The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.


on March 17, 2012



What is the biggest problem America faces? We’d all probably have different answers – most perfectly valid. The one that jumps out and slaps me in the face is our educational system. If we ran our military system the way we run our educational system, soldiers would carry 50 different rifles.

Why should a child from California who moves to Kentucky be faced with repeating material he has already learned? Why should a grade of “A” in a Mississippi school equate to a “C” in New York?


A fifth grade child fromJapanwho enrolls in a Japanese school in the U.S. will open the same textbook to the same page he was on inJapan.  If he enrolled in an American pubic school and opened his textbook he’d be reading something he studied two years ago.


We have adopted a minimalistic approach to education.  We refuse to acknowledge the fact that a three year old can be taught to read. We don’t feed a child’s yearning to learn early enough or deep enough. Moreover, our performance based system squelches a child’s innate imagination and curiosity without which we produce robots, not people capable of technological advancements.


There is a man in Romania who taught his twin daughters Chess at the age of three or four. Those two girls became world class competitors on the chess circuit.  Tiger Woods father put a golf club in Tiger’s hands at the age of three – look what happened. That is HEAD START. What we call Head Start is pabulum.


The statistics are appalling

  • 70% of our eighth graders can’t read proficiently.
  • American students rank 25th in math and 21st in science compare to students in 30 industrialized countries.
  • By the end of 8th grade, U.S. students are two years behind in the math being studied by their peers in other countries.
  • More than 1.2 million students drop out of school every year.
  • Annually, dropouts  cost our nation more than $300 billion in lost wages, lost taxes and lost productivity. A dropout is more than eight times as likely to be in jail as a high school graduate and nearly 20 times as likely as a college graduate.


Add to those statistics the fact that far too many of our students struggle to spell correctly, can’t write a coherent sentence, and never heard of Plato or Homer or Dostoyevsky or Whitman or – or  – or.


Who is responsible for this dismal state of affairs, the high drop out rate?  That is a subject I’ll address at another time.


Education is an issue that affects our national strength and security. If we don’t revitalize our education system, our standard of living will decline, our democracy will be at risk and we will continue to fall behind other countries industrially.  Putting caps on the number of charter schools, failure to fund private schools,  is, I believe, equivalent to the suicide ofAmerica.


My children went to reasonably decent schools with relatively good teachers. They mastered what was being taught.  BUT – they did not reach their full potential. Had I known about home schooling when my kids were young, that would have been my option.   Admittedly, it takes some dedication to home school but it doesn’t require that one be a genius.  Resources abound.


I know a mother – not a scholar – who home schooled her kids. The eldest just completed a semester at Oxford, on full scholarship. Had he graduated from an American public school, it’s highly unlikely he would have been allowed into those hallowed halls.


What do you think is America’s biggest problem?


Julie Rose



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