"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 (www.edexcellence.net/ ), 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