Education in America __ Three Sad Examples

As someone who has lived out side of the country for the last 21 years, I am always amazed when I read stories, like the ones I will share with you today, about happenings in America’s education system. I sincerely hope these examples are exceptions and not the rule.

California Applies Common Core Standards

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is something new to me so I Googled it. Here is their mission statement:

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

From a Daily Caller article we learn that in California, eighth graders will no longer be required to learn algebra.

 will no longer require eighth-graders to take algebra — a move that is line with the Common Core standards being adopted by most states, but that may leave students unprepared for college.

Last month, California formally shifted to the Common Core mathematics standards, which recommend that students delay taking algebra if they aren’t ready for it. Previously, algebra class was a requirement for all eighth-graders in the state.

This is progress? This is preparing our children for the future? Sounds to me like another of those “one size fits all” ideas. So, I went back to the link above and clicked on Math Standards. I didn’t read it all but I did read this:

There is a world of difference between a student who can summon a mnemonic device to expand a product such as (a + b)(x + y) and a student who can explain where the mnemonic comes from. The student who can explain the rule understands the mathematics, and may have a better chance to succeed at a less familiar task such as expanding (a + b + c)(x + y). Mathematical understanding and procedural skill are equally important, and both are assessable using mathematical tasks of sufficient richness.

Mnemonic? What the hell is mnemonic? I have a Master’s Degree in Engineering. I was a damn good engineer. I have not a clue as to what a mnemonic is or why I would have been served to know. I doubt Albert Einstein knew what a mnemonic was. Teachers have been teaching and students have been learning algebra for a very long time. Are we trying to reinvent the wheel? And, if this reinvented wheel is so good, why would students not be ready for it in the eighth grade?

Student Sues University Over Grade

From another Daily Caller article comes this news:

A graduate of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. has sued the school for $1.3 million because she is unhappy that she got a C+ in a class in 2009.

Megan Thode, 27, says the grade ruined her dream of becoming a licensed professional counselor, reports The Morning Call, an Allentown-based newspaper. Her civil suit alleges breach of contract and sexual discrimination. It contends that the grade was part of a broader attempt to force her to abandon the graduate degree she was pursuing.

Trial proceedings began Monday in Northampton County and could last the rest of this week.

Ms. Thode, the daughter of a Lehigh professor of finance, got a C+ in one course because she received a zero  out of a possible 25 points for ….get this… class participation.  A ZERO! How does one get a zero for class participation? She must have slept through each class. Now, to be fair, she claims discrimination. But, going to court to get a grade changed? Oh, and by the way, she did get her Masters in some other type of counseling instead of repeating the class to improve her grade. This is entitlement mentality that seems to be so common among our young people today.

The University of Missouri Takes Multiculturalism To Extremes

According to Fox News, the University of Missouri publishes a “Guide to Religions: Major Holidays and Suggested Accommodations” — designed to help faculty know when and when not to schedule homework and exams . The guide includes 43 religious holidays that professors need to schedule around so as not to impose on the student’s ability to observe their religious holidays. The holidays includes the  two-day Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, the Chinese New Year, Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukah, Easter, and …. are you ready for this… eight Wiccan and Pagen holidays.

Wiccan and Pagen holidays? Will this insanity never end? How long will it be before students start claiming holidays for all the gods of Greek and Roman mythology? Then they will never have to study or take exams.

If these three examples are indicative of the state of Americas education system, America is in for a world of trouble. The world is a very competitive place. Our young people are not going to be prepared.

Well, now you know what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?


15 thoughts on “Education in America __ Three Sad Examples

  1. Education has been going downhill for a long time. Now students aren’t expected to learn unless they feel themselves ready to. Teachers aren’t supposed to grade since grading is judgmental. It’s not fair, after all, to give someone a lower grade than someone else.

    That could be construed as bullying you see. And we are all supposed to be against bullying.

  2. I believe The Daily Caller got the algebra issue wrong… common core standards do not define what course schools teach… they define what students should know at various benchmark grade levels.

    Core standards define outcomes that are used to asses student achievement. They basically boil down into a set of state level testing programs… nothing more; nothing less.

    Each school district in the USA defines their own curriculum – even in California. Common Core Standards define testable outcomes districts or states can use to evaluate student learning.

    For decades there has been a movement in American K-12 education toward outcome-based learning. Defining outcomes allows educators to better evaluate student achievement than other ways, such as multiple choice testing. That only tests memorization and guessing skills.

    Individual states have been working on their own outcomes for a very long time. Within the last 5 years, though, a national teaching and learning standard based on outcomes has been adopted by 45 states.

    That standard was developed using a grant fro the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation by a national groud of K-12 educators.

    The United States is one of the few countries that does NOT have official K-12 national teach and learning standards.

    California’s Common Core State Standard is their implementation of the budding national education standard.

    Algebra is not being ignored in the new standards.

  3. Forget any decent scores in the SAts. Math , including algebra and geometry are a good part of the math test. Anyway, it’s use is to develop a portion of the brain that aids critical thinking, but we wouldn’t want that would we.

  4. Competition is the answer. But the leftists think competition is bad. Can’t have that when everybody (and apparently, everything) is equal. We can’t consider school choice, for heaven’s sake.

    I just read a Michelle Malkin column at Human Events talking about Chicago and the way Democrats had screwed that city up (and profited richly from doing so), and it contained this little piece of info regarding a do-gooder project:

    –Democrats poured another $30 million in public money into the city’s public schools to curb youth violence over the past three years. The New York Times hailed the big government plan to fund more social workers, community organizers and mentors and create jobs for at-risk youth. But watchdogs on the ground exposed it as a wasteful “makework scheme.” One local activist nicknamed the boondoggle “Jobs for Jerks” because “it rewards some of the worst students in the school system with incredibly rare employment opportunities while leaving good students to fend for themselves.”–

    Can you imagine what it would be like to be a good student in one of those schools? You doubtlessly have to put up with all manner of crap just to go to school. You work hard trying to actually learn and become educated. And, the troublemakers get the special treatment. It’s competition turned upside down, rewarding the losers and ignoring the winners. Isn’t the outcome of such a thing entirely predictable? (To anyone but a liberal Democrat)

  5. I don’t see what the big deal about not having Algebra in eighth grade is – it wasn’t offered in my school and I turned out just fine. If you want a kid to get to calculus by twelve grade, you need to take calculus in eighth grade, but not everyone is cut out for it. I think that they are still going to offer it in eighth grade, but not make it mandatory, which will make life easier on eighth grade algebra teachers.

    Common core standards is more soviet-style polytechnic workforce training.

    The mnemonic is an acronym that helps you remember something like SOHCAHTOA for trig and in the case stated, FOIL – First, Outer, Inner, Last in how to multiply out a binomial.

  6. Well, I do remember there was no algebra in my middle school. 9th grade was when first offered, then Geometry in 10th, algebra 2 in 11th, and calc in senior year. So many that one’s not so bad.

    Not that I’m defending common core or anything. Anytime we have more centralization, as in nationalizing education standards, we are going to deal with more pointless checks in the blocks, bureaucracy, and even less ability to treat students as individuals.

    Once all the states adopt common core, won’t it just save them money and be simpler to let the federal Dept of Education take over administration of testing? Or is that already pretty much accomplished by the dangling of educational dollars in front of states?

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