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Interesting NYT article about US ed.

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Whoops! Sorry. Here it is. From NYT Sept. 11, Thomas Friedman article:



I want to share a couple of articles I recently came across that, I believe, speak to the core of what ails America today but is too little discussed. The first was in Newsweek under the ironic headline “We’re No. 11!” The piece, by Michael Hirsh, went on to say: “Has the United States lost its oomph as a superpower? Even President Obama isn’t immune from the gloom. ‘Americans won’t settle for No. 2!’ Obama shouted at one political rally in early August. How about No. 11? That’s where the U.S.A. ranks in Newsweek’s list of the 100 best countries in the world, not even in the top 10.”



The second piece, which could have been called “Why We’re No. 11,” was by the Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson. Why, he asked, have we spent so much money on school reform in America and have so little to show for it in terms of scalable solutions that produce better student test scores? Maybe, he answered, it is not just because of bad teachers, weak principals or selfish unions.


“The larger cause of failure is almost unmentionable: shrunken student motivation,” wrote Samuelson. “Students, after all, have to do the work. If they aren’t motivated, even capable teachers may fail. The unstated assumption of much school ‘reform’ is that if students aren’t motivated, it’s mainly the fault of schools and teachers.” Wrong, he said. “Motivation is weak because more students (of all races and economic classes, let it be added) don’t like school, don’t work hard and don’t do well. In a 2008 survey of public high school teachers, 21 percent judged student absenteeism a serious problem; 29 percent cited ‘student apathy.’ ”


Our big problems are unfolding incrementally — the decline in U.S. education, competitiveness and infrastructure, as well as oil addiction and climate change. Our generation’s leaders never dare utter the word “sacrifice.” All solutions must be painless. Which drug would you like?


Rothkopf and I agreed that we would get excited about U.S. politics when our national debate is between Democrats and Republicans who acknowledge that we can’t compete unless we demand more of our students — and then debate longer school days versus school years — who acknowledge that bad parents who don’t read to their kids and do indulge them with video games are as responsible for poor test scores as bad teachers — and debate what to do about that.

Who will tell the people? China and India have been catching up to America not only via cheap labor and currencies. They are catching us because they now have free markets like we do, education like we do, access to capital and technology like we do, but, most importantly, values like our Greatest Generation had. That is, a willingness to postpone gratification, invest for the future, work harder than the next guy and hold their kids to the highest expectations.

Edited by MSNative
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That's fine if you can't or don't think you should do that. It does sound interesting--LOVE that quote!
Copying and pasting an entire article isn't cool; fair use generally allows only for excerpts. You can sign up for NYT access free of charge.
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...I'm saving this for posterity.


That might sound funny, but this article really hits a nerve for me. I'm in my last semester of my M.S. Ed. (PK-6...long story, started it many years ago and am now finishing it). I have actually learned a lot but the one thing that has really really bothered me since the start is that ALL of my classes (and I mean ALL) focus on strategies for the teacher to learn/know/use in order to get the students to learn. I have said so many times in classes (to resounding silence, usually) that we are paying attention to the symptoms (kids aren't learning) and are completely bypassing the cause (kids aren't interested in learning).


The causes are multiple and complicated - breakdown in values, dry boring meaningless classes, poor teaching, video games and rampant sex (pleasures of the moment), etc. etc.


And with standardized testing being the only yardstick given to them by the politicians, the educational system is having a harder time than ever reforming - it is ALL test, test, test now.


I'm glad someone - especially Thomas Friedman - is finally hitting the nail on the head.


I hope you hears something other than the resounding silence I have heard.

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