The Emperor has No Clothes

I read this quote today and was reminded of the old story of the emperor having no clothes, but no one was brave enough to say so.  If everyone agrees that he is wearing clothes, surely it must be so, right?  Right?

One report showed that “US taxpayers spent an average of $107,000 to produce a proficient fourth grade reader…[from a low of $70,900 in the state of Utah to $172,000 in Hawaii and a whopping $420,000 in the District of Columbia], with about 29% of fourth graders at proficient level.”

Okay, let me get this straight.  We’re paying with our tax dollars a minimum of $70,900 to educate a child to a fourth grade level?  AND less than a third of them actually do reach that level of proficiency when they’re scheduled to? 

And we call this public education?  What a joke.  A very, very bad joke.  I am assuming that these figures are possibly inflated, but even if it were half as much as the least amount quoted, say $35,000, it is still completely outrageous.  Why is the public not shrieking that the emperor has NO CLOTHES?????  Our so-called educational system, if this is even remotely near the truth, has failed miserably.  There is no hope for reformation of a system like this. 

Think about it:  how much did Abraham Lincoln’s education cost?  He borrowed books, used paper and ink, and probably very little else.  We look up to this great man and realize his wisdom, yet we still pour money into educational programs that have done nothing but decrease our national literacy for decades. 

When it is so obvious that our school system is doing nothing beyond giving a lot of people jobs, why are Americans not protesting?  What has happened to us?  Yes, we are the products of this system ourselves, and so tend to look upon it favorably, but how can anyone ignore the facts that THAT much money simply cannot be spent to educate one child?  It is a farce!  Why do we put up with it? 

Anyone who homeschools knows how much it costs for educational materials.  It could possibly cost as much as a couple thousand a year, or children can learn for practically nothing, as Abe Lincoln did.  Of course, schools need to pay a teacher, but think about it–the rest of the money that goes into “educating” that child is obviously going to other things besides their education. 

I made the statement above that the school system is doing nothing except giving people jobs, and I’m sure some of you balked at that.  Yes, I realize that there are good teachers.  In fact, I’m sure that every school system has at least one great teacher who inspires kids to soar.  But the fact is that it happens in spite of the schools, not because of them.  Great teachers are exactly what we need, but schools make it very difficult for a teacher to inspire.  They are so bogged down in discipline problems and clerical garbage, that they hardly have time to be teachers.  I feel sorry for the teachers who graduate from college full of hope that they will inspire children to learn, and then find that the system is so badly broken that they can only do a tiny part of what they wish to do. 

Education only happens if the child desires to learn, and that seems to be happening less and less.  Why?  Because teachers have been crippled to the point that they no longer inspire!  And the money that pours into the system does nothing to alleviate that.  There is no way to fix it other than getting back to teachers who teach and children who want to learn.  Our system doesn’t promote that, and more money won’t help.

Anyone agree with me that our school system is wearing no clothes? 

Okay, rant over.   For now, anyway…

 

 

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About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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16 Responses to The Emperor has No Clothes

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m telling you, they aren’t shrieking, because it’s the frog in boiling water.  We’ve so slowly been integrated in it, that no one realizes they should scream.

  2. ken3111960 says:

    I totally agree with you, my children were either in private school or home schooled. As I see it the biggest problem is the fact that there is no discipline allowed anymore. As a parent of 7 children I can tell you that without discipline children will not learn. A few good old fasioned spankings (I said spankings not beating) would go a long way.

  3. bwebbjr says:

    Perhaps public education suffers from many of the same issues that the Big 3 automakers are currently suffering from … only differences – by tax code and property tax, it is mandatory that someone pays for their product (they are not hurting for sales).  So in many cases you have people funding your school who never use it.  Then the people who use the product are all minors so actual customer satisfaction is not an issue. The cost per unit (excuse my term, but I think it is a reflection of the system) then is sky high and provides no benefit to the unit supporting the cost … a little like that union cost sitting on top of cars.There are a couple of key factors in education that public education fails to tap in to.  You must cultivate the attitude and desire of the child to learn.  That is done thru relationship and love.  The great teachers realize that and have a great influence upon many students.  Unfortunately that is the exception, not the rule.  And that is why for the most part, admittedly not always, that homeschool is so influential on our children.And oh by the way, when are public school teachers (and not peers) going to start teaching their student about socialization (Oh, I loved writing that)Public education is a tool, a weapon to shape future citizens according to the expectations of whoever controls public education … and has no biblical basis whatsoever.Good thought (and rant) provoking post.  Thanks!Bernie

  4. PreciousOnyx says:

    that emperor is butt-naked! we’ve decided either (possibly both) to home-school or private school our children. i came from a pretty good public school education but i can tell you now that i would have done much better learning at home or privately because these two systems do a more proficient job at helping students to master subjects.it cracks me up how Asians cram their classrooms full of students and spend far less money on their educational systems yet produce students who make a total mockery of American students. obviously money and class size are not the solutions.

  5. gsmith03 says:

    I do agree that is sad, but it doesn’t mean public education is bad it just means it needs to be overhauled.  The money part doesn’t bother me; it is the effectiveness of that money.  An average of $107,000 to get a child through the fourth grade.  That figure is determined by taking the average amount spent per proficient fourth grader ($30,945) and dividing it by the reading proficiency in each state.  Since nationwide the average is 29%, you take the $30,945 and divide it by 29% to come up with $106,707, which rounds up to $107,000.  That is not an actual figure of how much is being spent, it is just an extrapolation.  But it is still a good numerical indicator of how efficient our schools are.  And it makes sense that urban areas like DC have a lower proficiency, because inner city schools have problems with other things (like drugs and crime) in addition to poorer quality students (on average).The only determining factor for “proficiency” was ability to read, so the argument could be made that there are other important factors as well in determining.  Of course, reading ability is definitely the most important, but one has to wonder with a statistical study how they are determining which students are able to read solely based on numbers.  I’m not going to hash that one, because I don’t think it is really a major point.  However, what you do have to look at is that this study was published in 2002, based on data from 1998.  That data is ten years old, way before certain government programs like “No Child Left Behind.”  It is probably one of the major reasons that program was implemented.Basically, my point is that this study does not show that we are spending too much money, it just shows that the money is not being put to good use.  The answer is not to pull money out of public education, it is to find (and make) better teachers and to hold our schools more accountable.  I would like to see a more recent study that shows the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of NCLB and other education reforms to see where we currently stand on this.

  6. Whenever Government is in charge of something they spend too much money and do far too little with it.  This happens not only in eduction, but also in disaster aid and other things that the government, especially federal government has really no business getting their hands into (like the economy).Privatise the system and we will have far more quality for far less cost.(you don’t know me, I found your site trhough Radical Ramblings)

  7. homefire says:

    @gsmith03 – I would like to see a more recent study that shows the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of NCLB and other education reforms to see where we currently stand on this.  Hmmm.  So would I.  Though I have this niggling fear the stats would be even worse now.Basically, my point is that this study does not show that we are spending too much money, it just shows that the money is not being put to good use.   Pardon me if I really don’t get this point at all.  If you are not putting your money to good use, you are not getting value from it.  Therefore you are spending too much money, at least on that particular thing.  My point is that the money being thrown at education will never fix the system because it is intrinsically flawed.  the system we have is not educating children.  We need to back up to a time when children were actually coming out of schools with a good education (maybe a hundred years ago or so?) and see what was working then, and try to emulate it. 

  8. bafocus_2 says:

     @homefire – I have in the past commented on your site with my views on the Public/Private/Home School issue. So that is not necessary to rehash here.  I agree that it is out of hand the money that is spent on schooling, especially in the public school arena. I think the one thing that stands out to me though when people say that the Public School system is broke is this – If the parents of children don’t stay involved in their childrens education, there isn’t a system out there that will enable that child to have a good education.  The other thing that makes the system unmanageable is that the PS systems can’t discipline as they once could. Many people think that if you send your children to PS that it will somehow, magically??, do all the heavy work for you. They use it as a glorified babysitting service almost. And then they get upset when their children don’t get a quality education.   I think it comes down to this ~ Quite simply …….any schooling, if carried out without parental involvement, will fail to produce solid results. JMTCW 

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have a friend who is a public school teacher, and she decided to try to help one of her son’s friends because he showed a lot of promise, but didn’t have involved parents to help him with getting his school records straightened out.  She said that she nearly had to quit her job in order to help this young man because the system is so messed up.  The guidance counselors and others in public school authority were almost complicit in derailing this student’s educational future.  After this experience, my friend said that she could easily understand why her state had such a high drop out rate; she said that if totally committed adults could barely make a difference in the education of a young person, then it was very unlikely that less committed adults would have a chance.Honestly, if public school were a for-profit business, it would have had to declare bankruptcy years ago.  It’s almost criminal what they get away with.

  10. “Public Education” is being clothed in a small enough two-piece swim suit?  Such outfit is acceptable in most of general pubic… nuf said.I do agree about the more involved parents are in education, the better.homeschooling here.  How many 3 y.o. child can do single letter phonics correctly?  Ah, processing at her own pace in anything! Ironic thing about phonics stuff… I’m deaf.

  11. gsmith03 says:

    @homefire – Hmmm.  So would I.  Though I have this niggling fear the stats would be even worse now.I think a more recent study might also show things are worse, but I think it would be tainted because many parents have been pulling their kids out of public school and putting them into private school, particularly parents of brighter students.  I think NCLB has done quite a bit to pull struggling students up.  However, I do have the problem with that it pretty much abandons smarter students.  Once a student has mastered the basic skills, then they are just left out to pasture while struggling students receive more attention.  On the one hand, this would ideally bring the average up because lower outliers (struggling students) are getting more help.  However, the upper outliers (smarter students) that helped to bring the average up would not be excelling as much as they were.Pardon me if I really don’t get this point at all.  If you are not putting your money to good use, you are not getting value from it.  Therefore you are spending too much money, at least on that particular thing.  My point is that the money being thrown at education will never fix the system because it is intrinsically flawed.  the system we have is not educating children.  We need to back up to a time when children were actually coming out of schools with a good education (maybe a hundred years ago or so?) and see what was working then, and try to emulate it.To a certain extent that is the point I was trying to make.  We are receiving less value for our money with the current system.  I agree, the current system is flawed.  That doesn’t mean we need to abandon it or pull money out of it (which is essentially abandoning it), it just means we need to fix the flaws.  I do agree that before we put more tax dollars toward the system, we should evaluate it to see if there are ways to improve it without spending more money.  It doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t need to spend more money, it just means we need to make sure that level of funding is necessary.  If it is determined that we don’t need as much money, then we should put that money toward other programs or reduce taxes.  I don’t think going backward is the answer, especially not a hundred years.  Going back to the one-room schoolhouse would cause even more problems, I think, because you would have students of vastly different age groups and levels of education all in one classroom.  I understand that is not what you are advocating; I am just saying that the correct solution may be something that hasn’t been tried yet.  One of the advantages of the current system is that it attempts to put students in classes of similar maturity and intelligence.  I think one of the biggest problems is that class sizes are too large, which causes some students to receive more attention than others, which in turn causes more behavioral problems and an overall decrease in learning.  However, reducing class sizes would mean more classes, and therefore more teachers (which would also be a problem with the one-room schoolhouse).  A lot of the reason why class sizes are so huge is because we don’t have enough teachers, especially in the inner cities.  Perhaps with our technology level we could use the internet to provide education for a greater amount of students, particularly brighter students.  But we would still need people to watch these students, so it really doesn’t reduce the amount of teachers needed.At the risk of sounding fascist or communist, perhaps the answer lies with deciding who needs to be educated.  The public education system is trying to educate EVERYONE, which means all of the less intelligent kids are in the classes, pulling time and resources away from smarter kids.  Perhaps we should have mandatory IQ testing, and all students not meeting the minimum requirements would be ineligible.  This means teachers could spend more time with smarter students and allow them to excel more, but it also means a segment of the population would be left out in the cold and unable to function in many parts of our society.  Or perhaps we should push the smarter kids out of the schools and require them to get more advanced (private) education.  Either way essentially abandons a segment of the population, which is why I think a certain amount of public education is necessary for everyone.  I don’t think private education for everyone is the way to go, because it then becomes a money issue, making it so that families who can’t afford it will not be able to put their children through school.My personal opinion is that we should stop defining school grades by age (and having such a strictly defined school year), and allow students to progress as slowly or quickly as they need to.  Every month or so, each student would be evaluated as to how they are progressing, and if it is determined they are ready to move on to the next “grade” they would do so.  You wouldn’t want to do it on a day-by-day basis, because the teacher does still need to be able to structure their class somewhat without it constantly changing.  There would probably need to be a minimum amount of time in each “grade” so that the esssential topics are covered.  Yes, this would potentially put students of different maturity levels together, but it means students would be in classes with other students of comparable education level.  This could also potentially solve some behavioral problems, because the smarter students wouldn’t be as bored, and the students on the lower end of the scale wouldn’t be so frustrated.  Perhaps it could also be defined by subject matter, allowing students to progress to the next “grade” in certain subjects and not others.  To an extent our secondary education system already does this, because students can enroll in classes designed for students in a higher grade level.  Algebra 1 was intended for ninth grade students and above, but I was able to take it when I was in seventh grade.  That model could be used for primary school as well.  Either that, or we could have a more specialized education system, where each student is measured for their skills in different areas and therefore receive the bulk of their education in those areas.  Bare essentials like reading and basic arithmetic would need to be taught to everyone, of course, but more discretionary skills like art and science (even upper-level math) would be designed for the students who excel more at them.  Of course, this is also very much a communist idea, because someone somewhere is going to decide who does what.Anyway, I’m sorry for writing a dissertation on this, but I just wanted to adequately respond.

  12. bafocus_2 says:

    @homefire – Interesting article here ~ http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=6395403&page=1 ~ in light of yor post. And in MI to boot!

  13. homefire says:

    @gsmith03 – “Going back to the one-room schoolhouse would cause even more problems, I think, because you would have students of vastly different age groups and levels of education all in one classroom. ”  Which, if you’ll notice, owrked very well at one time!    As a homeschooler, I am convinced that students actually learn more efficiently in a multi-age environment.  “I don’t think private education for everyone is the way to go, because it then becomes a money issue, making it so that families who can’t afford it will not be able to put their children through school.” If all the taxes that I pay to the government-run (or mis-run) schools were back in my pocket, I would be able to send my children to the very best private school around, or even hire private tutors, maybe some of those excellent schoolteachers who have been frustrated by the system.   Money for schooling is not the issue at all.  The issue is that all the extra non-teaching administrative jobs associated with those schools would be gone.  The issue with eliminating government schooling is that it is a huge job-provider.  Most private schools manage to function with a great deal less administration, so many jobs would probably go down the tubes.  THAT is what keeps those schools operating–too many vested interests.Your idea of students proceeding at their own pace is a great one, and of course, it happens naturally in homeschool and one-room school environments.  I have a seventhgrader in Algebra 1, too (at least I think he’s in seventh grade now–I sort of lose track of the whole grade thing.)  @bwebbjr – Thanks for your thoughts.  I think you’re right that the automakers’ dilemma is related.  A sign of the times!  And I really loved what you said here:  “You must cultivate the attitude and desire of the child to learn.  That is done thru relationship and love.  The great teachers realize that and have a great influence upon many students.  Unfortunately that is the exception, not the rule. ”  So true.@Papillon_Mom – Amen.  @PreciousOnyx – Interesting thoughts on the Asian ed. system!  @ringwraithess – Welcome, and you are SO right.  @mjh905 – LOL at the bikini metaphor–I think you may be right!  Sort of like Papillon’s frog–we get used to it gradually, and our perceptions change.@bafocus_2 – You are very right about parent involvement, but as @waiting_for_the_final_trumpet – pointed out, that’s not always easy.    Thanks for the link.  I’m off to read it now.

  14. Anonymous says:

         I have to admit that I agree with you.  I have watched as some of my teachers in high school, middle school, and elementary school, had to deal with students who didn’t care that they were being taught something useful.  I have also watched as some of my teachers only taught to put food on the table.  They also only taught because they knew what they were talking about and or because they wanted a higher position.     I had a Geometry teacher who knew what he was teaching, but he didn’t ACTUALLY teach it.  By the time of my Senior year in high school I was learning from the people that were taking his class that he had progressed to throwing whiteboard erasers at kids when they didn’t know what he was talking about and also yelling at his classes when someone asked what he meant.  I learned as well that the only reason he had taken the position as Geometry teacher, football, and golf coach was so that he would get be the Principal.  His selfishness has become reflected in his three year old son as well.  It’s kind of sad that he couldn’t be the kind of teacher that LOVES to instruct his students and reflect a life of a servant of God.

  15. homefire says:

    @bafocus_2 – Dh had read an article about that grade “experiment,” but I hadn’t, and I confess that I have sort of mixed feelings about that.  On one side of the argument, I don’t give grades, and feel that it is indeed more harmful than helpful to kids to just give them a grade and go on with the course.  In a homeschool environment, of course, grades aren’t necessary, since the whole point of a grade is to communicate to the parent how the child is doing.  The teacher and the kids themselves already know whether they know the material or not.  And if they’re struggling, trying hard, then a failing grade does slam them down even further.  On the other hand, to not report it when a child is failing really doesn’t do anyone any good.  And what’s the dif, anyway, in this case?  So you get an H instead of a F–it means exactly the same thing, and the kids know that perfectly well.  It’s stupid.  The only way that you can avoid using grades to label students is to quit using them completely, which is totally impractical in a schooled setting, because it shuts out parental involvement, which is one of the worst things you could do for kids.And another point, if the child isn’t struggling, but is simply coasting, without caring whether he makes it or not, that certainly needs to be addressed.  I had to agree with one person in the article who said that this generation where they’ve been taught that “everyone is a winner” is going to have a rude awakening  someday.  What happens when they discover that they are expected to take responsiblity?  This is just one more example of the mind-numbing stuff that is being passed off as education these days!  We need to fight it with all we’ve got–our kids are at stake!  Thanks for the link!

  16. homefire says:

    @J1988writer – Thanks for your comment.  This is a subject close to my heart, and I appreciate your perspective!  Glad to have your subscription!

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