!Everyone thinks they are experts in education because everybody went to school. If PARENTS would hold their precious dumplings accountable for their actions, that would certainly help. Instead kids look to mommy and daddy to get them out of jams.......example: Can "precious" have an extra week to complete that project you assigned two weeks ago? He/she had rec sports practice every night until late so "precious" was too tired to work on it after he/she got home. I taught for 38 years and EVERY YEAR students were allowed to get away with more and more or had all these stupid accommodations that excused them from the rigors of education. And you people wonder what's wrong with education????????????????

    June 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  134. IbnDevin Uqdah

    We should start off buy stop putting billions of dollars into prisons and but at least half of that into the public school system. Most of Americans cannot afford to send their children to private schools until they are done high school. Therefore, we should not privatize the public school system. The best option is to make incentives to people to become "valuable teachers." Many teachers sit in classrooms with their tenure and could not care less whether students pass or fail because regardless they get paid. Teachers need to be given incentives to have their students perform and punishments if they do not. It is time we take education our population seriously. Until we do, the faith in the public school system will continue to fail. No child left behind is a joke, every child should be left behind until they learn what they must to proceed. Put money in schools not prisons. More computers and visible learning tools for youth kids actually helps.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  135. jackie

    Why blame the teachers why don't we blame the parents, most of the children born are out of wedlock or are from divorced parents, have or had their both or one of their parents on drugs or incarcerated. I remember when a teacher didn't need a masters degree to teach, soon they are going to need a doctorate degree and the children will get worse meanwhile you can be 16 and have a baby and when your child does poorly in school the teachers are blamed. Just look at the recent immigrants – Asians, Indian's, Arabs. They come with in-tacked families and a hunger to learn. Why should teacher information be given to parents or the public, why don't parent information be given to teacher's and the public. They are just trying to break the teachers union; the middle class. Instead let's break people having children out of wedlock, drug attics having children, children having children, and divorce. Oh we can't do that because it would be a public outcry. It's much to much easier to blame the teachers.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  136. Lynn

    Re: union control – again this is a fallacy driven by the media. Unions and school boards negotiate and reach an agreement. Key words – AGREEMENT. Most of the time, teachers give in on salary, benefits, etc. So why aren't people complaining about school boards – you know the folks who AGREED to the contract with the union.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  137. Jesse

    We once lived in an era. When students, feared going to the principles office. When students were focused on being attentive in class, when students wouldn't "forget" to complete their homework assignments. Unfortunately, those era is gone and replaced by students who dismiss assignments, dismiss the teachings of the teacher at the front of the class..students are more concerned with what goes on out of classroom...

    Teachers aren't the issue. Parents are the issue. Parents have to be engaged in their children's education. Too many parents are "hands off" and expect teachers to be part-time parents, teach lesson plans and somehow ensure students learn when the average graduating senior can't pass a standardized 10 grade exam.

    I'm amazed at the discipline, structure, and willingness to learn when I visit students from other nations...we (the US) lost all that along the way...We care way too much about, American Idol, Snooky, and reality TV...the importance of education is lost on American students and parents.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  138. Marie

    Let's just let A BRAVE NEW WORLD begin with us. I shouldn't have to care whether or not everyone gets a fair shake. Public schools only let "those people" actually believe they have a chance for a good life. Teaching should pay like a fast food job. It's not the hamburger's fault it's unhealthy!

    June 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  139. James in Toronto

    Jack. you can start by teaching children there is not now nor has there ever been anything such as "American Exceptionalism" It should be taught in schools that we are all part of the planet earth and you have to work to get good grades; its not handed to you because you are American. Start teaching WORLD geography. I believe it was CNN that did a man on the st interview and most people didnt even know who bordered America on the north. I remember speaking to an american on this very subject a few years ago and he quizzed me on american state capitals. i answered and he looked up the answers on his computer. He thought somehow I was cheating. The rest of the worls for the most part is taught about other countries and their place in it. The USA doesnt bother because as that american put it....the rest of the world doesnt matter. As long as americans continue to be ignorant bafoons nothing will change. I care because as a Canadian our economies are so tied that you will eventually drag us down with you. Until Americans know whats going on around them there is little hope the average child will have a future.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  140. Moe

    With the experiences I've had, trying to "reteach" my daughters algebra, I really think that the overall grading in many of our childrens classes should be looked at. Speaking with neighbors about their childrens experiences show that it wasn't my daughters alone. After spending a couple of class periods watching some of the teachers, my daughters had, made me wonder where they learned to teach. Knowing math well, and have done well in school myself, I was seeing why my daughters, and the children from my neighbors, were confussed more than educated.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  141. Louie

    Well as for here in southern Ohio the school teachers are outstanding and they have the child test scores to prove it. But too much is asked of the teachers, It takes good parenting skills. U need a license to drive why not to conceive.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  142. Sandy, Spfd. IL

    If our country's educational system is so bad, why are people from all over the world sending their children here to be educated? Maybe we should instead examine the homes that our students are coming from and going home to each night. Education funding is constantly being cut while state and federal mandates are never fully funded. If you want a complete picture, be a teacher and do your best. You'll never be sorry you did. And sadly no one will fully understand until they walk in their shoes.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  143. Greg from Clarkston, MI

    Confidence in education?... take control away from local communities and establish a national education system developed and managed by professional educators. The problem is not the teachers Jack, it's the boards of education (local people) who set policy & play with children's futures, with no clue about cognitive development.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  144. Dan Ferguson

    Do the other countries that the US is compared to include the scores for special education and ELL students in their numbers as the US does? No. they do not.
    As a matter of fact in most of the countries that the US is compared to only sends their top 30% or less to high school and everyone else goes off to a trade school and as such are not compared to the US.
    Anyone who watches politics on TV can tell you that statistically I can make the numbers say what ever I wish. As a special ed. teacher in CA. I can say with confidence that 99% of all teachers are great teachers. We work with the children that society provides and that includes all children. Since the days of Howard Mann researchers have looked for the best ways to teach. However, the truth is this, "We will always have the top 10% and the bottom 10%, when it comes to academics, with everyone else somewhere in the middle." We have yet to find the magic bullet that will guaranty all children will learn the same material the same way. Teaching isn't a production line where you put in raw materials and everything off the production line comes off the same. Everyone reading this blog learned to read in a school and some how you all turned out just fine.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  145. marybeth, massachusetts

    There's a lack of confidence in public schools because they've been de-funded and their teachers demonized, while the kids must be coddled and given grades they haven't earned because parents refuse to accept that their kids aren't doing the work (so it must be the teacher's fault).

    Here are some suggestions:
    1. Adequately fund the public schools
    2. Support the teachers both in terms of what's being taught AND in terms of handing out discipline, when needed
    3. Get rid of No Child Left Behind
    4. Pay teachers a decent, living salary
    5. Parents get involved–support the teachers, make your kids do their work, don't do their homework for them, make excuses for them
    6. School administration must have the means to nuture teachers, to help them when they need help, to mentor them and guide them–that means having more experienced teachers mentoring the newer teachers
    7. Teach the basics, build from there

    June 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  146. photographybyforrest

    I just graduated Muncy High School in Pennyslvania and am disgusted at some of the reading and writing level of some of my fellow male graduates. Many guys in my grade can't write a single sentence without an error in spelling or grammer. Now, we are going into college and must face a heavier workload and a higher level of writing and reading. How will they survive? Restoring confidence in our public school is hard and will take time, for even I going through high school didn't approve of the education system and to express it I wrote poetry about our failing public system. One thing that needs to be changed to improve the public school system is parenting. Parents today often take less time for their children, and helping them with reading and writing growing up. They need to express the importance of these things by helping them through their schooling, yet be stern with their children at the same time. Another thing that needs to be changed is the filtering process when hiring teachers. There are so many people my age that say they want to be teachers because they get the summer off, not because of the importance of improving a child's education, trust me, I hear it. Although it may mean that many teachers will be replaced, we need those old style teachers, who are not afraid of using a little hard action against students to make them act appropriately in school. With that said we need to get rid of these laws saying that a teacher may never touch a student. When my dad went to school, teachers would put students against lockers to prove a point, and throw tennis balls at sleeping students. Even though I'm in this young generation, I still approve of these methods because they worked, but now many parents have become soft and take the child's story more often than not. Another issue is funding cuts. Pennsylvania cut funding for public schools drastically, and because of this, my high school had to have a book drive for the school's library, because my school's funding was cut, which lead them to the decision of cutting the library funding by 80%. Many things need to change like funding, parenting, and teaching, so it will take some time to fix, but it definately needs to start changing.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  147. Melanie from Missouri

    I am a public school teacher in Missouri. You want to restore our faith in public schools? Time to realize teachers are not the villains and many of the problems have been from lazy administrators unwilling to weed out the teachers who don't cut it and aren't effective. Also, legislators continue making laws regarding education without knowing the first thing about what goes on in the classroom. The government continues to expect more out of schools, but refuses to spend the money to make these things happen. Funding continues to be cut while expectations rise. Teacher salaries are low compared to other professionals with the same educational requirements. Time to put our money where our mouth is and expect administrators to do their job and the government to spend money on our future; the students.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  148. Veronica

    My sister is an amazing teacher. Parents need to wake up and stop blaming the school systems for their kids failing grades. People should look to the parents, education begins in the home.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  149. Dominic Scamuffa, Chadds Ford, PA


    The teacher accountibility test is unfairly based on year to year testing; i.e. did this year's fourth grade class do as well as last year's class. What needs to happen, if posssible, is the tracking of individual students through their individual careers. If a student or a group of students begin with a low level of performance, they may not be able to compete in test scores of the students who preceded them and were high performers. I don't disagree with standardized testing, but in the evaluations of teachers, student performance should be only compared with that particular student's previous performance. Teachers should be evaluated on how well they increase the individual scores of each student, not based on the performance of a previous class.


    June 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  150. Dave, Orlando, FL

    Over the last few years, you have asked so many questions similar to this about so many things that are wrong in this country that I’ve lost count. There is nothing we can do unless we fix everything, but there are too many things that are broken. That means we are toast. “America,” my beloved country, so very sadly does not mean the same thing it did when my father of “the greatest generation” passed and left me what was such a rich and wonderful legacy. And with indescribable sorrow, when I pass I will not be leaving anything of value to my offspring, and I mean that in every sense of the word.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  151. reynard

    We must restore the culture of effective education and the importance of it. We pay reality stars and athletes millions of dollars to act up, pay teachers peanuts and blame the kids when they imitate Snooki in class. Good teachers spend more time disciplining classes than teaching. I say we reinstate corporal punishment except we paddle parents that fail to motivate their kids and participate in their education. Get the parents engaged and the kids will follow suit...that plus cancel the Kardashians and Jersey Shore.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  152. Jim Wilger

    Jack .. My Daughter took all three of her children out of what is supposed to be a top notch public school district in Wisconsin and enrolled them in Charter School. The Problem is not the Union or Teachers it is the other students . The students are undisciplined and not motivated and that needs to be TAUGHT at HOME before they attend school. My Daughter has a University degree in early childhood development.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  153. terrancemartin

    There are myriad issues we could go after with respect to funding, programs that have been cut, teacher competency, etc. They are all most certainly of concern. But they are not the root problem. The root problem is study habits aka work habits. This is taught not by the teacher but by the parents. If the student doesn't habitually study and/or practice their three R's, they will not have competency. Study habit's are taught at home. The root problems are at home. The parents need to teach the children well. Parents are forgetting their number one life responsibility – prepare their children for adulthood. It's not easy. It's hard with both parents working. Both parents out of the home. So many homes with single parents. But teachers can not take on this responsibility. Parents must find a way to step up and teach their children good work habits or the country will continue to fall behind. Teaching is one thing. Learning is another. Learning is accomplished by putting in the work. Teach your children how to work.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  154. Greg from Clarkston, MI

    Education is a critical societal infrastructure and it needs to be formalized and run as a national system to provide the best possible development potential to all children, through college; encourage learning & intelligence as a higher achievement than sports & other distractions, emphasizing creativity and invention which will benefit our society economically and functionally. We need to refocus our priorities away from amassing wealth – the greed factor – to doing things that benefit all society. We all live together on this little blue ball.

    June 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |