U.S. education continues decline

America’s education system, once among the world’s best, has fallen on hard times. The latest evidence of this can be found in the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an exam given every few years by the federal Department of Education to fourth, eighth, and 12th graders. 

The latest results of this test show that only one third of American students exhibited proficiency in science and technology. Only three percent of students are classified as “advanced.” According to the Wall Street Journal, “[t]hirty-four percent of fourth-graders scored at or above proficient. Describing the life cycle of an organism is an example of a skill demonstrated by fourth graders at the proficient level. Thirty percent of eighth graders met the mark, by demonstrating, for example, that they could recognize plants produce their own food.” As students progress in age, it seems their knowledge declines, as only 21 percent of 12th grade students met the criteria sufficient to be considered proficient. 

In this month’s issue of Reason magazine, economist Veronique de Rugy explains that a lack of accountability in our education system has led to stagnant scores and complacency, despite the fact we are second in the world in per pupil spending. She explains, “[w]e have tried spending more money and putting more teachers in classrooms for more than a generation, with no observable improvements to anything except the schools’ bottom lines.” 

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama promised even more spending on education and for his Race to the Top initiative – a stimulus program that will be carried forward as the Obama Administration’s version of his predecessor’s “No Child Left Behind” Act – as a way to “win the future.” 

Rhetoric aside, however, this administration is not moving in the right direction. In its first year in office, for example, the Obama administration killed the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a school voucher program for low-income students in the District of Columbia. These scholarships were one of the few federally-funded initiatives that were actually working; providing hundreds of students with opportunities that would ordinarily be beyond their reach. 

We cannot “win the future” by preserving the status quo. Continuing to pour money into a system that has no real accountability is no way to ensure our children regain the competitive edge they enjoyed in generations past. Absent fundamental changes in our approach to education, scores such as the most recent NAEP results will – sadly –continue to be the norm.

-by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

112 comments Add your comment

Lee

February 12th, 2011
12:09 pm

If you want to know what is wrong with the American education system, you’ve got to take off the politically correct blinders and look at the demographics of the students in the classroom.

Combine an integrationist policy, with an immigration policy that allows our country to be flooded with third world immigrants (legal and illegal), with the final piece, a welfare policy that allows the dullards to reproduce at will, and you have an educational recipe for disaster.

The current education model has the future Valedictorian sitting next to the special ed student, the ESOL student who cant speak a lick of English, and the border line retard with an 85 IQ. The poor teacher is expected to “differentiate” her instruction to reach this wide array of ability groups.

Simply grouping by ability level and providing instruction at a level and pace commensurate with the group’s ability level would go a long way to restoring sanity to the educational process, but the politically correct crowd will not allow it. The very moment blacks and other minorities are disproportionately represented in the lower ability classes, the politically correct pathogens will cry fowl and put an end to the process.

Bottom line, the federal government wrested control of this country’s education system with the Brown vs Board decision. And like everything else our government touches, it managed to screw the pooch.

Carlosgvv

February 12th, 2011
3:28 pm

LA

Those are good solid candidates with proven track records. However, runnig the country is not the same as being governor. Jimmy Carter was a fairly good governor but a disaster as president. The point I was trying to make is that every year this country becomes more and more diverse. It seems that we are all constantly at each other’s throats over politics. I am not suggesting we abandon democracy, just wondering if there is some way to make things in politics more civil. Supreme Being is correct. We do need a real leader, and I know they are out there. Persuading them to run is another matter. Getting someone who is not a corporate or union patsy may be the hardest thing of all.

Mongo

February 12th, 2011
3:49 pm

Perhaps if so much school money wasn’t thrown away on nonsense like abstinence-only education (that has been proven to be counter productive) and superstitious garbage like intelligent design, there would be plenty of money for the three Rs.

LA

February 12th, 2011
5:19 pm

“Jimmy Carter was a fairly good governor but a disaster as president.”

Yeah, but he was a moron.

“am not suggesting we abandon democracy, just wondering if there is some way to make things in politics more civil.’

Get rid of the mainstream media. If you want anything to blame, blame them for divisive stories and name calling.

“Getting someone who is not a corporate or union patsy may be the hardest thing of all.”

Unions are going to end up going bankrupt. Corporations and government is a dangerous combo. Just ask Obama and GE.

The majority of Ameirca works for private companies and private small businesses. The only way government is able to function is by taxpayer dollars.

Gator Nation

February 12th, 2011
6:17 pm

Hey LA,

Private school kids don’t score higher on the SAT. Show me a study that says they do.

Creationism is connected to religion, its not science. If you want to learn it, GO TO SUNDAY SCHOOL!

Private school students don’t have to take nationally normed test and when they chose to take them, the private schools don’t report their results….why is that?

Since you know exactly nothing about education, testing, public schools or private schools, why don’t you STFU and find a new blog to spam.

Old man Robert Cox

February 13th, 2011
1:05 pm

LA

February 13th, 2011
3:13 pm

“Private school kids don’t score higher on the SAT. Show me a study that says they do.”

Don’t have to. All you have to do is look at where private school kids end up going to college.

“Creationism is connected to religion, its not science. If you want to learn it, GO TO SUNDAY SCHOOL!”

Many private schools teach creationism.

“Private school students don’t have to take nationally normed test and when they chose to take them, the private schools don’t report their results….why is that?”

Private school kids take the SAT, Gaytor. Last time I checked, that test was a nationalized test. Not sure where you got that private schools don’t report test results.

“Since you know exactly nothing about education, testing, public schools or private schools, why don’t you STFU and find a new blog to spam.”

If I know nothing about education, explain how I gots me one of dem dare masters dagreeeeees.

STFU? Make me, Gaytor.

Oh, and your gaytors SUCK!!!!!!!!!!

WAR EAGLE, loser!

LA

February 13th, 2011
3:14 pm

“Since you know exactly nothing about education, testing, public schools or private schools”

I went to public and private schools, ma’am. I scored high on my SAT’s and got into a great university and went on to an even better school for my masters degree.

Carlosgvv

February 13th, 2011
3:44 pm

LA

I don’t think Gator Nation wants to be civil.
One interesting thing about evolution and creationism is that you can be almost anything, doctor, lawyer, president, pilot, accountant, etc. and not believe in evolution. I personally do believe in evolution but don’t think it’s the end of the world if it’s taught in schools. Those who need to know about evolution will learn it in college.

LA

February 13th, 2011
8:32 pm

“I don’t think Gator Nation wants to be civil.”

Yeah, I noticed.

“I personally do believe in evolution but don’t think it’s the end of the world if it’s taught in schools. Those who need to know about evolution will learn it in college.”

That’s fine but it’s also important to learn both sides.

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TnGelding

February 14th, 2011
2:00 pm

Give the children a computer at the end of this school year and send them home for good. We’re spending as much on education as we are on defense with similar results. Box-cutter wielding thugs and pirates on the high seas have us at their mercy.