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What's the Problem With US High Schools? 1095

GrumpySimon asks: "ABC News is reporting that High School kids are dropping out of high school in 'epidemic proportions', with an estimated 2,500 kids quitting daily. What's wrong with our school system that so many kids prefer working 40 hours a week instead? How can this be fixed?" It seems to be an America truism that "things get better after High School," and it wouldn't be surprising if most of you readers feel the same way. However, why does it have to be this way? What's the big problem with American High Schools where more and more children are feeling that it's better to risk the "real world" than to continue on with their education? Of course, another question that should be asked is: Is High School really the problem, or is it America's Educational system as a whole?
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What's the Problem With US High Schools?

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  • Aim High. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:51PM (#16941116)
    "What's wrong with our school system that so many kids prefer working 40 hours a week instead?"

  • Gotta be the age (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrayCalx ( 597428 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:52PM (#16941144)
    It seems to be an America truism that "things get better after High School," and it wouldn't be surprising if most of you readers feel the same way. However, why does it have to be this way?

    I think a lot of the reasons things "get better after high school" is because of the age you are when in high school. I didn't know who I was, took people's opinions of me too seriously, and couldn't get the girl I liked to notice me. I was definitely excited to get out of high school because of how glorious college was made out to be. I didn't read the article, I'm sure it got involved to level at which i just wouldn't care, I assume that the kids they're talking about dropping out aren't then enrolling in college but it just seems like a lot of those feelings stem from puberty and the social environment created by forcing kids of those ages to interact.
  • 4 Year Prison Term (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:53PM (#16941156) Homepage
    Given that most high schools are run as assembly-line institutions with often ridiculous learning-hindering schedules, policies and rules, and given the absurd amount of time routinely wasted in high school classes, this is hardly surprising. I'd estimate 20% of the time I spent in high school classes was even remotely productive.

    /Practically never studied
    //Graduated with a 3.9
    ///Didn't learn what an imaginary number actually was until college. Why the high school teacher couldn't just say "the square root of -1" eludes me. Our instructions were to use a calculator program to find it.
  • by antoinjapan ( 450229 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:53PM (#16941166)
    I think the issue of people dropping out in this day and age is more of a problem due to the expectations of what minimum education a person is expected to have. Nowadays the minimum might be approaching a college education while in 1972 the minimum might have been what a 16 year old might have gotten. If you blatantly assume that what you had at 16 in 1972 is equal to a college education today then even if the dropouts are less the impact and lack of education is more.
  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:57PM (#16941218) Journal
    Between 1972 and 2004, dropout rates have fallen drastically.

    I was going to say -- the use of words like "epidemic" without a shred of context tells you at least as much about the problems with education in America as the free-floating numbers do. I'm not even going to get into the ironies of "Of course, another question that should be asked is: Is High School really the problem, or is it America's Educational system as a whole?"

  • Three words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:58PM (#16941228)
    Lowest common denominator.

    What's really sad is a lot of recent grads won't understand either the math or the implication of that statement.
  • by drDugan ( 219551 ) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @06:58PM (#16941238) Homepage
    I think public education is severely broken in the US, for many reasons:

    * single-classroom style -- many students learn in ways that do not work with a single classroom and oral lectures, which is the style almost all high schools use. Almost never are students allowed independent study, and even if they only learn from reading, they are still required to sit in class, which is a complete waste for them

    * forced attendance -- by forcing people to attend, there is no motivation to make the most out of it. There is no real opportunity cost to being in the classroom, making a high percentage of people there unmotivated to learn.

    * low pay -- financing education on the local level means limited funds to attract highly educated and highly functional people. While most high school teachers are extremely motivated and devoted, the simple financial reality is that jobs that pay 20-40K/year do not attract top quality people. This is part of a larger issue of simple limited resources put on education

    * separation of teaching from learning -- mostly in real life, people become experts and learn things when they turn around and teach others. Almost never are high school students given the chance to teach what they learn, and almost never are their rewards for them in teaching others.

    * national curricula -- teachers have almost no flexibility on what they teach or the ability to customize lessons for what students really need to learn. Learning is an interactive process that drawn a person to a new understanding from their current one. Set teaching standards eliminate the ability of teachers to understand what their students know now and customize the lessons for maximal learning.

    * lack of content applicability -- most lessons in high school are useless and disconnected from real world applications. They are abstracted and meaningless for students who dont experience how to apply what they learn. Mostly, high school has become a babysitting exercise to keep people out of the work force as long as possible to remove competition for existing workers.

    In sum, kids dropping out makes sense to me. High school is not helpful to them. This situation will only continue as virtual communities continue to form and become more organized and effective.

  • by ral8158 ( 947954 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:02PM (#16941314)
    If your job is so menial and simple that you can be replaced with someone who works harder and for less, then why should you not be replaced?

    It's an unfortunate truth, but if you can't do something unique with your life, well, too bad, kay? Some of us actually have to think of ways to reinvent ourselves and do creative, individual things to keep our jobs. -An angry fashion designer.

  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:03PM (#16941334)
    What's wrong with our school system that so many kids prefer working 40 hours a week instead?

    While there is plenty, at least arguably, wrong with our schools, the most likely reason people would drop out of high school to work is that there is something wrong with our economy where increasingly families can't adequately provide for children while they are in school; the economy that has been doing well in aggregate terms hasn't been doing well in distributional terms.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:03PM (#16941336)
    That's the problem. It really isn't about education.

    In high school you are surrounded by people who either a) don't give a shit, or b) are spineless fools doing whatever necessity to get marks. The a)'s should be allowed (if not encouraged) to leave, and the b)'s are a product of the education system gone wrong. In their eyes, something is right if it is marked right, and vice versa. The actual truth is irrelevant. Neither the a)'s nor the b)'s care about learning.

    High school is more about social control than anything else. "Do as we say or you have no future," is what is told, and there's sadly too much truth to it. The people who simply want to learn away from the fast majority of idiots are pretty much SOL.
  • by PunkOfLinux ( 870955 ) <> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:04PM (#16941356) Homepage
    Do you want to know why kids are dropping out? It's because they realize that school isn't about learning - it's about teaching to a test that's taken state-wide. These sorts of tests encourage teaching certain areas very hard, while completely neglecting other areas. Just because it isn't on your state assessments doesn't mean it isn't important. Really, these tests don't test the ability to think spatially, don't test anything above the most meager and basic algebra, and they sure as hell don't measure a student's ability to think for themself. It's ignorant to think that, by teaching to a very narrow test, we are preparing students for the real world.
  • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:05PM (#16941360) Journal
    I'm married to my high school sweetie, we have two kids.
    That above is my complete summation of everything good from my HS experience.
    12 years since graduation and I've flirted with college, work for a major semiconductor company in R&D and am overall happy.
    The wife is a stay at home mom, polishing her masters degree in the next year and a half, with a plethora of other degrees in her wake (4 AS/AA, 2 BS).

    Why drop out of high school? Because you can teach yourself better. The classes are taught to the lowest common denominator. That means that the bright kids who are not quite bright (or lucky) enough for AP classes get shafted. It's mind numbing and detrimental. My grades sucked because I was bored to tears with my classes. Had our school system taught to grade levels commensurate with Japan or Germany I would have had good grades because I would have been engaged. I don't care if half the class fails every grade, we need to step up our expectations of everyone. Race? BS!, Family status? BS! Income? BS!
    I understand there are a handful of exceptions to each of the above, but tough, life is not fair, the sooner that lesson is taught the better.
    I'm willing to bet that in only one generation the USA would be back on top in the education field if "tough love" were implemented in grading.

    on a side note, I knew no-one at my 10 year reunion. WTF? People knew me, but I was so dis-engaged from school I was like "Who are you? Oh! wonderful (still don't have a clue) Uh Huh :-) (got nothing, oh well) Ok Bye now, see you later."
  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:05PM (#16941362)
    Paul Graham describes several of the problems with school in this essay, but it boils down to: schools are full of disrespect for students and busy work and forced curriculum, rather than open to interesting learning opportunities.

    Those aren't bugs, they are features. How else is school supposed to prepare students for life as corporate (or government) drones?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:08PM (#16941404)
    I guess that your spelling acumen pegs you as one of Detroit's successes.
  • I definitely agree here. A high school education certainly doesn't provide the opportunities that it used to (nor does a BA or BS for that matter). If we are to get in a discussion around the education levels of Americans as a whole, I'd probably agree with the use of the word "epidemic" in describing our average level of education ... particularly if measured by the average person's knowledge and competence rather than degree earned.

    Whenever I have traveled to foreign countries, I always find it amazing that the average foreigner seems to know far more about American culture, government, and history than the average American. This isn't just a reflection of our schools, but of our society and families as well. I also believe the problem has gotten so bad that our leadership in industry and technology cannot possibly be maintained unless we make a large-scale concerted effort to fix education, not just concentrate on statistics such as dropout rates.
  • Lack of Respect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yancey ( 136972 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:19PM (#16941588)
    My opinion on this topic is that current problems in education are a result of not treating students with proper respect. Some will consider this statement completely backward, thinking that students should be treating the faculty with more respect. However, I think students perceive that standardized test grades are the only thing that matter to the schools. Whatever talents or interests a student may have, only the grades matter -- not the student as a person. This perception by the students is demeaning to them. They are only worth the grades they earn. In that case, I completely understand why they would want to leave school, go to work, and be "graded" on real-world tasks, not academic standardized tests. Treat the student more like a rational, sensitive, and valuable person and I think you will see them enjoying their education a little more and staying in school. Of course, it also helps to find ways to make the subject matter interesting. I've also seen far too many faculty who repeat the same tired old riff year after year. Keep it fresh, folks.
  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:19PM (#16941590)
    What's wrong with our school system that so many kids prefer working 40 hours a week instead?

    When you show up and work 40 hours a week and try to do a good job, people actually appreciate it. They'll even thank you for being helpful and doing a good job. It's rewarding and satisfying. Work is an accomplishment. And they pay you.

    No one thanks you for going to school. You're forced to go there. No one appreciates your contributions. There are no rewards. School is a process that a person goes through. No one cares about you at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the process.

    I don't think a big increase in funding so the teachers can have a lower health-care co-pay is the answer.

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:23PM (#16941658)
    Are you sure you are really interacting with average foreigners?

    As far as the U.S. leadership goes, kiss it goodbye no matter what, there are 5.5 billion people not living in the U.S., the numbers will catch up with us sometime.
  • by zxnos ( 813588 ) <> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:30PM (#16941746)
    in general i agree with you, but i have to take issue with the pay. [] the national average [] is typically less than the average teacher salary. also, remember the typical school year is 9 months, most people work 12. holidays? teachers get 'em all. in-service days? from my personal experience very little gets done. health care? typically fully covered. retirement? excellent. lets not forget our good friend tenure.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:37PM (#16941842) Homepage Journal

    This is a special time for everyone because media ubiquity is reaching a head. It's possible now to find out things happening anywhere in the world just a few minutes after they happen. In many ways it shrinks the globe.

    I'm a Generation-X'er, sandwiched in between the days of the baby boomers and unending patriotism (I call these the "my country right or wrong" days) and the Generation Y types (as in "why", as in "why bother".) Generation X is the first generation to grow up with computers and all that they entail. We have the distinction of being the first generation that can program a VCR, but we also are the first generation to grow up in disillusionment. We grew up knowing that the CIA imports cocaine and that our government sells arms to foreign countries and then goes to war with them a handful of years later. X is the first generation that doesn't believe [statistically] that the government has our best interests in mind.

    Generation Y, then, is the product of our cynicism. It seems to be a generation of depression, while the Baby Boomers are the generation of ignorance and hypocrisy. Most baby boomers are still in denial about their role in handing over our freedoms to corporate america, and are busy blaming it all on the permissive society X'ers are trying to build. Y'ers don't much see the point in, well, much of anything. They're even more disillusioned than we are; at least X'ers didn't grow up in a time of utterly prevalent school shootings.

    That's the overall societal issue that I think is increasing the dropout rate, but there are several other extremely compelling reasons why school is a sad joke and why kids don't want to be there.

    One of them is that the economy is in the toilet. Things are probably going to get a lot worse before they get better, and let's face it, while kids are easily led, they aren't necessarily stupid. Besides, the average adult is easily led as well. I know that when I was in high school, I too dropped out and got a job. In my case, it was because we were poor, and if I wanted money, I had to go out and earn it. This is a pretty minor reason but it occurred to me early on.

    Another is that school's purpose is not to teach you, it's to train you. The scholastic benefits of school are utterly secondary to the primary purpose. Our school system was designed to produce factory workers. Once upon a time, that was what we needed, but now we have less and less factory jobs (although, go back a point; we may have more of them in the future, though our quality of life will be next to nothing compared to what it is now) and we're still producing factory workers. Think about the qualities that get you through school with the least effort: you should be a conformist, because the nail that pops up gets hammered down. You need to get up early and show up early, or you get in trouble. You need to do precisely what you are told or they will kick you out, send you to an alternative school, and basically put you on the fast track to incarceration. The school system is designed to erase as much individuality as possible. Kids are getting wiser to this sort of thing as time goes by and they get access to more and more media at earlier and earlier ages.

    And of course, the administration is complicit in the whole program. They want things to run smoothly and their primary goal is to avoid problems. Meanwhile, programs like "No Child Left Behind" are so obviously designed to produce mediocrity that it's almost unbelievable that no one seems to have noticed. I mean, I was in GATE as a kid and even THERE they told me that I couldn't do certain things because I wasn't old enough. Now, those kids who are most likely to excel will get even less attention than they always have, because the time must be spent with the children least likely to succeed by teaching them skills that they will never even use effectively. The system is designed to produce automatons.

    So, why are so many kids dropping out? M

  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:40PM (#16941888) Homepage
    They'll just try to teach you a bunch of evil stuff about Darwin and other Godless Commies.

    Content aside, the problem is that actually teaching has become really difficult these days in schools. With the (non-funded) requirements put on schools by "No Child Left Behind", Bush has recreated nationally the same mess he made as Governor of Texas. Kids aren't being taught in school, they're being made to memorize, and they're trained to take a specific test, which hasn't even been proven a valid metric.

    Maybe if the teachers were actually allowed to teach the kids, they could actually engage them appropriately and keep them in school.
  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:42PM (#16941912) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately there is nothing particularly "current" about that zeitgeist.

    It is isn't the schools, it's American culture. The schools reflect the anti-intellectualism of the culture. Our schools suck because parents and communities are willing to blame everything but their own disinterest in education, and therefore do nothing to fix the problem.
  • Where do I start? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nairanvac ( 912343 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:43PM (#16941946)
    Let me start this with a thesis statement: I go to school to learn, not to do work.

    The main problem I see these days with the US educational system is the fact that students are graded upon how much work they do, rather than how much they know, or how much effort they put forth to learn.

    All too often I've come close to failing in my classes because I didn't do some useless assignment, and yet, still I have a perfect grasp of the concepts that were "taught". That's not right. Theoretically, if I failed, I shouldn't know the material, right? Wrong.

    Also, assignments should only be given as necessary. I have one particular math teacher who, even after every person in the class has shown that they get the material, still gives out work on it. If they've shown they can do it, then what's the point in giving out more work, and wasting time that could be spent on teaching the next concept?

    Now let me move on to incompetent teachers. Any teacher who needs to rely on a book as a primary source of teaching, need not be teaching. If you can't teach the concept yourself, with minimal help from a book, then you need to go back and learn it some more yourself.

  • by fortinbras47 ( 457756 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:52PM (#16942086)
    And unsurprisingly, government run monopolies deliver a poor product at a high price.

    Could you imagine if we had ONE government run auto company? Imagine everyone paid taxes and was provided with a "free" car from this government car company. The rich would say to hell with it and go off and buy a Lexus or a Mercedes, but the poor and most of the middle class would take the crap government car because they already paid for it. This is exactly what has happened to our education system and I'm always amazed more people aren't outraged. The poor go to crappy public schools because its the only choice, the middle class go to crap and mediocre public schools because they already paid for it, and the rich and some middle class send their kids to quality private schools.

    The solution is to expose schools to competition... support school vouchers and school choice so that you break up the government run monopoly. The ROOT problem is the government run monopoly, and it must be addressed.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:54PM (#16942114)
    Every time I see something like this, I get confused as to why people are confused. The public schools are no longer intended to educate. Students are required to be there. Schools are required to take students. In some cases, students that do not want to be there are required to be there, and the school does not want the disruptive student to be there either. If schools were more optional, more open to getting rid of students that don't want to learn, then they could focus on teaching. Instead, they are babysitting unwilling children. The easy fix is get the parents involved. However, the parents don't want that, it's too much work for them. They want the schools to fix the problem they created.

    Do I have an easy solution? No. If I were put in charge of everything tomorrow, I'd probably do away with mainstreaming. We have schools for "gifted" students, why not schools to huddle the lower 10% together as well (excluding the truly special needs that are currently separated)? Get the top 10% the education that challenges them, the bell curve of the middle 80% will have them closer to together without the outliers, and the 10% that aren't as motivated or skilled will be put in separate programs designed to try to bring them back from the edge or at least get them ready for a vocation.

    Which brings me back to something else that bothers me about the US. What's wrong with a vocation? There seems to be some stigma attached to trying to teach skills in high school, as if college is expected and that skills are taught there. There seems to be a decrease in automotive and shop classes in high schools. And there seems to be a stigma attached to someone that likes working with their hands. I've never understood that, but it is another thing that should change in the US.
  • Re:Money (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jonadab ( 583620 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @07:58PM (#16942184) Homepage Journal
    > If you put it away in a bank account and later into a Savings Bond
    > or similar, you'd have a much larger amount of cash in the long run
    > compared to someone who finishes school and then gets a job and
    > starts saving/investing.

    For a few years, yeah. Then you wake up and realize you're thirty-five, out of work, looking for a job, hoping you can find one where you can make eight bucks an hour, which is hard, because most of the stuff you're qualified to do can just as well be done by somebody in Hyderabad who makes eight bucks a day.

    There are exceptions, certain careers you can pick that are going to be reasonably good without a lot of school-and-book learning, because the training is more hands-on type of stuff. Diesel repair is a good example of this. But such jobs are the exception, not the rule. If you drop out of school to work a cash register, no amount of scrimping and saving and earning interest is going to put you ahead financially.

    Of course, money is not, despite what you may have heard, really the most important thing in life. It's nice to have, but it will not make you happy, nor will the lack of it _keep_ you from being happy. (Messed-up family relationships, on the other hand, _can_ keep you from being happy. Never screw up your family relationships over a career.)

    And a good education, quite independent of fiscal concerns, is also really nice to have, although it, too, will not by itself make you happy, nor will the lack of it keep you from being happy. And there are other ways to get one besides going to college, and it is easily possible to go to college and not get one, although on the whole going to college is a good approach, and one I generally recommend. I am pretty pleased with what I got out of college.
  • by rkcallaghan ( 858110 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:01PM (#16942222)
    No, they took care of me the next few days. They couldn't do anything to help me though, as to the rest of the story there was nothing to say I didn't start that fight. Think on it, I have many times. Just what exactly would they do? As my Dad says "you can't fight city hall on your word alone".

  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:05PM (#16942286) Homepage Journal

    My grades sucked because I was bored to tears with my classes.

    Then you were failing at something that school is also supposed to teach you along with reading, writing, and 'rithmetic: Self-discipline. If there's one thing that school, both high school and college, taught me, it is that sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do in order to be better off later on. Hopefully you had a parent or two that drilled that into your head where your school let you down.

    Why drop out of high school? Because you can teach yourself better.

    That won't get you very far in a job interview. If you're not willing to do the bare minimum of what it takes to get through high school, I don't care how smart you are, I don't want you working for me. If I'm an employer looking to hire someone, there's a pretty good chance that they'll be bored to tears at some point with their job. I don't want them skipping out on me just because they have to be amused and entertained the whole time I'm paying them.

    The fact is that the vast majority of kids who don't finish high school are pretty stupid. Yes, there are weird exceptions. Yes, I even know at least one. But for every one of them, there are a hundred people who are dumb as doornails who simply give up on it because they lack the self-discipline to see something that is really not that hard through. They're sacrificing their long-term economic health for the short-term gratification of not having to study, take tests, and otherwise jump through the hoops one has to in order to graduate.

    A huge contributing factor to our nation's kids' lack of self-discipline is our nation's parents' lack of self-discipline. How many times have we seen parents ignore, or worse, coddle and try to mollify their youngsters who are upset about something, instead of disciplining them? How many times have we read about kids getting kicked off a football team, and the parents raising a ruckus and getting the teacher into trouble for it? Even the best educational system in the world can't do much with that kind of parenting.

    We definitely need some tough love, but we're screwed if we expect it to only come from the schools.

    What's the Problem With US High Schools?

    To answer the original poster's questions:

    • US parents are more worried about the cushiness of their own lives than the education of their children. Even though my mom was a single working mother, she took time off work to go to the school and talk to my teachers about how I was doing. She came to school plays and such whenever possible. She researched programs like gifted classes and the AP program. She encouraged me to do things like play basketball, join the glee club, join the science club, and play on my school's Scholar's Bowl team, even though it meant taking large chunks of her free time away. Nowadays, when some parents have to take five minutes out of their busy day to talk on the telephone to a teacher, they're just as likely to tell them off for bothering them.
    • There's a sizable contingent of people in this country that simply want to give up on the thing that made this country great: the public education system. Instead of trying to make the system better, they'd like to get rid of it entirely and let everyone fend for themselves. The rich folks' kids will go to private schools, and the poor folks' kids, well, they don't matter anyway, because they're probably to stupid and/or lazy to learn anything anyway.
    • US children suffer from an epidemic and acute case of lack of self-discipline. Everything's got to be me, me, me, and it's got to be now, now, now. I don't want to study for that test! I don't want to work on my project! I don't want to read that book! I don't want to be judged relative to my peers, because then I might not feel good about myself!
    • As has already been pointed
  • Liberal Viewpoints (Score:4, Insightful)

    by disasm ( 973689 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:07PM (#16942310)

    I know this is the wrong place to get any sympathy, but what the heck, it's only slashdot karma I'll lose. What's wrong with the high schools in the US is they are all too dang liberal. I remember in high school I had one conservative teacher, and he was the band director. Of course no one wants to be in high school! With all the liberal teachers I had, one encouraged students to share their viewpoints, while all the other forced all their dogma and beliefs down our throats at best, and worse case scenario penalized students for having "wrong" beliefs. There was a valedictorian girl at one of the schools in the district that wrote this great paper on the 2nd amendment and the right to bear arms, and the teacher gave her an F, so she played the teachers game and wrote a paper on Hillary Clinton, and ended up with an A. Don't tell me that's not penalizing students with differing beliefs.

    The next problem is the teachers are mostly under qualified. Many a days in Pre-Calculus I spent correcting the teacher when she did a problem wrong, or going up to the board and solving the problem when she got so tired of my correcting her all the time. It was a joke! When other students had problems in the class no one dared ask the teacher to try to explain for fear of getting more confused than they already were. And don't even get me started on the A+ Certification course. The official teacher was Mrs. Huerta, but she knew nothing about the material. The above conservative mentioned band director, my friend Chris, and I ended up running that class. Even the Teaching Assistant couldn't grasp most of the concepts in the A+ Certification book we were going through.


  • by Leebert ( 1694 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:08PM (#16942330)
  • One word: blah. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <tukaro@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:12PM (#16942382) Homepage Journal
    Blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah.

    What you just read was what just about every kid hears in most high school classes. It's simple- lectures. In too many classes we still rely on lecturing as a teaching tool.

    Frankly, lecturing is outdated. It was great back when books were scarce and we didn't have the book press, so knowledge almost had to be passed in a spoken form, but these days with information available in many different (and often expensive) text books and on the web, there's no need for the oral dissertation of fact in many cases.

    So what happens is that kids lose interest in the class, their grade suffers, and then go ahead and give up because they think it's "too hard", but really haven't been paying attention.

    What needs to change is that classroom activities need to become more interactive, or at least visual. Don't just tell me that atoms bond together, show me. Maybe find some neat video on the web showing molecule structures and formation thereof.

    Here's another example: a video I found through StumbleUpon (can't find the link right now) is of a science professor demonstrating sound waves. The part that holds the interest of the students? He uses fire. I can't remember the entire set up, but he had a speaker attached to a PVC pipe, filled that with some sort of gas, and ran holes for the gas to escape from along the top of the unit. He played continuous notes at different frequencies, and you could see the sine waves with the fire! Then he put on some other kind of music to give an idea of how the sound changes. It was, in my opinion, a really cool demonstration, and a student would be more likely to remember things about sound waves that s/he learned from that.

    Yet another example: When I took Computing & Algorithms II, I had the best damn professor ever. We learned about Linked Lists in the class, and he had what some might consider an "odd" way to teach them: a Barrel of Monkeys. He used these cheap plastic toys to simulate a list linking together, and then to show what happens when doing stuff to the list, like adding a "monkey" in the middle and not connecting it to the rest. (Unfortunatly, far too many college classes fall under the Lecture Syndrome as well.)

    Sure, there's only so much you can do with it- after all, I doubt bouncing digital numbers would make derivatives much more interesting. But that doesn't mean teachers should do nothing.

    Sadly, part of the problem is that schools lack the funding necessary to facilitate such things, and the teachers aren't paid enough to try and do it themselves.

    Furthermore (and I'm probably just ranting, now) testing needs a major overhaul. Going back again to changes from what was done in the past, too great a portion of tests relies on memorization. Formulas, dates, function calls, the lot.

    Think about it- what good is memorizing all of that? It fills your head with what would amount to useless information. After all, you can memorize every function involved in integrations, but if you can't recognize when to use them or in what order, then what good are they? Okay, so you can spout when we landed on the moon, who was the first astronaut, and the famous first words, but would you be able to tell me why we went to the moon, or explain how we crossed some of the hurdles and why they were a problem? Teaching should, whenever applicable, be about analyzing, problem solving, and resource use. Not about memorizing the ratios of Pi that relate to degrees through sin/cos/tan functions.

    A story, attributed to Einstein [], probably sums it up best:
    ONE OF Einstein's colleagues asked him for his telephone number one day. Einstein reached for a telephone directory and looked it up. "You don't remember your own number?" the man asked, startled.
                "No," Einstein answered. "Why should I memorize something I can so easily get from a book?"

            In fact, Einstein claimed never to memorize anything which could be looked up in less than two minutes.
  • waaaaah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by illuminatedwax ( 537131 ) <`ude.ogacihcu.inmula' `ta' `egnardts'> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:19PM (#16942472) Journal
    Man, a lot of people sure are whining about how the high school machine is interested in cranking out thoughtless droids in order for the corporate system to maintain control over helpless consumers, ruining education by teaching to a narrow test (never mind that the majority of Americans can't keep "your" and "you're" straight), or teaching kids in a way that is not best suited to them, or teaching things that "don't matter in the real world."

    These are probably the people dropping out of high school. Grow up, people!

    The standardized tests test for perfectly acceptable topics: basic grammar, reading comprehension, and basic math. The majority of the kids dropping out are most likely the ones who cannot accomplish these things. So if you are getting bored in class because the teacher won't teach "outside of the box", take it upon your self to learn these things, but don't quit high school! First of all, if you can afford it, you can simply switch schools. Second of all, even though you might be convinced you are a super genius, people hiring you will be a little less than convinced if you couldn't sit through four years of high school.

    If your teachers or administrators are jerks, notify someone. Figure out exactly what they are doing wrong (say, not letting you leave for a medical emergency) and report them to the proper authorities. I truly feel sorry for you if you get a bad teacher that can't teach worth shit, but even if you go to a small school like I did, you'll get a different teacher next year who can explain things to you. Oh, I know, why don't expend some effort and go to a different teacher of that subject for help? When your teachers refuse to help you, provided you are putting forth an effort, go to the principal or the guidance counselor. If you don't like the way the system is being run, there are smarter ways to fix things than quitting high school.

    Also, as much as you might put stock in the Great Sheeple Conspiracy, seriously, take off your tin foil hat.

    I don't understand why people drop out of high school. It's free (unlike college), and it's only going to take away 1 or 2 years of your life. Even if high school is useless for you, I don't see what plans you could possibly have that would be ruined by your continued attendance in high school. It may suck, but seriously, that diploma is important.
  • Re:Three words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oriumpor ( 446718 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:22PM (#16942512) Homepage Journal
    Apply that to the nation's standards in education (hiring practices, accountability, performance) and you have the problem in a nutshell.

    The way I see it (working in state education for 5 years so far) Friedman was right, we need to comercialize education to make any headway in the states. Since the countries who tend to kick our ass still institute corporal punishment, we've only got 3 choices:
    1. Stay the same, and suffer
    2. Re-institute Corporal punishment and all the other negative reinforcement measures that have been barred from touchy feely public schools
    3. Deregulate and make schools accountable to a paying public. (essentially some sort of universal voucher program)

    Unfortunately it's not up to those who care, it's up to those who spin. And the Dems don't want to cut off their supporters from the trough, and the repubs don't want to appear hard on education. So #1 is probably what will be the case for years to come.
  • by BCW2 ( 168187 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:23PM (#16942530) Journal
    Why teachers don't know their subject:
    To be a teacher today in the U. S. you have to have an education degree, you will be lucky if you get to teach the subject you have a minor in. So we have a group of teachers that supposedly know how to teach (highly questionable) but don't know the subject.

    When I was in High School (class of '74) they listed the teachers degrees in the yearbook. Every teacher in my school had a bachelors in the subject they were teaching, some had a Masters in their subject. Most had a minor in education, some were working on Masters. Test scores have fallen steadily since the requirement for an education degree became common.

    As for the liberal/left/secular-progressive tilt, why would anyone expect different? Universities in the U. S. all seem to tilt very left and they are the ones training/indoctrinating the teachers.

    Today a Bachelors degree is worth what a High School diploma was in the fifties on the job market. When I entered a university in 1980 to be an Engineer we were told to learn the basics so that our first employer could show us the way they wanted it done. A degree just proved you were trainable! That was in the Engr 101 seminar.
  • by meregistered ( 895132 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:27PM (#16942586) Journal
    Hello Enoent

    To be blunt (but hopefully not offensive) your comment appears to be based on an emotional reaction that is short circuiting your ability to think logically in this area.
    Blaming religious beliefs for lack of school participation is a thin argument at best IMHO. Worse it distracts from finding a solution.

    I suspect the problems are more likely a set of cultural problems that are being ignored.
    Here is a little conjecture:
    -If parents were more involved with the education of their children their children would see more success in academic efforts. This success would be more likely to lead to academic interest. (Cultural change: 'the teachers are supposed to teach my kids')
    -If high school were designed to give children a boost into the areas of their interest we would see less wasted talent and a higher number of experts coming from our colleges. (Cultural change: 'worked for me')
    -If teachers were paid better and given more resources the job of teacher would be more sought after and a higher degree of competent teachers would be the likely result (if at the very least because higher competition would allow administrators more choices therefore weeding out those who are poor teachers). (Cultural change: 'sports stars deserve a 50 million dollar contract teachers should be happy enough just teaching my kids')
    -If research into improved teaching methods were well funded and the higher levels of academia were willing to teach the new methods we would see a greater number of kids 'getting it' in a given subject, which would be very likely to heavily cut down on dropouts.(Cultural change: 'it worked for me')

    Those are my thoughts based on observation, problem solving and logic.
    I would honestly like to hear yours.

    (I apologize if the beginning is offensive to you, however I think /. is a place were most participants can be reasoned with and asked to use reason. I get a bit tired of seeing emotional and non-logical responses to actual problems
    Thanks for your understanding.)
  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:36PM (#16942740) Homepage

    Had our school system taught to grade levels commensurate with Japan or Germany I would have had good grades because I would have been engaged. I don't care if half the class fails every grade, we need to step up our expectations of everyone. Race? BS!, Family status? BS! Income? BS!

    Well, what a LOT of Americans don't know about the German schools is there's three "tiers", and you get put into one of the tiers after age 10. I forget the actual names, but I've termed them "professionals school", "secretaries school" and "ditch diggers school". (My GF spent her sophmore year in HS in Germany as an exchange student in the "professionals school", so she's told me a little about the educational system there). The "professionals school" goes 13 years and is of course filled with the top students and is geared towards university preparation. The "secretaries school" goes 10 years and is more of an office worker track (not college track). "Ditch diggers school" goes only 9 years, and obviously doesn't provide much education. I think you can do some kind of job training after attending secretaries, or ditch diggers school.

    So while the top students in Germany certainly get a better education than most Americans, it's at least partially at the cost of the people who get put into ditch diggers and secretaries schools who get a worse education. I don't think anything like this could ever fly in the US where where we have a strong belief in equal education, opportunity, etc. Being an American I think it's irresponsible to not educate all your citizens, especially the people thrown into the ditch diggers school.

    Also, one of the dirty-little-secrets of all those "US students behind students in Country X" is that at least in Germany, they take the scores from the "professionals school", and compare that to US High Schools (completely ignoring the ditch digger and secretaries schools).

    I have no knowledge of the Japanese educational system, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was similar.
  • by mksolid ( 989407 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:36PM (#16942748)
    Some previous replies have captured many of my thoughts, but I will state them anyway. I believe that the problem is much bigger than the education system itself. It has already been mentioned that parents now expect the teachers to "parent" for them, and this is very close to the truth. I have several family members who are middle and high school teachers and they will tell you that many parents either side with the child in disciplinary situations or else they actually *gasp* ask what they are supposed to do to make Johnny or Jill do homework. (Maybe they should have thought of the answer to this one when making the decision to have children.) The main problem carries well beyond the education system - in my opinion. I have come to the conclusion that the idea of "self esteem" that stemmed from the '90s is the cause of the downward spiral. Real world example: My cousin - who is a middle school math teacher - told a student to stop disrupting other students in class. The student continued disrupting others a few minutes after being told to behave, so my cousin sternly said, ", if you do not stop disrupting the other members of the class, I'm going to have to send you to the office." Later in the day, my cousin was approached by the principal who said, "We've got a problem, showed up at my office and said that he was upset and uncomfortable with being in your class, because you screamed at him and hurt his self esteem." Without ranting about this much longer - after discussing this topic with my cousin, we have come to the conclusion that respect is no longer earned. That is, where in previous days if you wanted to goof a bit in high school, you could work hard, get exceptional grades, be involved, but every once and awhile take a break and do a prank or something and pay small consequences for it. Now, kids believe that they can do whatever the hell they want and the teachers just have to keep trying to work with them because they have fragile self esteem and are "entitled" to respect.
  • And more! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by meburke ( 736645 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:37PM (#16942758)
    Another of John's books is "Dumbing us Down." There are other authors out there who have the same opinions, are better writers, but don't have John's inside experience.

    Don't worry: My generation is retiring soon, and they will start letting the prisoners out early to earn money and pay the taxes necessary to support us old folks (who might have to depend on the Medicaid/Medicare/Social Security plans that have been so mismanaged by the government). Then the "dropout rate" will be encouraged rather than disparaged.

    Since the USA workers will be too ignorant to earn high wages, look for more immigration in both the low-paying and high-tech areas. It's a real win for business and government. Business wins because they can pay 75% of what they would have to pay a US citizen, Government wins because the salaries earned are in the higher tax brackets, the immigrant wins because what he sends home is significantly more than his family would have if he were living and earning in his own country.
  • by rkcallaghan ( 858110 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:39PM (#16942794)
    I had no notable injuries from the "fight", so no, those weren't on the chart. You can be hit across the back with a baton and have nothing of value to show for it. Kicking my knee out from behind didn't cause any damage either, at least nothing that was noted by a hospital. Did it hurt? Yea. I fell in the parking lot and got clubbed across the back -- of course it hurt. However, she was obviously well trained, and I have no doubt that her technique was taught to her explicitly so it wouldn't show anything of value if she got in trouble. It probably didn't take a whole lot to subdue me either, as I was already using all of my energy just to stay focused enough to walk.

    I look back on that day with the most extreme of hatred. I try and imagine a situation where I had the strength to fight back, could I have defended myself? What if I had brought a gun to school? I would give up every bit of money to a charity for home schooled kids if I could see that rent-a-cop go to jail.

    If we can really be honest with ourselves -- I am a product of that prison of a school. Still to this day and probably for the rest of my life, I do not believe that anyone in any position of authority will assist me in any fashion. This may have been an extreme example, but it wasn't isolated. The purpose of high school is to break your spirit and turn you in to a drone who doesn't question authority. No amount of intelligent knowledge or discussion can change the fact that that is how I feel inside now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:43PM (#16942856)
    Full disclosure: I'm a public school teacher in an inner city school in CA.

    I don't think a big increase in funding so the teachers can have a lower health-care co-pay is the answer.

    I pay over $1000 a month out of pocket for health care for my family. (Kaiser Health!). That's just medical. Dental is over 100 too, plus vision and disability insurance. Our benefits are awful. I work 50-60 hour weeks but get paid for 35 of them. I'm not complaining. Just trying to dispel some myths on teacher pay. I do believe though that being a teacher is one of the easiest jobs in the world if you don't care about ruining the lives of 180 kids every year. I also believe I could be a better teacher if I didn't have to work a second job to support my family. Many of my colleagues were forced to leave and get higher paying jobs once they started a family.

    Now...about the article. I think part of the issue is the focus on getting kids into college. Many kids can live perfectly happy lives without going to college, but they're made to feel stupid if they're not on the college track. I feel we should offer more vocational classes. At my school we cut auto shop 15 years ago, the wood shop is on the chopping block, and we don't have any computers to offer anything remotely technical. Its a combination of a lack of budget and finding qualified (NCLB compliant) teachers. The kids who don't want to go to college can be electricians or mechanics or whatever but they can't get that sort of training in high school anymore.
  • by Jett ( 135113 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:47PM (#16942928)
    I've got one of those stories too, not nearly as bad as yours though. In the 4th grade I fell off a jungle gym and broke my arm. It hurt like a motherfucker so I couldn't really think straight, I just knew I had to get medical attention immediately and that was all I could think of. The teacher who was watching the playground intercepted me as I was walking towards the school and asked where I was going, I said I had broken my arm and was going to the nurse. She said I had to get approval first. Then she grabbed my arm and shook it. When I get injured I go into this weird "damage mode" where I'm totally calm and hyper-focused, so because I was wasn't crying and screaming she figured I was faking it or something. It was one of the most physically painful experience of my life, I nearly vomited on her from the pain. I just kept saying something like, "I broke my arm, I medical attention" over and over until she finally got sick of it and told me to just go to the nurse.
  • by RalphBNumbers ( 655475 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @08:48PM (#16942930)
    Ok, now imagine that your employer:
    1. Stopped paying you.
    2. Started giving you pointless tasks with arbitrary deadlines, and discarded or returned all of your work without accomplishing anything with it.
    3. Demoted you so that even the janitors and rent-a-cops were your superiors.
    4. Instituted security policies forbidding you from leaving the building for any reason between 9 and 5, and requiring you to get written permission from your manager to leave your office.
    5. Ran 8 55-minute pointless meetings per day, in which you were only allowed to speak at the discretion of the bored middle manager running the powerpoint up front, who would almost certainly dismiss your input because it didn't fit into their prepared slides.
    6. Instituted random timed competence tests every week or so, that involved filling in a form full of semi-relevant questions.

    Would you still want to work there? Even if it would look *really* good on your resume if you stayed there another 4 years?

    School isn't about "working", or at least it shouldn't be. School is supposed to be about LEARNING.
  • by quanminoan ( 812306 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:03PM (#16943138)
    In high school I was largely unmotivated to do a whole lot of work. The computer science classes consisted of how to use Microsoft word and excel, instead of any real programming (my only option was a local campus where I could learn basic). The sciences were very limited, though biology was strong at our school. We had microbiology equipment, centrifuges, incubators, etc. Physics was a bore; we spent the whole year doing blocks on ramps essentially. I entered high school freshmen year having designed a program that calculates the Lorentz transform, and while that wasn't particularly impressive it goes to show how unmotivated I was to work below my level. Other students were brighter than I was - two that were particularly intelligent decided not to pursue college. I myself was more interested in the Army than I was in going to college, but thanks to my parents demand I went. I've since been challenged beyond my level since and find the work so much more enjoyable (I'm a physics major).

    Studying at a college campus has yielded some insights. I noticed foreign students breezing through our classes like nothing, and that always amazed me. How can someone with English as their second language do so much better in class than the rest of us? I naively assumed it was because they were the "best and brightest" in their country and were "privileged" enough to come to the US to get a real education. It seems however, that the truth is much simpler and the solution much easier.

    These students learned calculus while I was drawing triangles. With a more advanced math background you can go much more in depth with physics, and understand how formulas were created rather than be given a function to plug numbers into. You can understand why taking the derivative equal to zero of a function can yield the maximum of a trajectory, instead of being given a formula to find the apex. After you get through these particularly boring subjects you can have enough math to touch on some basic quantum, just so that you know there is more to physics than pushing blocks around and conserving momentum.

    Now of course I'm biased towards physics and math, but even with the other subjects the issues were similar. English seemed more to me like vocabulary memorization and forcing students to read books instead of teaching them how to appreciate the literature. We were given no background on why we would ever want to learn a foreign language, but instead were asked to memorize yet more words. Had I known that learning German would open up doors to engineers and physicists alike I would have been more motivated.

    So yes, while the world does need ditch diggers and this work can be rewarding (I worked construction through high school), the world needs competent and innovative scientists and engineers more than anything. The educational system as i've seen it in the US is dry, unchallenging, and unmotivating. Major change needs to be implemented to keep our competitive edge.

  • by pestilence669 ( 823950 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:07PM (#16943198)
    Public school really didn't teach me a damn thing and I'm not exaggerating. It was a place that would watch me while my mother worked so she could eat out & buy shoes for herself. As a baby sitter, it was fine. As an educator, to say it was lacking is an understatement.

    During my sophomore year in high school, we actually took an entire day to learn how to read an analog clock. I didn't require school instruction to figure out how to read a clock... and... I had it mastered by age five. Every class was like that. Always scratching the surface of a topic over and over again... never actually teaching anything. So much of school is about trivial things like not talking to your classmates, being silent, and sitting still. I don't find it a very effective nor social environment.

    I'm one of the few that realized if I want to learn, I'm going to have to do it myself... outside of school. As a taxpayer, I'm furious that we are forced to pay for something so broken. The states are literally lobotomizing our youth by wasting their most precious learning years. You don't need school or teachers to learn. You need an interest and a way to get answers. Period.
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:15PM (#16943290) Homepage Journal
    Well, you know.....I've heard it said before:

    "The world needs ditch diggers too"

  • Re:read this book (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xaonon ( 891615 ) <> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:18PM (#16943324) Homepage
    I've heard that theory before. Frankly, I don't give it much credence. If the US educational system was designed with some overarching motive in mind, we would expect it to be highly uniform across the country and tightly controlled by the federal government. This prediction does not agree with observation, which shows a loosely organized system in which states and local school boards have a great deal of leeway. Obviously school board members don't want to see their kids turned into mindless automatons. No, they're definitely trying to set up a good educational system. They're just failing.

    Paul Graham's essay Why Nerds are Unpopular [] posits that part of the problem is that there's very little competitive pressure for schools to be good at their stated purpose of educating. If schools competed academically as fiercely as their football teams do, we might get a better overall system out of the deal. Sounds good to me.
  • by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:20PM (#16943356) Journal
    You could also get rid of the developmentally disabled programs and plough that money into educating people who might help improve society. I'm not saying there shouldn't be some sort of daycare or burger-flipping training for the special needs set, I am saying that they shouldn't get nearly as much money as they do now. I honestly think their budget would be better applied to programs for gifted children, but the real question is why schools are required to provide for special needs children out of the same budget as the rest of the childrens (won't you think of them?) 02284831_specialed23m.html [] 05/fiscal_crisis_in_special_ed_perils_budget/ []
  • by constantnormal ( 512494 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:35PM (#16943544)
    ... like our society's expectations for our public school system.

    Instead of preparing students for adulthood or college (yes, they can be -- and usually are -- different), we have assigned our public schools as the surrogate baby-sitters, keeping our children occupied, but not placing much more in the way of expectations on them.

    This is a parental problem -- and by that, I mean a problem with the parents. There are parents who want to ensure that their children are prepared for college, and they are moving their kids to private schools, or home schooling them, or moving to homes situated in the better school districts.

    However, that only prepares kids for college, and may or may not prepare them for adulthood. Especially an unimaginable adulthood.

    It used to be that kids could get a glimmer of how to be an adult be emulating their parents, who in turn were following their parents down life's pathways. This includes a lot more than simply careers, things like social standing, moral behavior, and how to deal with life's challenges.

    But when both parents are scrambling to make sense out of a world that is radically different from anything they were prepared for, it's no surprise that kids are set adrift in life.

    I have no answers, I only understand the problem.
  • by Diomedes01 ( 173241 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:38PM (#16943578)
    The worst part is, at least in my neck of the woods, they provide ridiculous amounts of support to the "special-needs" children, but have absolutely nothing in place for "gifted" or above-average kids. I thought maybe things had improved since I went through school, but some recent localevents have proven me sadly mistaken.

    Don't get me wrong, I feel for the special-needs kids who require the extra attention, but the burden they pose on the educational system cannot be overlooked.

    Oh, and I may be in a minority here as well, but back in high school, my school spent more money on our athletic teams (uniforms, coaches, facilities, etc.) than they spent on any kind of specialized education materials or programs. When it comes to education, they want all kids to be "equal" so that no one's self esteem is hurt, but god forbid they apply that same criteria to their precious sports teams.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:38PM (#16943582) Journal's like inside a US school. My wife and I are from Britain but she has been doing part-time work in schools in Richmond, California. The guys look and acts like gangsters (presumably some of them are) and the girls act like hookers (which presumably some of them are). No learning takes place. Students bring stereos to work and play music throughout lessons. Every other word spoken by a student is 'fuck', or 'nigga' and the speech is barely distinguishable from grunting. There is no discipline of any sort. Of course there isn't, no teacher is stupid enough to argue with a classroom full of would-be gangsters (or actual gangsters). There are of course police throughout every school. Because the students are the way they are the authorities have to run the place like a police state. Want to visit the bathroom? You have to get paperwork allowing you to. And between lessons, groups of chaperones (I've no idea what they're actually called) connected by walkie-talkies have to sweep through the corridors, like in a police search operation, to ensure nobody is left outside class. Any time someone is found without the appropriate paperwork in the hallways a lockdown is instigated. Everyone has to dive under tables and doors have to be locked to protect against potential gunmen. This is of course justified by the number of times the potential gummen turn out to be gunmen.

    Meanwhile the teachers have been 'educated' by the same system. They care nothing about teaching the students but if, God forbid, one of your actions should appear (in their fantasy world) to be an infringement of their constitutional rights, they'll scream like hell about it. The teachers of course think nothing of dressing like hookers and wearing T-shirts with obscenities emblazoned across them. (Of course not, they work for a government establishment and so their freedom of speech can't be restrained.)

    Every morning the students all chant the Pledge of Allegiance. And periodically through the day they're encouraged to chant bizarre things like "I must express who I really am", "I have the right to be whoever I want" or some such American-style psychobabble. You probably think I'm making things up at this point. Maybe my wife is making this stuff up when she comes home from work, but I doubt it. This is what it means to be educated in California.

    I also do voluntary work with kids in the area, trying to encourage an interest in science. The sad thing is that there are plenty of younger kids who have great potential. But so many of these kids have next to no chance of going anywhere with that potential.

    Of course not all of California is like this. I live near an enclave of rich white-skinned people whose education district seceded from the surrounding city. House prices are through the roof there because apparently you can learn things in the few schools they have.

    Still, a lot could have happened in the last ten years. Maybe it's like this in Britain now.

  • by Aqua OS X ( 458522 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @09:46PM (#16943658)
    Media spin my ass. Are you asking for someone to report that, to quote Lewis Black, "We took our school[s] from the truly shitty shitty shitty, to stinky farty smelly?"

    Considering there are about 16+ million high school students ( [] ), it should not be surprising to hear that an estimated 1 or 2 students don't make the cut out of a 30 student class. That was certainly the case when I was in high school over a decade a ago. Moreover, is anyone really -that- surprised that our larger school districts, which were the focus of that article, pull in the largest dropout rates?

    Moreover, that ABC article is not even accounting for grade inflation, problems with standardized testing, and lowered standards. We're arguably giving diplomas to more and more people who probably wouldn't have received them 20 or 30 years ago.
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:01PM (#16943814)
    That'll keep kids in school. Even useless high-school is better than having your legs blown off in a pointless war.
  • by LurkerXXX ( 667952 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:03PM (#16943834)
    Crap. Utter crap. Learning, Self-esteem, respect, etc, all start at home. If the parents were parenting we wouldn't be having the problems we are today.

    I didn't act up at school because I knew what would happen when I got home. I didn't want to disappoint my parents, and I also knew there would be consequences for my actions. The parenting I had dictated my actions at school. If parents did real parenting, rather than leave it to the schools, you wouldn't see these problems.
  • by Afrosheen ( 42464 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:20PM (#16944000)
    Illegal immigrants have cornered the market on all the low paying jobs. Minimum wage jobs, floor scrubbers, landscaping, low level construction, fast food, you name it.

      These days high school kids are having trouble finding jobs (at least here in Texas) because there basically are none for unskilled young people. There was a time when you could graduate high school and work your way through college...but unfortunately that has changed. Now you have to get a full ride on a scholarship, student loans or wealthy parents to make it through.
  • by cluckshot ( 658931 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:28PM (#16944074)

    The problem with America High Schools is essentially how they are connected to college admissions. They have been geared so tightly to college admissions that real not college career work like Auto Service etc have been completely passed by. As such the people who don't want to spend their entire life bonded to a computer or in some arts and parties program are left out of the picture. This makes high school worthless for about 1/2 of its attendees.

    The other problem is one of the US Government who has seen fit to destroy the value for study by running a trade war against its own citizens by taxing them to death while not taxing their foreign competition. This has destroyed the value of education for the high end students. Doctors etc who graduate several hundred thousand dollars in debt find that jobs which pay back the debt don't exist because the jobs were taken by foreigners who didn't have the tax load the Americans had. Please don't read into this any hostility towards non US persons. This is entirely a stupid US Government problem.

    The result is that the high and low performance ends of education have lost value and that pinches the value for all parties. If American Education is unwilling to face this reality, its tax base will go out of business and thus it will too.

    The issues of the wasteful spending on parties who are unlikely to produce any real results for society also exist. The whole system has become messed up. So here are some solutions.

    [1] Lets take the student loan program for college and determine how much graduates of certain types earn on average. Then divide that by 1/2 and limit the loan values for programs to that level. (Many details left out) Limit the minimum payment to $20,000 and if the program doesn't produce that amount, don't loan on it. [2] Come up with some performance grants for students and make teachers win a fractional bonus for such grants placing students. [3] Encourage the development of skilled trade schools again. [4] Tell any company complaining about a shortage of labor in their field to cough up a grand or loan program for Americans to study their trade. [5] Most importantly lets lay a tax equal to 4 years wages on the import of any employee to fill jobs in the USA to repay the tax base damage they do to the Americans who must pay taxes here while they learn etc.

    These are a good start but best of all these would preserve the security of the USA and its strength while rewarding young people who advance.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:44PM (#16944220) Homepage Journal
    "Illegal immigrants have cornered the market on all the low paying jobs....These days high school kids are having trouble finding jobs (at least here in Texas) because there basically are none for unskilled young people..."

    Well, if we could enforce the laws on the books, to where if you cannot prove you are a US citzen or here on a work visa...that would disqualify all the illegals taking the labor jobs, they wouldn't be pouring over into our country, and the locals that didn't want an education could make a living as they did in the past.

    Not a good one, but, they could do it like the ones in the past did.

    Of course, I don't expect the Dem.s in power now to have any more backbone on this issue than the Reps. did....

  • by fourchannel ( 946359 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:46PM (#16944234) Homepage
    Oh, and I may be in a minority here as well, but back in high school, my school spent more money on our athletic teams (uniforms, coaches, facilities, etc.) than they spent on any kind of specialized education materials or programs. When it comes to education, they want all kids to be "equal" so that no one's self esteem is hurt, but god forbid they apply that same criteria to their precious sports teams.
    You might be a minority, but Copernicus, Galileo, and Pasteur never had the support of the masses either.

    I, for one, agree with you. I think that our society could get its head out of its ass if we actually used the painfully acquired knowelwdge the Human Race has battled the ages for.

    But no, lets throw away thousands of years of effort of the people who lived before us, who fought the ignorant masses of their day, to give us our relatively modern understanding of the world. Lets take their sacrifices and dreams of an utopian society, and smash them with our high school football team's budget. /sarcasm
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:51PM (#16944284)
    How about anything? I still remember being in elementary school and bored out of my skull. By 6th grade I was reading at college level. I started getting in trouble in literature class in middle school because I would finish with the story we were supposed to read and be reading two ahead when the teacher finally started asking questions. Instead of recognizing that I was so far ahead of everybody else I punished for not paying attention. In high school it was even worse. My grades fell every year that I was in high school. By the time I got to college I didn't care and barely graduated.

    A friend of mine took his daughter out of public school a couple of years ago when the principal freely admitted that she had no interest in trying to teach even average kids, much less gifted kids.

    Here is a quote from a letter to the Denver Post:
    We can also hope that this step begins to erode the insidious belief that some kids are "just smarter" or "more motivated."

    That to me pretty says a lot about the U.S. educational system.
  • I dropped out (Score:2, Insightful)

    by elsrod ( 572637 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:52PM (#16944294)
    Of course that was 20 (yikes) years ago, so perhaps my reasons were different from what is being tracked now.

    I was first enrolled in public schools in San Francisco, California during the 70s. I was lucky to be an advanced kid, moved ahead in kindergarten to gifted/AP classes because my parents taught me how to read, write and perform simple math before I started school. I loved school and found it extremely stimulating but by the time I reached high school things started taking a turn for the worse.

    California passed Proposition 13 ("People's Initiative to Limit Property Taxation") in 1978, and although its long term impacts can be debated, effects in the classroom were pretty clear to me. I went from class sizes of 25 to 40; we frequently had no textbooks (ah the smell of freshly "dittoed" paper); equipment was shoddy and never replaced; teachers were visibly overwhelmed. I went from being a smart, attentive kid to being a really bored kid who found nonsanctioned extracurricular ways to be engaged.

    If I had the resources to transfer to a private or specialized public school might I have reengaged or was I just headed for delinquency regardless? Who knows, but when I dropped out in my senior year I promptly enrolled in our local community college and took classes while working for the next 5 years. From there I went on to obtain my bachelors and masters degrees -- college gave me much more of what I needed in terms of structure, challenge and independent growth.

    My parents weren't happy that I dropped out but their take on it was that the school system wasn't providing me with what I needed, and the college system might. I definitely wasn't ready for a 4 year program (either in terms of academic preparation or in having goals to achieve) but just taking college level classes and having the time to try things out was invaluable for me. Work alone would not have provided me with what I needed.

    I'm not entirely comfortable with the standard track where kids plow through high school and go straight to the 4 year college. It seems like they are expected to know what they want to do in too short of a time. Granted, some do -- and some just spend a lot of time partying, being a waste of tuition payments, and end up in less than satisfying jobs wondering "WTF am I doing with myself". There's a lot to be said for growth using other exercises, like traveling or learning to support oneself.

    It's not enough to track the dropout rate; you have to know what people do when they drop out. It actually makes me curious to know how many people fulfill their reqs for masters or doctorate and then never complete the thesis work...
  • by fourchannel ( 946359 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @10:58PM (#16944338) Homepage
    What do you think a gifted child needs, particularly? Gifted children are already pretty much set; they don't need one on one instruction, they don't need remedial materials. Between the internet and local libraries, the one thing often missing from such a program is a talented gifted education teacher to guide them and fill something more then the "supervisor" role they often fall into. Google's lecture series alone holds enough interesting material that a teacher in a gifted education program could put a diverse exposure to subjects. Of course, the sports program is something that A) draws in money, and B) gets local and state attention, and serves to advertise student athletes to recruiters working for our bizarre college athletic program. Basically, football should just about pay for the whole thing; if people paid to watch your Knowledge Bowl team, maybe you'd have gotten the pocket protectors or whatever it is you're seeking here.
    So you're defending the sports program because it makes money and brings in support? Why not look past the shortcommings of our capitalist society and see the real value in higher level education - which no athletic department, drama club, math team, or spelling bee could ever provide: An inclusive approach to the fruits of real education. Not "Hooked on Phonics" or "Accelerated Reader" education, but an approach that actually gets people to want to learn about the different domains of our collective Human knoweledge.

    Think about the quality of work a volunteer effort produces compared to that where the workers were enslaved into doing it. Do you think the quality, not productivity, of one is most likely better than the other?
    This is why supporting the athletic teams because they make money is a bad approach in my mind - it is an efficient improvement, but entirely in the wrong direction.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:05PM (#16944406) Journal
    I would say P.E. had a very bad effect on me. My P.E. teachers were clearly idiots, and so I disregarded everything they said as a matter of course, even when it was sensible. Once I stopped being forced to do P.E, I stopped doing any kind of sport. Some years later, I have now started again, independently, and found I enjoy things that I hated when I was a child, simply because I am not forced to do them. I think if P.E. were optional, I would have enjoyed it a lot more, and gained a lot more from it.
  • by Llywelyn ( 531070 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:07PM (#16944432) Homepage
    High school teachers need a BA or higher. M.Ed. is common. That being the case, you can't compare vs. the national average. It needs to be compared against other people who have degrees or advanced degrees.

    With a degree in Comp Sci in my area the median salary for a Level 1 is about 55% higher than the starting teaching salary for a teacher in the same area and is roughly 20% higher than the average. There is a substantially reduced incentive to go into teaching for anyone with that degree (or a related degree, such as math) here.
  • Easy Answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bagsc ( 254194 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:07PM (#16944436) Journal
    4.4% unemployment rate right now. If you can get the job you want, why stay in school?

    Half of high school graduates go to college, and half of them graduate. And many college graduates get jobs that don't require degrees too.
  • by miskatonic alumnus ( 668722 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:08PM (#16944438)
    the vast majority of people who don't finish high school are just plain stupid.

    In what sense do you mean they are stupid? Do you mean that they make poor decisions? If so, how does one go about making a good decision? By being informed? And how does one become informed? Oh, by getting an education, either through formal schooling or self-guided study. So, they fail because no one has shown them the value of an education.

    Is there any direct correlation between success in high school and, as you say, "long-term economic health"?

    Yes, as a matter of fact, this is a well-established fact. Here are some statistics to back that up. On average, college graduates make more than twice as much as people who don't finish high school.

    Nice dodge replying to a question I didn't ask. These statistics show that the median income difference between high school graduates and non-graduates is a measley $6000 over the entire span of age groups studied. Hardly a step up to long-term economic health.

    I also personally know college drop-outs who make more money than I could ever dream of earning.

    So? I do to, what's your point? That basing your opinions on weird exceptions instead of the rule is a good thing? That just because Michael Jordan has more money than he knows what to do with, I should tell my kids to forget all that stupid studying, they should be playing basketball instead? That doesn't sound very smart to me at all.

    Really? Maybe you overvalue education. Education is not necessarily the best path to self-actualization, a high income, or happiness. Most of the people I know who have college degrees work in areas unrelated to their field of study. Ergo, college isn't about education, it is about jumping through one more hoop to prove you are worthy of success. Some people choose the fast track to success --- the weird exceptions, as you so call them. Others realize that education isn't for them, and get a head start in the work force.

    Businesses that operate mostly with short-term goals in mind tend to blow up in pretty spectacular fashion. Witness Enron and the dot-com demise. So do most people.

    Evidence? Links? I'd say our whole culture revolves around short-term goals. Hero today, gone tomorrow. Daily we are inundated with drug advertisements to cure pain and suffering NOW, but not with plans for preventative health care. Why take time planning a well-balanced diet, when we can scarf a burger and fries at McDonalds and sweat it off at the gym? Why sit down at the table to negotiate policy with foreign leaders when we can ride in on a horse, guns-blazin' and kill some towel-heads? In America, the path to happiness (and the ONLY measure of success) --- we are told daily on television, radio, newspapers, ad nauseum, --- is in spending money. Hell, it doesn't even matter what you spend it on.

    These kids have already got their education: Spend, spend, spend. Is it any wonder they want to quit school and get down the serious business of amassing large piles of expensive garbage to show off to their friends?

    Witness day-traders and steroid abusers. As for the government, that's why a lot of things are so screwed up these days. Witness global warming and our dependence on oil. This is an attitude to be discouraged, both in our personal lives and in the bigger picture, not encouraged.

    On that, we agree.

    If you don't feel that way, then I feel sorry for you, and I especially feel sorry for any kids you might pass your warped view of reality on to.

    You misunderstand me. I don't advocate a short-term goal approach to life. I merely point out that it should be no mystery why so many youths shun education. The lure of instant gratification, in which our culture is steeped, is more tempting than gathering acorns to store for winter. And while our corporate media cannot be held exclusively culpable for this state of affairs, they sure aren't helping matters.

    In my opinion, our biggest problem is not education, but lack of good leaders with vision. Most people work toward nothing more than obtaining trinkets. Even those with long-term goals rarely look beyond their own retirement.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:15PM (#16944494)
    > parents now expect the teachers to "parent" for them [snip]

    Mod mksolid's post up. Right on the money.

    I taught for just under one year, and it is *quite* amazing how much things have declined. Calling a student's home in the evening most often gets you an earful from the parent asking why you're "picking on their kid". That's actually if you can even get the parent. And if they come in to meet (for the *really* troublesome ones), it's usually with the principal, superintendent, and parent all against you (the teacher).

    I've sent kids to the office only to have them back in my classroom before the period ended. And then gotten a visit from the principal asking why I "couldn't handle my own class".

    There's only one thing at this point holding the public schools together: a small handful of master teachers who are really *really* good, usually older and more experienced, who can relate with kids in an almost magical way and get them to behave a fair amount of the time while getting a meager amount of work from them. And this is *despite* the massive amounts of money being poured into public schools. Things will get even worse (if you can believe it) after these masters retire.

    Teaching is not a rewarding job anymore because it's not teaching anymore. It's crowd control, baby-sitting, and trying to figure out how to discipline 28 kids with them all complaining that so-and-so got it worse than them but they "didn't do anything wrong". The few moments I had of actually teaching were great. It's fun to help young people learn new things. But sadly, those moments get stomped beyond recognition by obnoxious teens trying their best to see how much they can ruin it for the others.

    My experiences are not unique, and what goes on in inner city public schools (I gave that a go to for a *very* short while) is far worse -- even *with* a cop or two present somewhere in the school. I'm talking about nice kids with broken bones because some thug between them and their next class.

    Try this experiment: ask a random sampling of public school teachers where they would send their kids to school. Answer: private school or home schooling. Knowing what I know, there's no way I'm letting my kids set foot in a public school. Even if I get screwed and still have to pay taxes to support it. Even if I have to conduct home schooling classes at night with them after work. If you love your kids, do *not* send them to a public school. Call your representatives and tell them you want vouchers that can be used at private schools. It may not seem like a big deal now, if you don't yet have children, but wait 'til your kids reach kindergarten age and it hits you like a ton of bricks that, yes indeedy, you're required to drop off your cherished little ones for 6 (or more) whole hours.
  • by Peganthyrus ( 713645 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:49PM (#16944792) Homepage
    One on one instruction? Heh. My mother has said that the one thing she really wishes she could have done with my education was tutoring from people who could keep up with me.

    Before school, I was hot for Weird Math - I ate up all the Martin Garnder "Mathematical Recreations" collections I could find, loved playing with all the concepts. Then I went to school. My main memory of math in school is sitting out in the hall in third or fourth grade with an exercise book of dull, dull fraction drill stuff I'd gotten the hang of forever, because I was way ahead of the rest of the class, and disruptive due to being BORED BORED BORED.

    I barely know a damn thing about math nowadays. By the time anything even remotely interesting got introduced I'd completely lost interest.

    Some years later when the boring, slow, dull math concept of the moment was square roots and the immensely tedious process of calculating them by hand, I was so bored I just plain refused to bother with them. We got a friend in the neighborhood - a structural engineer of some kind, IIRC - to give me some idea of when they might be used, and show me how to do them, including faster ways than the show-every-boring-bit-of-work methods the school textbook had.

    I would like to say I still remember how to do them, but, well, I've really never needed to do one by hand since.

    Smart kids need one-on-one education as much as any other "special needs" class. They just need a really different kind - one that can keep them INTERESTED, one that can call in esoteric specialists to help them pick up whatever path they become fascinated with, and can use this to slide in other curriculum elements outside of their speciality...
  • by AlexanderDitto ( 972695 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:50PM (#16944798)
    Because standardized testing NEVER existed before the Bush administration. Seriously, though I don't disagree with you, I remember taking standardized tests years and years before Bush's reign of stupid began.

    This is a problem that stems not from the president, but from the institution that has been built by countless politicians and beaureaucrats, brick by brick, year by year. Forcing students to all take the same test is easy on the system, but destroys the point of education. You kill the drive in the gifted and advanced student populations while the special needs students drag behind, and the "average" kids are given no reason to try to get ahead, and teachers are given no reason to teach anything but what is on the test. It's a huge problem that needs a huge solution, one that I don't forsee coming from the White House, no matter who the president is.

    This country's downfall will be its education system, mark my words. Without education, everything else falls apart.
  • by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @11:58PM (#16944860)
    All of this is caused by one thing. Private school students come from families who have committed to paying the tuition. They value the child's education. Public schools have to take everyone. A noted educator in the inner city once said that if he could expell just 50 students from his high school of thousands, he could have changed the entire dynamic of the school. Private schools get to do this - and they also don't have to because the students he was talking about don't ever come to private school. Plus, they don't have to take retards.
  • by Planesdragon ( 210349 ) <slashdot.castlesteelstone@us> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:48AM (#16945216) Homepage Journal
    . What I learned was true americans did not want the jobs, heck even I hated mine at the time. Another truth is many of the american employees were lazy, unproductive, had low self esteem and took little pride in their work.

    That's because you paid them $6 an hour, in a job that has essentially no benefits and is only full time if they're willing to put everything else off and make that half-assed job a career.

    There are fast food joints around here that have terrible service, and those that have great service. The ones that have great service aren't populated with spanish-speaking migrants (yes, we get illegals even in Upstate NY), they're staffed with English Speakers who are paid enough to make the job worth their while.

    In fact, the fast-food place that's best known for its service is also the one that's best known for employee benefits. And the ones that can be ran by "managers" who hate their jobs are the ones with the worst customer service.
  • both sides (Score:2, Insightful)

    by alais4 ( 997201 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:50AM (#16945238)
    I agree with this, but it was on both sides of the issues-- My history teacher was conservative, and he would lead discussion on current events. My science teacher was liberal, and he would talk about fossil fuels, global warming, and how we were all going to die, heaping liberal blame on the Bush administration for doing nothing about it. I remember most people were pretty happy though since his discussions often took away from class time actually learning something (though he justified his teachings by saying this was "a class of life".) To the person who said that school should introduce people to different viewpoints -- yes, but one viewpoint should not be taught as academic truth and endorsed by an authority figure. Also, WHEN in class should one discuss political views? While you're discussing themes of poetry? Free body diagrams in physics? Does how to solve differential equations relate to the superiority of the conservative (or whatever) viewpoint? The basic body of knowledge that one learns in high school is supposed to be politically neutral, based on rigorous proof and general agreement, etc. The only time political viewpoints should appear is in a logical reasoning class or something. Unfortunately this is often not the case.
  • by OctaviusIII ( 969957 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:52AM (#16945254) Homepage
    Try asking those same foreigners about another country - China, say, if you're in France, or Germany if you're in Japan. Odds are, they won't know much about the history of those countries because knowing about them doesn't play into one's everyday life to nearly the same degree. Our elections get global coverage, while Italian elections get maybe a story or two. Better yet, ask Canadians about their history. They know more about Canada than the average American, but a goodly chunk never even know about their first prime minister (Sir John A. MacDonald, if you're wondering). People learn about America because it's useful, not because they're better cultured.
  • by plewis77 ( 899663 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:12AM (#16945378)
    If you do not want to pay for all of those "non-gifted" children then you will pay when they are in prison. There have been many studies showing this. Also, my son is in special ed. He has an above average IQ, has a vocab level that is 12th grade level but is only reading at 3rd grade level. I pay a lot of money for special tutoring as the educators cant teach him because they refuse to follow the education plans provided to them. Most children in special ed are just like my son. My brother also had the same issues. He barely made it out of high school, but as soon as he started attending collage he got the services he needed and started making the deans list. This is typical of the special ed programs in the US. Maybe instead of being a Nazi and just making these kids "flip" burgers you should look at trying to help them. Oh, by the Albert Einstein had Dyslexia just like my son.
  • by f1055man ( 951955 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:38AM (#16945560)
    I think we see things like this because we are getting the cream of the crop. Whatever your opinion on immigration it's hard to argue that it doesn't take guts, determination and intelligence to cross the border and survive as an illegal. The problems with gangs seems to be a 2nd generation problem, doing too good of a job assimilating into our blighted urban centers. I think the big part of the problem is as you said, self-esteem. The kids that got stuck making $6/hr at mcdonalds have already been beaten down and don't see themselves ever making something out of themselves. Sure they need to buck up and develop a work ethic, but when many of them go to schools that look like The IT Crowd's dungeon it's hard for me not to feel a little sorry for them. Hell, they get shitty teachers that don't expect shit from them(1 or 2 can undo the work of legions of sincere ones), a shitty infrastructure, a couple shitty classmates looking to get out through the thuglife threatening them, a shitty family life (even the best parents aren't around because they're working three shitty jobs) and naturally you got kids thinking they're shitty. Maybe the top 5% of the class will get scholarships and the rest think they got a lifetime of burger flipping and toilet cleaning ahead of them. And you don't need a diploma for that. If I was in their position, and didn't grow up with a stay at home mom, a father that was home by 6 to read to me, consistently well funded schools and skilled teachers, I'm not sure I would have made it. Yes many of our high schools are screwed, but it's mostly the shit that happens outside of them that makes them hell.
  • by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:23AM (#16945858)
    Forget about the school for a minute. It comes down to the students!

    From all my personal experiences with meeting up with German/Europeans, Japanese/Asians and American kids. I will say that American kids flatout don't give a flying fuck by a large percentage. You want to know how to fix this?

    Split the kids up into 2 group. "I care" and "I don't care". It's ok to mix kids of different intelligence as long as they both care. And watch the group that care excel like you wouldn't believe. For the group that don't care, I want to decrease their tax dollar spending to the absolute minimum.
  • It's not just that (Score:2, Insightful)

    by StarKruzr ( 74642 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:42AM (#16945974) Journal
    Most high schools in the US are run like hormone prisons: keep the pubescent teenagers contained and under strict lock and key until their bodies have finished turning them into adults.
  • by Eivind ( 15695 ) <> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:23AM (#16946152) Homepage
    I think there's many reasons for this;

    • The USA is large, many are satisfied with exploring the internal variation and never ventures abroad (bar the occasional mexico/Canada vacation.
    • Some even think that internal variation in USA is comparable to say variation between countries in Europe (which it isn't, which one would know if one had visited say Sweden and Italy)
    • English is a large and dominating language. Many don't see the point of learning foreign languages; the foreigners tend to speak better english than you speak foreign in any case.
    • Your political system is essentially a two-party state, which encourages black/white either/or for/against binary thinking. This also means if you discuss politics in the USA, you quickly end up essentially either on the same side (in which case there's nothing to discuss) or on oposite sides (in which case you're essentially enemies) this makes it safer to drope the entire topic. In most of Europe there's more of an understanding for the *many* possible angles and solutions for any one problem. For cooperation and compromise rather than confrontation. That makes it easier to discuss such things without it turning into a competition about who will "win" the discussion.
    • The USA is currently the only true superpower. This increases the tendency to think that whatever is outside the USA is irrelevant.

    Basically, you guys should get out more. It's a huge and interesting world out here, much more so than many imagine.

    You're (on average) rich, you can afford to. My personal opinion is that there's few things more worthwhile to do with your money than experiencing the incredible variation that this world has to offer.

  • by name*censored* ( 884880 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @05:31AM (#16946806)
    Somehow I don't think that the big companies employ them because they enjoy their poor graps of english... they employ them because illegal immigrants are willing to be paid less for the same effort - this is how capitalism works. If you went up to wal-mart and offered to work for $0.50/hour then they would hire you over any illegal immigrant - it's not that immigrants are "taking" jobs, it's that they are undercutting their prices (wages). Yes, they should seek to come to America legally, but its unlikely they were given the opportunity to - it was just luck that they were born a few (hundred/thousand) miles south of you.
  • by giorgiofr ( 887762 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @06:07AM (#16946960)
    f you want to eliminate classes for students with low mental performance, someone else could make the same argument that classes for gifted students (especially advanced placement classes, which need to be taught by teachers with Master's degrees) should be eliminated to save money.

    Of course that's the way it should be. Everyone should pay for his own education, and buy the service that he thinks is best; in the case of kids of course parents would take care of this. And don't think for a moment that a gifted kid is happy to be kept locked into a classroom full of (what he perceives to be) stupid kids.
  • by sydbarrett74 ( 74307 ) <[sydbarrett74] [at] []> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:14AM (#16948270)
    AMEN! The problem I see is that parents try to cosy up to their children and be buddies. YOU CAN'T BE FRIENDS WITH YOUR CHILDREN AS LONG AS THEY'RE UNDER 18 AND UNDER YOUR ROOF!!!! Parents, stop trying to be your child's best friend, and be an AUTHORITY FIGURE! Give boundaries and parameters; punish them when they stray outside of those boundaries. Stop letting your children walk all over you! Stop being pussies! Grow some ovaries and testicles!
  • by Unicorn Setu ( 622244 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @09:43AM (#16948606)
    One thing that I think has a strong effect is that American culture is more 'anti-intellectual' than some other countries. In other words there is less respect given to intellectual activities, (in school and out). So, at school, kids will get little or no respect for doing well at their subjects, (being cool, being good at sports counts for more), out of school the 'clever' solution is not wanted, ('keep it simple', make it strong, tough and reliable, etc). This is obviously not a 100% correlation as I'm sure that some readers will feel that they know schools which are the opposite. However it does explain some odd things which are different between US and say, European culture. Some examples might be cars - where would a high revving V10 or V12 engine be developed - Europe. Where would a four-wheel drive electronically controlled transmission be developed - Japan. Where would a rugged off roader be developed - US. In US films, the baddy is clever and the simple 'normal guy' hero has to defeat his cleverness. In a European-style film, say James Bond, the hero is clever, the villians often stupid. French TV routinely has debates about philosophy. Ask a frenchman/woman who their favourite philosopher is - they'll probably have one and be able to debate merits of others. The US has shows which concentrate on the lesson that strength/beauty are the most important attributes. And lastly - schools are seen as less relevant. Cleverness, education is seen as necessary to get a job, not a character strength. Even the clever things people do, ("I built a nuclear reactor at home") tend to be be home made, single person activities. NASA, JPL, Caltech etc are the very examples of corporate 'cleverness' and they are taken as SOOO hard that nomal people need not apply, ("This is easy, it's not rocket science"). And don't get me started on George Bush. So to get kids to study you have to give them something out of it tht they will want, rather than being declared a "Nerd"
  • by DavidTC ( 10147 ) <.moc.xobreven. . ... .vidavsxd54sals.> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:55PM (#16952184) Homepage

    No, you see, I learned in school that 'clothing' was, in fact, pieces of fabric that people wear on their body, to cover themselves and for warmth and protection. Not only do they not disrupt class, they rarely take any action at all, being, like I said, non-animate fabric.

    It's slightly confusing, because most clothing used to be alive, like part of sheep or cotton plants, but I assure you, they are long dead, and cannot move by themselves. Therefore, they cannot throw things at the teacher, or talk with other students, or any of the other ways to 'disrupt class' that exist.

    Of course, they can 'disrupt class', by the teacher or other administrator choosing to make an issue over what is written on them, in which case the disrupter of class should be removed permanently from the school. Hopefully said teacher or administrator will be able to find another job somewhere else, where they're allowed to harass customers because of the clothing they wear.

  • by theundergroundman ( 944494 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:07PM (#16953774)
    The people employing illegal immigrants are the bigger problem. By living in the US we agree to abide by US law which is in created for the betterment of US citizens. If you are giving less than minimum wage jobs out to illegal immigrants you are doing more damage to the US than the immigrants by entering the country. I think the anti-illegal immigrant sentiment is silly. Illegal immigrants are impoverished and trying to make a reasonable life. The people employing them are trying to improve their profit margins and screwing over other Americans. What do you think is more reprimandable, breaking the law to seek out a moderate standard of living or breaking the law by taking advantage of impoverished people to improve your profit margin?
  • by Slashdot Parent ( 995749 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @03:03PM (#16955024)
    The worst part is, at least in my neck of the woods, they provide ridiculous amounts of support to the "special-needs" children, but have absolutely nothing in place for "gifted" or above-average kids.
    Truly gifted children actually don't need much in the way of "support" in order to excel. They mostly need you to just get the hell out of the way. Children are naturally curious and learn so furiously you will never believe it.

    Look at this kid [] who built a frickin' Fanrnsworth-Hirsch Fusor [] in family's basement. Do you really think he would have gotten the same knowledge and experience that his project provided in a High School physics class? Certainly not in any High School physics class I ever attended.

    Kids are naturally curious and naturally gravitate toward experimentation (and naturally do not fear death.. that's where adult supervision enters the equation!). Gifted kids have done cool stuff like this since time immemorial. Cool stuff that no school "teacher" could ever hope to teach.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @04:39PM (#16956734) Homepage Journal
    "What gives us the right to make those immigration laws? Breaking an unjust law is just."

    As a sovereign country, we have the right to regulate our borders, hell it is a duty of the government to do so.

    There's nothing unjust about is a natural thing countries are supposed to do, and we're not correctly enforcing our current laws to do so.

  • by Bananas ( 156733 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @05:20PM (#16957314) Homepage
    The worst part is, at least in my neck of the woods, they provide ridiculous amounts of support to the "special-needs" children, but have absolutely nothing in place for "gifted" or above-average kids. I thought maybe things had improved since I went through school, but some recent local events have proven me sadly mistaken.

    Don't get me wrong, I feel for the special-needs kids who require the extra attention, but the burden they pose on the educational system cannot be overlooked.

    That's my 10-year-old autistic son you're talking about. My son is not a burden, he is a kind, decent human being. If you want to start fixing education, stop treating him like some goddamn balance sheet liability or a sack of coal or something equally undesirable, and start thinking of him as a person. How would you like it if I thought of you as a "blight on society that should be expelled"? Because if we follow your train of thought - children with special needs are burdens, burdens are wasteful, wasteful means wasted money, money is more important than some person, so stop spending money on burden children, because they're a waste - you are advocating this same concept.

    Tell you what - let's see what happens when you have a child, your child, and they have a "special need"; not just special education, but any kind of uncommon need. Let's see if it's all about you, or if it's all about your child. What's your answer? You going to stand by your proposition - which DIRECTLY implies you're an unfit parent - or are you going to eat your words, and realize that your child is a human being, a person?

    That's what I thought. So have a nice hot piping cup of STFU. Because I know for a fact you don't know jack shit about what you're talking about.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments