Thursday, May 01, 2008

A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM IN PUBLIC EDUCATION - THE FLOATING STANDARD

Have you ever thought about the importance of reading? In a recent Think Magazine, Jim Palmer writes that the first "key" to building relationships is communication (March 2008). Reading is communication so why isn't public education teaching children to read? Children learn how to speak by being spoken to. They learn how to read by being read to. God expect for children to read and learn the rules of communication since He decided to communicate with us through the written word. It is unsatisfactory that children grow up not knowing how to read and write. Is it not a grave concern that the public education system is failing to teach children how to do these things? An educator, Jerry Jessness, comments on the problem: "Americans hate public education because standards are low but love their local schools because their children perform so well there." He writes in Reason Magazine about the "floating standard" and what's wrong with schools:
The Initiation
I was introduced to the floating standard in 1979, while teaching for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on a reservation in western South Dakota. My predecessor had been forced to resign after failing nearly half his students. In his absence, the failing grades were changed and his students were promoted to the next grade. His former students and peers considered him a capable, if imprudent, instructor. It was because of him that my students were willing and able to read grade-appropriate novels, a rarity at BIA schools.

Even though I knew my predecessor's fate, I gave some failing grades for the first grading period. After a few warnings, however, I fell into line. There was no point in doing otherwise. The students already knew that failing grades would mysteriously change over the summer and that they would advance to the next grade. I opted for self-preservation.

A few years later I moved to Texas' lower Rio Grande Valley. Since I was now an experienced teacher and was reasonably fluent in Spanish, I felt that my position would be stronger than it had been at my former school. Besides, at my interview my future principal spoke movingly about the need to push our students to their limits. In the first grading period I boldly flunked a number of students, including the daughter of an administrator of a local elementary school and a star fullback who was also the nephew of a school board member.

Shortly thereafter I was called in to meet with my principal and the aggrieved parents. Such was my naiveté.... read here.
Public education may carry too great a burden that should be shared by parents. But it is time for someone to take responsibility. If the public education system is unable to move beyond the present mediocrity, then the competitive private schools should get the parents tax dollars and fix this problem. God wants our children to learn. The words, "Study to show thyself approved to God" requires that we first be able to read.

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