Home School...Or Else?
- Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Our educational delivery system in this country is in a mess. And, really, there is only one solution. You! Mr./Miss/Mrs. Parent -- you must homeschool. You must.
First, some research. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has recently conducted a study to show, once again, that American kids feel good about their abilities but far underachieve in math when stacked up against 40 other countries of the world. And, to no one's surprise who has been a spectator of the dismal scene across the years, our "bang for buck" -- the money we spend on public schools compared to the results in terms of student achievement -- is the worst among the 41 nations studied.
This study only reflects other surveys of educational trends across the last five decades. We do well at coaching our underperforming kids on self-esteem (they actually think they are good at reading and math); but they can't read, add, or think adequately in comparison to their peers in other nations.
All the while, we are spending dramatically more on a paradigm that doesn't work. Over the past 30 years, average per-pupil expenditures for public, elementary, and secondary schools have nearly doubled, rising from $3,931 in 1971-1972 to $7,524 in 2001-2002, in constant dollars. Since 1960, per-pupil expenditures have almost tripled in constant dollars. And test scores? Down, a bit. Mostly flat.
So, the parent hopes, maybe college can fill the gaps left by the international joke of a public education system.
Wouldn't count on it.
A recent Zogby survey found that "contemporary college seniors scored on average little or no higher than the high-school graduates of a half-century ago on a series of 15 questions assessing general cultural knowledge." Oh, but they are learning something. Another survey found that 98 percent of our college and university seniors could identify Snoop Doggy Dogg, but only a third could tell you that Washington was the general at the battle of Yorktown.
And, knowing in their heart of hearts that something might be amiss, our educational establishment has responded -- with liberals, and liberal ideas. The New York Times recently reported that Democratic professors outnumber Republicans among academics by 7-to-1 in the humanities and social sciences. That ratio skyrockets to 28-to-1 and 30-to-1 in a separate study when talking about sociology and anthropology, respectively.
Here in Mississippi a few years ago, in a brilliant move of liberal thinking under an "education governor" whom the teacher unions swooned over, a computer was placed in every single classroom in the state. "Ready for the 21st century," was the jubilant chorus.
And now comes the study from the CESifo economic research organization in Munich that computers make kids dumber. The more computers there were in student's home, the worse the student's math performance. And those who used school computers several times a week performed "sizably and statistically significantly worse" in both math and reading.
"Sizably and statistically significantly worse" -- a phrase that many of our kids in Mississippi and across the country can't even spell. But they have the Internet figured out.
So, what to do?
First, every home a school; every parent a teacher. The home-schooling movement is growing among concerned parents in America, as well it should be. Research shows that, on the whole, the longer they are in home-based studies, the more likely students are to outperform their peers.
But not all parents can "home school," given life situations and work demands. Home school anyway, and especially if your child goes to a public and/or secular school. The Hebrews recited the Shema twice a day and many faithful Jews still do today: "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your sons .... "
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