Friday, May 31, 2013

SJ Magazine: "New Jersey's Failing High Schools"

This article left me weary and worried.  Read it and weep....

Like so many commentaries on the shocking state of education in NJ and elsewhere in this
once- upon-a-time land of the free and home of the brave, it states the problems clearly and then dives enthusiastically into the bottomless pit of fictions that we have manufactured to divert ourselves from a painful, ugly reality.

In the first few paragraphs, the author states a few tragic facts:

1.  70% of New Jersey's high school graduates need remedial coursework in order to be college-ready.

2.  Students who begin college by taking remedial coursework have only a 25% chance of graduating from college.

Heaven help us.

But even more shocking than this scandalous truth about the value of public education in NJ, is the fact that the outrage is omitted!  Friends, you have been robbed!  How much of your annual tax bill supports the public schools?  Demand a refund !!  In no other industry could there be such gross neglect without dire consequences. If you were this derelict in your duties at your job, you would be canned.  If you are a law abiding citizen who pays taxes without complaint and your kid has graduated from high school but needs to take pre-algebra at the community college - You. Have. Been. Robbed.

You paid for your kid's education with prodigious taxes and now you have to pay for the same coursework - again - but this time with after-tax dollars, that warm and fuzzy double whammy.

But instead of howling with outrage, shock, and righteous indignation, the author begins the equivocations and idle talk of common core standards, 'partnering with high schools', Student Success Summit, task forces, proficiency testing, blah, blah, blah.   She tells us the public schools are falling short and then suggests .... more of the same !!  What??

Is it because I have not sent my kids to schools that I feel such umbrage and have an overwhelming desire to grab every parent by the shoulders, shake them hard, and bellow, "Snap out of it !!"

None of the task forces, partnerships, committees, study teams, testing cultures and revised standards have worked. Standardized test scores continue to drop; they are at record lows!  It has all been for nothing.  The whole system is quicksand.  Once you are in it, the more you struggle, and the deeper you are pulled down by it.  What else needs to be said?

The exasperation I felt after reading this article was palpable.  Into what hermetically sealed chamber has the collective common sense of American families been forever ditched?  Unless parents snap out of it and demand a refund or walk away, nothing is going to change.  The fiction will only grow more Leviathan-like around the dark chambers of the public education stage until the specter-like whispers of truth evaporate altogether.  Meanwhile, taxes will go up, America will slip further behind its international peers, and citizens will decry the outsourcing of jobs.  Friends, the madness really must stop and only you can make it stop.

Lest you think that I believe teachers are bad or guilty, think again.  They are saints.  The union?  Not so.  But teachers are creative, caring individuals who really want to help.  But the entire system is built upon a lie.  Mass, group education is a bad idea.  The minority of students who succeed would succeed even if you dropped them on a deserted island.  They are determined to learn, and they'll do it no matter what.   Mass education does not produce a good result for the majority.  That's really the only truth that needs to be absorbed by the collective consciousness of the American public.

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