Opinion: Our School Systems are Killing Us
Opinion: Our School Systems are Killing Us
There are few in this country who doubt we are in a crisis when it comes to public education. Our public schools are instilling in our young a lack of responsibility. Worse, they are training them to believe they can do almost anything – or not do it – without facing consequences. Is it any wonder when those same students get to college, they have little to no concept of what is expected of them as students or adults? Not that our higher education system helps much along the way. Somewhere, the buck has to stop and, in this case, it stops with each of us as taxpayers.
Districts like Baltimore County have put into place rules where “students will be graded only on what they learn, not how they behave or if they do their homework.” Think about that for a moment and do it as an employer. What would happen if you walked into work one day, the morning an important presentation was to be given to a valuable client, and the employee responsible for part of the presentation said, “Sorry, I didn’t feel like doing it”? I don’t know about you, but I’d be hauling that employee into my office to be written up and sent down to HR. Yet, in schools like those in Baltimore County, that would be just fine. After all, behavior, or misbehavior, has no consequences.
But it goes beyond that. A major portion of most grades has always come from how a student does on homework. Kids being kids, many of them wouldn’t do the homework if they weren’t held responsible for it. Or, if they did it, they’d do a half-assed job at it. How is a teacher supposed to gauge how well a student does without homework that matters? But it gets better. The reasoning for this policy is that the parents, teachers and administrators who approved the new approach “found punishing students for missed homework didn’t motivate them to work harder.” So, of course, not holding them responsible will surely motivate them to work harder. . . riiiight.
As if not holding students responsible for homework is enough to screw them up in later life, next comes the “we’ll let them retake tests until they are satisfied with their scores” movement. In some districts, this means only mid-terms and finals. In others, it is every test. One mother discovered her school district followed this policy when she asked her son if he had studied for an upcoming test. His response? “Sort of. . .It doesn’t even matter. If I don’t do well, I’ll just retake it.” The mother’s response echoes what mine would have been:
[A]s a parent I wonder what the policy teaches children about responsibility, ownership and preparedness. When it comes time for college, employment, relationships or marriage, they won’t always get a “do-over,” so why are so many schools allowing them?
Yet, instead of advocating for a reasonable amount of homework to, you know, maybe keep a student fresh on what was discussed in class that day, the so-called experts advocate for no homework until students reach college. Can you imagine how well that would go over?
I wish that was where it ends, but it’s not. “Higher Education is Drowning in BS”, by Christian Smith and published in The Chronical for Higher Education, is a stunning condemnation of our colleges today. Smith lays out a number of problems, ranging from “the university’s loss of capacity to grapple with life’s Big Questions, because of our crisis of faith in truth, reality, reason, evidence, argument, civility, and our common humanity” to “universities hijacked by the relentless pursuit of money and prestige, including chasing rankings that they know are deeply flawed, at the expense of genuine educational excellence” to “the ascendant “culture of offense” that shuts down the open exchange of ideas and mutual accountability to reason and argument. It is university leaders’ confused and fearful capitulation to that secular neo-fundamentalist speech-policing.”
The latter, combined with Smith’s next concern, “the invisible self-censorship that results among some students and faculty, and the subtle corrective training aimed at those who occasionally do not self-censor,” should be of great concern to anyone, especially any parent about to send her child off to college. Between the lack of understand that their actions will have consequences, often negative, to finding themselves in situations where their political or religious beliefs will not only be attacked but silenced, we have a problem. Colleges should be a place to learn and part of learning is the free exchange of ideas. But that’s not happening.
I wish I could say the case of former Mizzou assistant professor Melissa Click and her call for “muscle” to keep a journalist from filming a protest was the exception to the rule, but it’s not. Liberals may believe the president is trying to limit free speech and press but it is their own actions that speak volumes and, like it or not, those actions are running rampant on our college campuses. Where is it going to end?
It ends by each of us demanding, from the local level on up, accountability from our school districts and our elected officials. Our tax dollars pay for our schools. Our votes put those in charge of the local districts and tax funds in office. We also have to get involved with our schools. Find out what the policies are and let the schools and the districts know when those policies are detrimental to our children. We have one generation already of students who are now young adults, many of whom have clue none about how to adult because they’ve never been told “no” or been made to face the consequences of their actions. How many more do we have to live through before we finally say “enough is enough?”.