Panel warns poor education undermining national security and prosperity

We are falling behind other nations, according to a report due to be released Tuesday. (AP Images)

We are falling behind other nations, according to a report due to be released Tuesday. (AP Images)

This is why the public ends up with whiplash trying to keep track of the news, reports and findings about education to figure out if we are improving, declining or stagnating.

A report released in Washington today provided heartening news on improving high school graduation rates, including here in Georgia.

But a few hours later comes a news story about a sobering report from a panel of influential leaders — Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, among them  — that warns national security and economic prosperity are in jeopardy if America’s schools don’t improve.

According to the story on

The Council on Foreign Relations’ task force report, obtained by The Associated Press, cautions that far too many schools fail to adequately prepare students. “The dominant power of the 21st century will depend on human capital,” it said. “The failure to produce that capital will undermine American security.”

The task force said the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies face critical shortfalls in the number of foreign language speakers, and that fields such as science, defense and aerospace are at particular risk because a shortage of skilled workers is expected to worsen as baby boomers retire.

According to the panel, 75 percent of young adults don’t qualify to serve in the military because they are physically unfit, have criminal records or inadequate levels of education. That’s in part because 1 in 4 students fails to graduate from high school in four years, and a high school diploma or the equivalent is needed to join the military. But another 30 percent of high school graduates don’t do well enough in math, science and English on an aptitude test to serve in the military, the report said.

The task force, consisting of 30 members with backgrounds in areas such as education and foreign affairs, was organized by the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based research and policy organization focused on international issues. The report was scheduled to be released Tuesday.

“Too many Americans are deficient in both global awareness and knowledge that is “essential for understanding America’s allies and its adversaries,” the report concludes. “Leaving large swaths of the population unprepared also threatens to divide Americans and undermines the country’s cohesion, confidence, and ability to serve as a global leader.”

Rice and Klein said in interviews that they are encouraged by efforts to improve schools such as the adoption of “common core” standards set in reading and math in a vast majority of states and the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” competition, in which states compete for federal money in exchange for more meaningful teacher evaluations. But, they added, the pace to improve America’s schools must accelerate. “The rest of the world is not sitting by while we, in a rather deliberate fashion, reform the education system,” Rice said.

The Council on Foreign Relations’ task force report elicited this statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who, given how many press statements she utters on breaking education news, either never sleeps or has the most efficient communications department cranking out responses on her behalf:

“This report makes the case that our national security depends on America’s children having high-quality education. It makes some recommendations that we firmly embrace, including using the Common Core State Standards. Yet one of the council’s three recommendations is to create an opt-out, rather than fortifying and strengthening our public system so that every child and every parent has great choices. The countries that have outperformed us have done so by investing in their public systems, building the capacity of their teaching forces, working collaboratively and ensuring that education is everyone’s responsibility: parents, teachers, students, community and government alike. No other public service that is essential to the nation’s well-being—like law enforcement, firefighting or the armed forces—has abandoned its role as a public entity.

“We know what works to strengthen teaching and learning. We should scale up effective programs used in the top-performing U.S. school districts and nations, not ignore them. When it comes to their children’s school, parents want to have confidence that their child can attend a strong neighborhood school and receive a high-quality education. We owe them nothing less.”

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

46 comments Add your comment

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


March 20th, 2012
12:20 am

How many similar reports have been made over the last 100 years, arguing the same line? Somehow the United States has survive fairly well. How can you strengthen communities and national “cohesion” by allowing privileged kids to opt out of going to school with their neighbors? How do you learn global differences in a common core standards system that is all the same? How do you teach Georgia students World History when 80% of the infallible standards are only about Europe? This is all smoke and mirrors to undermine public education to the point where it is meaningless in public perception.

Dr. John Trotter

March 20th, 2012
12:55 am

It’s not the school systems’ fault per se (with the exception that the school systems pay no attention to student discipline); it’s mostly the fault of many of the students who bring little or no motivation to school to learn. If our students came to school motivated to learn (and behave, by the way) like the students of China, South Korea, or India, then they too could learn. But, unlike other cultures, we want to put the onus for learning upon the teachers, not the students and their parents (who have the real power to motivate their children).

Our school are still thinking like the Earth is flat (a trite cliché, I know). Our educracy is operating from a false theoretical base. Operating on bad theory. Bad theory produces bad results.

Let me give you a few statements which are derived from good theory:

1. The motivation to learn is a social process/cultural phenomenon. This concept came from Dr. Eugene M. Boyce of the University of Georgia. I like to give credit where credit is due.

2. Order is the first law of the Universe. Norreese Haynes at MACE loves to say this, and it is so true.

3. You can’t learn a child; you can only teach a child…just like a physician can only treat a patient and not heal the patient or a lawyer can only defend a criminally charged client and not acquit the client.

4. Focus on academic achievement without any regard for classroom discipline, and you will get very muted results. Focus first on discipline, and you will be surprised at the rise in academic achievement.

5. Our mantra at MACE since the beginning in 1995: You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.

That’s enough for now. It’s getting late. You can read more at >>>

Aim High

March 20th, 2012
4:55 am

These things can exist concurrently. A less than 70% graduation rate is ridiculous and results in the report above. Even if, in a decade of reforms, that rate has risen by 6%. How much money and lip service have we put into the standards movement over a decade for our mere 6% increase?

America – you’re doing it wrong. WAKE UP.

Every citizen's Right

March 20th, 2012
5:23 am

I completely understand the report. It’s what I’ve been saying here for months. Every US citizen deserves a good, affordable public education. Our nation, our democracy depends on it.
Good Mother


March 20th, 2012
5:23 am

Enter your comments here


March 20th, 2012
5:28 am

Historydawg, your commenst sound paranoid. You wrote “This is all smoke and mirrors to undermine public education to the point where it is meaningless in public perception.”
Condoleeze Rice doesn’t want to undermine education any more than the AJC does. Rice’s motivation is to affect a change — to produce better schools. The reporting of the AJC is simply to report the news.
Historydawg, most teachers on this log don’t want to even mention anything that might sound like criticism of a school and that’s just wrong. In order to solve the problem (poor educaiton) we have to first identify and admit what the problem(s) is/are. Sticking your head in the sand won’t solve anything. You, as a history dawg, should know that better than most of us.


March 20th, 2012
5:41 am

Let’s see, you allow tens of millions of third world aliens to illegally invade this country, add that to the millions you allow to take root because of “anchor babies”, allow more millions through various refugee programs, and even more through legal immigration.

Once here, these third worlders are encouraged to have a high birth rate due to excessive welfare and public assistance programs.

Bottom line, when you replace a host population who was the leader of the world in education and innovation with third worlders, don’t expect the quality of life to improve in this country.

It’s going to get a lot worse and we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Peter Smagorinsky

March 20th, 2012
6:07 am

Given the authors of the report, no one should be surprised by the conclusions, which were in place years ago.

Peter Smagorinsky

March 20th, 2012
6:11 am

@Lee, all of my ancestors were immigrants who came here and had anchor babies. Yours too, I suspect. Einstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger were immigrants, along with countless others who’ve contributed to US society. Where do you draw the line on who gets in? Or is there something particular about “third world” residents that makes you think that they are so ruinous to your life?


March 20th, 2012
6:11 am

Peter Smagorinsky

March 20th, 2012
6:14 am

God Bless the Teacher!

March 20th, 2012
6:36 am

I understand why parents may not want their children in public schools where their children may feel like they don’t fit in or aren’t receiving “the best” education possible. I also understand why, as Americans, we have developed a certain sense of entitlement to “the best” of everything. We’re spoiled. We’ve been brainwashed into believing that we are failures unless we become what is portrayed in media and entertainment as being acceptable or “the best.” It’s not good enough that we go straight into the workforce or to technical schools; we have to go to colleges and universities. Americans demonstrate their greed by purchasing homes costing more than what family budgets can afford and running up credit card debts buying things we don’t really need, and the banks and credit card companies are there to provide the venue for satisfying such desires because they want to maximize profits to look good on paper and make shareholders happy.

Pulling students out of public schools diminishes our capacity to learn how to deal with conflicts arising from differences (political, ethnic, or otherwise) between us and our perceived adversaries.

The comments by the Council suggest we aren’t changing fast enough to keep up with the global Joneses. However, education policy makers continue to prostitute public education for pimps like Bill Gates just so we can get our hands on extra money that taxpayers are unwilling to put up to improve public education. I contend that Tea Party extremists and similar isolationist types are helping America travel faster down the path of implosion. You can’t have representation without taxation. You can’t improve schools while cutting funding. If decreasing funding for something you wish to improve makes any sense, then why not decrease (dramatically) the salaries of the folks in Congress who haven’t done anything except talk party lines and position themselves for the camera. Speeding up the change process will not allow time for the experts (teachers) to master an everchanging curriculum.

One is ignorant to think anyone with content knowledge and/or “real life experience” can just jump into the classroom and turn on the light of understanding in lamps that aren’t plugged in.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, America will never return to being “the best” until our culture, the institutions that help define our culture, and the participants in our culture place as much importance on education as in countries we perceive are outperforming us.

God Bless the Teacher!

March 20th, 2012
6:48 am

Additionally (regarding decreased funding)…can companies improve their products while cutting R&D funding? Why do we need all new model cars every year? To outdo everyone else. The Council’s report does a good job of justifying why ALL people need to be taxed (and more so) to help fund education – it’s for the sake of NATIONAL security!


March 20th, 2012
7:14 am

From one side of the mouth, the government says we need more educated people to be successful. From the other side of the mouth, the government says those same successful people are the rich and evil 1%. This is basically the government’s way of saying we need more people in the future to provide for the moochers. Lovely…


March 20th, 2012
8:16 am

May I point out that the members on the panel have been in charge of education reform for the past decade or so?

May I also point out that perhaps it is their policies….NCLB, etc. that have exacerbated the problem?

How quaint of them to blame everything on public schools and not take responsibility for their own actions.

What did Joe Klein accomplish in NYC?

Of course they refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions. They’d rather engage in a well-orchestrated attack on the classroom teacher and public schools.

They should be worried about the next generation. I’m worried about the next generation. Standardized testing, teaching to the test…i.e. teaching to the “power standards”, plopping students down in front of a computer to close the achievement gap, etc. Those policies have failed our students.


March 20th, 2012
8:17 am

We are producing a nation of Pearson graduates…Education, Inc. The goal of this report was not to improve public education. The goal was to further the argument that education needs to be privatized. It seems to be working. The public will lap up this report with a spoon and never question who actually wrote the report or the members of the committee. They’ll just see Condi Rice’s name and never challenge the intent of the committee.


March 20th, 2012
8:18 am

This is the age of science and technology. More and more jobs are requiring a knowledge of science and math. Meanwhile, more and more fundamentalist parents are browbeating school boards across the nation to not allow evolution to be taught and force teachers to minimize the importance of science. The results of this are clearly shown by this report.

The Phantom

March 20th, 2012
9:01 am

After reviewing the current state of our populace, our education systems, our government, and our media, I think “Idiocracy” got it wrong.

That dystopian future with President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho leading a country heavily influenced & dependent upon “Brawndo”, where it is normal to be stupid, is not 500 years away…more like 150 years away.

Don't Tread

March 20th, 2012
9:06 am

Well, it appears that the “social promotion” and social engineering policies that began in the 90s have now taken root, now that the beneficiaries of these policies are now adults. (And some of these people have reproduced…scary.)

This is what happens when the merit system gets thrown out the window. You were expecting a different result?


March 20th, 2012
9:13 am

The problem is the system of education. We start kids on some subjects way to late in their life.

I have friends in foreign nations and their kids start foreign languages in the first grade.
If Argentine kids can learn English in the First grade, then I am sure US kids can learn a foreign language in the First grade. If South Korean kids can learn English in the First grade then I am sure US kids can learn a foreign language in the First grade.

Bottom line, to often in the US education is considered a necessary evil.


March 20th, 2012
9:23 am

Just continued growth of illerates out of the Great Society by LBJ…put all on the Government payroll and this is waht you get…continued today when we are told we, the people who actually work, should pay for women to have sex….Government in Schools and this is the results…no surprises here!!


March 20th, 2012
9:36 am

Oh, hooray!
A “panel” of “experts” (who, it just so happens, have financial interest in for profit education) think we should overhaul our system. I bet they know just the people to make that happen.

Mary Elizabeth

March 20th, 2012
9:37 am

“Yet one of the council’s three recommendations is to create an opt-out, rather than fortifying and strengthening our public system so that every child and every parent has great choices. The countries that have outperformed us have done so by investing in their public systems. . . . No other public service that is essential to the nation’s well-being—like law enforcement, firefighting or the armed forces—has abandoned its role as a public entity.”


There has been a concentrated effort, in Georgia, and nationally, to dismantle traditional public schools from the same ideologues who want to “starve the beast of government,” in general. Yet, they support corporate hierarchial control. I hope citizens – at the very least – will consider this as a possibility of what has been happening, for several decades, on the larger landscape of American politics. America is being transformed from the egalitarian America envisioned by Jefferson to an America in which control resides almost exclusively in the hands of the wealthy, elite of power. Citizens can stop this top-heavy control of their lives, if they are aware. They have the numbers to do so.

To have a better quality of student, the government cannot continue to reward the top 1% through governmental policies, while penalizing the other 99%. This will further make America into a society of “haves” and “have nots,” with less mobility possible by the lower classes into a shrinking middle class. The transforming of America in this manner has created many problems that students bring to the classroom. Investment in society means more than simply investment in schools. It means investment in all citizens, knowing that all are inextricably interconnected.

Why not improve traditional public schools instead of dismantling them? Because ideologues have been insistent upon transforming America on many fronts, and they have done this in stealthy ways. Time to wake up.


March 20th, 2012
10:02 am

It’s almost as if something is dragging the whole system down.

Proud Teacher

March 20th, 2012
10:06 am

If the students could bring integrity and ambition to class, I think many of the ills of education could be treated. Teachers have been made the scapegoats for all of society’s educational ills and the students are all smart enough to know this. When students come into school wired up ( and I mean literally wired with technology and recreational drugs), just what are we supposed to do as teachers to compete with this? Have more meaningful lessons with more age-related interests? Too many of the people who preach charter schools and vouchers and meaningful work and better technology and vocational training and all of the other mantras are missing the basic point: the number of students who are in school for an education is a sadly dwindlling number. Too many students are in school for the teachers to “give” them an education. Working to earn seems to be another vanishing virtue among the young.


March 20th, 2012
10:11 am

Teacher, Too

March 20th, 2012
10:17 am

Handing out 50’s and 70’s to make a student feel successful isn’t going to correct this problem. We don’t hold students accountable– instead, we come up with plans (strategies, ect…) that further dumb down the curriculum. All of a sudden, we have a generation (or two) of students who have all sorts of learning difficulties. We are trying to modify and differentiate for too many students, instead of just holding them accountable to learning the curriculum.

How many other countries (India, Japan, China, etc…) offer such individualized learning and (I know I’ll offend many people here) excuses for students not learning content? A student doesn’t make an A or a B, well, it must be a learning disorder. Not, well, he/she didn’t study, or maybe we have too many extracurricular activities, or we don’t believe in homework…

Everyone wants to live in Lake Wobegone, but no one wants to really put forth the due diligence and effort it takes to learn how to think critically ,write well, read well, and persevere when the material gets tough. Math and science… you have to develop reading, logic, and critical thinking skills to understand and excel.

What we’re expected to teach can’t be taught in 45 or 50 minute blocks of time in a limited number of school days— this is not the 1970s or 1980s– more and more has been forced into our curriculum at younger ages, and some practice and review must be done at home.

Private schools have no problem assigning homework. Why is it such a problem in public schools?

Oh, and turn off the tv and video games. Kids need to play outside, or, if that’s not possible, play inside with board games or games that spark the imagination. Read, read, and read some more- and not just Lemony Snicket or Diary of a Wimpy Kid (especially in middle school). Read to your child, read with your child, have your child read to you, have your child read independently. But read.

Slade Gilwater

March 20th, 2012
10:42 am

Folks, discipline in our public schools is the number one issue here. Without it, our schools will continue to be dismal places to learn; however, the issue goes much, much deeper than just discipline…….listen and pay attention to any objective news source and you can learn what’s happening…..liberals/democrats do not want the issue to improve……that’s why they have placed an idiot (Arne Duncan) to head the US Education Dept. They want these at risk children to fail…….why???? because then these children will become dependent upon the government for their support and in return these children, when they become old enough to vote, who’re they gonna vote for?????Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Control of our schools should be returned to the states where it should have been all along. Wake up folks, this is a serious conspiracy that is undermining our country’s future.

Once Again

March 20th, 2012
10:46 am

You assume poor quality education isn’t the goal of the government system.

Mary Elizabeth

March 20th, 2012
12:10 pm

@teacher&mom, 10:11 am

Thank you for sharing that blog link with me, teacher&mom. Yes, it reinforces much of the information of which I have been trying to alert the public. I hope all who read this blog will read your link at 10:11 am.

Notice this line from that link: “Finally, a clause in the (Mississippi) legislation would exempt charter school teachers from the Public Employees Retirement System. No one has given any rational explanation for this.”

I must point out, here, that the sponsor of HR 1162 (the resolution which offers an amendment to Georgia’s Constitution regarding the establishment of a state Charter School Commission), also, sponsored a bill in this year’s session immediately prior to HR1162, which provided that state authorized public charter schools could mandate that their charter school teachers not be allowed to join Georgia’s Teacher Retirement System. After this was publicized, Rep. Jan Jones removed that bill. Coincidence? You decide.

For those who still resist seeing a national influence in legislation – of such similarity among states such as Georgia and Mississippi – perhaps teacher&mom’s link at 10:11 am will help you to see what has been happening throughout America. Our nation is being transformed in stealthy ways, through coordinated efforts among various state legislatures. Time to wake up.

HS Public Teacher

March 20th, 2012
12:26 pm

US education is lagging. We already know this. We already see the data.

What this report does not include is WHY? The reason that this report doesn’t issue the question of “why?” is because the answer is not politically correct.

It isn’t really because of ‘bad teachers.’ It isn’t really because of ‘bad standards.’ It isn’t really because of ‘bad curriculum.’

It is simply because Americans do not value education, period.

The value of education can clearly be seen through measuring money. Athletes have higher salaries than PhD graduates in physics – so we value Athletes more. Rappers and pop singers have higher salaries than Medical Doctors – so we value rappers and pop singers more.

It will not be until our society somehow changes the value placed on education will it improve.

Amition and Integrity

March 20th, 2012
12:47 pm

Proud Teacher says “If the students could bring integrity and ambition to class, I think many of the ills of education could be treated.”

….but I notice you don’t value the same set of standards for teachers. 170 teachers were caught lying and stealing and cheating in class. THAT is an ill in education that needs to be treated.


March 20th, 2012
1:06 pm

We need to listen to Dr. Rice. The part that caught my eye was the “common core” standards. Common core standards include Reading & Math. Our kids can’t read well and math is something to avoid.

high school teacher

March 20th, 2012
1:58 pm

Due to budget cuts, we will only offer Spanish next year in our high school. Students may opt to take a foreing language online via independent study if they so desire.

Due to budget cuts, my children attend an elementary school of 1000 students with only one PE teacher. They have PE for a week at a time every five weeks (it’s one of their elective classes, along with art, music, computer, and “enrichment,” whatever that is.

Due to budget cuts, we are reducing the number of school days and increasing the length of the school day to compensate for lost instructional time.

Tell me again that it’s all my fault…


March 20th, 2012
3:12 pm

Proud teacher said it best.

Proud Teacher

March 20th, 2012
6:03 pm

Ambition and Integrity, do not insult those of us who are innocent of such cheating charges by grouping our names with theirs. I abhor what has happened regarding this cheating scandal. It should never have happened. I believe that teachers should indeed be held to a higher standard.

I am greatly disturbed by the daily attire of so many of the faculty and staff. Dressing in picnic attire sends the wrong message to the students. School should be fun but it is not all play time.

I am offended by the money spent on charter schools when the money should be spent in the public school to enhance all programs for all levels of learning rather than a select few who don’t or cant pay private school tuition. I am frustrated by technology purchased by schools but not maintained. Too much of my salary has to be spent on supplies for my classes, particulary paper, pencils, and pens because the students do not bring the necessary tools of learning to class. I have purchased over 500 pencils this year alone.

I grieve when I look at the sagging pants, breast exposure, stiletto heels, and dirty feet in flip-flops sitting in the desks in front of me every morning. I watch them drink Mountain Dew and eat potato chips for breakfast and then drop off to sleep because they were on the cell phone all night or they played video games all night. Just what is it exactly do you want me to do to make school more relevant to them when they arrive at all hours of the morning because prompt just doesn’t matter? And I should give them a 60 or 70 to keep their self-esteem high?

Yes, what about the teachers? They are not non-entities. They are viable people being maligned every day in all of the media because the students are measuring up to the some poll. Ambition and Integrity, you need to visit a classroom and experience this first hand.

With this said, I still enjoy teaching. There are those out there that still want to learn. Unfortunately, there are far fewer of these students than there was ten years ago. Far fewer.

Ole Guy

March 20th, 2012
6:04 pm

I realize the “soft hearts” out there will forever argue against my stance on managing and controling kids. This entire educational debacle started the day some self-annointed educational guru decided to take the “kinder and gentler” approach to student discipline; the courts, quite naturally, followed up with a litany of can-dos and can’t dos: Can’t look at the kid crosseyed, lest you risk destroying the artificial self-esteem which the schools have worked so hard in achieving…can’t do this; can’t do that.

While the simpletons out there will argue something along the lines of “your generation was then; this is a completely different gen requiring a different approach in acquiring that sense of self discipline, and all that ole fashioned stuff”.

Bottom line: we allow the kid far too much in the way of choices. Kids (and far too many adults) are like electricity…they take the path of least resistance…ONCE AGAIN WITH THE OLE DRUMBEAT: Everyone should be REQUIRED to take the tough stuff…advanced topics in the math and science disciplines; Everyone should be required to meet minimum standards of subject mastery; Everyone should be held to a minimum level of deportment (that means behaving like somebody, whether you like it or not).

Look people…I know there are many out there who seem to think that the ole ways are “out of fashion”. HOWBOUT YOU STOP FOOLING YOURSELVES…kids need structure, and that means, among other things, enforcing the standards in all they do.

It’s a tough challenge, made even tougher by the tangled web of dos and dont’s which YOU have allowed to develop:

Teachers…organize so that YOU, and YOU alone can do your jobs. Start the process of teaching, motivating, and directing student learning; stop acting like puppets on the administrative string of political expedience.

Help return this Great Country to a position of global prominence.

Truth in Moderation

March 20th, 2012
6:45 pm

Maureen, have you ever researched this?

“Mr. Norman Dodd, as research director of the Reece Committee, provided a great service to our nation by exposing the real designs of the tax-exempt foundations, such as, who else but the Rockefeller Foundation, and the bottom line of their activities was, and it still is, fundamentally to alter our cultural life so that socialism instead of freedom becomes the American way of life. That’s what they’re about. Oh, they have other pretexts, just as do such organizations today as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.
We are sounding a call to arms to you again, sir, to get you to help us combat these people…. [F]rom what I have learned of Mr. Dodd’s life, he has steadfastly adhered to the ideals of our Founding Fathers, as so few do.”
-Senator Jesse Helms pp.231-232
Norman Dodd testimony:

Always check the source…..


March 20th, 2012
9:41 pm

I teach and I have loved it. Progressively each year behaviors and student motivation declines. Students now have no difficultly being rude and disrespectful. Students as young as elementary school openly declare that they don’t care if they get expelled.

Yes, Ms. Rice it does seem to follow socioeconomic backgrounds and zip codes, sometimes. Instead of blaming schools being the problem shouldn’t we look at other factors that affect some students motivation and behaviors? I have an extremely gifted daughter in math. In other situations I would encourage her to use here gift to teach and motivate young women. I now tell her that under no circumstances should she ever teach! Why should I encore her to teach unmotivated, ungrateful students? Why put yourself in horrible working conditions where you are assured that government officials will blame teachers and schools for their child not succeeding, inspite of all their bad parenting and poor peer influences surrounding their children.

Stress and blame far outweigh years of enjoying teaching! Wake up Ms. Rice , The Beaver’s parents and neighborhoods don’t exist anymore!

Don't Feed the Good Mother Troll

March 20th, 2012
9:55 pm

@ Proud Teacher, 6:03 pm. You address your excellent comments to “Ambition and Integrity,” but please notice that actually that rant is by Good Mother, who signs his/her name as GM at the end of the rant.

Proud Teacher

March 21st, 2012
5:48 am

Thank you for the “heads up.” It continues to amaze me how a select section of the population wants their children to learn tunnel vision.


March 21st, 2012
7:01 am

There is something about a “report” that is important to point out – it is an opinion piece usually used to further a specific point of view. Here we have an excellent example of such a report. The gloom and doom people, just like the ones who wrote “A Nation at Risk”, are trying to paint the picture that everything wrong with America is because of our schools.

First, there is plenty of evidence that is contrary to the statement “our nation is falling behind”. This data has been dissected time and again and it clearly shows that our students are performing at or near the top in many of the national assessments.

Second, the report singles out schools without addressing the desperate conditions many children live in before they ever enter school. By the time the child enters school, the deficits are so great, the attitudes are set, and the teachers can not overcome such obstacles alone. Ignoring these effects of poverty and blaming schools is simply a means to scapegoat teachers.

The report does not address the fact that governments throughout our nation are starving schools of needed resources and attaching harsh regulations that further undermine the work schools should be doing. Spending money on testing and teachers’ evaluations divert attention away from the things we could be doing to improve our schools.

Ole Guy

March 21st, 2012
5:09 pm

Tony, I completely agree with many of your statements; true, indeed, that many/far far too many kids come to the classroom with poor attitudes toward learning; true that our government…gladhanding and pontification to the contrary…doesen’t do much in the way of real help in acquiring a public educational system worthy of world class recognition. However, you mention “plenty of evidence” to support the contention that students are, indeed, performing at or near the top strata in terms of national assessments. Could you elaborate on this “evidence”, and the source of same.

It is indeed admirable to maintain optimistic outlooks on those issues which serve to cast questionable outlooks on the future of this great Nation. However, it is also wise to maintain focus on those issues which pose extreme concern. Perhaps the most-glaring concern centers on a decline in college graduation rates; the numbers of HOPE scholars…ostensibly with glowing, if not next-to-glowing hs academic records…taking remedials in college.

It is certainly no mystery that officials, at the governmental, as well as educational levels, wish to portray their efforts in positive light. However…artificial “achievements” within the public school domain notwithstanding…the “proof of the pudding”, if you will, lies in the reality of the less-than-stellar performances within the collegiate community.

Why, for example, is industry searching across the borders for scientific talent, particularly at a period of time when so many 20/30-somethings are either unemployed or underemployed?


March 21st, 2012
8:42 pm

@ Teacher, Too


March 21st, 2012
11:05 pm

I’m not so sure that Gatto has it wrong — the goal of “public” education for the past 100 or so years may very well have been a mediocre education to keep the population in “check” for the “larger enterprises” (government, US Steel, IBM, whatever) — read his books, he has it pretty well foot noted. There is, objectively, based on what we see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears, a ton of corruption in the local Atlanta School systems (and Gattos stuff is based on NYC schools). We, as a country, has spent, millions and millions of dollars (billions? trillions?) annually on education and it keeps going up and the quality and output keep going down with each generation. In the 1950s 5th graders read Shakespeare and wrote research papers… not anymore. I had a child attend a DCSS high school. He graduated from a private school. His brothers attend a different private school. It is absolutely astounding how different the actual education received by the student in each of the 3 high schools I’ve had children at has been — I a top public high school (on the Atlanta Magazine list and US News & World Report list, regularly), 1 a religious school and the other a top private school — there is absolutely no comparison between a “good” public education and a “good” private education. In the private school, the kids are expected to be responsible for themselves, they have autonomy and free periods. They have small classes (AP classes under a dozen), teachers who truly care about how they learn and what they learn and who they are and what they become and who they are as people. In the public school – I truly believe it was a ‘gotcha’ environment — teachers and administrators just lurking in corners for the kids to mess up and pounce, kids sitting in overcrowded classrooms, teachers not treating the kids as adults or “almost adults” who could actually handle responsibility responsibly, rubrics not used, not followed, expectations not conveyed appropriately, no sense of how to “go along to get along” much less to thrive and grow. Of course, some kids, particularly girls who could “self teach” and “nurture relationships with teachers” did very well but I’m not sure anyone really thrived in the environment the way I see kids actually thrive and grow in the private environment. And yes, the privates can select kids and kick kids out but they aren’t spending that much more per child …. the actual dollars per kid spent are about the same and I think the teachers are paid about the same so a lot of the difference are in attitude and expectations and how the teachers are treated and what is actually expected from the teachers and the students. It what I think happened in classical Greece in actual classic learning and it is vastly different from “good” public school. These kids are very prepared for college. Many of the others (if not most of the others) are not so prepared — I’m watching the fallout from the class of 2010, some of them from the “great” schools like Chamblee, Dunwoody, Druid Hills and Lakeside.