Friday, January 11, 2008

What Is School For?

"Nothing is easier than spreading public money. It does not appear to belong to anybody. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody."
-- Calvin Coolidge

Connecticut's school system takes every opportunity to claim that its schools are the best in the country. Yet, teaching standards for Math and English are the lowest in the US according to the the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation ( ), an independent think tank. Their 2005 report evaluates the standards by which all states offer instruction. CT came in last. A recent US Chamber of Commerce analysis agrees with Fordham on CT's standards. Meanwhile, US stands 24th out of 29 industrial nations in math and science, according to TIMSS, the international math and science watchdog group.

With the US near the bottom in world ranking and CT at the bottom in US ranking, we know that Connecticut public school teaching standards for English and Math are among the world's worst. No matter how much our state and local officials and the teachers' unions promise they are offering "excellence," it is obvious that they are not even close. Instead, we must wonder if they know what excellence is since virtually every other state is doing it better.

Observers have noticed that the school system is not primarily for education, but exists for other reasons, starting with job #1-- babysitting. Job #2 is sorting and labeling children for the job market (some call it "role selection," others call it meat-stamping). Job #3 is employment for adults who are downsized or otherwise unemployed. Thus, the school system acts as a sponge for hiring at taxpayers' expense. There are even places for failed teachers in the system; one such place is called LEARN (in Old Saybrook) -- a sort-of nunnery where up to six hundred people are hired at taxpayer expense to perform unnecessary activities. There are six such places in CT alone, called "regional resource centers."

The state mandates that all CT children are to be offered instruction in a few basic subject areas. Does the state say what, exactly, needs to be learned? No. Does your local school system have a set of information that it requires the students to learn? If so, where is it written? If not, what is the purpose of the school system? If a child can demonstrate that he/she knows an "acceptable" amount of information, can that student be considered to have met the district's basic requirements for graduation? If not, why not? Is there more that is required from students than learning basic subject matter? What is it? Where is it written?

What we'll find is that a student must sit in classes until a certain number of "credits" are earned. A diploma does not depend on any particular amount of learning. It depends on a certain amount of seat time, or "time-on-task;" in other words, attendance. Thus, school is about serving time and obedience -- being psychologically conditioned -- but not learning. That is why many people call public school warehousing.

Recently, I met a startling example of warehousing -- a bright and talented senior who is about to graduate from her town's high school after attending for twelve years. She took the Army's test for general competence in reading and math -- a test set at approximately the sixth grade level. She failed. Her years in public school have not prepared this young woman well enough to join the Army. That is outrageous. For this to happen, the failure of her (typical) school is huge. After twelve years in public schools -- receiving As and Bs -- this young person is not competent in basic knowledge and has little chance to succeed in our society.

The public schools socially promoted her for twelve years while no one raised a flag about her lack of reading skills, which also led to her inability to understand written math problems. The Army considers her illiterate. How bad can it get! Ask at any public school, "Who is responsible to see that children learn to read at least at the sixth grade level before they get a high school diploma?" No one is. I asked if anyone on my school board was knowledgeable of the reading program and its results. No one is. What does that mean? It means that no one in the public school system cares about the results of what goes on.

Whose children are they? Whose money is it? End


Karen said...

Ned, how correct you are. Recently (we're going through budgets here in my town), I wanted to know what is "mandated" so I could begin to "weed out" those areas we spend in, but aren't required to. I looked through CT. state statutes to find out. Saying it is vague, is being kind. The statute basically gives the schools the green light to spend taxpayers dollars and for what? I later called the CT. Dept. of Ed, thinking I would get a clearer answer, I didn't. The individual I spoke to cited the statute. This is the biggest money making racket I've ever seen. Our young people are/will pay for it dearly in more ways than one, as well as us.

Ned Vare said...

Thank you Karen,
Yes, public school budgets account for about two thirds of a town's taxes in CT.
School budgets are the license for the schools to raid the town, stealing money for every program they can imagine.
Nothing is truly mandated because nothing is paid for unless the school agrees. Therefore, schools use "mandates" as the excuse, when in fact, they simply want the extra state money.
The CT Dept of Ed. is part of the robbery. While taking its orders from the Federal DoE, its real function is to deceive the public about the public schools.
Note that the average private school offers better education at about half the cost per child, while homeschooling costs almost nothing.
Public school is not just a failure, it also is the biggest ripoff in every state.


Karen said...

"The Mission of the East Lyme Public Schools is to be an educational partner in a community effort to enable each student to learn the information and skills necessary to be a productive member of our rapidly changing global society."
Believe it Ned, this is our schools mission statement. At first glance, one may think wow this is impressive. However, taking the time to truly understand it, we see the "mission" is to raise workers. Also, it states that our schools will prepare the students for a society that is "rapidly changing". How do you prepare an individual with a set of skills/info for something that you don't know that which it will be by locking them up or keeping them away from the society/community that they need to be a part of? It is nothing more than jibberish.

Crimson Wife said...

I could've passed the CA High School Proficiency Exam by the end of 8th grade (and the English portion earlier). Instead of making students like me sit through 4 years of high school, perhaps we should've been able to get a head-start on college.

Ned Vare said...

Karen is right again. What the schools claim as their mission is "eduspeak" nonsense. The motto here in Guilford is similarly meaningless.

To CRIMSON WIFE: Yes, lots of kids are starting college early. We know two young women (daughters of a single mom) who GRADUATED from CT Western State College -- one at age sixteen, the other at fifteen.

(Don't wait for government permission to start your own, or your kids' real education.)