September 28, 2010

Tonight on Larry King Live!

Posted: 07:00 PM ET


Are America’s children being cheated in school?

A controversial new film says the education

system is broken – and needs an overhaul.

Musician John Legend and actress

Cheryl Hines on education for all!


Who do you think is to blame

for the state of education?

Weigh in below.

Filed under: Education

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Peach Ribeiro   September 28th, 2010 9:01 pm ET

Hello Larry,
trust all is well.

As you discuss education tonight please ask your guests if they have noticed that people in general are not inspired to leran academics. THe have not been engaged to learn.

Everything in life have changed except the classroom. It looks like the same as 100 years ago.
Children needs to be inspired again. Teachers are underpaid and also under teaching and inspiring. CLasses are boring and there is not one kid that would desagree with it.
need to inspire and also,
Nutrition must be be added in the school curriculum.
It is as importante as Math and English

THank you

jamie   September 28th, 2010 9:04 pm ET

Who is to blame? Government! Politicians sticking their noses where they have no clue what's going on!

Mark Tsakistos   September 28th, 2010 9:04 pm ET

I am a teacher and I work hard to do everything for the students in my classroom. I work as a teacher and so do thousands of others around the country. Now we have Rhee saying that it is teachers fault and that we are doing what we need to do. Rhee needs to learn a little respect and understand what is really happening. It is society that is ruining the education of the students. Support children, support teachers, teach parents. It is all about the students, all the time.

marsha   September 28th, 2010 9:06 pm ET

I am a veteran school administrator....there is an elephant in the living room that no one is talking can I get on Larry King to share more????

Amy   September 28th, 2010 9:07 pm ET

A lot fewer men in the education system today than 25 years ago

marsha   September 28th, 2010 9:07 pm ET

Oh my...stop blaming the teachers...the issue is bigger than that! As long as the adults keep up this educational chit chat...the kids and schools will never get better....

Linda Kristoff   September 28th, 2010 9:08 pm ET

Parents are to blame...not enough get involved in their kids' school. Case in point-why are Catholic schools so much more successful? PARENTS!

Bob   September 28th, 2010 9:08 pm ET

Do you think connecting the child tax credit to the test scores would help get parents involved in the kids education.

Basically if the kid doesn’t pass the standardized test the parent can not receive the tax credit.

How about connecting housing and food assistance programs to the child’s participation in school?

Courtney   September 28th, 2010 9:56 pm ET

TThat is a good idea to get parents involved!

K - MS   September 28th, 2010 9:10 pm ET

As a teacher in a great school system I have to ask WHEN are we going to put some of the blame on the parents? When you look back to when we were on top it was because parents were at the school, put effort in at the home, and actually cared!!!! Until we change teenage pregnancy, grandparents raising grandchildren, and take away the check (WELFARE) we will not see a change in the school system. Everyone expects teachers to be the parent, the educator, plan creative and dynamic lessons while managing 30+ unruly bodies, and then to top it all off fill out paperwork and contact parents with a smile on our faces. I would like to see how many hours these people work per day that continue to get on the television and radios and talk about how horrible teachers are failing our students. Get off your high horse and ask the opinion of the people that are actually in the field, the teachers, what can be done in order to change the system and I am pretty sure the outcome would be MUCH different for our education system.

Kathleen bach   September 28th, 2010 9:10 pm ET

I work for a school in Califonia and I can tell you that we have a lot of great teachers. The majority of the parents don't care about school or their kids in the area I am in. There is not enough discipline from the school itself because the school district doesn't want to lose the money they get per pupil when they are expelled or suspended. The teachers try to teach with several rude and disruptive students per class. This interferes with the learning process of the children who want to learn. Do something about the politics, and provide the monies needed regardless of the number of expulsions. Get rid of the bad influences and the other children will learn.

Jorge   September 28th, 2010 9:10 pm ET

The problem with our school system is that it is determined by politics. The only way to do what ever you want with a society is to keep them busy(social, work), stupid (education), and blind (bubble of confidence). Educate a mind and you will have a hard time controlling it. Critical thinking is an enemy of the state. I'm glad that the democratic party is doing good for education.

kevin Jones   September 28th, 2010 9:11 pm ET

I feel that all kids are put into groups based on reading level

John , Rio Dell CA   September 28th, 2010 9:11 pm ET

As a former teacher of 14 years, a lot of people with no clue always throw their two cents in.
The problem is low teacher pay. In my first year in a new profession after teaching, I brought home over 3 times my teacher salary. Why would any college student want to struggle to survive their whole life.
There are many poor teachers out there today, but as I like to say, "Pay a McDonald's wage, you get a McDonald's worker".
You will not pull in enough quality teachers working a demanding job and be COMPLETELY underpaid.
Wake up America, and attack the real problem.
John Snell, Rio Dell, CA

Courtney   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

You choose your profession because of your passion, not the pay. If teachers are so underpaid, then all of them should be amazing and motivated! Because no one is becoming a teacher for the pay obviously...

Al Eelman   September 28th, 2010 9:11 pm ET

Noone evr mentions the 800 Lb. gorilla in the room. Parents who want everything for their children, but refuse to let them be disciplined and sue the schools and teachers over trivial wrongs. A woman whose 3rd grade son threw the F word in school constantly. vThe mother said he has a right to express himself. I'd like some comments on this and comments on why teachers have no authority to enforce any kind of discipline. Comments please ???

Courtney   September 28th, 2010 10:04 pm ET

I believe parents should be able to sign a form saying teachers can punish their children. I'd sign it.. If the parent doesn't sign it suspend the student. I.s.s. and time out obviously aren't working. And maybe the parent will be more involved after that suspension.

PW   September 29th, 2010 8:42 am ET

I wouldn't. You are under the assumption that all teachers are ethical. I support the public school system and believe that discipline needs to be addressed among other things but all teachers will not do the right thing... Which is probably why the authority was removed in the first place.

Amber O'Neal   September 28th, 2010 9:11 pm ET

I believe a big part of the problem with our school systems across the nation is the lack of parent involvement in their child's education. Several friends I have that teach in the public school system cannot get thier kids parent's to help volunteer, donate school supplies or discipline thier children at home. Most teachers have to spend too much time with kids disciplining them when that should start at home!

Amber O'Neal

Menna Demessie   September 28th, 2010 9:12 pm ET

Why are you guys not talking about MONEY and RESOURCES as a function of school success? I was privileged enough to go to a private school that taught class on Saturdays with a bunch of students with rich parents and the resources, college counseling, teacher/student interaction, small class ratio were OUTSTANDING, but guess what? I don't expect anything less when you are paying thousands of dollars for it. Failing schools have a lot to do with not having the money to make them successful and unfortunately the lack thereof disproportionately affects black and brown kids who end up having no place to go when their public school gets shut down.

John Wright   September 28th, 2010 9:12 pm ET

I have heard pundits blame teachers enough. God Bless Ben Stein. The ONLY demographic at fault is the parent pool. When personal rights supercede personal responsibilities, the whole system is lost. Teachers lost control of their classrooms due to parental interference in disciplinary matters. We then punish teachers for not teaching well, thus justifying the ridiculously low salaries we pay these "Babysitters" – and then we complain that more students don't want to become teachers. For God's sake, why on earth would a child aspire to become a teacher when they could play one year in the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and make more in a year than a teacher could make in a lifetime???? We brought this on ourselves.

PW   September 29th, 2010 8:51 am ET

You are so right! God bless Ben Stein. But unfortunately children can't just get better parents. Trust me when I was a child I would have been the first in line. We have to stop penalizing them for having no good parents. We are allowing them to use this as an excuse.

Michelle   September 28th, 2010 9:12 pm ET

In our state, our law does not allow teachers to be fired and the union protects our teachers. Our school district, Neshaminy, currently has been working without a contract for two years so they decided in June to "work to contract" (I call this a silent strike where they still get paid), where they are doing bare minimum, no back to school nights, no after school help, no college recommendations, no bulletin boards, and the majority make over $100k. This all because they do not want to contribute one dime towards their healthcare.Is this reality? Our overall test scores in reading and math are not that great, just making state minimums from what I understand. Where does the nonsense stop? When do the kids come first? Many people in our district do not make $100k on two incomes.

Romell Smith   September 28th, 2010 9:13 pm ET

I think that we need to look at this from a holistic perspective. This is more of a cultural crisis. It is hard being a teacher in low-income areas because the students are dependent upon the teachers more than their own parents. It is a combination of failures...its family contribution, teacher input, government focuses, etc. All of these things put together simply reflects the culture of today in the US. These standardized test can be used to measure how a student is improving but when you cause standardized testing to become the holy grail on if a child passes, that becomes the focus. By narrowing a child's mind and exposure, we are inhibiting their growth. A lot of the kids don't even know how to be creative anymore and step out of the box because they are given the straightforward curriculum that focuses on math and reading..but no consideration is really given to the arts. What was so different in the past that we were at higher rankings oppose to today? We have hard working parents that want to send their kids to schools where they can get a quality education...but we also have parents that dont really push them at home. It takes both.

Natasha   September 28th, 2010 9:14 pm ET

I think it is a disgrace that we teach in linear way, when in fact, the reality is life is not linear. We teach to the test, which is yet another mistake. Furthermore, it is important that we teach kids how to learn, not what to learn. In terms of each school being different in public schools..that is attributed to the difference in one's zip code. Zip code determines property, property determines value, value determines taxes, and more revenue creates ...DISPARITY WITHIN SCHOOL DISTRICTS. LET'S FIX IT! Finally, there should be age requirements for teachers...22 year-olds teaching high schoolers? Give me a break!

stephanie   September 28th, 2010 9:14 pm ET

I think parents need to get serious about their kids’ education. Learning begins at home. How can we except the teachers, the school district, the government to take our children serious when we don’t. Yes we can spend a bunch of money on our kids’ education but if we are not nurturing their education then no matter where the kid goes they will fail.

Courtney   September 28th, 2010 9:14 pm ET

The teachers unions have not helped our children. The unions do not hold teachers accountable instead they allow the bad teachers to be protected. There is no profession guaranteed job security after 2 years.

Karthik Yeragunta   September 28th, 2010 9:14 pm ET

Politicians and Adults and Unions are responsible for the state of edUcation in USA.Everytime something useful is discussed the opposition politicians make it an issue .In DC Michael Rhea wanted to change politicians killed most of the moves.Secondly the curriculam is totally wrong with emphasize given to unwanted things

marcell fulop   September 28th, 2010 9:14 pm ET

I think it is the department of education.

Nathan   September 28th, 2010 9:15 pm ET

This is a monetary issue. Poor funding = poor education. Nobody is to blame for the U.S Education System except the funding that limits access to proper education.

Tara B   September 28th, 2010 9:15 pm ET

Schools focusing on test scores and focusing mainly on math and reading skills is the problem with public schools . Schools need to be able to teach a well rounded education, not just teach for scores. They also need to teach about values and the right thing to do, so they produce well rounded individuals. This is what makes private schools better and what makes them able to produce more well rounded individuals well still producing high test scores. Fix what the goal of schools is and how they are rated and you will fix the problem.

Job   September 28th, 2010 9:15 pm ET

American public system is bad because we have lowered the bar to make our kids comfortable. Long gone the days where parents and teaches told kids that they are not doing good because they are not studying hard enough. You can't have schools in the same state, in the same country, with different curriculum.
Parents and teachers must have high expectations for the kids.

John   September 28th, 2010 9:15 pm ET

As a teacher, I deal with 70% broken homes, kids coming to school
hungry, tired, without their home work, dirty, one or both parents in
jail or prison, drug problems all kinds of mental and physical abuse,
poverty, declining funding and the list gos on and on and on. And our
poor educational system is the teachers fault? Maybe we should
start grading the parents.

Cyril   September 28th, 2010 9:15 pm ET

Thanks to Ben Stein for voicing the real problems, which the "educators" there are willing to ignore or understate because it does not fit the position they are touting.

Luis   September 28th, 2010 9:15 pm ET

More time, more hours of school daily? Other countries, which are more religious than the U.S., do not have dozens of religious Holidays as we do have. The U.S. originally had only 2 Catholic holidays: Christmas and Good Friday. How many more religious holidays did we allow as a courtesy to new immigrant religions? Are schools closed those week(s)-long holidays ?

Heather Arguello   September 28th, 2010 9:16 pm ET

America's problem when it comes to education is the culture that children live in and come from. Children are coming to school with behavior issues and no push from at home. When I went to school I was expected to learn and behave. My teacher did not have to deal with behavior issues because they were not allowed, and if they happened, parents came to pick up the child because children were more of a priority. Now, kids are going to school and school is expected to do everything, babysit, teach, and manage behavior skills. Our culture does not value learning, instead of having the school day spent totally on education, it is spent on fixing things that aren't dealt with at home. Some issues at home need to be resolved in order for effective learning to take place. Parent need to teach their children how to behave, make them feel confident, and teach them that learning is important. If issues such as these were dealt with at home then the day at school could be spent learning. I agree with Ben Stein that it is a culture thing. Adults need to value their children and put their needs first instead of their own. If the adults in society valued education, didn't use the TV as a babysitter, and took a more active role in the raising of their children, then more time could be spent learning at school instead of fixing other problems.

Laura Yost-Grande   September 28th, 2010 9:16 pm ET

There's enough blame to go around–from the feds, state departments of education, use of property taxes to fund schools, parents, "expert" educators in universities who never set foot in a classroom. And Ben Stein is right–our culure doesn't value learning and self-discpline in a big way.

What do you guests believe is the role of parents in their child's education?

K.Wood   September 28th, 2010 9:16 pm ET

The problem is what it has always been, that Demonic mentality of being Superior. But as a country that claim to be a Christian Nation, we must remember the Word says the least amount you is where you will find my greatness. That means the cure for cancer, the cure for HIV, and all of our other Problems. The solution will always be in the least, that way GOD makes sure those at the bottom, will not stay there, that's why his word says the poor will be with us always, it a reason. But we are so ignorant we can't figure it out. But if we were the Christian nation we claim to be we would know this. So in my opinion something is really wrong with the Christianity in this Country. In GOD we trust Please"""""

AnnaMaria Jadue   September 28th, 2010 9:16 pm ET

Parents, students, and society need to value education from the beginning. Society focuses on shallow goals from marketing, and students don't want to learn. Video games are chosen over books, cartoon network over pbs, and people politicize content as did Texas. Students don't have ambition to learn. It starts with the parents. Parents need to educate their children, helping them learn and encouraging them to study harder. There could be a great, amazing, Ph. D. teacher, but without a good work ethic, students will not learn.

kevin Jones   September 28th, 2010 9:17 pm ET

kids are put into groups based on reading levels. if your in the highest reading group those kids are groomed for success! if the school system only focuson reading and math only all the way through high school. they would be more advanced. if they can't read why make them learn something they can't understandthe material anyways !

L in Philly   September 28th, 2010 9:17 pm ET

Yes there are teachers who don't deserve the privilege to teach our children, however even the teachers who work until 11 can't change a student population who has no outside adult influence. All of these successful charter, magnet, and private schools have one significant difference in their student population-and that is all students have someone outside of school that cares about their education as well as the schools have the option to remove the student from their school when they no longer perform up to the standards set by the schools.

I teach in a neighborhood high school in Philadelphia where we get the students no one else wants. The students who have a child themselves, drug addicted parents, abusive situations but most importantly no outside influence that sets another example of the need for education. No amount of teaching and teacher involvement over 6 to even 10 hours can negate what our students see when they leave our school and step back into their real lives.

roberto   September 28th, 2010 9:18 pm ET

I think the media and American peope need to stop glorifying Hollywood and gang/hiphop lifestyles that portray money and partying as coming easy and not valuing education and hard work, basically an honest living. Parents need to be held accountable.

Sandy   September 28th, 2010 9:18 pm ET

Allowing schools to receive federal funds for having "special" students has created a dynamic where schools are encouraged to label kids "special." This allows them to progress through the school system receiving accomodations and modifications to their school work while being below grade level in any given subject area. Quit allowing the dumbing down of America.

Charles   September 28th, 2010 9:18 pm ET

I have taught and coached urban and suburban student over twenty years and I believe that the problem is the changing family structure and the lack of parenting. No one has really address this problem. You can give out 100 million to every school district and still not increase test scores because there no parenting going on in America. Let address the parenting problem and maybe you will see some results.

Donald   September 28th, 2010 9:18 pm ET

students and parents are responsible for there own education there are infinte recouces avalible no matter were you are Students and parent need to be proactive in there own schooling i graduated from a ohio school in 2002 one of the worst schools of the state and because of my own motivation i now am employed as a middle manager of a fortune 500 company

Mike   September 28th, 2010 9:18 pm ET

Hello, why on earth would we want to educate our kids when we can "brain drain" from China, India, and other parts of the world! It's certainly cheaper and US businesses are now looking elsewhere in the world because the US market is saturated.

Kershasp   September 28th, 2010 9:19 pm ET

The Republicans and the political conservatives, squarely. They have worked to dismantle the system of education in every way they can for years, perhaps since WWII. To them, education is all about "University Liberals" and "Teachers' Unions," as if education could be boiled down in political terms!
They have consistently cut funding, increased class sizes, closed schools, promoted religious schools and private schools, and have promoted cronyism (how else would a George W. get a Harvard post-graduate degree in anything?)
-Prof. Kersi F. Munshi, Ret'd.

rolando sanchez   September 28th, 2010 9:19 pm ET

We can not blame the school system, I strongly feel that education starts right at home, we need to blame ourselves as parents about the education of our children. The US school system offers a lot of great educational opportunities and is up to the students and their families to make the decision wether they want to take them or not!

Abrahm Turner   September 28th, 2010 9:19 pm ET

While I understand there is a supreme blame game occurring in the United States between why our students are lacking a proper education, but I believe that this problem is a result of issues which can be shared from the parent, teacher, student, and government.

So what are these issues:

Standardized testing: If you evaluate graduating seniors on their ability to pass 8th grade math, reading, and science, how effective is this?

Parents: While a teacher has a responsibility to ensure a student learns while in class, who ensures the learning process continues at home?

Students: There a great sense of apathy for education which if oftentimes a result of the way they see adults treating education. "If my mom/dad/parent doesn't care what I learn, should I?"

Teacher: Many teachers feel their hands are tied within the education system as they are only able to teach from a restricted curricula which is limiting to the student. Empower teachers and they in turn can empower the student.

Lisa   September 28th, 2010 9:20 pm ET

We are all to blame, and we all need to work together to fix the education problem. "We are all part of the problem, if we are all not part of the solution." Instead of finger pointing, we need to be more solution-oriented to all work together: Parents, Teachers, School Monitors, School Principals, School Superintendents, School Students, etc. We all have roles and parts to play. Now, "Let's Walk Our Talk," and "Get It Done."

Johnny Valenzuela   September 28th, 2010 9:20 pm ET

I agree that Teachers should be held accountable. However, when kids are more preoccupied w/celebrity status instead of studies. There is only so much one can do. Some kids just don't want the help. Also Teachers need more incentive. Plain & simple. They need to get paid more & then they'll care more. As sad as it sounds but if you give more you'll get more.

Terri   September 28th, 2010 9:20 pm ET

School Systems are no different than another other business, there are outstanding employees and those who just want to 'do their time'. Union or not, bad teachers need to go. I applaud Michelle Rhee and all who are like her who for doing what is right instead of what is popular.

Anita Gates   September 28th, 2010 9:20 pm ET

Most children with involved, committed parents are good students. Plain and simple.

Anna Maria   September 28th, 2010 9:20 pm ET

I don't understand how a teacher's value is based on a student's standardized test score. Every student comes to school with a backpacked filled with different experiences and different learning styles.
As a teacher, I want my students to come to school feeling happy and safe; not feel stressed or anxious because of a test score that determines their 'level' of intelligence. If a student doesn't feel safe, he/she will not take risks and no learning will take place. By measuring a student's progress by their pencil/paper test is an injustice to a child who is someone who learns through movement or music.

Joy Santos   September 28th, 2010 9:20 pm ET

Whatever happened to the love of teaching? I thought you go to school because YOU love to teach! seems now teachers do not care about the kids,. All they care about is money and benefits. We need to get rid of the Tenure Teachers and hire new teachers.

Stan Bippus   September 28th, 2010 9:20 pm ET

Public schools are failing because they lack direction and accountability due to ineffective leadership. Good teachers are critical, but not possible without being held accountable. When schools cannot describe in measurable terms what they are trying to accomplish, they cannot be held accountable.

Chris Patritto   September 28th, 2010 9:21 pm ET

I do feel it is a cultural problem. Being involved in public schools for 25 years, I do see a lack of respect for getting an education. We see ore and more apathy toward an education from students and parents.

Our public schools have gone from teaching the 4 r's to being social workers, guidance counselors, special educators, parents, psychologists, etc.

I believe we can do more for kids educationally but we need to decide as a society what is the role of a public school. Are we going to educate children or are we going to be responsible for every aspect of a child's life? I do believe we do have a problem. We have to decide what education's priority is. We are spread pretty thin right now.

Mike Alphonse   September 28th, 2010 9:22 pm ET

I am a principal of a large title one elementary school. 90% poverty. Yes, I do agree that their are poor teachers but their are many good ones. A late of parental involvement in public school is a big reason for the problem. I have parents in my school that are reluctant or even resistant to getting involved. When parents and schools work together a public school can be successful. Parents must become partners with the school. When that happens success happens in school and students learn including those from poverty

Leslie   September 28th, 2010 9:22 pm ET

Standardized testing is to blame for the current state of education. Teachers are forced to teach only to the test, therefore students only learn that information. If teachers don't have high passing rates on these high staked tests then they will loose their job. When your job is on the line teachers are forces to teach only the material that's on the test because that's what "matters" to school administrators.

sabeena   September 28th, 2010 9:22 pm ET

Our school systems are worse than ever. We have to look at our parenting skills, morals, family value, ethics and foundation in our home that we provide to our children at a young age. When you add up all these characteristics in a child, you end up with students who have hard working ethics, core values and straight "A" students. Kids today are also missing basic principles of sympathy and empathy all around. We are doing injustice to our next generation by not guiding them and the teacher are not alone to blame for the breakdown in the system. It is combination effort on parties. If we think USA is in trouble now, what is going to happen in the next 20 years.

Pam Jadue   September 28th, 2010 9:22 pm ET

Mr. Perry, do you drive your children to piano? Do you supply their books? Do you own a piano in your house? Do you encourage them to be better? Then you sir are involved in your children's education.

karen rosenberg   September 28th, 2010 9:23 pm ET

I think the US probably does more accurate evauluation of schools than other countries since they are all socialized government run countries. The more the government pays for goods, services, etc for families that are low income, the less incentive parents have to push/advocate their kids to do better in school. Also the increase in the electronic nature of how life is setup now, it is harde to convince kids that they need to do better in school (for Jr. and High School) for future opportunities. Now just use the internet, blackberry, Ipad, Ipod, etc and you can be connected with whatever you want without needing to be very educated. We need to have smaller classes because now they are up to close to 30 kids so the teacher cannot spend time directly communicating/helping each student -younger students need more direct attention to get innovation to do better in school. The Federal Govt needs to allocate more of the money being used for stimulus to support public schools because counties/towns and states are cutting back on education programs and this is going to have a VERY NEGATIVE effect on this current generation that will have over 50 years of effect to them.

Carmella   September 28th, 2010 9:23 pm ET

Michelle needs to be on President Obama's education cabinet. That what needs to happen to her, she needs to go National.

George   September 28th, 2010 9:23 pm ET

Lots of guests - not one teacher. This is true with all the talk about education today.

Anonymous   September 28th, 2010 9:24 pm ET

How do you educate a child that REFUSES to cooperate?

Pete   September 28th, 2010 9:24 pm ET

In Hawaii it's so sad that it's all political as well as the union that weighs heavy on the educational system.

Lisa Whittington   September 28th, 2010 9:24 pm ET

Parents, Politicians, and People who think they know everything. That's who is to blame for the state of education!! None of them are in the trenches or spend very little time in the trenches of education yet claim to have the answers...

Maxine   September 28th, 2010 9:24 pm ET

I do not think that every child that does not live in upper northwest, dc comes from a back, violent and one parent home.

Cat   September 28th, 2010 9:24 pm ET

I am appaulled at teachers saying they can't make a difference. Please know that if you affect one life you have made a difference. I know it is difficult to understand. But I have taught in the poorest schools and seen students live in tar paper shacks. Please understand it is one life at a time and feel good about what you CAN do!

Dan Bevarly   September 28th, 2010 9:25 pm ET

"Who" may not be the culprit. Rather, it may be more of "what" has happened in our nation to encourage the dismantling of our education system. We have greatly diversified as a society over the last 40 years, socially and economically. These are dramatic changes that require us as a nation to reexamine and adjust how we transition from teaching homogeneous populations primarily black and white (yes, when schools were segregated by law and by geography) to diverse populations many fueled by immigration. Plus, we have removed some of the basic education courses like civics, which help promote a strong foundation of citizenship which also helps advance and teach responsibility and accountability in society.

E. Jackson   September 28th, 2010 9:25 pm ET

Its not a teaching problem, its an attitude problem in todays society.

yosh   September 28th, 2010 9:26 pm ET

politics is what is ruining education best applicants are overlooked for friends of local school boards members that do the hiring at least in our area. some are actually just now going to jail for doing for accepting cash for jobs but the practice has gone on for years

Maxine   September 28th, 2010 9:26 pm ET

Michelle is good and I support her and did not support Fenty. I believe the WDC Public Schools will still survive without her. Also, all the teachers that were fired were not all bad.

Linda   September 28th, 2010 9:26 pm ET

I agree with Ben Stein - we are suffering from a cultural drought in this country. I am a recently retired teacher. I have noticed over the years a basic apathy on the part of the parents. But, also, in the curricular area, we have limited the curriculum that is being taught. Here in California, students are tested only on math and language in the grades 2-4. Therefore,mandated by districts, the emphasis is on the areas of phonics, sentence structure, and math computation in those grades. Social studies and science are pushed aside and taught if time is allowed. And, heaven forbid, a teacher would sneak in a little of the fine arts. Because of this, creativity in learning and teaching is limited. I taught for 26 years - loved every minute of it. But, it became harder and harder to "really" teach and not just cram for the test. I do agree that there are teachers that are just going along for the ride but there are a lot of teachers that are frustrated with the "teach to the test" style that limits problem solving and the motivation to learn.

Chuck LePard*   September 28th, 2010 9:27 pm ET

We have a culture have made education undesirable. we joke about highly educated people such as doctors and lawyers. Children hear their parents insult and put down these individuals. If you want children to want education you have to make it attractive.

Stuart   September 28th, 2010 9:27 pm ET

I think two things. Education MUST become a value to our community before anything changes with students and schools.

Secondly, the role of parents cannot and should not be underestimated. Unfortunately, when parents do not finish high school, what incentive to our kids have for finishing and graduating and going on to college? It is a very sad state of affairs.

carlos   September 28th, 2010 9:27 pm ET

The problem is multifaceted but one thing no one has addressed is that teachers keep getting dumber because the incentive to become on is so little. i went to Princeton and became a teacher because I love to teach. I made a huge mistake, I could have done something to make money and made a difference elsewhere with kids. Teachers for the most part, are B students who decided teaching would be a second alternative, not a calling. Hence, the kids get people that are not fully devoted to their jobs and who see the system as continuously failing and give up.

In addition, unions do not help. they are often a good old boys club. I belong to mine because I believe that there is still a chance it may change and i need to be a part of that change before I retire, or else i will feel as if i wasted my life.

Yara   September 28th, 2010 9:27 pm ET

I live in AZ, a state with one of the worst education options. I grew up here and I am highly disturbed at the quality, standards, and options for education. Even though public school enrollment is down in my city, class sizes are at record highs. There were 35 children in one small Kindergarten classroom last year where my daughter attended. This is the public school considered the "best" in my city. My son's high school had an average of 40 to 43 teens per class. I'm not sure why there is a lack of funding for quality education. Students cannot learn and teachers cannot handle these terrible conditions! They are overworked and I have witnessed many teachers leaving public schools here to work at private schools with small, acceptable class sizes where they can manage to really help their students. I remember only having one principal and one vice principal when I attended high school (with a larger overall enrollment) and now high schools here have 4 vice principals! They are obviously paid much higher than teachers. I am feeling helpless finding a good quality school for my children. The one high school with normal class sizes, highly involved parents, and high rates of college bound students is our private Catholic high school which costs $8000 per year tuition. There is no possibility that my husband and I can afford this, as I'm sure most middle & lower income parents in my town cannot. Why can't our system invest in education at the appropriate levels anymore? I am beyond frustrated, sad and at the verge of hopeless with the options my very bright children have at this point in our country!
Thanks for highlighting the miserable state of our education system and the dumbing down of America. It will lead us to greater economic misery in the near future unless we fix this problem!
Yara Nash

Bob Mindell   September 28th, 2010 9:27 pm ET

What do the guests think about a vocational track for some students at age 12-14, as in Europe?

B. Koritz   September 28th, 2010 9:27 pm ET

As a former teacher I went to my administrators about my concerns. I know of other teachers who did the same. Nothing was ever done to correct the problem(s). Yes, there are many "teachers" who should not be teaching, but I think that reforming education needs to start at the top.

jeff freedman   September 28th, 2010 9:27 pm ET

With all do respect: A lack of parental involvement and a complete lack of interest in learning by the students perpetuate this problem. All the teachers in Philadelphia come out of the same pool. There is no such thing as a good or bad school; there are students who are interested and those who are not, regardless of how exciting or boring the teacher is. There are just as many good and/or bad teachers in so-called good schools. If I give homework and two students do it, how is that the teacher's fault. If a student doesn't read at home, that's the student and the parent. I just had a back to school night and four parents visited me. The teacher who had the most was 14 parents. All our teachers are good. In fact they're probably better than teachers in so-called good schools because we are faced with disruptive, uninterested, bored kids. The last ten valedictorians in my school were foreign born. Get accountability from the parents, change the culture, and you'll see improvement. Stop blaming the teachers and you'll be headed in the right direction. by the way: I do an amazing literary magazine every year. Same kids.

maryann   September 28th, 2010 9:27 pm ET

Maybe if the teachers were given a chance to teach and not train our kids to take a test. If they went back to teaching our kids the basics, then maybe they would have a chance. I am a mother of two boys and I am watching their lives be destroyed, because all the administration wants is that they past the standardized test. The TEST that every year they are changing because they don't have it right. Our teachers need to go back to teaching and not training.

P Thomas   September 28th, 2010 9:28 pm ET

Administrators, teachers, parents and the community at large share the blame for the quality of our schools. Mr. Perry is correct: good teachers do need to help weed out poor performing teachers, however, when administrators "shield" poor performing teachers by giving them satisfactory evaluations and ignore reports from teachers that teachers administering state assessment exams provide "too much" assistance to students who are taking standardized tests, and they get ignored, good teachers begin to feel as though they are in the minority instead of being in the majority!

Karthik Yeragunta   September 28th, 2010 9:28 pm ET

Question for Larry King and the team in the studio?

I would really like to know if it would be best to have a seperate committee which comprises only people with excellent educational background and no politicians to decide on the curriculam and also operation of educational system ?

amrish   September 28th, 2010 9:28 pm ET

in the name of statistics I have been forced to give better grades to students that they did not deserve. I specifically remember when one of the student in my class failed because she had to use the calculator for 236+5, my supervisor said you need to do something about this because the class average in your class is below the university average.....if you were in India or China this will not have been the case, that is why kids in those countries are beating kids in our country

Kathy   September 28th, 2010 9:29 pm ET

Being a parent does not mean that you assist them with their homework by doing means you are to be there to encourage, guide, and provide structure that encourages life long learning. Being absent from your child's life and not setting expectations at home is the failure in the lives of these children. The home is the first and best teacher for children. Spend a week in a teacher's is a tough job that requires passion, love, and commitment. Parenting is a job that requires even more! Racism in our nation plays a serious role in poor schools and family situations. Blaming teachers for the ills of society is unconscionable. As a teacher who works from 6:30am-12:00am each and each day, I take personal offense. Stop blaming the unions! You obviously do not know all the facts!

John Wright   September 28th, 2010 9:29 pm ET

Goddamit! Parents are at fault! That's it! Single parents have become their child's friend instead of their parent. That dynamic precludes the possibility of normal social responsibility. To summarize, a lack of discipline in the home over the last twenty years has led to an educational system bereft of hope. The blame is not prejudiced, it is total. ALL parents are accountable to support teachers and their actions. If we supported our teachers and held them in the esteem as we did a half-century ago, we would not have a problem.
I am not a teacher. But my Mother, Aunt, and Uncle have been. They have served on state and national Teacher Associations. Our friends have been teachers, and I have heard many stories.

Gene   September 28th, 2010 9:29 pm ET

Our public school system has become a day care system. Are we surprised, both parents have to work to make ends meet, they need the schools to keep the children in school so they can work and then when everyone gets home they are too exhausted to worry about school work. I grew up in South Florida, not a normal home life, but I went to a brand new state of the art school, I made good grades, many awards, inclduing a Silver Night Award but it was only after I got drafted out of college and saw other parts of the US and other countries that I realized the low water mark of the school system in south florida. I've been successful in the IT field, but my lack of Math and Science knowledge has haunted me my whole life, I avoided it early and often and payed the price. Until we as a society realize the importance of a good education, rather than getting our children graduated, we will continue to loose ground on the international scale.

Lisa   September 28th, 2010 9:30 pm ET

As a School Secretary at an Alternative High School, I was mortified at the high school dropout rate. Our Alternative High School was without textbooks and no trade classes, and the dropout rate was through the roof. And, then many of these dropout students ended up in the criminal system. As a School Secretary Ms. Mom, it broke my heart to see us lose these students. If we are not going to educate our students in our American school systems, then we are going to pay to educate them in the criminal system. Then, at the beginning of this school year, we have lost another student to suicide and another student to a fatal truck accident. The statistical numbers are heartbreaking. Knowing and losing these students is even worse than heartbreaking. "Nothing Changes, If Nothing Changes."

Jason   September 28th, 2010 9:30 pm ET

I am a teacher. I am a parent of five boys. Parents play the most crucial role. If high expectations are not set in the home they don't carry over to school. This is true with morales and values of respect as well as a work ethic. To say it is the job of the teacher is to teach this is true. If parents do not support in this endeavor it fails. Schools are fine. It is the support system of homes that fails schools. I am sure the three panelists had homes with support. Just showing up for school does not count! Being ready to learn and pushed to learn from the home is the most vital aspect.

simon cort   September 28th, 2010 9:30 pm ET

I believe parents and society are 90% of the blame and the other 10% is from the teacher/government lets see how we can screw with these kids philosophy. I get the 10% based on case studies done in the early 70's. Basically, it's the parents to focus on helping our kids achieve at an early age. I also think that the unemployment rate will affect the drop-out rate depending on how long parents are without jobs due to in home dissatisfaction and emotional turmoil that comes with continued unemployment.

Natasha Harrigan   September 28th, 2010 9:30 pm ET

Honestly, I think everyone is to blame!!! I have been teaching for over 12 years in a public school system, in a major city, and I think that it is horrible that teachers work hard everyday, give their all, including our own money, time at home, and our students still do not do well on "standardized tests." Granted, just like any other profession, they have individuals who should not be there. But there is a major piece of the puzzle that is not being evaulated or held accountable, and that is the parents. Teachers are only with their students for eight hours a day, where some are given a choice, whether to attend school or their family will lose their "welfare" benefits. So those students and parents do not care about a test. If you are going to hold teachers and administrators accountable, start to hold the parents accountable as well. For instance, every parent that claims their child on their taxes, should not receive a refund if their child is absent more than 10 days unexcused, failing 3 or more classes, etc. It takes a village, not just a school! After my first year of teaching, more than half of my colleagues left and chose another field, which has never happened before! The teaching field is not attractive and those that are there, want to teach! We are surely not in it for the money.

ATL Mom   September 28th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

I am a mother of a child that has struggled to stay on grade level his entire 8 years of public school. As his mom I challenged the school to provide more education for a child whose learning style differs or is not the same. We have to teach hjm a different way. All kids do not learn the same nor are they motivated or captured by the same ingredients. Schools are not willing to do anything outside of the every day script... Well my kid falls through the crack and there is no safety net. I lost the fight to the Atlanta Board of Education because I couldn't afford an attorney...all I asked the Board to do was provide additional tutoring for a kid that showed up for learning but needed more,. Too many kids exist like this and nobody, I mean nobody is listening. .

Christopher Hawthorne   September 28th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

What can be said about sheer aptitude? As a student who benefitted from the public education system, I have been in classroom settings with brilliant teachers who simply suffer from having disinterested students. Ben Stein is on the money with his perspective on these issues: a lot of blame does lie in the culture and a child's personal inclination!

sri   September 28th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

Do we know who taught Einstien to be Einstien? Did we ever congratulated any teacher for producing great scientists or presidents.

H L   September 28th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

GO BEN STEIN!!!! I am a teacher in a low-income area and it is so frustrating having to do the job of a parent and a teacher. The parents of our students do not value education, live off of welfare because they don't want to work, and keep their kids at home to take care of other kids because they rather have their child take care of their other child instead of doing it themselves. Parents feel that they don't have to do anything, they are just leaving it up to the teachers. It is really difficult to be a counselor, parent, mediator, and teacher all in one for 8 hours every day. Once the students are sent home the parents are not teaching their child how they need to behave and spending the time that they should raising their child to be a successful, contributing, high functioning, members of society. WE NEED THE PARENTS HELP!!!! TEACHERS CAN'T DO IT ALL!

Sue   September 28th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

There are several factors involved with the state fo the education system – first – teachrs and the schools have lost the ability to discipline students (not physically) – students and parents know this and part of the reason is that school systems are afraid of lawsuits – second – many parents had a strong dislike for school and they are passing this on to their children and feel that teachers and the educational system deserve little respect – third – character education needs to be as important as academics or we are just educating many potential criminials (and I have worked in the jail system); if we could emphazise character education in the first years of school and chldren would learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not – we would be able to do more teaching in the following years, instead of spending so much time on discipline

There are great kids out there that want to learn, but teachers are so busy with discipline issues that sometimes (often) academics takes a back seat!!! I have often suggested that we start vocational education in 7th grade, where children that do not learn in the 'acceptable' manner could learn with a hands on program

You can have the best teacher in the world, but if they have a classroom of 'sweathogs' , their grades may not reflect what a great teacher was in that room!!!

I have said and will continue to say that we can teach children to add, subtract, divide, and mutlply upside down and sideways – but if they do not know right from wrong, we are going to be educating many potential criminals!!!! (Just check the criminal system numbers!!!)

The teachers have so many requirements to meet for the students that they can not teach and be full time social workers at the same time – please do not blame the teachers – walk a mile in theri shoes and then make a judgement!!!

We as a society need to have a total overhaul on Character Education- What kind of role models are the leaders of our country providing – How many politiciians do you trust?

I had my teaching certificate but did not keep it because I did want the emphasis to be on disciline issues – I love to teach and now tutor – one on one is great, but not fiscally possible!!

Let us as an education system start teaching children to be honest, caring citizens who respect one another and then we can begin to teach academics!!!!

Allison S.   September 28th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

As a teacher who teaches in an Exemplary rated school in a Recognized school district in Texas I beg to differ about what is being said about the education system as a whole. Has anyone considered that places such as China whose test scores are "above" the U.S. and who "rank higher" than us in Math and Science and Technology only provide an education to a certain population of children; the high learners who will succeed. In America we educate ALL children, not just the "smart" or potentially "successful" ones. Why is this not being considered? I am tired of people who have never stepped foot into a classroom and who have never had to work with struggling learners and kids who come from these "broken families" as Ben Stein just mentioned telling me and my profession how to do our job. Walk a day in our shoes and your minds will change. It is fact of life and has been since the beginning of time that "survival of the fittest" will always prevail. Point blank, as much as we wish it was different, every child is not cut out to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a CEO. I have been in situations where I have done everything that I could to help struggling learners and although they may have improved, it doesn't mean that they have reached the said goal of passing the state standardized tests. In fact, you all are trying to attribute children’s successes and failures to how "good" or "bad" a teacher is but are you considering all of the other factors? Why is it that statistics show that schools deemed as “low performing” are located in low economic areas? Why are low performing schools made up of mostly certain ethnic/racial populations? Are we addressing the root of these children's successes and failures? Why in my ten years of teaching have I had students in my class perform at some of the highest state levels while teaching at an "affluent" school, but yet only have a little more than 50% of my students pass the same standardized test when I worked at a Title I school? Is it because when I worked at the Title I school I was a "bad" teacher but when I worked at the other school I was a “good” teacher? Not hardly! Did I tutor after school at both schools? Did I individualize instruction for students in both situations? Did I stay in contact with parents and administrators and school diagnosticians and interventionists in both situations? YES, YES, YES, and YES? My "good" scores certainly were not attributed to being a sponsor of an after school club or activity nor were they attributed to allowing parents and students to call me at home on my cell phone at 10PM at night. You can’t even call your doctor at that time! You have to call his “answering service.” Look at the data. The proof is in the pudding. Now I don’t doubt that there are some teachers out there who probably are not performing their duties to the best of their abilities. There are people in every profession who fall into this category. Yes, those people need to move on or need to put onto a monitoring program by their administrators. Stop looking for someone to blame and fix the social and economic issues that are the root of SOME, not ALL students being "failed" by the U.S. education system! Stop expecting teachers to be this Superman. We are doing the best that we can in very difficult situations. I challenge a politician or a talk show host to walk a day in my shoes and then we’ll see who the “hero” really is!

Brandyn Branham   September 28th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

No child left behind: does not teach my child what he should know!

KP   September 28th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

PARENTS ARE 75% to BLAME. Teachers 20%. Students 5%

1. Parents. If they can't control kids at home, what makes u think teachers can. Honestly some parents use school as day care.

2. Teachers are too young (for middle/high school). Some are younger than the parents, therefore students disrespect them.

3. Teachers underpaid for what they go through at school. A customer Service Rep makes more to give you an account balance.

4. Parents are quick to run up to the school if a teacher disciplines their child, but slow to show up teachers conference. Or not show at all.

5. Students need to focus on education rather than carrying a gun, being class clown or a bully. SMART KIDS or KIDS WHO WANT TO SUCCEED, SUCCEED REGARDLESS OF THE SCHOOL!

steve   September 28th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

Who's idea was it to spend 13 years in school plus college and homework in a short on average 76 year life span. Kids go to school to learn how to be kids instead of gaining the wisdom of their parents, instead of starting life out on a higher wisdom level they are always at the level of the kids they are around all the time if that makes sense. Schools crush spirits with their pressure and tests. Henry ford is one of many people got to learn from. They drive kids nuts trying to keep up with the world which then turns them to drugs. I dropped out at 16. I got f's on most of my tests. I make the same as a teacher right now but the thing is I can stay home and home school my kid and watch everybody else get up and go to work. They keep pounding that without school they will be nothing, they are hurting them telling them that. Don't put a scare tactic on them to convince them they are a loser. Their are many , many talants beyond on what schools teach.

Maxine   September 28th, 2010 9:31 pm ET

Oh my goodness – who is this person that is blaming the parents?

James Balkenhol   September 28th, 2010 9:32 pm ET

The man said, "Give the students a break because they came to school, because they wanted to come." You really think that is true? That is the problem that in todays culture, kids don't want to be at school. If kids had a choice do you think they would come? This only hurts the ones that want to learn because the kids that don't want to be in school disrupt the class and cause abad evironment. I know, I see it everyday. It is all about disipline.

Bright Stock   September 28th, 2010 9:32 pm ET

I am watching the show focused on the new movie "Superman" and have one specific comment to in any profession there are those that do their job very well and those that do not. Education is not different; however, the idea that teachers should be policing teachers is WRONG! The reason that teachers stay in their jobs is because ADMINISTRATION is not willing to do their job which is to evaluate and hold ALL teachers accountable. This is no different than in any other profession or job. And then ADMINISTRATION needs to be held accountable for doing their job by the BOARD which VERY SELDOM happens. It's not "good" teachers vs "bad" teachers that is the problem in the public education system. It is a systemic problem that generates from the TOP...DOWN and if those at the top are not doing their jobs, how can anyone expect those down the hierarchy to do their jobs. The vast majority of ADMINISTRATORS make at least 2 times as much or more in salary than teachers make....where is the accountability for them!

sharon   September 28th, 2010 9:32 pm ET

i had a teacher to tell her class she did everything in HER power to get my daughter kicked out of school permanently and if they pushed her BUTTONS she would do the same to them , and this lady is still in the classroom harassing and bullying students. this monster needs to go ruining childrens education. TEACHERS ARE BULLIES TOO!!!!!!

amrish   September 28th, 2010 9:32 pm ET

I remember that my mom will not give me dinner until I said that tables of 1 through 15 out loud. Hence, I learn to do multiplications and divisions quickly when I was in the 7th grade

Warren   September 28th, 2010 9:32 pm ET

Only students who take responsibility to learn will do well on "the tests." In the same classroom, I had 5 people fail, while 3 other students were in the top 10% in the state. The top 3 worked hard. The ones who failed refused to do the work. Three students took what I had to offer, and then added their hard work to it. Five students did not take the opportunity that was offered. They all had the same opportunity to succeed. Some took it. Others did not. Just today in a teacher's meeting, we asked what was different when scores were higher. We identified 2 things–1. a change in culture
2. a drop in student interest in their own learning.

Teachers are criticized, fired, and looked down on by many in our society. It is of little wonder that we are having trouble finding more teachers.

There are 3 groups of people who are being so universally critical of teachers. They are: 1. Adults who are running for office 2. Adults who make money selling "solutions" that do not involve demanding student responsibility and 3. Those who do not really understand the educational system and believe the first two groups.

Charles   September 28th, 2010 9:32 pm ET

I do believe it has a lot to do with the parents. However, this has been going on so long that many of the parents now are in the same situation their children are so how can we expect them to help. For anyone who doesn't think parents are largely responsible, you may want to ask why home schooled children do so well.

Luis   September 28th, 2010 9:33 pm ET

More time, more hours of school daily? Other countries, which are more religious than the U.S., do not have dozens of religious Holidays as we do have. The U.S. originally had only 2 Catholic holidays: Christmas and Good Friday. How many more religious holidays did we allow in order to please new immigrant religions? Are schools closed those week(s)-long holidays ? How many holidays per-religion public schools can afford, without falling into intelect’s poverty ?

Bernice   September 28th, 2010 9:33 pm ET

Could it be that because there are so many school drops in prison, that there might be some mental issues involved with these kids?

The Jacksons   September 28th, 2010 9:33 pm ET

The parents are to blame for accepting subpar standards. Government is also to blame for not monitoring the progress and taking action, yet accepting the outcome because it meets there fiscal guidelines.

David Baker   September 28th, 2010 9:33 pm ET

I'm a high school senior at Taylorsville High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. From this firsthand experience with our current schooling system, I have come to the conclusion that the problem lies with the students themselves, and the administrators. The problem with the students is that they lack motivation. The problem with the administrators is that they don't know how to motivate the children. No matter what income bracket you come from, it's a person choice about how well you do in school. We need longer school years and dropping out should not be an option.

dameron elkins   September 28th, 2010 9:33 pm ET

agree with ben stein, i know as a parent and having raised 2 kids the whole(culture) another way of saying this generation is basically lazy in my opinion, does not want to work for anything, evertjhing is supposed to be given to 2 cents

Name*Devon   September 28th, 2010 9:33 pm ET

Why are American workers being beaten up by hapless beaurocrats all of a sudden? Teachers are not supported by school administrations in creating a disciplined, controlled environment conducive to learning. Teachers are over-burdened by violent behavior, many times directed at them. Larry, who is reoresenting teachers on your program. This is Union-busting. Where are the Unions American workers are paying big money?

shavonne   September 28th, 2010 9:34 pm ET

I agree that parents do have some influence in encouraging their kids to stay in school....but the teacher has a bigger responsibility!

Jacob   September 28th, 2010 9:34 pm ET

I think that while racism does play a role in the reason some children receive a better education than others the larger issue is that of class difference. Per capita people of a higher income receive a better education than those of lower income. Yes indeed, and unfortunately, black families are statistically lower income than white families due mainly to the history of African Americans in this country, reprehensible as it may be, but this issue affects both black and white children. The most important thing is to offer the best quality education to all children regardless of race, class, sex in order to further advance or society as a whole. Every opportunity must be utterly exhausted if we are to thrive as a nation once more.

Carmella   September 28th, 2010 9:34 pm ET

Ben doesn't really believe that Black parents can care about the education of their kids. He has is own preconceived sterotypes. He won't admit it but he does. Like with any population of people you are going to have a % of parents that don't care but that spans all nationalities including whites. Not just minorities.

Anonymous   September 28th, 2010 9:35 pm ET

Thank you Ben Stein! Teachers are not to blame. Education must be valued by the parents of these children.

Smiley   September 28th, 2010 9:35 pm ET

Learning for our children start at home if the parents are not teaching them at home when they cone to school it's harder for the educators. As educators we can't do it all

Eric James   September 28th, 2010 9:35 pm ET

Stop blaming the teachers. We teachers are obliged to do what the administrators tell us to do. For instance, instead of using the inservice day to get work done or have professional development training, my school's administration made the teachers play musical chairs. Honestly. I requested to be allowed to go to my classroom and work on preparing lessons; however, my principal told me that the assistant superintendant of curriculum and instruction told him to keep teachers in professional development meetings all day long. I refused to play the game, but still, I was powerless to do what taxpayers, (I'm one too.) expect to be done in school. Preare lessons and teach.

Where the shake up needs to be is in the system administration buildings. We need to return the curriculum coaches, mentors, and facilitators back to the classroom instead of allowing the to retire and be rehired the next day, drawing two checks. I'll wager that given the choice of returning to the classroom or really retiring, they'd retire.

Anonymous   September 28th, 2010 9:35 pm ET

I work in a school district, where benchmarks are given twice a semester. Nine weeks tests in EVERY subject are given four times a year. 8 Students are pulled out of my classroom THREE seperate times DAILY. TAKS is looming over our heads, paperwork, data analysis, parent contact forms, progress reports, 2 grades per subject per week for every nine weeks per student = 1800 GRADES per nine weeks. We are becoming paper pushers, but are being told we are doing it all wrong. We cry at night over students that we havent motivated yet. We get to work at 6 and come home at 7...

And it ours fault?

Sheryl   September 28th, 2010 9:35 pm ET

Dr. Perry, nobody is asking parents to teach chemistry. But many teachers are faced with spending more time with discipline than on teaching with little or no support from the parent. In a charter school scenario the parents you deal with have already taken the first step because they applied and you are able to hold them accountable. How do you do that in a general public school setting where the parents don't have to sign contracts?

J lenahan   September 28th, 2010 9:36 pm ET

What does government do when they need money? They cut school budgets. Teachers must buy their own supplies. Thanks to Obama next year they cannot deduct them from their income tax. 600,000 dropped out in 2007-2008. Why? They turned 18 and as an "adult" (HA!) they don't need school any longer. It is government at fault 75% and the other 25% are the parents who simply do not care. Once 18 they do what they want. And you want to know why there is so much poverty and welfare in the U. S.

Jeremiah   September 28th, 2010 9:36 pm ET

The real problem is the education system in response to the gov. wanting to reward school system with better performance have lowered standard to give the illusion that they are performance "above average." Competition has been completely removed from the equation with the "No Kid left behind" mentality. School like everything in life is a competition.

Patricia Federici   September 28th, 2010 9:36 pm ET

the only difference(with other countries) is discipline, there is no discipline in the American school system,

Raul M.   September 28th, 2010 9:36 pm ET

The root of the problem is the removal of God from public schools. When God is push away the Devil takes over. Public schools have become the nesting ground for Satan. God save america!!!

John M. in North Arlington, VA.   September 28th, 2010 9:36 pm ET

I commend CNN for discussing education in America. Public education competes with private education for the American consumer and student. So with this competition, I think there has been little liklihood of collaboration. This lack of collaboration is one problem.

Private education may actually many times do worse, with for example career counseling for undergraduates with a bachelor's degree than public education. Unfortunately, in my practice of psychotherapy as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Virginia, I see this problem many times. I hope that career counseling will become more respected in the United States.

kath church   September 28th, 2010 9:36 pm ET

Dear Larry:

I am very passoniate about our children. ( all children) . Our education is in an pan-epidemic. Not just teachers, but parents, politicians, corporates need to look them self in the mirror and have a serious re-think. The bottom line is it takes a entire village to teach one child. We need as a society to stop being "me" and be" us." We need to pay it forward to all. if a doctor has the means to help a child pay toward college he needs to. He needs to stop saying not my kid? If you as a presenter whom makes a good salary know you can use your influence to help a school in your neighborhood you need to do it ! And corporations need to invest in schools in their areas. I personally have two sons that I raised and we are financially challenged, but we are finding ways to get it done. But what needs to change. America and its priorities and values of our philosophies.

Famous Quote
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Nelson Mandela

Larry think if we spent just one dollar on education for every 10 we spent on war. Economically we would be better off as a society and prepared for the future.

Please feel free to contact, I would love to appear on your show and give from a parents view and also someone who is a child's advocate

Cat   September 28th, 2010 9:36 pm ET

The meat of the problem is put POLITICIANS in ther classroom. Walk a day in my shoes. I care about my students and their familiues. I teach "At Risk" students. But I must admit, I sent my children to private schools. I worked hard to advocate for one of my children to meet his needs and his individualized instruction. If it weren't for my educated background my son would NOT be successful today. I was blessed to have the knowledge and education background to advocate for my son. It is our job to help parents understand how vital it is to help our children and to give them the verbage to use in order to help their chioldren. I have been a child/parent advocate all the way. I enjoy helping parents understand the different avenues they can take to better help their children. One of my job titles in the past has been "Learning Consultant" for a private school. I helped parents understand the test results when their child was tested.

Patricia   September 28th, 2010 9:36 pm ET

Another reason that bad teachers are in the schools systems is due to perks to pay down their student loans. We need more people like Steve Perry and Michelle Rhee in schools.

Brandyn Branham   September 28th, 2010 9:36 pm ET

September 28th, 2010 9:20 pm ET

I don't understand how a teacher's value is based on a student's standardized test score. Every student comes to school with a backpacked filled with different experiences and different learning styles.
As a teacher, I want my students to come to school feeling happy and safe; not feel stressed or anxious because of a test score that determines their 'level' of intelligence. If a student doesn't feel safe, he/she will not take risks and no learning will take place. By measuring a student's progress by their pencil/paper test is an injustice to a child who is someone who learns through movement or music.

Terry   September 28th, 2010 9:37 pm ET

Larry, I have been in the public education system for 33 years. I think we have done a poor job of serving ALL children and making all children a valuable and viable part of our schools. If a child smells different, looks different and dresses different we tend to push them to the side because we want to deal with the children of doctor's, attorneys and upper class families. If you want to make a difference in our society, then you should lift up the students who need to be lifted up and make them productive citizens and see how our country will continue to be ran. Furthermore, poor education is not a racial issue, its the overall system in general. Teachers are forming our future and unfortunately, they are under paid which often times results in poor performance of the educator. Thank you.

Leah Carroll   September 28th, 2010 9:37 pm ET

Teachers shouldn't be blamed for the students not carring for their eduaction. My father is a teacher at a high school and works hard at what he does. He cares about his students' education and it is hard to see how some of the students and their parents get angry at him when grades are low. It is not the teachers job to earn high grade for their students, it's the student's job. There are teachers like my father who dedicate their time to help their students, it's up to the students to take advantage of it and make themselves want to move on to higher education. The stress my father goes threw each day at school shouldn't be there. He stays up late at night, sometimes all night, grading papers and making lesson plans. Parents and students need to understand that there is a lot of hard work putting into teaching. It isn't as easy as some people think. As a high school graduate, I look up to my teachers, that I've had in the past, and thank them for helping move on in my education. Yes there are teachers thatdon't care, but the ones that do shouldn't have to take the blame. I don't want to have to rethink what I', going to school for. I want to be a teacher for the same reason my father is, to make a difference in education and help kids with the things I struggled in school. Kids now and days take their education for grandted. Perants and students reading this blog, need to see how hard a tearchers job really is. Seeing my father be a teacher and a parent, just to get the student's attention is hard enough. He doesn't get paid enough for the things he does for his students.

These are my thougts on this topic,
Thank you

Andres   September 28th, 2010 9:37 pm ET

I agree with steinbernen or whatever his name is, That "The children need the right parents to be there to guide them thru this education system"...Not EVERY parent is there for kids, not every child has help from parents. I know personally several!!!! families with parents that really do not care about their kids education, to them its a baby sitting service where it happens to be their children learn to read, write, and add...Todays society is based on convenience and most of the parents that do not guide their kids see it as a nuisance to them to sit down and help or question or be involved thru 12 years of education

Cathy Hynes   September 28th, 2010 9:37 pm ET

Interesting that there is no one from NEA or AFT to defend teachers regarding this discussion. Unions exist to protect the process of tenure, not the individual teacher. Administrators choose not to follow the process from the beginning and while there are many administrators who are wonderful, there are also those that will do anything to protect who they want and demonize others.
Parents, regardless of income must remain active, involved, and aware regarding the education of the students and what their children are doing when they get home.

kerry   September 28th, 2010 9:37 pm ET

Yes, PARENTS!!! kids need a parent to value their education, it is not just the teachers job. Too many of these kids in these underperforming schools are products of single mom's with no fathers in the picture to speak of and poor role models who do not value education! dont just blame the teachers all the time because the teachers can teach to those children who are ready to learn when they come into school, too many kids come in to be babysat!! its not their fault, but it is very much the parents fault. They dont care about what goes on in school as long as their kids are being babysat. Get real! Ignorant mothers having babies without fathers are the problem with so many of these inner city schools. thats the real problem, stop playing the race card and get over it!!

Bruce Thompson   September 28th, 2010 9:38 pm ET

I am a male black teacher of 18 years. I spent 4 year in the United States Marines and 3 in the Florida National Guard. I taught in a private school for 3 years and have been in public school for the past 15 years. I also GREW UP IN THE INNER CITY OF NEW ORLEANS. When you are ready to hear from someone who has been in the classroom that long, grew up in the inner city, and has served his country as a Marine. Let me know.

2 things effect kids the most that teachers have no part of (heredity and environment) to whom they are born, and the environment they live in. Teachers have no part in either one of these and they affect students the most.

Bruce Thompson

Joyce   September 28th, 2010 9:38 pm ET

Larry and panel,
I agree that parents are a big part of the puzzle, a big part. But we must also remember that the "parents" are the 1st and 2nd graders of yesterday. Many of the most involved parents in these areas that we are discussing are not as knowledgeable about the learning process. These parents may not have had limited exposure themselves. The biggest parts of the puzzle here are the teachers and the education platform.

Joyce Holt   September 28th, 2010 9:38 pm ET

I haven't heard anyone say the suburbian schools' teachers are doing a bad job. So are we saying it is mostly the city schools? Is it only the teachers there? Who do you think is going to teach in an inner city school? Are there not issues of drive by shootings, siblings to young children dealing drugs, several children in one home with different and nonexistent fathers, struggling and working mothers who don't have time to oversee homework? Are we not going to address these issues alongside with the support of better teachers? I'm a teacher. All of these things make a HUGE difference in the learning capacity of our children.

Sim   September 28th, 2010 9:38 pm ET


Deron   September 28th, 2010 9:38 pm ET

I grew up in Tinidad in the caribbean and we have a higher standard of learning in school.I went to college in the USA. This country has to much racism when it comes to black people and that is why the school system needs fixing.

Charlie   September 28th, 2010 9:38 pm ET

Watching the topic on TV. There are many issues. 1. Parent involvement needs to be there. 2. Teacher unions need to go. 3. Teachers need more pay. 4. Superintendents need less pay–let me explain. I know in the school district that I am by, that there was suppose to have 10 teachers laid off and someone asked the management to take a cut so at least 1 or 2 teachers could stay, but they would not–shows there heart–THEY are not in it for the children.
Have fun–it's broke. My last 2 children went to college at 16, graduated at 22 with 2 four year degrees each, had full time jobs withing 3 weeks of graduation. Kicker–we homeschooled. The school system is failing the children. Thanks.

Keith   September 28th, 2010 9:38 pm ET

I think these are critical to resolving our current educational crisis – Teachers: raise the bar, don't reduce standards. Parents: Get more involved in your child's educational process – read, discuss and attend school functions. Government: more funding in the US, we spend more money to house/feed/clothe inmates than per capita on students!

Mary Perkins   September 28th, 2010 9:38 pm ET

That which the teacher tries to get across to her 30 students during the schoolday MUST be reinforced by the parent at home! The subject matter is taught on a schedule enforced by the school, the school system, the state, and the federal government. Every child will not "get it" immediately when the teacher is teaching it. No excuses, parents! I worked all day, picked up my sons from school, went to their ballgames, and made sure the homework was done, and done right. And my sons knew I'd better not get a call from school with a report that they were causing a disturbance in the classroom. I stayed in contact with the teachers and supported them 100%. And my sons appreciated my involvement. Oh yes, I was a single parent.

Cobby Witherington   September 28th, 2010 9:39 pm ET

Thank you for focusing on education. Our country is definitely lagging behind the global community, and it worries me as a parent, and also as a taxpayer. Our family recently moved and changed from private to public education. We left behind a sense of entitlement. We are thrilled with the diversity our children have exposure to in public schools. From my perspective, teachers unions, particularly in Alabama, are holding us back. They cannot be blamed solely. Our schools are heavily dependent on taxes sourced from sales taxes, which have declined in recession and the aftermath of the oli spill. The biggest challenge facing our schools is what is not happening at school. Single parents, poor nutrition, teenage pregnancy, drugs/alcohol use among young people, poverty, abuse, lack of parental involvement on post-school learning, etc. Follow children after school and then see how the after school envrionment affects their school performance. It is not rocket science. We can pour all the money in the world into our schools but if there is no support system for these children, they will continue to fail. Someone needs to acknowledge the elephant in the room and address the core problems. THANK YOU!

Donna Luiz (Teacher)   September 28th, 2010 9:39 pm ET

As a teacher and a devout Democrat, I say hooray to Ben Stein for throwing his support toward teachers, who are knee deep in the trenches, and yes there are bad teachers, bad parents and bad policies - I do think one of the places the fault may lie with is with the teacher training, for it is, at least in California, absolutely useless and designed by politicians and not educators - duh! If it were not for my own instincts and love of children, I would have given up long ago as many of the dedicated teachers I work with would have done...yes, there are some very bad teachers out there, but we cannot pretend any longer that culture and economics play small roles – we have to stop being so politically correct and put some of the fault where some of it actually lies - pay poor parents a stipend to get involved more and watch your dropout rates drop!

Branden Carter   September 28th, 2010 9:39 pm ET

I've seen the argument first hand I came up in a public school; and I see the difference in my education and my more fortunate counter parts. I don't let it get to me but what about that young man or woman who cant stomach that?

Sarah   September 28th, 2010 9:39 pm ET

It was stated on the show that if you are a teacher, you have a moral responsibility to report a bad teacher in your building. I taught for two years in the DC Public school system (not under Chancellor Rhee) and we were clearly threatened in our faculty meetings not to send letters of complaint to the Superintendent or his office or we would be strongly reprimanded. Yet when I would confront the principal with a problematic co-worker, it was "handled in her own way". Which meant that nothing would be done...

Phyllis Zak   September 28th, 2010 9:39 pm ET

I agree with Ben Stein. This probably the only country in the world in which high achievers in public schools are teased, bullied and marginalized. I suspect we Americans invented the words "nerd", and"dweeb". School districts and parents foster this culture by giving tacit approval to the popular culture which values athletics, clothing styles, partying and celebrity over academics.

Also, parents are not required to participate in their child's education. When my daughter was teaching in an inner city middle school, she phoned every parent of every one of her students and personally invited them to the Open House. Out of 5 classes,16 parents showed up.

Teachers are restricted more and more in regard to teaching strategies and schedules.Teachers are being asked in some areas to teach scripted lessons. They may also be required to be on the same lesson, and teach it the same way at the same time as the teacher next door. In my old school, the teachers are required stay on schedule, even if the children need more time to master a concept. Teachers can easily lose heart.

mollybee   September 28th, 2010 9:39 pm ET

Where did the filmmaker find all these children who are so eager to learn from their teachers? Such children were not well represented in my 24-year-old son's classes or in the community-college classes that I have taught in the past 3 years. Ben Stein is right in saying that parents must encourage their children to respect teachers before the teachers, however talented they are, can teach the children anything. Teaching primarily to enable children to pass standardized tests is also problematic.–MEM

Paloma   September 28th, 2010 9:40 pm ET

As a teacher and parent (35 years of both), and a passionate advocate for children, here's what I think... NO system is perfect, but a society without a strong, excellent public school system is doomed. Any system such as charter schools that creates and supports unequal opportunity for children based on economic, ethnic or geographical factors should be seen as contrary to democratic principles. Now to the criticism of teachers. This would be the teachers who are expected to teach, assess, counsel, remediate, encourage, direct and most of all love their students. In exchange for this dedication and hard work we are payed less than we would be in other professions with commensurate education. The unions provide us with job security and have helped us fight for smaller class size, improved facilities and programs. Unions are not the problem. It's not that easy.

margaret   September 28th, 2010 9:40 pm ET

I am a paraprofessional in a school system in an affluent community. I just got finished watching Larry with his guests discussing the state of education. One thing that came up a lot was that parents are a big part of the education process. I would like those who do not know that even in rich communities, parents are sometimes out of the house in order to make that (rich) income and the only adults in the house with students who might need help with their homework would be a hired housekeeper/nanny employee who sometimes does not speak english. That adult cannot even in a rich community assist a student who might need help with homework.

Mary Boenisch   September 28th, 2010 9:40 pm ET

I agree with the guest Ben Stein when he said the parents are ultimately responsible for their students success. Yesterday on Ali Velshi's program on CNN he had a guest that was speaking about mandating school breakfast. If we can't get parents to make sure their kids eat something before school, even a banana, how are we going to make kids and parents accountable for the responsibilities of achieving an education. I understand poverty plays a role in many of the challenges of education. I also believe the breakdown of the family is more to blame.

TCL   September 28th, 2010 9:41 pm ET

I am a Canadian Teacher. I suspect the issues are the same in the U.S as they are here. It seems easy to blame teachers... I would love to know how many hours the panel members have spent in the classroom attempting to teach??? Have they experienced a month, a week, a day in the life of a teacher at one of the schools that they are so quick to critic? The problem is much bigger than the teachers. I do think that school systems need to change, but I think society, and families (i.e parents) need to change as well. I am a (fairly) young teacher. I remember when a teacher told me she was going to call home to report on my misbehaviour. I was afraid! lol! I say the same thing to students of mine and they reply, "Go ahead, my Mom/Dad doesn't care." And you know what? That is the truth. Not neccessarily because they 'don't care' what their kids are up to, but because they care to much about being a friend to the child and trusting the child that they forget that they are in charge of a CHILD who needs guidance not more friends.... Let's get back to letting teachers actually TEACH instead of having to spend their days keeping a lid on misbehaviour and chaos.

Pat   September 28th, 2010 9:41 pm ET

I agree with Ben Stein in regard to his comment about the parents. I work in a school system that really takes an interest in their students, especially students that are having difficulty with their studies.
Some of the children respond positively to the help, but when they return the next morning to school, the progress they have made from the previous day is lost because they will go home proud of their accomplishments and their parents don't want to hear about how they are doing in school. Parental apathy is a very real roadblock to a child and his education.

Dilma   September 28th, 2010 9:41 pm ET

I agree with Ben Stein. Parents should take greater responsibility in teaching their children. Yes! Teachers are responsible for teaching, assigning homework. Parents are responsible to make sure that the children do their homework. If children failed to do homework particularly at an early age, teachers should be able to the punish the parents.

Jermaine   September 28th, 2010 9:41 pm ET

Yes we do have some teachers who need to get out of the system but I have to agree that in most cases where chidren do badly their parents are either absent physically or emotionally.

The school must not become a substitue for home. Home needs to be fixed also as we seek to help teachers improve their input.

Thang Nguyen   September 28th, 2010 9:41 pm ET

I agree with Mr. Ben S., I put most of the blame on the student; which take for grant the education system; my mother worked 12 hours a day to make end meet; that was my motivation.

I was a refugee, when I came to the U.S in 1975; with out any English, I was about twelve year old; I have to worked 3 to 4 time harder than regular English speaking student; I graduated top twenty from High School in 1981; and went on to college and graduated from college in 1986.

I don't blame the teacher; good teacher or bad teacher was not an issue; because while I was in High School, I don't much English, but I still have my own system to study, to understand the material, and to be able to pass the test.

If I can do it, any student can; the problem here in the U.S, is the high school student here does not appreciate the eduation system provide, and does not have a desire on learning.

The student should take 80% of the blame, the parent 10% and the teacher 10%.

My 2 cents.

Judy   September 28th, 2010 9:42 pm ET

I am a 10 year teacher who has a Master's degree and am National Board Certified. I've worked very hard on my credentials, all of which have made analyze and reflect on my teaching methods. It has taken me all 10 years to feel like I am well prepared to teach the students who walk into my classroom each day. I have taught elementary, middle, and high school students in traditional schools, project based schools and online high schools.

The common factor I feel is impacting a student's ability to succeed is that our society has taken the family safety net out from under them. Many of my students DO NOT come to class READY TO LEARN. They come in hungry, emotionally upset, and have real, valid difficulties focusing on their schoolwork. These are not inner-city, low SES students. These are middle class students with no family support. No one is there to help them, no one is there to supervise them. No parent answers my phone calls, no parent gets involved or follows up to see if the student is doing what they should be doing.

I don't know any teacher who balks at standardized tests but they do balk if that's what they are judged on because they know that they have no control over some of the most important factors to student success.

Parent apathy or inability to support their children is the biggest factor in student's failing.

Heather   September 28th, 2010 9:42 pm ET

How is it NOT a parent's fault that a child is failing? If you look at a child's past school records, the majority of the time you will find that a child has been behind from the very beginning. Children are starting school in kindergarten already 1-2 years behind. Who's fault is that? Parents are their child's first and most important teacher. The attitude that it's only the teachers job to educate and prepare children is ridiculous. Everyone is responsible for these children! Teachers can not do magic. We are only human and these children are only human. Each child has a unique background and learning style. How can we expect every child to be proficient at every subject within the same time frame? It's easy to blame teachers because we are the ones getting paid to educate. Unfortunately parents need to realize that the day they became parents was the day they became a teacher too. If parents would have done their part, it would be a lot easier for us to do ours.

Myra Munroe, Ed.D.   September 28th, 2010 9:42 pm ET

I am currently working in Michigan with the Statewide System of Support which the focus is High Priority Schools (schools identified in need of improvement). I am intrigued by the discussion tonight and applaud John, Michelle, and Steve – my passion for equity and equality for educators to educate all children (all means all once and for all) matches each of you. I would like to comment on Ben Stein's comment about the importance of parents.

In my recent doctoral research, I was appalled that there is over 30 years of research and evidence that shows that quality instruction can overcome the home environment. Research about effective schools emerged in the United States in the late 1970s in response to the Coleman Report. Writers of the report maintained the home environment had a greater impact on student achievement than certain characteristics of a school (Edmonds, 1982; Raham, 2001). In response to the Coleman Report, pioneer studies in the late 1970s and early 1980s began with large poor urban schools while the replication studies in the late 1980s and early 1990s included effective schools for all children regardless of background. The pioneer and replication studies (Edmonds, 1979; Lezotte & Bancroft, 1985) concluded the following characteristics of productive environments that help all students achieve academic success:
(a) strong instructional leadership of the principal
(b) a deep understanding of instructional goals
(c) a safe and orderly environment
(d) high expectations for student learning for all students; and
(e) the use of on-going assessments to measure the agreed upon student outcomes for achievement.

I believe the time is now to as Michelle mentioned to have courageous conversations about what we believe and assume to be true in education as well as how and what students can learn.

Thanks for this very important dialogue.

Poor Righteous Teacher   September 28th, 2010 9:42 pm ET

Teaching has become the least respected profession that exists. When we take our cars to mechanics we accept that they are trained at what they do and that they can do that job. We do not expect that we know more about repairing our car than the mechanic. I studied for eight years and I have masters degree. However, it amazes me that people who are not educators - entertainers, actors, politicians– feel that they can do this job better than those of us who have studied and practiced this proffesion can.

Here's the difference – motivation. There are four types of students. Those who are self motivated. Those who are motivated to please parents or instructors. Those motivated by fear of failure. And those who are simply NOT motivated at all. If the student believes that he does not need an education because he going to be a rapper, it is difficult to convince him otherwise.

Terry   September 28th, 2010 9:42 pm ET

As to our test scores. We test all students in our school system. Other countries do not test all students and often require students to be tested to get into certain schools. If we consider that into the formula, the results may be quite different. We are not comparing apples to apples. As to the educators...yes, we do have some low performers as you also see in other organizations. We should do a better job in conducting relative ranking and placing low performers on a performance improvement plan or to reduce and replace with individuals who perform at a higher level. Keep in mind, educators are under paid which promotes low performance. Educators are tired of getting chastised over the testing of students. We should be allowed to test the fundamentals which will deliver better testing results. In other words, it will take care of itself. Thank you.

Rick   September 28th, 2010 9:43 pm ET

It seems lawyers have, over time, taken away any ability for teachers to discipline their students. When I grew up, the discipline made me respect the teachers. How can we get that back ? Respect for teachers would insure better learning – as evidenced by prior generations – the best education system in the world.

Frances Santos   September 28th, 2010 9:43 pm ET

I can only speak for myself as a teacher for 16 years. I have 170 students (seven classes each day), 120 of which are honors students, which require more involved assessments, and I have 45 minutes each day to grade papers, make phone calls, have parent conferences, and have meetings. It's too much. I love my students. But I either need less of them to give them the proper attention and assessments, or more time. I don't need more money – I love my job. I don't need the latest technology to teach writing and literature. Just give me and my students the respect of time in order to maintain the integrity of the learning process.

E. Lewis   September 28th, 2010 9:43 pm ET


As an educator in Mississippi, I can only speak for myself and those I work with, but I work as hard as I possibly can to educate my students. I go to school early and stay late almost every day. I spend my own money on supplies for my students and resources for my class. I am in graduate school to better educate myself, so that I can better educate my students.

I am in a state that does NOT have strong union support. When looking at the pay scale for teachers nationwide, Mississippi is one of the lower paying states and on top of that this year, I took a 5% pay cut. I do not have the resources I truly need, but I use what I have to "grow" my students.

Honestly, I am under tremendous stress to raise test scores. I spend my weeknights evaluating and assessing and my weekends planning.

My entire life is teaching.

What else would you have me do?!

Alicia G   September 28th, 2010 9:43 pm ET

I am watching this program and cannot figure out why the poor education system is being focused on African Americans and minorities only. America has a education system that does not serve any community that is not wealthy. I have seen a lot of poorly educated under served whites, as well as blacks. This is not just a race problem, it is a class problem in this country. Until we can face up to the fact that there are really "two Americas", the haves and the have nots, then we will never solve this problem.

Rick   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

I believe teachers do share some of the blame for the failing school system, I have witnessed children of prominent parents; mayors, judges, principals, etc. getting more attention than good students of less fortunate parents. Teachers need to be aware of the ramification of their calus treatment of these good students, the rich kids get the better grade marks without really deserving them, while the poor kids get low marks for hard work. The system is obviously broken, blaming hard working parents does nothing to try to correct this problem.

David   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

Although accountability is important, the No Child Left Behind legislation (NCLB) has created more problems than it has solved. What incentive is there for experienced teachers to teach in high poverty low performing schools if they are going to be held accountable for the low test scores of their students? The problem of apathy and indifference in many of our low performing schools were generations in the making. Politicians have passed legislation that would make teachers accountable ... but if the playing field wasn't level to begin with, how can anyone be expected to make significant changes within such a short time frame? The end result is that all too many of our most experienced teachers are working at the better performing schools while our neediest schools tend to recruit novice instructors.

Tim   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

The black community and leaders have to stand up and request better schools and expect more from their kids. But they are not, from recent DC election one can see, the old guards and parents don't care for their kids education. They are forcing Rhee to go.

I am Asian and like most of the Asian American parents, poor or rich, we expect our kids do their best and out kids responded accordingly.

Black community and parents need to do same. No one will educate your kids but you as parents.

Maureen   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

I like John Legend but I agree with Ben. I understand what Ben is saying. I am a teacher ; many of my students come to my classroom with serious issues, like drug addicted mothers, parents in jail, poverty. Some of my students are mentally ill. Some have just gotten out of jail; they are 12 years old. I never meet the parents of my most troubled students. They never call or come to see me. Many of my students don't even live with their parents. The district I work for is short on cash which translates to not enough paper, no computers, old books. I hate when people who have never taught school or taught in a school with the problems I see, tell me the problem is me and my fellow teachers. Someone's solution on the panel was for me to stay away from my own kids and work more hours. All of these problems for minimal pay. We don't teach for the money but we should be able to provide for our families

Teaching can be rewarding but teaching sucks right now.

Andrea   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

Please include education intellects who are versed on cognition, learning and ways to create a passionate life long learners. Dr. Yong Zhao, Diane Ravitch, Ken Robinson.....
Since the Superman movie was released, the focus of meaningful learning has been lost.
There is another movie out that is not getting much press, Race to No Where.

Glenda   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

I think Mr.Stein's point may have been missed. Some children are fortunate to have wonderful parents who provide support and structure. They have high expectations and hold children (and themselves) accountable. They foster a love of learning. Other children are not as fortunate. Good parents are key.

Walter Quillman   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

I think the Unions are draining the school system financially just the way they did the Automobile industry and had too be bailed out by tax payers.

Why do we pull kids out of classes to do the work of school staff thats being payed.

Why do school pay overtime for school staff? When we could be using subs that have the same qualification.

James   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

Steve Perry represents a magnet school. This school enrolls the brightest students from surrounding schools. A teacher could throw a book on the table and these students would figure out the course on their own. Hopefully this doesn't happen.
Take a class of repeaters in a 9th grade algebra 1 class. Many of these have no basic skills and are stuck in a rut. Many have failed more than once and have never done well in math classes in the elementary schools. Many parents of these students do not have jobs nor resources to help their kids. Some do not want to parent their kids. Absences are higher with this group. Some parents do not have the education to teach their kids and cannot afford a tutor. Discipline problems are also present.
Many social government programs have actually led to this problem and now it is being realized.

Rick   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

I understand the augument about bad teachers, but with regards to the teachers unions, what about "right to work" states where unions are not widespread or do not exist? Statistics show that students in these states have outcomes as low, or in some cases lower, as states with large teacher unions.

Dayna   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

I do believe that both parents and teachers should work together, the problem for me is that the public school teachers that I have dealt with really dont care, they are just waiting for a paycheck. They also treat the children like savages but expect them to respect them and others. They are with the teachers most of the day and if the teachers are busy trying to start their own businesses, write their own books, gossip with each other etc., what are the parents to do? We go to the school and they take up for each other. My child was an A honor roll until I made the mistake of putting him in public school(back at aprivate school) I asked the teacher to give him more than one sheet of homework in the area he is struggling in she said okay, it never happened, so I went to the principle and she told me that he is doing good because he had B's, I said excuse me but he is an A honor roll student and I am a parent that wants him to stay there if I can help it. They basically blew me off while congradulating his teacher for publishing her book when she should be educating the kids in her class.

sherry   September 28th, 2010 9:44 pm ET

Find me a good lawyer. I want to sue Detroit Public School because i had 4 children in this school system and no one learned a thing i have two High School Graduates that had to start there educational process in college. I Blame the teachers for there failure they were giving the short end of the stick. I work two jobs and could not teach them lessons at night.

Mark Tsakistos   September 28th, 2010 9:45 pm ET

Some one needs to talk to Jonathan Kozol and ask him to talk to Larry about what is going on with education in our country.

Sarah   September 28th, 2010 9:45 pm ET

I would like to see John Legend and Michelle Rhee walk the walk. Is either of them willing to abandon his/her huge salary and go teach for just one year in an underperforming school and receive the same pay as the teachers in those schools? And remember, they will have to do this will all the restrictions & dictates that are imposed upon teachers by outside sources such as the Feds, the superintendent, the school board, etc. I felt like each of them projected a superior attitude on the show tonight.

Name*Michael Fennell   September 28th, 2010 9:45 pm ET

I feel that parents are blame for the state of our education system. Parents don't do their part, they act as though they could care less, they don't attend PTA meetings, they don't encourage their kids to do well, therfore the kids act as if they could care less.

R   September 28th, 2010 9:45 pm ET

I am thrilled to see this renewed passion for education in our country. I am a principal of a high-performing school in Indiana and am fortunate to work with outstanding teachers. I would want my own children in any of their classrooms. I do know from principals in other school districts and schools that this is not the case. I believe the teacher's union in our country is going to do to public education exactly what the unions have done to the auto industry in our country. The great teachers out there also want to see the poor teachers weeded out of the field. All of the students in our country deserve the very best teachers, and nothing less!

luis   September 28th, 2010 9:45 pm ET

i dont think all r the teachers nor the families. its the school system y do we have the best teachers in some school and the bad teachers in others...all the school should have the same curriculum .and get rid of the kids that dont want to read.. the just past the kids even if there not doing good in the class so that they dont overload the classes for the next year.. if the child does give grade flunk him send them home to there parents, the school system is not a child care..
y would a school teacher want to go to harlem and teach in a class that student dont want to learn.. i wouldnt.. back in the day students would be expelled suspended,etc.. u dont see that anymore ..y because the school loses money.. the more students the more money.. so they leave them there to disrupt the student that do wnt to learn.. so we need to fix the school system for equalization

k story   September 28th, 2010 9:45 pm ET

My heart breaks for education I have experienced first hand for three generations. I am a teacher assistant and today in education "Data comes first" not Children comes first. Isn't that sad, our students are tested to death. They don't even know what country or state or city they live in as 3rd graders.

Cat   September 28th, 2010 9:45 pm ET

I wish Larry King had actual teachers defending themselves on his show. I hate how he has people with No backgeround in education talking about education. Call on of us and we will be there. At least I will. I will let you know of all of my collegues and how difficult it is to truly teach to what the government wants. Our government officials have never taught so how dare them make ther laws. If they really want our educational system to work they would ask us, the veteran teachers.

Regina Douglas   September 28th, 2010 9:45 pm ET

I am very upset! Those very educated people are sitting in the very place that they are trying to put Ben! Judging from your high horse! Teachers can only work with what is sent to them! They are not social workers, DEA workers, Doctors, Nurses! Parents send kids to school and demand that the kids dont have to respect teachers! When I was in school we had nothing, I mean in the schools,! Difference is education was perceieved as a must and was more important than anything else! That being said, there are some bad teachers and parents! If you want to change the education system.... reach the parent, our moral fiber is gone... Teachers are tired of babysitting, they want to teach! But we must pass the test, if you arent teaching the test, we fire you! Whatever happened to teaching a person???? Ask Bush NCLB, is driving our schools to the dogs! The sad part about it is Of all the things Bush did and the new administration wants to change, NCLB is not one of them!!!! Sorry His kids don't have to worry about that!

Dave   September 28th, 2010 9:46 pm ET

To not feel that parents are an important part is the problem. I agree every student should have a GREAT teacher but it takes a partnership between home and school. Befoore we pass judgement we need to be sure we have been in the classroom to see what we are expecting from teachers.

Teacher   September 28th, 2010 9:46 pm ET

Nobody wants to admit that parents are important to the educational experience. We have parents in our society who actually teach their children to disrespect those in authority because of the color of their skin. I am a white teacher working with a predominantly minority inner-city population. I have had parents tell me that their kids don't have to behave because I am white. Are you going to evaluate those parents? Maybe the government needs to start forcing parents to get a certificate and then have to go back to school every 5 years at their own expense so they can get more education in how to take care of their kids like teachers have to do. We are the only profession that requires constant recertification. We have mandates from the state and federal government that we must constantly deal with but are not able to put our input into those mandates. Our schools have mice and roaches. Our kids are often hungry, exhausted, terrified and more not because of teachers but because of their own home lives. Teachers are more than just teaching. We are counseling, purchasing school supplies, feeding and sometimes even clothing our students. Next time you want to blame a teacher for the state of America's education, open your pocketbook and put your money where your mouth is.

Jamie   September 28th, 2010 9:47 pm ET

We are all to blame. There is no one person to point the finger. I've taught in a inner city public school in south Florida for 11 years and have first hand knowledge of teachers being in the classroom as a security blanket for their financial status, administration twisting the system to only educate and put emphasis on those students scoring above the proficiency level on the state exam, parents who want to be involved, but cant due to the fact that they are woking multiple jobs to provide and or when they enter the walls of the school they feel belittled. Our city and county officials along with the state department of education create failing schools. They allocate money for the schools that are thriving instead of pouring more resources in those schools who are in dying need of them. I pray one day this system will be transformed to stand under the banner of "NO Child Left Behind."

Jeff   September 28th, 2010 9:47 pm ET

Let me tell you a little about Teacher evaluation and pay for performance. My wife is a fantastic teacher, she continuously stays late, tutors students after hours, and spends a lot of our own money to help her students improve on their test scores which they are judged upon. In Tampa, the school district implemented a pay for performance plan which would reward the teachers if their students meet some goals. It is a one shot reward, either you show this "scored" improvement and get the $2200 bonus, or you don't. Well my wife could not control the student's behavior once they left the classroom, either they did their homework or they didn't. So no matter how hard she worked, some kids just didn't excel. And again, she offered tutoring after school hours to help them to improve their scores. Well because some of her students did not show enough of an improvement, she just missed the threshold for recieving the bonus! They didn't tier the bonus and give her something, it was either all or none. How is that motivating for her, someone who gave many more hours than required, and much more money out of her own pocket and salary (which is horrible already) and due to factors outside her control she didn't get the bonus. Something really needs to change or we will continue to loose good teachers because they work too hard and after 10 years of service barely make more than an entry-level teacher! So sad!

Cliff Otto   September 28th, 2010 9:47 pm ET

Who's to blame for the failing education?? Everyone..

The parents neeed to be more involved in their children's education. I don't agree with Steve Perry's comments that it is only the teacher's responsibilitiy to teach. If Steve Perry can follow a recipe and bake a cake, he can teach basic chemistry.

The students are also to blame. There are children who do not wish to learn, and due to the internet and reality shows, all they have to do to succeed is get noticed.

The teachers need to find creative methods of teaching and stop teaching directly out of a text book.

The school board, emphasis should be on education and not on special projects, Why do we need a professional stadium?

Cherie Spells   September 28th, 2010 9:47 pm ET

How did our school system become so broken??? it is unbelievable how the school system has been dismanteled by America's own hand?? Children now days need to be interactive and hands on??? Teacher's and the curriculum need's to be enhanced to todays skill set's, yes math and reading comprehension are needed , but so is interaction, and motivation as well. Money is another issue, a good teacher can teach for free.

George   September 28th, 2010 9:47 pm ET

One of the big problems of education in the US system is most parents care if their children are good in sports not in academics.
Also I was stunned to learn lately that high school kids don't have anything to do when they are done from school ( homeworks that lasts 1 hour max, if any).
I grew up in an education system that you have to study 4-6 hours every night and 7-8h each day of the weekend to be able to make it. Also i grew up in a society where the best pleasure for parents is when their kids are excellent in academics, and parents spend hours daily with their kids to teach and supervise their studies and ask them what they learned at school that day. That's why in the society where i grew up more then 90% of the kids go to college and seeks higher education, because students and parents know that's the only way to make it in life, being a good student and go to college, not take a 0.0001 % chance of being a professional athlete.

Collie   September 28th, 2010 9:47 pm ET

I'm not a teacher but I work in education – I'm a school social worker and I believe the parents need to be held accountable. My heart goes out to teachers who have to teach students that have a myriad of behavioral, emotional and economic challenges. As a social worker I bend over backwards trying to provide services to support families in need, but ultimately the parents need to do their part.

DP   September 28th, 2010 9:48 pm ET

I am a kindergarten teacher with over 28 years of experience.
The children are still sweet, curious and eager to learn today just as they were when I began teaching. The children inspire me with their
enthusiasm and excitement for learning. I really enjoy having bright kids and stretching them to the max. I enjoy average children and instilling in them that they are smart and can be the best. I enjoy the children who need me to be their mom to be sure they have breakfast before they
can learn, who goes to bat for them to be sure they have clean clothes,
clean face, smell pleasant and can get a permission slip signed so they can go on a field trip. I wish the school boards and government would come into our schools and spend time; not announced when the principals have time to make sure the floors are cleaned, the windows are spotless, etc. Come see what teachers really do in a day. I work so hard at school, at home and even in the car but I am
worn out. I give 110% but the lack of support has taken its toll. I think
this maybe my last year and perhaps I will find another way to make
a difference in a child's life.

Karen Moore   September 28th, 2010 9:48 pm ET

I think it's unfair to say that the US education system is in that bad of shape. We are one of the only major countries that actually tries to educate every kid. When I was an exchange student in Germany, those who didn't qualify for "gymnasium" – their version of high school – were put into technical school with little recourse for ever getting a "top education."

I say put our best kids against their best kids, I'm pretty sure our kids will stack up.

Jim   September 28th, 2010 9:48 pm ET

For years everyone skirts the best solution to improving education in the US. Provide parents with choices in the school and type of education you desire for your children. Unless there is choice to provide competition we will continue to throw more money into a system that has no consequence for failure. If the public system had to compete for students things would be much different. Obama had the financial means to make a choice for his kids but without some help most parents are going to have to live with what they get fed from the establishment.

Don Bosset   September 28th, 2010 9:48 pm ET

How are you going to hold parents accountable? Jail? Fines? Shame? Rewards? Many of them are from the same failed systems their kids are participating in. The solution will be expensive but there's no way around it. Boarding schools would provide the surrogate parenting required to move failing students on to the passing rolls.

Mike Diamond   September 28th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

If the system is in crisis Then think out of the box.
1. Relieve the teacher of the administration. give them a Teacher Assistnt. This will give the teacher time to teach.
2. Eliminate Sports. and Cheerleading.
3. Eliminate Gifted & Honor classes Have real Mainstreaming..

This is a beginning. I taught In the East Los Angeles (barrio) for 20 years. I was a Mentor Teacher.

Allissa   September 28th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

Dear Larry King,

Pleaes consider a few of these ideas:

The impact of the No Child Left Behind Act on ALL districts, their ability to PAY for effective teachers (if they know they do not have any), the way in which STUDENTS are "assessed" on standardized tests that DO NOT consider the differentiated goals from which INSTRUCTION is based, and the impact on the use of technology within the classroom.

The way in which we EVALUATE what "is" an effective teacher.

The well-rounded educated child requires which subjects? Is it simply math, reading and writing? Consider the impact of school on the development of A CULTURE. The "teach-to-the-test" theory happens so often that we forget what creates a society. Is it math, science, or reading alone? Does it truly involve the ability to be creative with budget, new ideas for a financial firm, creative ways to recreate a scientific experiment, the music to which people relate which helps form who they believe they are and what they feel they can do, and much much more?

The child his/herself sees the instruction directly relating to the standardized tests, and feels the monotony that school has become because of the current state of the school.

The child is not being held accountable at home or in the community while he/she is at school. Why care at school when they don't have to anywhere else?

Finally, teachers spend 7 hours 5 days a week with students and do their very best to help every single child. Parents, therefore, must hold students to the same high expectations for the 17 hours remaining in the day.

There is so much more. True there needs to be a change. Whether the change is to blame the teachers for being terrible, or if it is to create a system that can help those who are not meeting these expectations through professional development, etc.

I hope that next time you air a discussion as such, you focus on the whole story, not the part that alludes disgrace and disgust onto schools, creating more of a negative interpretation at home. This negatively impacts EACH student, no matter how innocent the intent.

Roger   September 28th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

Hi Larry,

It seems that there is an assumption that the education problem is limited to African Americans. I strongly feel that it is a socioeconomic problem. I know of many school systems in rural Missouri who have very few minorities enrolled but have low achievement.

maryann   September 28th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

What happened to the system, is now they train our children for a test. They have to stay in the box and never go out of the box. Start putting real teachers from all over the country on. Not all these other people, if you want the answer go to all the sources.

Ravi   September 28th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

To Ben's question "what happened" to our education when we had the best. Well, teachers spend more time worry about being politically correct lest they be sued; they spend more time on class management than focus on academics; i can go on....

pws   September 28th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

Larry, please let your audience know how many years teaching experience each of your panel members had. They are not experts on school matters just because they attended school. Even teachers who teach in a successful public school system are constantly pounded by principals, superintendents, parents, and so-called experts. They are told they are not doing enough. A child who comes from a home where he/she was read to starting as a toddler and who sees his/her parents read has an advantage over a child who lives in a bookless environment. This is fact. Parents are a student's first and most important teachers.

Vanessa Byers   September 28th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

Mr. Stein's comment about African-American students appears to indicate that the problem with public education and low test scores in the U.S. rests solely with African-American students and nothing could be further from the truth. The dismal ranking of education in the United States, compared to other countries, encompasses ALL of our students. Let's be real about what we're dealing with and what we need to overcome.

Thang   September 28th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

Your comment is awaiting moderation.
I agree with Mr. Ben S., I put most of the blame on the student; which take for grant the education system; my mother worked 12 hours a day to make end meet; that was my motivation.

I was a refugee, when I came to the U.S in 1975; with out any English, I was about twelve year old; I have to work 3 to 4 time harder than regular English speaking student; I graduated top twenty from High School in 1981; and went on to college and graduated from college in 1986.

I don't blame the teacher; good teacher or bad teacher was not an issue; because while I was in High School, I don't know much English, but I still have my own system to study English to understand the material, and to be able to pass the test.

If I can do it, any student can; the problem here in the U.S, is the high school student here does not appreciate the eduation system provide, and does not have a desire on learning.

The student should take 80% of the blame, the parent 10% and the teacher 10%.

larry fisher   September 28th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

ask your host, in charge of the d.c. school system about the study that was done between n. y. school children (3rd 4th 5th grades) and those of the anaconda school system. The students in N. Y. did far better. the comparison was made between like socio economic backgrounds. The disparity appeared to be a result of the quality of teaching not the home life or the parents.

Luis   September 28th, 2010 9:49 pm ET

Larry, what about school with Tittle One. How can they get more money than other schools?...Have you see the houses, cars, clothing of the childrens and parents around those schols?...We work hard to support our kids and to give them the best education that we can. We pay for after and before school care out of our pockets, but parents in Tittle one school, not all but most of them, have all day kindergarden and not extra cost.

geneva   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

I believe that it isn't just a problem with the teachers, but also with the students and the parents. The students go home with homework and don't do it. many parents will ask if they did and of course they say yes when they didn't. Also the schools need more classes that will help them get a job, after all not all students can afford college.

Gregg   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

I totally agree this country needs educational reform. The entire system must be reformed. All I hear is throw them under the bus if they are "bad." Has anyone ever heard of performance improvement? Teachers need the tools to be successful educators. Yes there must be evaluations, but what about teacher development, coaching for performance, continuing education and mentoring them for success. Most teachers want to be good, the system is flawed.

cecil   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

Being the parent of
two gifted children
who are working on their
phd, I feel that
parents play a very
important part in the lives
of the child.
From a very early
age long before the
children went to
school, they were
given the environment
condusive to successm
Teachers also need to
be balanced in their approach
to stimulating the minds of the child,and rewcognize
The giftedness of the child. The teachers association has to maintain their cash flow by retaining teachers whether they are good or bad

Teri Castelow   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

Larry –
My husband and I are professors of education and former teachers. We are watching your show with great interest. However, we were very frustrated. You went to break and said that you would be presenting the teacher's side. Then you came back from break with the president of the AFT and an actress? Where are the teachers?

Bernice   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

I don't think there is any one entity to be blamed. Some kids come from, disadvantaged environments. It's only so much teachers can do. Students too need to be accountable for learning. I have heard some stories from teachers about the lack of respectin the classroom. I do however, think that all schools should be created equal. Minority kids shouldn't have to be bussed into the suburbs in order to get a better education.

Anonymous   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

Blaming the teachers doesn't solve anything. They are 2nd to lowest on the totem pole dealing with who has the power, next to the parents. Look at the adminstrators.... The big people in the corporate suits who get paid to just sit. Why don't we blame them. They have the power to change things and they just are sitting back and watching these kids fail, yet allowing them to receive a diploma. People blaming the teachers are ignorantly thinking and not looking at the bigger picture.

They are the one's getting paid to make the major changes to the school system. Then come back and ask who to blame.... You might find a definite answer.

Jessica Bravo-Bañuelos   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

I think the best think that every happened in California was Lau vs. Nichols!!!! Best case every to teach our bilinguals students so that they feel comfortable and not intimidated.

Angela   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

I know of a few teachers who currently earn about 80-100K annually who were given out of a 5 hour day only two 60 minute periods for the day an the rest of the day they do litterally nothing. They complain because they feel they are getting paid good money and are not teaching. Then the government saids there is no money? How can they spend tax dollars this way and not utilize the funds properly? The teachers could teach more hours and there could be better use of the funds.

Eisbaar   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

Parents need to ensure that their children are studying and doing their homework. It's the parents responsibility to provide an environment for this to happen after attending school each day. Teachers who don't teach need to go, period. It appears to me that teachers unions are more concerned about the political side of this equation than ensuring that children get taught. Children need guidance and be taught from a young age that learning is important. With the access to the internet and other forms of educational media, I don't buy that any kid, of any color, can't be put in an environment that fosters their learning. Quit letting your children watch shows such as Americas Top Model, Jerry Springer and sitcoms on tv and have them watch The Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, The History Channel, Animal Planet, etc. There are plenty of good programs and channels out there to help with the education of your children to support what they are being taught in school. Diminishing the amount of time that children spend in front of video games and instead spending more time being creative and learning problem solving and critical thinking skills. Bottom line for me is that parents need to be involved in their kids' lives and quit teaching that life is fair and everyone is the same, everyone deserves a trophy etc....hard work at whatever one does is more likely to yield a fair or more than fair outcome. People always tell me that my Golden Retriever is so well behaved and how did I do it.....I taught him and did it in a repetitious manner, I cared.

Martha   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

I am furious at tonight's panel discussion. Get politics out of the schools. Have a discussion with TEACHERS on your panel. Not one teacher on the panel and these people think they are experts. What works in one school system may not work in others. Children are mini-versions of their parents. If you have a child that wants to learn, you have parents to support what takes place in the classroom. I can't force a child to pick up a pencil and do the work. My school system expects me to do my job – and I do it well! This issue is bigger than what teachers can fix – change parents – you change children – change children – you have change the classroom. Then maybe teachers can be come great again. When I hear a young person express a desire to become a teacher – it makes me want to issue a warning! BTW -I've never taught in a school with every bathroom broken! And never taught in a school that only served corn! And I've taught in Title 1 schools. It's easy to blame teachers. Good thing, we are strong.

Leslie McCall   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

I have taught first grade for 17 years and have seen many changes. John Legend's comment about getting students to read early, impacts that child further in their academic career. Many of my students come to school without breakfast and a good nights sleep. Other students aren't sure who will be there to pick them up. I think everyone has the responsibility to educate our future. The family structure has changed dramatically in our society. Parents need to value education....

Belle   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

The problem is that educatuion agency demands a lot from teachers, and do not provide the materials needed. This year our school adopted a new reading program, but have not received all the resources that come with the adoption. We get bits and pieces throughout the year. The district does not give us the time to plan our lessons. Forty five minutes is not enough. The rest of the time is spent in meetings.

Deborah   September 28th, 2010 9:50 pm ET

I attended D.C. public schools. I agree for one time with the fact that parents have the most significant amount to do with their child's education and lack thereof. Out of the time I attended D.C. public schools I had 1 bad teacher and she was bad, she just looked at us all day and did nothing. This was one year when my parents were not involved. When my parents began to get involved in my education again, I felt proud and I did much better because I knew that they "expected" more. they also gave me praise when I did better.

On the other hand, I attended schools in areas where there was a lot of poverty in Washington DC. Once I got to high school I attended a school in an area of upper middle class. I was shocked to find out that Shakessphere was actually a word. I was more shocked at the idea of having to work to understand Shakesphere writings. This was the point where I could clearly see a difference in the schools that I was now attending than those in lower rated areas that I had previously attended within the same city.

I also felt frustrated to have to catch up but my dad would not allow me to quit or to fail. Dad stayed on my heels, he came to my school often. If I could not get my work, he taled to the teachers to find out what I needed to do to make it better and he nade sure that I did that. dad talked to teachers, he attended the PTAs and he left no room for me to goof off the way I envisioned that I wanted to. I am glad that throughout my education I had parents who pushed me and supported me as well as neigbors who also pushed and encouraged me to stay in school. No they did not do my homework, but they made sure that I did it and if I had problems, they made sure that I was able to get them worked out, even if that meant a one on one with my teacher.

Today, I am a doctor, a professor and I thank the D.C. school system but most of all, I thank my parents for pushing me and making me get from the school what I came to get, an education. I met kids everyday who had the opportunity to obtain the same level of education. On the other hand, they did not have parents who supported them and that is where they failed.

I wanted to drop out, I wanted to quit however my parents, mostly my dad and my stepdad would not allow me to quit.


Jeff Barter   September 28th, 2010 9:51 pm ET

There's a lot of blame just flying around on this show. Why don't we just tell the truth that the government wastes the money that is supposed to go to the schools. What happened to the State Lottery money that was supposed to help schools. The teachers blame the " no child left behind " initiative as the reason for school failure and that comes from a school in Prescott Arizona where there is supposed to be affluence. This whole show is self promotion garbage as usual. Nothing will come out of this.

anna   September 28th, 2010 9:51 pm ET

Larry, I think teachers are crucial in education, yes, no doubt! It is true that some teachers don't do a good job, others are not well qualified, others do not have a gift for teaching. But I think parents are the most responsible for success to take place. We can't blame teachers for what parents don't do. It seems that we expect teachers to do miracles and not only teach but also replace parents and also carry society on their shoulders. I studied in Europe long time ago. Most of my teachers were great but my parents were incredible! I would have never been so successful in school without the dedication of my parents. Parents need to be committed to their children education. And, most of all, students need to be accountable for all they are receiving from their country through tax payers. All are responsible!

GL   September 28th, 2010 9:51 pm ET

Ben Stein was on point. My son had a perfect SAT score, was a National Merit finalist and class Valedictorian. All he got from the federal/state government was a Robert C. Byrd scholarship for $1500. Total amount spent to reward high achieving students is a shameful fraction of what we spend on Pell grants and other need base grants.

joyce swartz   September 28th, 2010 9:51 pm ET

Facebook, Ipods,cellphones but very little time to concentrate on their studies. Most kids in grades 6 to 8 don't even know the capital of the state they live in,can't name the first three U.S. presidents. Parents teachers and the kids themselves need to bone up

Vicky Dill   September 28th, 2010 9:51 pm ET

My question is why educators don't read and implement research. For example, I have studied education and worked in the field for 40 years. We know that appropriate teacher selection is a key to finding and keeping good teachers - select the right ones and you won't have to weed anybody out. But schools seemingly refuse to use the research which would help them improve effectiveness and reduce turnover. Why are they afraid to select carefully or use tools that would help predict who can build relationships with students? If they did, they would discover, as those who have actually done this and stuck with it, that research-based selection and excellent mentoring mean students have great teachers who don't teach to the test, but who can engage students in learning and really make a difference.

ruth kaufman   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

As a primary teacher in one of the 16 lowest achieving schools in Cincinnati, I believe that we have to hold families accountable for their child's behavior and for instilling the value of education at home. By requiring teachers to do it all, I think our district undermines the power of parents to help their children to do well at school.

Name*Lynm Juhola   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

To Mr. Steins questionn , " What happened to our schools?". Lack of accountability.

Ellis Wilson   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

In the black community in the days of segregation, the best and brightest were educators. Now the low achiever are the one going into education, the business world is taking the best and brightest.

Cherilynne   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

I think we need to have higher standards for our teachers, and also higher standards for students. Schools seem to be a reflection of the society in which we live. I think there is some confusion about what we are preparing today's students to do in a future society. Technology is constantly changing the world in which we live, and educators need to be more knowledgeable about technology and how it is changing our society and the world.

McKenzie   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

I'm a student at a private high school and the majority of my friends from elementary and middle school (an amazing one at that) are going to Woodside High School. They are the lucky ones that come home to extremely intelligent, supportive, and loving parents. Though, they have many stories about kids at school that come home to illiterate, unmotivated, and exhausted parents–so how are they expected to do any better when they have no example set for them in a context outside of campus? Being in this environment has changed my friends to the point that I can hardly recognize them anymore. They are no longer innocent and free spirited. Rather, they are somewhat reckless and only determined to get through each day so they can go home. What are the less fortunate students supposed to look forward to? A house filled with failure and indifference?

There is no one group to blame for the problems with the education system. We are all to blame for being self-destructive and pigheaded. No one ever said it would be easy to fix it, nor did they say it would ever be hard. But what we have said is that something needs to be done.

iw   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

There cannot be just one thing to blame for our horrid decline in education. Difficult to imagine that USA was first among nations in education, and now we're w-a-ay down the list. Agree with Ben when he tried to talk about 'good parents'.. There are a lot of not-good parents.. those who are druggies, criminals, absent, frequent frequent movers and abusers.. the parents/adults who have no time for the children they brought into this world.. the ones who scream at and dehumanize little ones on a regular basis.. Children who are whipped, who are dragged into pornography by their 'uncle', those who witness animal fighting, those who do not eat .. or eat well.. Anyone who has taught even a few y\ears in a city or in a moderate-income town knows how valuable good parents are.. and thank goodness there are a ton of them.. There are also a few really poor teachers in most buildings.. most of their colleagues, staff and families know who they are, but are usually protected by unions.. or their bowling friends. Smaller classrooms are needed even though 'studies show that... blah, blah..baloney'.. Teachers need to be able to reach all of their students, and having 15 or so is so much better than having 25 or 30. Tossing out old true and tried methods of reading, writing and 'rithmetic is stupid. Language arts should take up almost half of every elementary school child's day; a child who can read and comprehend well, can learn anything. Classroom management is a huge cooperative system which must include administration, family, teachers and child. Whew... so now we're all going to hear a lot of good stuff about how bad the education system is and someone will get a lot of money thrown at it.. Not so sure that is the answer, although it would be nice to have text books for every kid, and guards near the bathrooms so the kids can use them unafraid.. Would you guess that am an educator of 30 years including city and suburb?? Studies probably aren't needed.. just ask a batch of your superior, experienced teachers.

Cat   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

Listen, we teachers are being so scrutenized by the government. How can we be ALLOWED to teach the way we want and increase the knowledge of our students in a fun filled way if the Government expects us to do it "Their way". Let's face it, about 85% of us are "Hands-on Learners" therefore, how can we really expect them to be nothing but "Test Takers"?

CJ Johnson   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

I agree with Michelle and Ben Stein. Our American culture is the biggest problem. Bad administrators, teachers, parents and students are just a part of the problem. All of those things combined is disastrous to the education system.

Instead of placing blame we need to focus on those problem areas. What are we going to do about disruptive students, non caring teachers/staff and parents? What will we do to help impoverished families, underpaid teachers and limited resources/programs. Lets unite to work on those issues.

The Jacksons   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

Another aspect to consider is, that is teaching stopped being a high profile career. People started becoming teachers for 2 reasons, July and August. We have to make the career of teaching as important as a Lawyer, Financial Analyst, Rapper, Actor, etc.
On TV, you saw images off teachers, (The White Shadow, Welcome Back Kotter), now you see forensics, lawyers, US marshals, Cops.
Make the career of teaching a just as attractive and you will get the best of the best back in the classrooms.

carolyn hannah   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

hi larry i love your show to night, i believe that its the responsibility of the parents and teacher, parents must be involve in their childs education no matter how much or how little education they may have. my mother drop out of school in the 7th grade barely able to read or write but she taught me what she knew when i started to school i was eleven years old and i was put in the 3rd grade, but my teachers made sure i learned what i needed to in order to move on to the next grade with the care of my teachers for learning and my mother basic i was able to graduate with a diploma and later recieve some college training it takes both, and today it takes all of us thanks to all your guest.

Kathryn   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

I am a first grade teacher and I am saddened by the scrutiny that teachers are under right now. I am crying while watching your show due to the fact that teachers carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and we don't need celebrities who have no idea how hard a majority of teachers work (all day and night), and they can criticize us? You say that principals decide what teachers the "low" students receive as a teacher well that's false in most schools. We the teachers I know in my district decide where our students go the next year. WE are working our hardest an if you are upset with the way the education system is, you need to stop criticizing us, and for once praise the teachers that do work so hard. My public school is one that is in an area of upper middle class and and I teach an ESOL class. I have a student that has every disability you could imagine and my principal and support staff have done nothing but give him extra accommodations. The lower income schools have wonderful teachers just like my best friend and my moms best friend that left her school after 33 years because a new principal came in that decided to fire all the veteran teachers because it would be better to have teachers that didn't show as much love but taught so their school would get exemplary for their test scores. I that the teachers fault or government? Please remember that you are using strong words when you say it's the teachers and schools problem. It takes a village to raise a child, and we can't do it all, but damn we try to.

Steve   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

As a mathematics teacher for 42 years, I remember what is was like when teachers and administrators worked cooperatively to maintain disciline in the classroom and students who did not attain passing grades were not "placed" in the next higher grade level. Of course, some teachers are better than others, and some parents do more to support their children's education. The bottom line, however, is that children who refuse to behave properly need to be removed from classrooms in order to create an atmosphere which is conducive to learning. When this is done across the country, we will see our test scores begin to rise again. This will not be an easy task, since we have allowed discipline to deteriorate so greatly over the years. I imagine that we will see much rebellion from students and parents, including lawsuits, while we decide where the problem students should be placed. But I would bet that once students and their parents realize that schools are not gointg to back down in enforcing the rules, we will begin to see the improvement necessary to enable our students to achieve their full potential.

Katie   September 28th, 2010 9:52 pm ET

I am SO TIRED of people who have NEVER worked in the educational system blaming teachers!!! Ms. Hines says that teachers say that all we do is teach the test. I have taught 4th grade for 7 years, and that is how I feel! I can teach them 25 strategies about how to multiply, divide, etc., but if they can't answer a multiple choice or Open Response question about it, I am told by NCLB and people who don't know my students that I am not doing my job. How can I teach students and make them care when they already have a horrible attitude by the time they are TEN!!?? I do hands-on activities, cooperative learning, etc. and still have some students who make it very obvious that they don't care. I assign homework for practice and out of 100 students I might have 25 not turn it in! Is that my fault? I take every assessment I give and write down what questions each child misses and see what content I need to go back and review or ask different questions about. Then I go back and review it. I have a 40 minute planning period each day, and 3/5 days a week that is spent in meetings or talking to parents on the phone about their "motivationally challenged" (aka LAZY) children. I take work home EVERY NIGHT. I am not saying that every teacher is made for the job. There are probably some who sit down all the time, or use the same lesson plans from year to year, etc. Those people should not be teachers. However, I would like some of these people who think it is mainly the teachers' fault, and that our salary should be based on our students's test performance need to come into some REAL classrooms across America and see what we deal with every day.

Courtney   September 28th, 2010 9:53 pm ET

I can't believe Ben is saying rote learning is even remotely effective. I have learned throughout all of my education that when teachers encourage critical thinking and integrating new material with current knowledge students learn more and are more involved.

Jim Elsener   September 28th, 2010 9:53 pm ET

The single most important aspect of any child's education, far and away, is a parent. Great teachers are very important, but research shows they fall a very distant second to parents. And your guests that say otherwise are disingenuous or ignorant to the truth. I have been teaching for 20 years and I think if you really want to make a difference in teaching, pay more, end schools from being all things, and make parents accountable.

Jeff Barter   September 28th, 2010 9:53 pm ET

And to all you teachers blogging are over paid with the mere mention that you are underpaid

James in Idaho   September 28th, 2010 9:53 pm ET

Dear Larry King and Ben Stein...

I'll tell you exactly what happened to public education since you've been in school.

The two greatest forces of negativity came from conservatives. Sorry Ben, it's true.
1. Blacks were allowed to intigrate with Whites.
2. Prayer was denied to be taught by teachers.

Both causes have to do with bitterness and resentment among those who certainly had the money to provide and who, previously, had WANTED to teach their kids. Let's face it, the prejudiced people with money, i.e. the vast majority of opinionated whites at the time, didnt' want to expend as much time effort and money into public school if they were going to have to teach minorities, but especially blacks, as equals. Nor were they abotu to fund a bunch of godless heathenistic athesits and darwinists. My goodness... what an OUTRAGE!!!!!

And that's hwo they thought and many still actually thi9nk today.

And there you have it. The two greatest detractors of a good public education today. Everythign else stems from those two things. Everything, and I make absoluitely no illusory corelations. Sorry Ben.

Chris Stewart   September 28th, 2010 9:53 pm ET

Dare to interview
Alphie Kohen

Micheal Apple
or Dr Sandy Grande

Cindy   September 28th, 2010 9:53 pm ET

I agree with Linda. Teachers do get frustrated teaching to the test, because since you have to cover something different every day you really don't have time to go back and re-teach and students are staying behind. All this teaching to the test, is creating more and more paper work for teachers and less time to tutor or help students.
It's sad that it's become this way because student in middle school, even high school cannot multiply or divide, a skill that they should have learned in elementary!

Joe S.   September 28th, 2010 9:54 pm ET

Even if all schools were staffed equally, with the same technology, the same resources and facilities, highly qualified teachers, and identical benefits for all students, you STILL have to have parents/guardians who are available and willing to spend the time with their children checking on homework, telling them to do their homework, asking what happened at school, reading to them, encouraging them, and setting boundaries for video games, internet, TV, and playtime as well as putting them/telling them to sleep at an appropriate time each day. Parental/guardian involvement is vital and is almost completely overlooked by critics of teachers and public schools.

Leslie McCall   September 28th, 2010 9:54 pm ET

Totally disagree with Joy.....I love my job of teaching first graders reading!! I put a lot of love, my own money and energy into what I do.

allison Johnson   September 28th, 2010 9:54 pm ET

PARENTS, PARENTS, PARENTS!!!!! Teachers enter classrooms every fall excited to HELP CHILDREN LEARN! Yet, SO many children are not getting help at home with experiences, discipline, and educational expectations. I DO NOT have the answer, but if parents were held accountable, education would be VERY different.

Debra Henning   September 28th, 2010 9:54 pm ET

Ben Stein asks, "What happened to the [public school] system? When I was in school, there were no bad teachers."

One answer is this: In the 50's and 60s, nursing and teaching were the still the primary fields that welcomed women. As the professions have gradually opened to women, fewer and fewer women are choosing education as a profession. The classic study is published in Ed School by Geraldine Joncich Clifford and James W. Guthrie. Of the various professions that the authors studied, candidates for education had the lowest scores on college entrance tests.

You can't put C students at the head of a classroom and produce world class scholars.

Dan   September 28th, 2010 9:55 pm ET

I am a teacher in a inner city school district, however, I have also taught in the rural and suburban areas of New Jersey. I have read a handfull of the posts, as well as listened to a small amount of the commentary on Larry King Live. In my extremely humble opinion, we are all to blame for the problem that we face.

When it is all said and done, teachers have to want to teach, parents have to want to get involved, and students have to want to learn. As a former administrator of mine once said, "education is a three legged stool. The three legs consist of the teachers, the parents, and the students." If one leg is weak, the stool will not stand to its strongest potential.

This is a message to all of those teachers that feel like they are struggling in the classroom. Ask for help. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Have a backup plan, and if that doesn't work, find someone who has a better idea. If you are truly there for the students, wouldn't you want to find a better way to reach your students?

This is a message to all of those parents who are struggling with how to help their children. Ask questions, talk with your children, and get involved the best you can. I come from a family where both of my parents worked; my father worked two jobs until he was in his 60s. No one is saying that you don't have it tough. But tough does not mean impossible. Call your school. Ask what you can do to help. Ask your children what they learned in school that day. Show interest in their lives!

This is a message to all of the students in schools today. Doing well in school gets you one thing: OPTIONS! I have seen students in the school that I teach at now go on to some of the best schools in South Jersey. It can be done, but no one is going to do it for you. This world is a big competitive arena. If you are the best, you should get what you want, but you have to try. If you put in the effort, the teachers will (at least they should) do everything in their power to get you on your way to a better life.

In closing, if we all pull our own weight and ask for help when we need it, we can find the solution. Knowing my students is what has made my career easier when teaching my students. I don't teach my subject, I teach my students.

M.E.   September 28th, 2010 9:55 pm ET

I'm an American teacher, trained and educated in Texas – where there is no strong teachers' union. I spent the majority of my teaching career in international schools in SE Asia because the working conditions, salary, and student motivation and discipline are a MUCH higher standard than here in the USA. I do not teach in the USA because I cannot make enough money to live, classroom discipline is overwhelming, not nearly enough money is given to buy supplies that are needed by the students....frankly, teaching in the US is just too difficult.

Susan   September 28th, 2010 9:55 pm ET

There are many factors obviously that have caused decline in our educational system. I like Mr. Stein had very strong teachers who came out of the WWII era and had very different values and concerns as did my family. The family unit and its EXPECTATIONS and manner of reinforcing them has drastically changed. The support given to teachers by the community in general and by the school system itself is critical. Things have grown and we humans need nurturing and feedback both as adults and children. The systems have become depersonalized, remote and somewhat sterile. Tax bases are not adequate to support the larger systems and parental involvement is much lower than before. There are so many distractions for children and adults that were not there before. Families do not handle these well. Parents and teachers are no longer in concert; school system administrations and teachers are much more like business relationships and we have lost a lot of the necessary responsibility and human understanding and concerns both in the school and the family.

parent   September 28th, 2010 9:55 pm ET

Teenagers get discouraged very easily. School begins at 7:30am, if the child is late, a visit to the principal's office is necessary to get in class, a 30 minute wait causes the child to be counted absent. The official starts with go to bed earlier so you can get up on time, blah, blah, blah. A couple of these visits gets a suspension.

Jeff Barter   September 28th, 2010 9:56 pm ET

It's obvious , the problem is right here... all the teachers mis-spelling words and crying they want more. go work at Wal-Mart.

Ed McLendon   September 28th, 2010 9:57 pm ET

The country is spending too many resources on illegal aliens. If we took the money spent on teaching illegal aliens in our school system and spent this money towards decreasing high school drop outs then US citizens will benefit. Resources are limited in the US especially in a recession. If we are to stay the strongest country in the world then we must compete by spending money on the youth of American not the youth of every other country.

Arnette Jackson   September 28th, 2010 9:57 pm ET

I am a parent of an 11yr old daughter and 7yr old son in Washington DC, I am a little confused because on the one hand my 11yr old graduated from 5th grade as a honor roll student and on the other hand I just attended back to school night a my 6yr old's school last week and I got the impression that 2nd graders are not learning because the school is so focused on 3rd testing for them next year, I was thrown for a loop, this is the same school were my daughter attended up to 5th grade and she is considered an excellent student as far as academics. As a parent I'm worried about my son and I want to find him a new school to attend, me personally, I've been attending parent teacher conferences for the last few years, I help my children with homework and also when they are not in school I teach them good judgement and how to behave so they can learn, I tell them all the time that their education is the most important thing they can have.
When I hear that African-American parents are the problems, my blood
pressure rises a little, I think Chancellor Rhee is 100% correct about these bad teachers that need to go, I also attended school in the District of Columbia and most of the things I've learned did not come from the class, it was self taught, think about that for a second.

voice of wisdom   September 28th, 2010 9:57 pm ET

As I listened to the comments made on the show, I am once again insulted by the blame game. Yes, we need to remove teachers who are not doing their jobs. But, we also need to remove principals who collect six figure salaries that refuse to make a difference in the school(s) that they are over. I know principals who spend time writing emails rather than communicating with their staff, who demostrates not only racism, but sexism as well. These principals failed to motivate or encourage their teachers. The old sayings, "People are like the leaders." If we have good leadership in the schools it will trickle down into the teaching profession then we can make a tremendous change." In addition, many principals do not support their teachers. I have heard by teachers that their principals stop positive programs or refuse to support these programs that impact students. I have seen teachers that are afraid to make a connection with minority students. Also, I have seen parents that refuse to support their children, and encourage their children to demostrate inappropriate behavior. Oh, it is hard for teachers to teach with they have disruptive students in the classroom and the administration refuses to do anything about it unless the teacher take a 12 step program for elimination. Yes, we have a plethora of problems in the school. I have talked with teachers who have over 30 kids in the classroom, spend their own money to purchase supplies for their students, and try to teach with 20th century technology. Come on John and Cheryl look at the full picture. It is not just the teachers everyone should take responsibility for the educational system in America.

Todd Rhoad   September 28th, 2010 9:58 pm ET

The US is not just losing the battle of education on the youngest end, we are also losing on the higher education end as well. Take a close look at most graduate schools. You won't find many American students. So, the US has all of the knowledge, which is why foreign students flock to the US to learn; however, we are not capitalizing on this knowledge because we can't pass it along to our kids.

Why don't we fix it? We live in a capitalistic society driven by entrepreneurial spirit. You don't need a lot of education to be an entrepreneur. In fact, most research shows that the more education one has, the less likely they will become an entrepreneur. Maybe those in power see the economy driven by money, not by brilliance. Therefore, the push is to sustain the monetary activities, not the learning ones.

Pat London   September 28th, 2010 9:58 pm ET

Mr Perry, Ms Rhee, and God forbid, Mr Legend, you are teacher haters. Mrs Rhee, the District of Columbia schools will be better off if you do lose your job! Then you will know how those teachers you fired feel! Mr. Perry, we see you! you do not need to jump on every talk show and talk about firing teachers. As a teacher of 41 years, it saddens me to see people like you who live to bash teachers! What happened? Did some teacher somewhere cause you some promblems when you were young? You have yet to state what role students play in their own education! You have yet to acknowledge what role parents play in their child's education! Give me a break!!!! We see you!!! Get off TV so much and run your school! Who are the students in your school anyway? How large is your school? Stop glossing over everything! Stop bashing teachers.

Kirema   September 28th, 2010 9:58 pm ET

We should be very careful blaming all teachers in the school crises. Remember some of these teachers are a product of the same broken system; pushed through the curriculum on a pass based system rather than a learning to retain system. Teacher retraining should be included in the reform or restructuring.

Mary Panton   September 28th, 2010 9:58 pm ET

This is the best show I've seen in a long time.
What changed?
They've added so many classes that have nothing to do with reading, writing and arithmetic.
And by reading, I mean actually learning the words, every word. Using a dictionary. Being able to demonstrate concepts.
I raised my son in private school until this year.
The public school didn't even think to give the students a text book for Chemistry.
How can a child learn if they don't understand the words and don't have a book to look for those words and definitions?
We have lost sight of the very building blocks and when a child doesn't understand, he will stop participating.
Again, such an important show. Thank you!

Mecole   September 28th, 2010 9:59 pm ET

I completely disagree with Ben Stein and I believe his comments are bordering on racist. He referred to the education crisis in America as being strictly an African American problem, so this is to say as well that African American parents are not concerned with their children's education. The education crisis is an AMERICAN concern, we are 18th and 24th in the world, please understand that African American's represent less than half of the American population and therefore can not make our whole country fall behind the rest of the world!

Brett Barker   September 28th, 2010 9:59 pm ET


I am a teacher at a Title I school. After this week of (needed) exposure regarding education in America, I have to say that I am pretty SICK to death of the teacher as the brunt of the problem.
1. I am a good teacher, one of many that teach every day at my school, arriving at 7:00 am and leaving at 6:00. I work hard, I continuously look for and participate in professional development, and I reflect on my teaching and my life as it relates to my amazing students. Tenure does not apply to me as I work in a charter school-I do this because I love this job and I love the mission. This is my second career, I had an amazingly lucrative corporate job, however, I felt the need to contribute in a more meaningful way. After 7 years, I make approximately $15/hour.
2. How are you going to evaluate me according to test scores when test scores don't apply to me? I teach the G/T program at our school. How will you evaluate me and other special education teachers that do not have students taking standardized tests?
3. Why is the debate centered around teachers????? We are literally on the front lines. Yes, there are teachers that are not up to par. Yes, as in any corporation, those teachers should look for other employment. But why are we the issue here?? Come to my underfunded, overworked school and see what is happening.
4. Cheryl Hines is right. Facilities are everything. If you don't have bathrooms, if you don't have computers, if your computers are old and unusable, how can a teacher teach?
5. Ben is right as well, good parenting is paramount.
5. THE solution is government. We had a perfect example of this just today when Congress denied desperately needed funding to schools. Shame on them. Politics trumps good sense and moral judgment in America, this is a crime. I was educated in another country as a teenager, I can't begin to tell you how much more rigorous the curriculum was–I love the debate, the exposure, but let's talk about a way to FIX the problem vs. just kvetching.

Deborah Ybarra   September 28th, 2010 9:59 pm ET

I have been fighting very thing for 9 years. We can talk all we want. I blame the goverment all around. Somewhere we decided that the federal will funnel money to the state and then the state to the county county to the schools. But no one has a overseerer Federal will not help you with a problem with the state and state willnot help you with the county and the county does not want to budge then they have to admit we have a problem. I have always said how can we be united states of america when we are so ununited through out the counry.

Greg Patrick   September 28th, 2010 9:59 pm ET

I have taught for 35 years. As I come to the end on the most amazing ,rewarding career that anyone can ask for, I see a different attitude toward education then I saw in 1975. Parents are not instilling in their children the need to be educated. Many are AWOL when it comes to basic parenting skills like discipline and some just want to be their childs best friend -not parent. A child tells a teacher to "F" off ...the child is suspended and in 15 min. they are at the school door with a "Child Advocate". We have no authority. Administration doesn't want to ruffle feathers and the Govt. dangles dollars for numbers that are "identified " with exceptionalities. Inclusion has frustrated the child with special needs, slowed the regular ed. classroom to a crawl, "NO Child left behind has left learning behind-test scores are what matters not learning and society has made an education something you don't need. Just be a musician, sports figure or a ganster and you won't have to worry about money. Blame? I work every day with people who want to do a great job but, the walls we try to climb every day and the endless meetings discussing "test scores" not learning make me feel like a car salesman not a person trying to inspire children and facilitating the learning process. Please! Please! wake up America! You are allowing one of our greatest institution to be destroyed. Oh, and those charter schools? Do they take the disruptive, unmotivated, children of parents who just want to fight the school and now hear that their child needs guidance and motivation?

Martha   September 28th, 2010 9:59 pm ET

I am a teacher of 32 years, and in spite of the state of home life today and the outside influences on young children, I still love my job. But, politicians generally make my job very difficult. I have to change what I know works just because someone who is elected to a position of influence will appoint people to be in charge of education, and they have to make their administrative job appear needed, so they change a program to have their individual stamp on it. Who suffers? The children, because the teachers have to retrain, and revamp and spend more money to do what the new administrators want us to do. When often we know it isn't best, but no one asks us.

Mark Smith   September 28th, 2010 9:59 pm ET

Ben is right but there is more....we are seeing more and more people ente....ring education who shouldn't be there because many of them have a connection to a board member....purely nepotism....also, we have many politicians bragging about test scores when they re good but we are not teaching to think but to do well on a come no one looks at college teachers and criticizes them when clearly they can't teach.....getting a great test score does not mean that you know a whole lot about anything.....

Justina   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

Larry, the problem is that students are wrapped up with devices, which replace their brains. If you give a first grader a calculator to add 2+2, then what else do you expect. The students brains are no longer challenged because electronics do the work for them. The teachers deserve no blames because they give the students what is given to them.

major eissman   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

the union and the teachers are a bad mix.the use of computers are good ,but the students are taught which keys to push instead of how they work and the logic to get the answers ,

concerned about the children   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

Larry, I have been around teachers my entire life. Both of my parents were and are teachers. I currently work as a substitute teacher. I think Steve Perry's analogy of firing a piano teacher is way off base. I have never met a teacher who expects their students to be taught Chemistry by their parents. Teachers battle every day disrespect from students, but it is hard when the student sees it directly from the parent to the teacher. I subbed in a kindergarten class room last week. I had a 'friend' as we call the students, who directly told me he did not care what I had to say. I was floored. At dismissal, I just so happened to meet a parent of that child. That parent yelled at me for a meeting I did not cancel that I knew nothing about. This parent then proceeded to ask how their child's day was and without response turned to the child and said, "..if you lost recess again it is not my problem." I think this interaction better represents the concerns teachers face with parents. Another excellent example: When did we as a society decide it was acceptable to yell across a field of play at a coach while a game is in progress.

mike   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

bloggers, I have a young man in the third grade and I actualy moved away from my home town to get my son into a decent school system. From what I see in the teacher area of school they get hired with all the right intentions and then get lazy. They act like a kids education is on the parent, and to a degree it is. But a teacher needs to be involved and needs to care it is not just going through the motions. Teachers need to realize that it not wal mart it does not come with a job description that is specific , do what it takes with every class with every day with every subject with every CHILD. Yes the managers of the school system is to blame if you manage a business and it fails you get fired, usually before it fails , let's save our schools. And teach our kids.

Elizabeth   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

Ben Stein is exactly right. We praise a culture of ignorance and have lost all value in education in this country. This country needs to hold parents and individuals accountable.

mike   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

There are no imidiate consiquences for non performance. Or attitude has become to liberal. it's simple if you don't pass you don't move on.A little trip behind the woodshed with the oldman mad this country what it is. a little hard labor as a child has a tendency to refocus our intentions.

Steve   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

Should teachers qualify for tenure? Who cares? What is the point of tenure at all? What other careers exist out there where after a few years it is nearly impossible to be released? Does that not motivate/allow teachers to slack off after a few years? If we are concerned part of the problem is teachers, make it easier to get rid the bad ones. If there was no tenure, the good teachers would still keep their jobs, but we could actually remove the ones that aren’t doing justice to our children.

E Sanders   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

I agree wholeheartedly with Ben Stein when he speaks of learning about the importance of parents in the learning process. Responsibility is a two way street- Parents on one side and Teachers on the other!

One problem that I know of are that children in my state are continually promoted with failing grades. This starts the ball rolling downhill. Let us hear from more teachers, not the actors and actresses that make outrageous amounts of money, nor the politicians who insist on more testing!

c. miller   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

As an educator and a parent I do believe our schools are failing it's students. It's about time for this to come into the limelight. My daughter was an exceptionally bright student that I pulled out of public school and put into prep school because she was not academically being challenged/serviced. As a sophmore in the prep school I then again pulled her out of that school for the same reasons and put her into community college. Both schools told me that one of their ways to keep her stimulated would be to have her tutor younger students which does not educate her on any level

Another sticky point for me is that often non-linear learners fall through the cracks our school systems need to have what I call total inclusion learning which incorporates the arts in linear studies all the way across the board. Children's first learning experiences are through visual components. When we place them into the education systems we throw those components away and force them to become linear learners at a huge disservice to them.

We do have many educators who do not know how to educate again at a disservice to students. Teachers do need to go the extra mile for kids. Education systems do need to provide the correct tools for their schools. Parents need to be pro-active and do need to demand that their children have the proper tools to learn...great teachers, supplies, arts, up-to-date technology, after school activities, healthy top notch lunches....I hope that you keep this subject in the limelight it truly does affect the future of our country/world.

One last note – please, also, look at the issues at the college level. This is a horrendous travesty that no-one is reporting on. Colleges are failing our students as well on a number of levels and the adjunct faculty system is failing excellent educators which ultimately fails students.

Greg Crist   September 28th, 2010 10:00 pm ET

I am a secondary Social Studies teacher in WV and one of the biggest problems in our system is that so much time, money, effort and resources are placed on kids who are disruptive or who simply show no desire to be in school. We are cited by our state department for high drop out rates and suspensions. In doing this we often "hold back" our students who can achieve at higher levels because our energy is placed on those who choose not to. Secondly, we are forced to focus soley on test scores. We are no longer allowed to teach kids. We have to teach the test or we are punished. And finally, most of the parents here, who do get involved, do so in a negative way. It becomes counter productive. The bigger problem though is that most choose not to be involved at all. There are many other problems with our system. No one group is to blame and focusing on one group or one area is not going to solve anything.

Leah Carroll   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

Anohter thing I forgot to add to my previous comment. I'm a student that suffers with ADHD. A learning disability that has put me threw many hard times at school. This is one of the reasons I'm in college right now working hard to be a teacher. So that I could do what my father does and what my previous teachers did for me. Without them pushing me to keep going, I wouldn't have graduated in the class of 2010. I would have dropped out years ago and not be where I am today.

Once again thank you

Lynda   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

I have been an educator for over 30 years (including 5 years overseas in the international sector). I've wored at the administrative level for 15 out of those 30+ years and have chosen to return to the classroom (special education) so I can end my career working closer to children (after all, that's why I went into this career.

As an administrator, I've seen educators working very hard to improve their skills under the Ed Reform mandate. I've experienced paying for training, supporting restructuring special education so we can help kids meet the standards and experienced attempts to evaluate out non-performing teachers and/or therapists. I believe the unions do a terrible in-justice to the system of education and need to step away from the school system so education can improve. I also wish you would NEVER have that former union official participate on your show! I hate to listen to her dance around issues and pass the buck!

Jonathan Baggish   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

I feel like the education system is to blame. As we change eberything we do changes. We must change the way we do things in order to better fit our audience. For example: If a business stayed the same and didn't change around their customer it would fail.
So why not change the way we teach. Teach based off strengths and what moticates them to do better. Look at Tom Rath's book, Strength finders 2.0. It talks about how to manage based off of your strengths, what motivates you. An example of this would be the person who is always organizing and filing paperwork vs. the person who is very high unorganized but very good at public speaking (not saying you can't have both). The person who is organized actually gets energy and drive out of making sure the day/week/month is layed out for them. The person who is not organized is actually drained from this activity but gets energy out of public speaking and making sure he can get his/her point across to a group.
So what if we made a school take, at enrollment, take a personality test to find out what drives them. After this you place the teacher and students in classrooms with similar "themes". Same subject matter but different way of teaching.
Lets take two themes: Competition and strategic thinking both of which people are driven to success by these.
Take the room with competition...they are given the same subject but they are constantly tracking where they stand compare to another school,classroom or even teacher.
The room with strategic.....they are given the same subject but they focus on dates times layed out for them far in advance on what they will need to do to get an A.
Sorry I went off on a tangent for a sec but if we were to read that book and apply it to how we manage, interact with people, and teach we would be more productive.

Paul   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

I think we forget that part of the responsibility is also on the parents. You have thousands of teachers who spend most of their waking hours trying ensure the success of their students. Somehow, this has become an expectation. What about the parents??? I'm a teacher, a successful teacher, who puts in the extra time(up to 20 hours a week), but I don't think it should be an expectation. Maybe we should talk about spending more on education, pay teachers based on your expectations, and maybe we can realize some more results. Pay to also be the parents.

John Steele   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

enlightening show! Thank you.
However, I wonder if the conflict arises when we want our students to become excellent problem solvers ( an analog endeavor) but we insist that the answer lies in becoming more digital. True learning involves the correct mixture of rote memory and the application of what is learned.

Connie   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

I do not think that you can blame just one group of people for our educational system. Everyone is to blame. It starts in the home. Parents need to parent. They need to model good work ethic, self respect and respect for others. They need to have consistently high expectations of their children instead of giving up every excuse known to mankind for their child's lack of motivation and disruptive behavior. Todays teachers are dealing with drug babies, drugged parents, over whelmed single parents, very young parents with multiple children, and legislators that know nothing about education and the relevent problems facing todays schools. We are suppose to feed kids breakfast and lunch, teach them the basics, teach them social skills, teach them how to pass the tests, nurse the sick, and all with our hands tied by riduculous laws that we need to abide by. Where is the parent accountability? Spend an hour in Walmart and watch the parenting. It is sad. America needs to get back good old fashioned common sense.

robin   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

My daughter teaches in a failing school for Teach For America. She has seen first hand the problems faced by these schools. Her school is in a poverty stricken area with very few resources compared to the public schools she herself attended. How can we have an unbiased conversation about what is going on in these schools and how to fix it if we are not talking to people who have seen first hand what the situation is?
I would like to see Randi Weingarten and Ben Stein teach for a semester in one of the schools where 50% of the children do not graduate. I think they would have a vastly different perspective and be able to bring some real solutions to the table.
Thank you for bringing this very important issue to the public's attention. We need many more tv programs on it!

Elizabeth Ishee   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

Not only are all of you correct but you are all misled. It is not a racial issue but an economic issue. Children are reflections of what they are exposed to and often life at home for the economically disadvantaged spills over into the classroom. There is no right or wrong way to fix the schools. But one way that would work – start asking your teachers for their input and get the bureacracy out of our schools. Let your teachers start making the professional recommendations without fear of administrative reprimand. (Try to remediate a star athlete – ha!) If there is an ineffective teacher, there are already so many ways for administration get them out. But have you tried to replace them? Have you looked at who applies for the low-paying, stressful, 24 hour job? Surprise! Most of the applicants are woefully unskilled and are just "looking for a job". Teaching is not a job. It is a calling.

Chris D   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

Reality, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. Of course there are teachers who could be much better, or need to regain enthusiasm. Name a profession where this does not happen. TV pundants are the worst. They oversimplify most situations. I teach in a high school and see kids who achieve and those who do not. Many of the "do nots" you can get through to, but it takes intense personalization for that to happen. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to do that with everyone in large classes! We just had an open house/parent night and only the parents of higher performing kids EVER show up.....WHERE ARE THE OTHER PARENTS! Do not tell me parenting skills are not a BIG part of the problem. Do not tell me oversimplifying complex problems and relying on standardized testing is not part of the problem. We need to get past the blame game and work together in a cooperative atmosphere....not one of fear and finger-pointing.

joann scholz   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

What is wrong with the school system? PARENTS!!!!!...As a mother of three I can speak...Parents think that once they send their children off to school it is the responsibilty of the teachers and administration to nurture and teach these children morals and responsibilities...WRONG!!! If they don't get it at home they won't get it anywhere.....PERIOD!!!

C Wing   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

Why is it that teachers are simply required to have a degree in education as opposed to a subject?
When I was in college, ALL the education majors were honor students (because they were not challenged, academically). They simply learned teaching methods instead of actual information. I believe this is an important reason that the US is behind other countries in the education of our children!

rosalie avolio   September 28th, 2010 10:01 pm ET

Larry, Ben just does not get it!. I had a terrible teacher in the 7th grade. I am fairly intelligent but I did not have any understanding of algebra because of this teacher, who was out of the room constantly, played favorites in wanting to be part of the popular clique, and really was somewhat narcicisstic in that she seemed to care only about her personal gains and not in teaching her students. I have had problems with numbers, particularly, algebraeic components, my entire life because of this teacher. This was not the fault of my parents, my brothers, or me, it was because of this teacher who had no business being in the classroom.

Stephen   September 28th, 2010 10:02 pm ET


The answer is SIMPLE. The motivation for education starts at home. With parents. I am 23 years old, and the baby of three children, raised by a single mother. My mothers goal was that if she were to die, her only wish was that all her children graduated from college. My older brother and sister have done so, and I will be graduating in December with a degree in Political Science. I was raised sharing a bedroom and hand-me-downs. I made my own lunch, woke up by alarm, and got on the bus by myself all by elementary school. I was not given an excuse to miss school.
It seems that some parents blame the system and give their child the right to disregard school. Though we were borderline welfare growing up, we still managed to obtain scholarships, excel in athletics, and have an appreciation of our community. I credit this all to my mother.
Someone needs to tell the parents to quit making excuses, and maybe their kids will too!

Paul Eldridge   September 28th, 2010 10:02 pm ET

The fundamental problems with the educational system do not lie with teachers. They are educated professionals. The poblems lie with the funding system (the more funds available the more students will succeed) and parental/guardian support. These are problems of a society, not a system. There is no easy way to fix apathy or indifference on the part of parents or guardians. However, there is a way to fix funding; states and communities should be required to invest in the education of young people. That funding should be distributed equally. The reason for differences in funding for the education of American children still is determined as a result of socio-economic status.

judy   September 28th, 2010 10:02 pm ET

,,,and who is going to replace the teachers that are removed by "due process?" More bad teachers. people who are just looking for jobs? Unfortunately the need for teachers is greater than the number of people who are qualified to teach. Schools have neither enough working bathrooms nor working teachers. And where does the dinosaur Ben Stein come from to say one needs to have the "right parents." I don't know of any kid who gets to choose his/her parents. Let's beat kids down further because they don't have the right parents. To whom does that make sense?

Cat   September 28th, 2010 10:02 pm ET

I have taught children that have been delayed my entire career. Is your guest kidding me? I will be the first to tell you the truth.There is NO WAY on God's green earth you can teach each child to what the law expects. Don't people really get it? These are children that are born with a brain that can only do so much. Are we really saying that we must teach to EACH child this,this and this. When their brain can not possibly learn to that extent? I want those making those laws to please step forward with a child whose IQ is 70 and show other educators and me how you will proceed to do this. If and when you can show mw how that is possible, I will follow. SHOW ME!!!

Kelly G   September 28th, 2010 10:02 pm ET

What happened?? The school district's failure to control the behavior of students is what happened. EXCELLENT enthusiastic, idealistic teachers enter the system every day. Within 5 years of standing in front of a classroom filled with children who lack common courtesy, motivation or basic reading skills coupled with administrators who will not stand up to parents [parents who justify truancy, demand top grades in exchange for minimal effort, and model disrespect toward teachers] those idealistic teachers GIVE UP – and teach to the test (giving the mediocre effort that standardized tests demand of both students and teachers.)

Do not undermine the necessity of making students WANT to learn, explore and discover.

Babs   September 28th, 2010 10:02 pm ET

I am a second grade teacher. What I haven't heard yet is HOW teachers will be evaluated to determine our 'success'. Another standardized test? If jobs are on the line because of a test you can bet the focus of teaching will shift, more than it already has, to 'teaching to the test'. Who will administer these assessments? If these 'bad' teachers' jobs are on the line you don't think they'll cheat? If the principal decides, who protects teachers from being fired for pure personality conflicts? It happens. The biggest challenge to me as a teacher is getting the support of parents. I had a student who fell asleep every day in class. Talking to this student I found out that he had a television, Direct TV, and a complete Nintendo game system in his bedroom. He stayed up all night playing. When I called the parents they blew me off. We had a fifth grader hit a teacher. The parent came in and demanded video proof because 'her baby wouldn't do that'. Our KINDERGARTEN class this year, it's only been a few weeks, is one of the worst ever. By the second week of school a few were telling their teachers 'Shut up! I don't have to listen to you!' That's not teachers, that's parenting. How about my student who arrived from Columbia and knew two words, 'bathroom' and 'yes'? Will I be fired if he doesn't pass a standardized test in English? I'm all for an evaluation process as long as it's fair and equitable.

Sharon   September 28th, 2010 10:02 pm ET

Amen, Anita! When are we going to realize that parental involvement in their child's education is the most important thing in that child doing well. I am not a teacher, but I am a teacher's assistant to five wonderful teachers. They honestly love their students and try their very best to teach to every student. When you have the majority of parents abusing drugs or alcohol, in jail, or just plain apathetic about their child's education, there is little a teacher can do. Certainly, there are teachers that should be replaced. But when I look at my teachers who care and try so hard, it scares me that these teachers could be replaced because of test scores. When I have 6 children in a reading group that cannot read on a kindergarten level, this is NOT 3rd and 4th grade teachers fault! When you have a child that cannot learn because their mothers abused drugs while they were in the womb...this is not the teachers fault! When you have a child that is sent to school hungry, unwashed, and talking about their parents being drunk the night before....this is not the teachers fault! These children have already been left behind and there is no way they are going to score well on a standardized test. This is not the teachers fault! Wake up, America! Do not let our good teachers become scapegoats for our failing educational system. Take responsibility for your child's education. Help them with their with them...learn to care more about your child that yourselves!

kelli   September 28th, 2010 10:02 pm ET

I substitute in a great school district in PA. I believe that the parents should teach the child right from day one until they get to kindergarten.
When they reach this age their parents should have taught them certain things. The parents who decide to get their child inton this school district feels that the teachers should do all the work. Many children have behavorial problems because of their parents. They give them what they want just to get them out of their hair the child looks to get attention because they never could be bothered with them so they send them to school and expect these teachers not only to teach them but fix the behavorial problems.
I feel that you as an adult can learn so much fiom a child if you just open your heart and mindl. You can do all positive during the day but it is not going to make a difference because home is not a positive atmosphere. I think the parents whoare ignorant should be made to go to classes to teach them how to show a positive attitude just think children look up to the parents. Maybe the children will have confidence and self esteem and want to be someone. The problems start at home. I am being retaught the things I have forgotten from my two daughters they are 8 and 10. I make sure I can help my child. There are alot of parents could give a crap and blame it on the teacher. Well guess what you need to do your part as well that is your child . I feel for the schools that are lacking bathrooms that do not work
and all the other problems they are having. What should be public and brought to the table is what is the big shots are making let their salary pay for things and see how fast they do something about it. Politics i the schools its all about who is on the kiss ass side.

Althea   September 28th, 2010 10:03 pm ET

As a teacher, I don't care if I have to use "butcher paper" to teach, my focus is on my students and how they can improve themselves. Please let us look at the lack of parental involvement, additionally, the poor economy doesn't help. As a teacher I leave my home every day to teach inner city students who need hope. I love my students, and I love what I do. What I don't appreciate are those who are far removed from the actual classrooms, but sit and decide for us and our students. We teachers are in the trenches everyday, with low pay, and larger classrooms. But we do what me must because of our choice. Maybe if we used to state that we did it for the money instead of the kids we would get better respect.

N'ericka Carter   September 28th, 2010 10:04 pm ET

until prayer is implemented back in the school nothing is going to go right. I am a parent of a speciall needs child and its has been like pulling teeth to get the school district to give my son the services that he needs to be successful. I took a second job to send my 6 year old to a finishing school after school to assist him with his studies. I am a single parent and I am very concerned about my son future. I am looked at by the school as a culprit because of my concerned about my son education. I do my part and the teachers need to do theirs. If you dont like your job ,QUIT!


David R   September 28th, 2010 10:04 pm ET

It's not that difficult. The problem starts in the home. Transfer all the teachers from poor performing schools to schools that are performing well and the students at the high performing schools will continue to do as well as ever. It's not the teachers. Virtually all dropouts come from homes that place a low emphasis on education. The moral decay in our society is the root problem. There are so many disrespectful kids who are supported by their parents when they reek havoc at school. The example that poor parents set for their kids creates this.

Jack   September 28th, 2010 10:04 pm ET

If we would raise the driving age to 18 then parents would be committed to what their kids do. No one,however, has the guts to do this. In addition, if we are comparing all our kids to everybody in the world, I bet most of the countries ahead of us deal much less with illegal immigrants, sp. ed., and kids with every disorder that we can think of. I have taught school (successfully) for 37 years and I believe that bad teachers may be a small part of the problem, but the real problem is that the schools are expected to do many of the things that were once the responsibililty of parents and law enforcement.

Albert Williams Ph.D.   September 28th, 2010 10:05 pm ET

Larry, I watched your show on Education in the U.S. It will take a multi-pronged approach to solve the problems of education in the U.S. We have to identify what parents need to do, what teachers need to do, what the churches need to do, what the government needs to do! AND DO IT. Talk is cheap! Action is where the action is!!! I am a passionate professor who holds the SAME standards for ALL students in my class regardless of racial background. I push them to think and question knowlege. My office door is always open. I have received several awards from the students because I TRULY CARE about them and want ALL (rich and poor, white or black) to do well. My subject areas are economics and finance! I teach people! They are all God's children.

Helen JOnes   September 28th, 2010 10:05 pm ET

Do NOT blame the teachers!! Most are doing the best they can!!
1. Colleges and universities who are taking students' money and graduating poor quality "teachers". Teacher education facilities seem to be out of touch with reality and ill-preparing potential teachers.
2. Boards of education with political agendas where students' best interests are too low on their list of priorities; also poor hiring practices
3. School administrators with their own agendas, including poor hiring practices and lack of leadership abilities.
4. Parents who are leaving it up to the teachers to raise their kids

To fix the poor state of today's educational system, start by asking and listening to those who can help the most....teachers!!

Dawna Godfrey   September 28th, 2010 10:05 pm ET

I am a retired teacher. We need to stress to parents that learning begins at home! As an elementary teacher I spent half my time teaching life skills, disipline, English and manners to children who should have had these skills before coming to school. If the parents do not value education...the children do not either, The children who came from supportive homes are the children that did well in school! It is not the teachers...we cannot open the brain and pour knowledge in. The children and their parents MUST support the teachers and schools in order for education to be valued. Look inside the homes and you'll find the real problem here.

Dodie MacAuley   September 28th, 2010 10:06 pm ET

We were in the Roseville CA school district. Our son has ADHA and learning disabilities and dyslexia. We adopted our special needs child from foster care when he was 6 months old. He is now in 8th grade & we had to move and separate our family to provide a public education that would address our son’s needs. When he was in 7th grade he was put in a special day class that did not even have a reading curriculum. The Roseville School District even sued us over a request for an OT assessment. They refused to mediate and spent over $10K suing us. I have the letter from them to prove it. The assessment would have cost them $500 and the services if he qualified would have cost them $1K per year. The district receives an additional $6K per year for special ed kids. This district bullies special ed families. Luckily we have the financial resources to relocate.
Our daughter was also a special needs foster care adoption. She was in the same school district. She also has dyslexia. Our family has spent over $40K in helping our kids learn to read. Our daughter was an A student in the Roseville School District. They gave her A’s because she was “nice and sweet” I had several meetings with her teacher from 1-8 grade. The Social Studies teacher (who used to be an English teacher) would accept work from our daughter that did not have complete sentences, incorrect grammar and punctuation. She would receive A’s on her work. When we met with the teacher about her “A” work she said she was not an English teacher and if she could figure it out it was “A” work. I hope a perspective employer has the same attitude!
Our daughter is now in a college prep private school that holds her accountable in all classes. The history teacher will mark her down if her grammar etc. is not correct. (What a concept)
The public education is broken in California. The Teacher’s and Prison’s Union are unfortunately the strongest voice in the State. It only costs the California tax payer $47K to house uneducated citizens!

Lucy   September 28th, 2010 10:06 pm ET

I personally think that like in every area of our lifes, there are good nd bad teachers. But I blame the system more than anything else. at least here in Texas, kids are overload and burn out withTAKS, TAKS, thats all that matters. They have taken out the fun of being in school. i still think that kids CAN AND SHOULD have some fun at school. I was told by a kindergarden teacher that they dont have 5 min. free to do some activities. They have such a tight schedule that by the time that they get to High School,they are burn out and tired. Why can we have fun and learn at the same? Like in the old times.

Tarji   September 28th, 2010 10:06 pm ET

I think that our educational system will never change until racism is openly and honestly dealt with. It is the rich people in power who run this country and our educational system. They do not want to see minorities get a decent education. They want to keep them poor and uneducated. It is the way it has always been. Until poor minority children are seen as equals, our country will continue to decline when it comes to where our children rank with the rest of the world. It's as simple as that.

Ed Ross   September 28th, 2010 10:06 pm ET

I don't understand why on the school problems people are trying to reinvent the wheel. There are examples of schools of all types and demographics that are working quite well, if only you would look at what they have done and apply it to situations that aren't cutting it yet.

One example: Arkansas, yes, Arkansas by law must fund public education first before anything else can be funded.

Arkansas has taken 12 years to improve it's schools. There are 90/90/90 schools having 90% students in poverty, 90% minority, and 90% proficient in their coursework.

If CNN actually wants to be a part of the solution, they will deal in comprehensive and contextual facts and talk about things that work and not over dramatize this subject and


Umu   September 28th, 2010 10:06 pm ET

The blame is on everyone but more on our politicians and the parents. A good education does not and will never start from the school. It starts from the home, to the system put in place by the government and then the schools (teachers). We the parents have to teach our children good manners, respect and good moral values from childhood.

Anoni-mouse   September 28th, 2010 10:07 pm ET

Blame the families and parents who continue to have children and do nothing with them. they do not take the time to raise their children. These children come to school with very little prior knowledge and then are expected to keep up with those whose parents have spent time and energy teaching their children about the world around them, teach them manners, take them to preschool and reinforce education in the home. Reinforce moral values in the home. Children who have very little prior knowledge are at a deficit when they enter the school system. They have a very hard time catching up. Teachers spend an inordinate amount of time bolstering these children to get them up to grade level and keeping them at grade level–all with very little parent support. Often these children have very immature and self-centered parents who put their needs first. Teachers go to work as do most people in this country. To blame teachers for the failure of the system is unbelievable. While there are bad teachers, frankly they don't last too long because their colleagues don't even support them.

Melissa Martin   September 28th, 2010 10:07 pm ET

Our education system cannot be fixed until parents are held accountable for their children! Teachers are not miracle workers. When good teachers are ready to throw in the towel the third week of school because of all of the demands to raise tests scores. How can you raise test scores when you have no support and the child could care less and has no respect what so ever.
When you have a class size of 30 and only one teacher, learning will not take place. All that is happening is babysitting. Why is there an increase in all day Kindergarten? It is cheaper than daycare!
Oh, where to begin?!?!?
Next time, have real teachers on the show-not politicians or members of the education roundtable making policies who have never been in a classroom!

parent   September 28th, 2010 10:07 pm ET

The classes required to graduate will probably be used by 5% of the students when they actually go into the workforce. Such as Algebra, World History, Biology, PE. Boring and homework that leads to failure. Why can't we get back to basics that will be used in the real world.

Lillian   September 28th, 2010 10:07 pm ET

We are all to blame for the condition of the US educational system. My son is in an honors math class where the tenured teacher is more concerned with how fast they can do a math problem than if they really understand the problem. We are 25th in math and 21st in science because we cover too much, too fast in a short amount of time. We do not spend a longer amount of time of the basics in math and science. Why is it that we are the only industrialized county that still does arithmatic in middle school rather than pre-algebra and algebra? I have pulled my 5th grader out of school because she was bored and felt she wasn't learning anything. I have a reputable curriculum that this year she will be learning basic chemistry such as atomic calculations, chemical formulas, acid and bases. Why is it in our public educational system we are dumbing down our teachers. It is because those who are talented in the math and sciences are lured to companies that can pay them well. Our teachers should be paid well based upon how well their students do. Just because a teacher in tenured does not mean that the teacher is a good instructor. My son who is in an all white high school has tenured teachers who are mediocre at best. It is a shame that we have put up with the egos of teacher unions and adminstrators to keep the status quo at the cost of our children and our future. When push comes to shove would I rather have an engineer or surgeon (not in an emergency situation) perform his or her task faster or thourough?

LG   September 28th, 2010 10:07 pm ET

To answer Ben's question about what happened to education since he was in school: Life happened. We now live in a global economy with technological advancements every day. Our schools are using curriculum standards from too many years ago. Also, the cost of a higher education makes it undesirable for a person to pursue a teaching degree. Why pay for college for a $40,000 job when you can get a degree for a $80,000 p/year job for the same cost. Couple that with broken homes, broken buildings, limited budgets, ... Having said all of that, we also have stripped our teachers and administrators of their ability to discipline and teach.

Carol Joyner   September 28th, 2010 10:07 pm ET

What has changed in our schools? Let's start with the state by state systematic defunding of school budgets once they became desegregated. At the same time, there's the increased opportunities for women. The cream of the crop wanted to try other – better paid professions. And our system did nothing to compete for this talent. Also, In 1965 fewer than 30% of households were headed by single moms compared to today's figure of over 50%. Working class families had jobs – there is a link between financial stability and academic success. And finally, our culture has blamed teachers and dumped on them for 30 years. When they're not blaming the teachers they blame teacher unions. And don't let me get started on the bogus corporatization of public instiutions. I think we need to correct the wrongs of the past and take some responsibility for our actions.

Sonny Harper   September 28th, 2010 10:08 pm ET

I am Director/Teacher of Project Confidence, a life skills program for kids at-risk. I have worked with young people in Sheriff Joseph Arpaio's, Phoenix, AZ jails for the past 7 years.

The "discussion" of "merit" pay for teaches is nothing short of insulting! Everybody old enough to know, knows that every Social Movement, Revolution and Civic Struggle during the last 60 years has been dumped in their laps. What "Merit "are they talking about? The "Merit " of parenting, counseling or police work all of which must be done before a teacher can even begin to teach.

I integrated a school in 1949 ( not '59) before the term "integration" was coined. I was there at the very beginning and I know what happened to kids of color in our schools. Please drop me an e-mail if you're interested in learning what really happened. I'll be happy to forward you a copy of a radio interview did and my second book, BUT I DON'T WANT TO BE A WHITE MAN WHEN I GROW UP, "Making the Case For A Role Worthy Of A Thinking Woman."


Sonny Harper

Virginia Nesbitt   September 28th, 2010 10:08 pm ET

My comment is for the topic "Who is the blame for the state of education. I feel that the blame falls on who ever sets the stage for lack of student & parent accountability.Teachers are held accountable for whether or not a student improves on state acheivement test but how are the students held accountable for;not coming to school, not doing their class work or homework, not coming to school with required material, or disrupting the classroom. Teachers are told that they can not look a child straight in the eye, they have to stand a certain distance from a student when reprimaning a student for disruptive behavior, they can not touch a child on the shoulder, they have to give the child a certain amount of space when reprimanding. Teachers are told that they can not fail a student, they can not give a student a zero. Students know that they have the upper hand in the classroom & exercises his/her knowledge by telling a teacher that they can not do this or that to them. The concrete is the report card during each reporting period, the abstract is the state achievement test. If a student knows he/she will pass to the next grade even if he/she has not performed adequately in his/her current level then the achievement test do not mean a thing to them. If students see that not doing what is required or expected of them could result in a failing grade & enough failed grades could result in being retained more effort would be put forward by the student to make better grades & those efforts in turn would bring an increase in achievement test scores.
Teachers spend anywhere from 50% to 70% of the classroom time disciplining which leaves less time for teaching. Where does a child learn the consequences for doing wrong if the hands of the person that spends the most time with them are tied. Discipline should start in the home & reinforced in the school but if they are not getting it from home & the teachers have their hands tied w/ all the can't do when & where & how does a child learn to set limits for themselves and make sound judgement about their choices as a student & beyond school age.
Now for some of the parents, you have those who do not want to come out of their comfort zone to get them to school, some that spend their money on drugs, alcohol, their own personal needs and not on the child's needs. Parents who uphold the wrong of the student & will threaten to take a teacher to court in a heart beat when they know their child is a problem.Parents who are just plain neglective in general.
Those parents who value education, who are accountable, who have high expectation of their children, who have discipline in the home & who have children that perform as expected in school choose to place their students in private schools. Private schools greatly hold students & parents accountable. If the parents or students do not abide by the rules & regulations of the school they are put out. Private schools allow the teachers to have the control of the classroom & not the child or his/parent.
I am sharing what I have experienced & not what I have read or heard. I taught in the public schools for 30 Yrs. One of the reasons I retired is because I grew tired of being held more accountable than students or parents, tired of watching the students gain more & more of the control in the classroom.
No matter what else is tried or said or done, until the system goes back to the old school of student & parent accountability everything else is counterfit. It's not politics, it's common sense. We are not preparing them for the real world of being responsible and accountable. they drop out of school because; 1.they know that the government will take care of them, 2.we have not set the pace for their making wise decisions we've only set the pace for them to think they can do what ever they want with out strong consequences, 3. we put them in the next higher grade when they did not perform in the grade they were in & the frustration of each higher level without a foundation to build on put them further & further behind so their choice is to drop out & not be bothered or frustrated.
The government has set all these unrealistic regulations to please protesting parents who were protesting for the spotlight, and other selfserving reasons. The government set unrealistic regulations because they look good on paper. When the government starts setting realistic regulations that addresses the classroom needs & put the control of the classroom back into the hands of the system, and set regulations that demands student and parent accountability you will see a difference but not until then.

Cabbie   September 28th, 2010 10:08 pm ET

The capitalists are to blame for the state of education; those who own the means of production, the very small percentage at the top. They benefit from keeping young people from under-resourced, under-represented, and marginalized communities in America at sub-standard education. Why do you think students are not taught what to learn and not how to learn? If students were taught critical thinking skills from the start, they would figure out that the standardized education they are receiving is oppressive: sexist, racist, classist, heterosexist, and every other -ist you can think of. This oppressive education system is a proven pipeline to America's prisons and the US military. If capitalist can keep lower and lower middle class citizens at the bottom through a substandard education, there will be more laborers to produce for the upper classes and create soldiers to fight wars for resources that belong to other citizens of the world.

Rekha Salwi   September 28th, 2010 10:08 pm ET

I have lot of clients who are teachers, we discuss this alll the time...
first is to have uniforms in school...lesser distraction and less time energy spent on it in everyday.

They should probably have a Dress Friday like some offices have a jeans day. May hurt the consumerism but will help the kids pay attention to school not just trying to outdo each other in unnecesary competition.

The other thing most teachers have trouble with and are emotionally stressed is the language the kids use, many students talk to teachers which only starts with the "F"##word it and ends with it and swear @ them to their face...the teachers have to be saints not to lose their cool. The parents should be held accountable then.

Patty   September 28th, 2010 10:08 pm ET

My son is highly gifted and has a processing problem that affects speed and handwriting. The psychologist that figured out the problem told me that if I sent him to public school that they would focus on the handwriting and not his brilliance. This happens to millions of kids everyday in our schools. We need to stop trying to make all kids the same and encourage their gifts. The school day needs to be shorter and homework is a waste of time. Kids need the time to use their imagination and pursue their dreams. If a child is great in math then let him go. Why hold a child back with other kids who might excel in composition or art? I decided to homeschool and my son is 4 to 7 years above grade level and the most amazing thing is that he loves to learn. Our schools turn kids against the pure joy of learning and turn them into machines that are supposed to spit out facts for a test. So very sad.

George   September 28th, 2010 10:09 pm ET

Poor student standings are not just due to poor instructors. These kids are texting every 20 seconds and at all hours of the night. Then they can't function during school time because they are too tired. Don't allow students to have cell phones in school. If they have a cell phone, it should be checked at the door and then picked up at the end of the school day.

There should be dress codes. Don't allow these kids to wear distracting provocative dress, and clothing with antagonistic slogans which instigate trouble. They should have a dress code that promotes respect for themselves and others.

Classrooms should be neat and tidy, which would promote an environment in which students would want to learn.

Ms.Teacher   September 28th, 2010 10:09 pm ET

Great Discussion!

Tenure- Tenure definately should be earned, but what do you do when you have a leader that doesn't document teachers who are not doing what they should be doing in the classroom and in other areas in the school? The leader doesn't like conflict so avoids it for reasons such as not wanting to have someones job taken away because of the economic situation. Why is this teacher still teaching?

Parents and teacher accountabilty- We have talked, and talked about teacher accountability, but why oh why haven't we developed a plan to MAKE IT MANDITORY for PARENT to be held accountable? It is definately over due for parents to be held accountable just like the teachers.

Sean   September 28th, 2010 10:09 pm ET

Dear Larry,

I am a high school student. I have been watching your show and everyone makes a good point. But the issue in America's school systems, in my opinion is: 1) the desire of the students, 2) the parents, and 3) the American public school system. At my school, I am in the gifted program, and it saddens me to see fellow classmates drop out of it simply because they don't want to be in it. And even in my connection classes, kids do not want to learn. It is not hard to figure out, it is just hard for our government and adult population to accept. Now the main source of a child's lack of desire is their parents. One day at school, a classmate was talking about how their parents were going to kick them out of the house if they didn't pull their history grade up. Another classmate responded by saying, "My parents don't care as long as I don't get in trouble." Do not act like this is surprising. I hear and see things like this everyday, and nothing is being done about it because the school systems do not want to accept this as a problem. Finally, the school system does need some work. One of the things they can do is stop asking the teachers to do more with less resources. They say to the teachers make lemonade without any sugar and one icecube. Then people wonder why students who want to learn cannot learn. I will tell you why. It is not easy for teachers to teach without a text book that has been obselete for five years.

Now, as a student in the American public school system, I am telling you teachers cannot teach students whose desire is to drop out. Teachers cannot teach students whose parents do not care about their children's education. Finally, teachers cannot teach with limited resources and minimal pay.


Leanne   September 28th, 2010 10:09 pm ET

Ben Stein needs to get in touch! I am an involved parent in an affluent area where I removed my children from our local public school due to complete and utter inadequite education being offered.

Shelby   September 28th, 2010 10:09 pm ET

1. We dummied down with forced integration. This country has become a melting pot and we are teaching to the lowest common denominator.
2. We have taken the rights to discipline effectively away from the schools creating disrespectful students.
3. Parents are dotting on their children and not requiring them to take responsibility at an early age.
4. Teachers must prepare the students for testing. This is not teaching.
5. Our society needs to place more value on technical skills and training. Everyone can't be a lawyer, doctor, etc. Our entire value system is just broken.

Anoni-mouse   September 28th, 2010 10:10 pm ET

Yes, the 800 lb. elephant in the middle of the floor that no one ever mentions and pretends does not exist are the parents who do nothing with their children. Sometimes, they don't even bother to feed or house their own children. Put the focus on the parents for a change and it will be very obvious why many children do well regardless of quality of school and why children do so poorly regardless of how much money is poured into's the 800 lb. families that need to be spotlighted.

Brent   September 28th, 2010 10:10 pm ET

Here is the truth:
Most people discussing this have no REAL idea what they are talking about. They simply see a problem and have to place blame. That's as far as it is thought out.
-Out of 130 students in my 4 World History classes, I had 11 show up for parent-teacher conferences! And this documentary is gonna say ALL parents would do ANYTHING for their kids education?
-Their is no doubt that many parents (especially single and/or impoverished) do no promote education in their children's lives like 2 parent/ wealthier households do.
-2 parent homes (generally) leads to stability
-Is it coincidence that 7 out of 10 African-American children are born out of wedlock and this subgroup has the highest drop-out rate?
-Those with money generally do a better job of promoting education to their children because THEY SEE the value of it. The impoverished often don't and so they do not pass that on.
-Also, it is statistical fact that the impoverished do not prepare their young children (pre-K) for school as they do not read to them nearly as much.
-Of course you have students that do not read at their grade level: they started at 0 whereas, in the past, it was expected that students would have some knowledge and skills coming into school.
I assure everyone, that teachers work harder and are more dedicated than EVER BEFORE! We do not ask for more pay, just a little credit and help at home! When parents care, the kids succeed. Simple.

plya   September 28th, 2010 10:11 pm ET

How can anyone blame the parents when the parents may not have the answers themselves. Basically, the parents from an educational background understand the importance of an education, but those parents who was never taught anything but survival are at a disadvantage in influencing their kids. Has anyone forgotten that the majority of dropouts come from broken homes and are latchkey kids. And many of the parents were only children themselves when they began to have kids. Let's be real. The root of the problem in the black community is the lack of education of their roots. Teach black kids their roots from the civil rights perspective and I would guarantee results in self motivation of the children. I myself graduationed from the public school system and never really learn of my roots until my 40's. Schools teach about the mayflower, but not of the struggles of the minority groups.....Teach the minority of their struggles. HOW CAN ANYONE KNOW WHERE THEY ARE HEADED WHEN THEY DON'T KNOW WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN!

Zornitsa   September 28th, 2010 10:11 pm ET

I can write a book about all the problems I have encountered as a parent with the educational system. My daughter is currently in 7th grade, and I have been homeschooling her for the past four years. My decision to homeschool was a logical outcome after changing 3 public schools and 2 states. I value education a lot, and I believe that a good education can make all the difference in the world.
In short, the problems of the educational system begin with not having a unified standarized system for the whole country. The curriculum is not only sifted trough the preferences of each state, school district, individual school, and lastly by each teacher, but it's also extremely overwhelemed with disorganized information. The teachers are given the power to decide what to teach and what to ignore. Many teachers cannot teach at all. As a result, children give up on education, or become frustrated with the educational process.
Perhaps we can learn from the leading countries in education. We can examine their curriculums and teaching methods, find the weak and probematic areas in our educational system, and apply the necessary corrections.

Mark Dunn   September 28th, 2010 10:11 pm ET

Good evening Mr. King,

My name is Mark Dunn and I have been watching your program this evening regarding the education and teacher concerns with the U.S. I live in Toronto Canada and we are facing some of the same challenges with our education system and teachers. It's my humble opinion that a joint effort between the parents, teachers and children need to be seriously reviewed. Why?

Well first off the reality is that alot of our teachers are overworked and somewhat under valued which in tern effects the quality of services being provided to the students. Secondly, the parent's need to take on a more of a leadership role in their childrens lives when it comes to investing in their childrens education. For example when you buy a car and you dont look into maintaining it what you put into it you will get out of it. This is similar to our children. How parents and teachers work together with children to ensure a successful education career will determine there future outcome. Thirdly, in regards to the students especially the high school students personal accountabiltiy and responsibility are needed to be established from within themselves. If a student is determined to want to have the best education possible they will be resourceful.

Today our young students are very advanced in there thinking and life experiences. Therefore, I feel we can use this to help them create dreams and goals that will empower them to become the best that they can be. But we have to come to grips with the fact that it starts from within each student. Now depending on there psychology, family dynamics, personal surroundings and influences will determine how much more challenging the journey to success will be. But it can be done. Why is it so easy for some of our students to work hard on being the next 50 cent, Paris Hilton or even next popular entertainer and not feel that they can become the next doctor, lawyer, auto machanic, counselor or even school teacher. I have found that due to society and media influences and parents taking on less of a role of being "parents" we have less students valuing school and more chasing dreams that are somewhat not realistic.

We all have to wake up and know that teachers play an important role in the lives of our children but parents and the children have to come to grips with taking on a more leadership and personal responsibility towards there education. Each of us has the ability to take control of our destiny. Sometimes its not always about blaming but more of breaking things down on a individual level that allows for self reflection to ensure what it will take for personal success. By looking at changing things from the inside out we have to learn to work with society and not always try to solve societies problems. Learn to be resourceful, accountable, responsible and respectable and you will grow from within now and for the rest of your life.

Mark Dunn

Robert   September 28th, 2010 10:12 pm ET

Dear Larry,

I am a former Peace Corps Volunteer who taught secondary science in a Central American country in the 1970's. Motivated students and motivated parents along with receptive teachers did an excellent job in a very disadvantaged system. My experience taught me that education is earned. It takes everyone working together. The physical plant is not the important part. It is the motivation and dedication of all.

Today, I see very unmotivated people, both parents and students. This is a sad state of affairs. This country is very fortunate as any one who wishes to dedicate themselves can get a very good to excellent education. No one in the America faces the hardships that I worked with on a daily basis in Central America. It doesn't mean everyone goes to Harvard. They do not have to go to Harvard to get an excellent preparation for life. They just have to work hard.

Education is a very personal thing that the person being educated has to fully participate in. I see to many people who never tried and now feel they should be given an excellent well paying job that they never took the time to train for.

There are other issues, but dedicated student and parent participation has to be there or it all fails and it doesn't matter where you are on this planet.


R Wood, RPCV

John J. Viall   September 28th, 2010 10:12 pm ET

I was a dedicated teacher for 33 years, and a union member, too. The two are not mutually exclcusive.

I know there are bad teachers; but I know parents play a huge role in what happens in our schools. I had a mother once who let her son miss 106 days in a single year; and if he got a poor education, it wasn't because I was in a union. Another time I had a girl who was doing poorly, and nothing I tried seemed to help. The next year we found out she was being sexually abused by her father. You have to be fair on these panels–and not act like all teachers are bad because they belong to unions–and all parents are good and care about their kids.

Today. 1.5 million American children have a mother or father in jail; 4.5 million live with neither mom nor day. Of 8 million fathers who owe child support only 1/3rd bother to pay. Of course we have bad teachers; we have bad parents, too. I still remember the time I asked one young man what his father was like. "He's a useless meth head," the boy replied.

You can't just make a movie about good parents, who care enough to enter a lottery, and get to the whole truth.

As for spending: the US is number one in spending for healh care in the world, but in a recent survey of 30 countries we came in 23rd for life expectancy. Doesn't this prove our DOCTORS are terrible? Or is "Waiting for Superman" just simplistic analysis?

Gregory   September 28th, 2010 10:12 pm ET

Michelle Rhee does not have a degree in education,- barely was famiiar
with what was going on with DC's educational system and under the guidance of mayor Fenty began firing hundreds of teachers and removed
the right of DC citizens to select and vote for school board representatives.
She's part of a move to destabilize the african-american infrastructure of DC. In a word re-gentrification.

Cindy Smith   September 28th, 2010 10:12 pm ET

There are many, many reasons for the failure of our education system in our country.

The failures are a result of failure to prioritize education ,from our elected officals, teachers, parents and children.

Nothing will change until everyone gets on the same page and instills the importance of education on all levels. Demand excellence
from everyone.

We are all responsible!!!!!!

Rich   September 28th, 2010 10:13 pm ET

School Problems,
1. Divorce-Kids with broken homes.
2. Discipline-No respect for authority.
3. Parents/Administration-Parents not invovled enough (not all)/Ones that try to get involved are shot down by the administration telling the parent that Billy or Kathy are doing alright and not to worry.
4. Lack of proper education for teachers-Teachers have one of the most important jobs in the country, but aren't properly educated and if they seek further education aren't paid appropriately.
5. To many schools worry about testing and the bottom line instead of the students.
6. Not all students need to pass, maybe some need ot fail and be identified early to help them succeed later.
TAKING GOD OUT OF THE CLASSROOM PUTS THE DEVIL IN IT...without standards we have what we have.

Finally, teachers used to be able to instill what is taught at home. Problem is there is nothing but Political correctness. Most schools are to liberal and often undermine what most parents try to teach there kids.

Phil Mandel   September 28th, 2010 10:13 pm ET

I have been substitute teaching in a school system in lower Delaware for 4 years. I do not have an education background but I have learned a tremendous amount about education by being closely tuned in to my students, fellow, teachers and school administrators. What I have learned are the following: The students come from varied home environments so no generalization can be made about parental guidance. This has always been true in America. However, there has been a significant deterioration of the African-American structure to where their is an extremely high percentage of single-parent homes with large families whose kids have breakfast only because the schools provide it as well as the only hot meal they will have during the day at lunch time. In additon, it has become the responsiblity of the eldest child to make sure that his/her siblings get dressed and off to school as the mother or other caretaker must work 2 jobs to support the family. How can these kids even think about learning under these conditions? As far as the Hispanic population is concerned, the learning of english is NOT as important to the parents of their kids as it was for earlier immigrant groups. My parents could barely read or write but they always told me that I was going to college to become better than they were despite my grandmother always asking my mother why I don't speak Hungarian and my mother answering her with "this is America where we speak english".

Steve Packard   September 28th, 2010 10:13 pm ET

I place most of the blame on the parents for raising self-centered, over-privileged children. Also the media for Americans that all they need to be successful is the right technological toy, the right deoderant, the right beverage, etc. that they can have everything they want at little cost, effort, or responsibility.

The collapse of the family unit either due to missing fathers or both parents working has left children to be nurtured by the media and by their peers.

I think the idea that everybody should go to college is questionable, at best. There are lots of well-paying careers that require good vocational skills and a serious work ethic.

I graduated from high school in' 64 and there were good and mediocre teachers back then, but my parents insisted on investing their time with me and my time on homework.

Thanks for listening

teachfor13   September 28th, 2010 10:13 pm ET

Yesterday I began a lesson in American Literature (about to read excerpt of Ben Franklin's autobiography & Almanac) with a journal prompt. I reminded students that our country guarantees liberties and thus we, as American citizens have responsibilities. I asked them to list at least five responsibilities they each have as individuals and/or Americans. You want to know what at least half the class said? We don't have any because we're kids. (These are juniors in high school). Granted, some of what they said was just to be "cool" but I really think many of them believe that they don't have any responsibilities. I try my best to teach them, but I need a lot more help from our society (parents, community, administrators, etc.). It's definitely not fair to just blame the teachers!

Quinton Jones   September 28th, 2010 10:13 pm ET

I think that the school system in America is not the only thing wrong with education. The parents are the main source of a students progress and eventual success. We as Americans will only fall behind the rest of the world in education, unless we can keep children from having children. The average age of parents is getting lower every year. Most of these kids are dropouts and do not posses the type of parenting skills that a child needs. We need the parents of our children to become more responsible with their young students school work. If the parents step up to the plate, I think the education system will drastically improve.

dereck   September 28th, 2010 10:13 pm ET

I'm a teacher and we are all part of the problem. But what upsets me the most is what our state legislators and congressmen are doing to education. It is totally hyprocritical of them to come up with these assessment, proficiency test, and graduation tests saying they are necessary in the evaluation of students and teachers when they themselves are not a product of such tests. Our school was able to produce lawyers, doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, etc. 20 years ago. Those tests were not around then, yet somehow they were able to make it through college and enter those professions. Same to those student 10 years ago. So why the need of these state and federal mandates. I'm sure one reason is for all the publishers that are represented by lobbyists to be able to sell more books and resources that are geared toward these tests. Did you know that the state of Ohio suspended some of the tests not because they no longer felt that testing wasn't necessary, but because it didn't have enough money to pay for them. If this testing is so damn important, money shouldn't be an overriding factor on whether we have them or not. What ever happened to local control. A school is itself a community. The community should decide what is the best for its students. Not someone 60 or 3,000 miles away. I also get tired of seeing our country's scores compared to others. Are we actually comparing apples to apples. I know that some countries at the end of middle school separate their student into those who will go on to college from those who will learn a trade. Then all of our country's students get compared to only their highest students. If our country's education system was so bad, why do student from all around the world come to our universities to study? Do I have all the answers, no. Yes, we need to get rid of ineffective teacher, Yes we need to get parents to get more involved. Yes, we need to motivate students to learn for learning's sake. There is no quick fix. But I do know where it needs to start. It needs to start by the community taking back its school from the hands of the state and the federal government. I find it absurd that our government can trust the car industry and banks more than it can a community and its school. Until this is fixed, education will just keep spinning its wheels.

Paul   September 28th, 2010 10:14 pm ET

When you examine the situation in DC, obviously there is a dictatorship. Why not focus on helping teachers who are putting in the time and effort to fix a long term deeply embedded societal problems. Don't blame the teachers for a deeper issue. There are surely teachers who don't care, but I can assure everyone, most will do anything and everything for their students.

Roxanna   September 28th, 2010 10:14 pm ET

There are many frustrating points to this conversation. Here are two:

1) Although Latinos make up 20% of the education system, 25% of all kindergarteners NATIONALLY - yet much of the discussion remains a Black/White issue. Where are the Latino voices and leaders in this discussion? Your show is broadcast from LA – which holds 10% of all Latinos, 60% of students in the county Latino. Can't you get someone from your backyard to speak to this?

2) Fundamentally – we have an expectations gap in this country. There is no doubt there is a double standard – often within the same school. While parent and student responsibility is an important part of the equation – falling on that as a way to justify what happens to kids' education is wrong. Receiving an education is a human right – something all children deserve. Schools are responsible for this. We need to ensure teachers and schools have the supports and structure as any other profession but hold them accountable.

Vicky   September 28th, 2010 10:15 pm ET

Because of all the problems that I encountered while my children were in school, I was happy when they graduated from high school. Some teachers consider all teenagers to be bad and high schools lack adequate education for teenagers with learning difficulties.

shari black   September 28th, 2010 10:15 pm ET

It is everyone's problem. Not just a racist problem, not just an economic problem, not just a Teacher problem, not just a student problem, not just a curriculum problem. We are failing our children!

I live in california and I agree somewhat with Linda. I recently went to a student program for 1st and 2nd graders. jThe children sang and recited a story. There was not enough money for musical instruments or resources for a music teacher, However, the teachers were quite creative and over 100 children pretended they were playing instruments to recorded music. The auditorium was packed with parents and grandparents. The children were very well behaved, but I was sad that we have put our children so low on the priority scale.

Yara   September 28th, 2010 10:16 pm ET

Regarding who is to blame, I am trying to figure it out myself. Even parents that are highly involved in their child's education are finding it nearly impossible to find quality options for education in the public and charter school systems. There are teachers highly motivated and determined that they can make a difference working in the trenches, but they are up against some huge obstacles.

I live in AZ, a state with one of the worst records in education, and I have a sophomore in high school and a first grader who's been tested as gifted in the 99th percentile. I am feeling a huge sense of urgency, frustration, sadness, hopelessness, and nonetheless huge motivation and determination that we can find an option that will unleash her potential to do great things. Education is what will allow our country to stand out from the rest of the world and remain a respected nation that achieves great things.

Some of the obstacles our teachers are facing:
1) Unreasonably high class sizes (35 Kindergarten children in a small sized classroom with no funding for a full time teacher's assistant) in my daughter's class at our "Number One" elementary school. An average of 40 students at my son's previous high school where there aren't enough desks to go around in these rooms.

Teachers are leaving to work at private schools with smaller class sizes because they can't handle the horrible workloads and want to have an impact where they can still teach to a manageable class sizes.

2) Very limited funding for educational materials. We, parents, are now asked to donate reams of copy paper because the schools can't afford to provide it to their teachers. This is in addition to a very long list of other items we need to send for our children and their teachers to use. My daughter's first grade teacher said she's had to purchase many of the education programs herself since there is limited funding. She still uses a barely working overhead projector because she has no other option.

3) Larger administrative staff eating up funds for hiring more teachers. When I was in high school (1984) we had one principal and one vice principal. Now there are 4 vice principals even with lower student levels campus wide. Dollars aren't getting to the classrooms or to pay for teachers.

4) The dumbing down of America. I don't want to start a conspiracy theory here, but it seems that there is a direct correlation to lower education standards and the ever increasing gap between the middle class and uber rich. America has become a service/entertainment industry based nation, versus a production (invention included) based nation.

5) Students are being stimulated by things like video games/movies/music instead of having a balance of learning and getting motivated to do exceptional things with their lives. One or both parents are working 2 or three jobs and the family structure is losing consistency and focus on having time to motivate children. Middle class families are struggling to keep up with the day to day responsibilities monetarily and time wise.

6) Our political parties need to work together to make this nation great again. We are falling further behind other industrialized nations at a faster pace it seems than ever before in various standards of quality of life issues. A quality education should be a right of all citizens but sadly it is being labeled as "socialism" by newer political viewpoints and I fear that we will fall to even lower levels unless it becomes a top federal and state priority again!

7) The best rate of college bound high school students here is our private Catholic high school. Lots of money flowing and high parental/student participation is found at this school. Sadly, this school is limited to the upper class as it costs $8000 per year for tuition. No matter how much we want the best for our child, we cannot afford it on our middle class incomes.

8) Parents ARE concerned greatly about the options they have, but frankly as a parent, I feel that in my community there are zero quality public school options right now. I attended public school when education was still a top priority to our country, our states, our cities, and to our school officials. Most of the kids I went to school with went on to college, but now, kids are up against a lot more without a decent education from day one. Our high school students aren't achieving the right levels of discipline and don't have the motivation to go since they haven't ever had an empowering learning environment.

Bottom line. We need to FIX our system and cut wasted administrative level spending since the overspending budget problem is not apparent in our classrooms. We need to make Education Priority #1 !

Thanks to anyone who takes the time to read my thoughts. I think we, parents, share many of the same feelings right now and hope that someone that can take action really listens!

Deborah Ybarra   September 28th, 2010 10:16 pm ET

It does not matter adout good teachers if the teachers do not know their own study guides. It changes every year. They are not tought to teach our kids. Then we have a grade book system problem. They grades are sometimes just dropped from system. Then your childs real grade at the end of the year is not accurate. Our grade book system in clayton county ga is horrible. You will see excluded grades all the time because of lose of grades during transfers of classes.

Lory   September 28th, 2010 10:16 pm ET

It's not the teachers that are at fault. It's the system that is at fault. We're so interested in scores and assessments that teachers aren't given the time to teach anymore. Maybe the SYSTEM is taking the love of teaching and learning away and too much emphasis is being placed on tests. We say NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, yet so many are being held behind because of the SYSTEM. We are over testing our students!!

melanie   September 28th, 2010 10:17 pm ET

I am a teacher and feel that I am a creative teacher–until this year–my 5th year of teaching. My district has decided to hold teachers accountable by increasing assessments created by the district and curriculum companies. This takes a huge amount of time away from authentic meaningful teaching. The time I use to spend connecting with my students to determine their educational and emotional needs is now spent pushing the rigor my district is demanding.
It is September and I am exhausted from working from 6:30 am until 7 and sacrificing my time with my family trying to help the students from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. I am not at my best as a teacher or a parent because I am trying to meet the demands of my district and while attempting to meet needs of my students.
What is the solution? I am looking for a solution and have decided not to return to education if I do not find a solution because I refuse to hang on to the dream of making a difference when I have no control over my craft as a teacher.I will not remain a teacher if I cannot do my best due to the decisions made without valid research, historical data and realistic comparisons to successful schools and childhood development.

Jonathan Schwab   September 28th, 2010 10:17 pm ET

Education and society are to blame for the state of our education system. We do not put enough emphasis on learning and relevancy at a young age. Society puts such an emphasis on money and time. These are the two most relevant words to Americans; just look at a webster's dictionary. The cognitive response that this evokes is that children from a young age are taught through society to value money and use their time to make money. What if, as a society, we began to integrate more relevant words like learning, memory, and relevancy into every American's daily life. We are just big bags of emotions, memory, and (for some of us) the potential to possess logic. These are internal issues, while money and time are external issues. Why are external issues having such an influince on what's being internalized?
The meaning of life, to me, is making connections. We make connections with other people and (hopefully) consider their views. If other people's views are relevant to our personal value system, then they influince our beliefs in one way or another. We need to re-wire society to accomodate for the cognitive beings that we are.. Not ignore the issue and keep asking dumb questions to get around why we aren't living to our full mental potential. This will allow children to learn and to feel good about learning. Instead, right now, we have big strong emotional beings (bill O'riley anyone?) telling our children that it's right to yell one's issue at the people who's views differ from our own. Just listen to others, that's what their there for. I would listen to a counter argument from you, and if you scientifically proved me wrong then I would drop this whole issue.

indira gaddipati   September 28th, 2010 10:17 pm ET

I am really tried of the teacher bashing. At what point are the parents accountable for the children's education. As a teacher myself, I have asked of my students parents that we should work together to help their child but have been told on numerous occasions that I sent my child to school for you to teach him/her, It is your job to teach them not mine. I don't think any teacher went into the profession to get rich, we all would like to have a positive impact on our students lives but at what point to we say where are the parents??????????? I have students that come to school without supplies, no homework done, not cared for and yet we say it is the teachers fault that this student is not learning. My parents taught me the value of an education, in which i teach my students this lesson everyday. But it would mean a lot more if came from their parents. I have students for two and three years consecutively and only met their parents a fifth graduation, not at meet the teacher, not at parent-teacher conference or any other event. So where are the parents???? We must all work together and I am only hearing what the teachers are not doing, I love you to know that when students come to school without supplies, we are the ones that buy them. When students need someone to talk to, we are the ones they call on. When students lack basic clothing, we are the ones that go looking for clothes for them. When student go hungry, we buy or give them food. So before you say teachers are not doing their jobs, i think you need to look at the job description first. We are more than just teachers. And I believe that You, Larry King, were a product of New York City Public School. You're not doing too bad for yourself. Wonder what teacher had an impact on you and what role did your family play in your success?????

MarkMe   September 28th, 2010 10:17 pm ET

It is not about money. Teachers love to complain that they are underpaid. They get paid VERY well especially given the fact that they work 1/3 less than a full time employee in any other capacity. We have a charter school in my community which teaches strict core knowledge and sigapore math. The school district takes 1/3 of their funding for "oversight" which means the teachers get paid 1/3 less and they have to pack 31 students into a class room to make up the difference. Guess what? It is the ranked the 4th best school in the COUNTRY. It is all public too which means they take ALL students. They don't take the best or cherry pic the brightest they take them all. Teach to standards, maintain HIGH standards and do your jobs.

(sorry for all the misspellings. I am the product of public education)

Addison   September 28th, 2010 10:18 pm ET

I am so furious as I watch people who have never been in the classsroom tell me that our education system is in the state it is in due to bad teachers. When are we going to put the blame on society as a whole. There are so many out there that believe teachers are just high paid baby sitters. We pay everybody else more than we pay the people to educate our future. When you ask a student what they want to be when they grow up none of them say teacher. Why would they, we are one of the lowest paid professions and they see what we deal with on a day to day basis. As a Prekindergarten teacher in Texas I have recently sent home crayons and pencils with all of my students in order to complete their homework. After going through the homework week after week I am really wondering why I am still sending homework home. All they have to do is color and trace and that is not done, who is to blame? Remember when parents use to respect teachers, now they come in our class and tell us what their child is not going to do and threathen to take my job. I have to be a social worker, a counselor, a police officer and a teacher, sometimes all at the same time. If you want to blame someone blame parents for not putting a focus on education at home and then blame society for making the profession of teaching a second class job.

joe sakr   September 28th, 2010 10:18 pm ET

I have to put some of the blame on trash TV programming which is endemic in North America. It is stunning how the lowest common denominator is used to produce and broadcast TV programs which sole purpose is (the comercial value of) ratings!!
In Europe where I lived for many years, TV plays a role in the culture, education and general knowledge. Programs are not necessarily "easy" to watch while europeans munch on their healthier snacks, many are however educational, informative, or simply enriching...
does TV HAS to be all trash in North America??

Luis B. Rosario   September 28th, 2010 10:18 pm ET

President Barack Obama is my hero in the White House, now
that Bill Clinton is not thereat. That said I have to question
Pres. B. Obama's strategy in trying to cure all the maladies
that abound us. In the case of education he wants to fire all
teachers are deemed incompletent. I don't believe that
sending teachers into the unemployment lines is the answer.
Teachers should be evaluated by the principal of the school
and then by the superintendent of the district. A teacher that is
found to be faltering in teaching should be sent to remedial
school like we do with students tfor re-training . It is done that
way in sports and other employment agencies in the private
sector. In sports, a major leaguer who is not producing for
one reason or another is sent to the minor league until the
player show signs of improvement . If after the demotion the
player does not improve then the team can consider his
release. But they pay compesation accordingly to a player that
is release or traded to another team. You don't fire a person
from the job unless after all other avenues for improvement
have been exausted. Nobody wants to see a person losing his/
her job, nowadays. Is depressing and stressful for every
employer to have to fire an employee or force the employee
to resign. Some emplloyees become despondet after losing
their jobs. Some never ever find a decent a job again, some
become alcoholics, some become drug addicts, some end up
with mental sickness, some commit suicide and some even
commit murder (going back to the place of business looking
for revenge). When I was a supervisor I never had to
sign off on an employee to be fired for underachievement.
There is always a second and a third chance until we can no
more. The president elected that woman to be a school
chancellor because I believe that she became notrious for
dismissing school teachers when they received a negative
evaluation. "That is no way to treat a lady," says the song.
If that is the case then we should fire half of the senators
in Congress especially all the Republicans who do nothing
bad mouth the president and his cabinet and who oppose
every bill presented to them. They even try to impeach the
president for going to church on Sunday(hypothetical). We
put all the bankers(especially the CEOs) for credit card
rates (APR) above 25 percent. (*It used to be against the
law until the Bushes became presidents of the United
States. Only the Mafia used to charge more than 15% APR.

Anais M.   September 28th, 2010 10:19 pm ET

It is true that everyone has a responsibility when it comes to the education of the youth: parents, teachers, politicians/government, and kids themselves.
My problem is we cannot blame the children and their parents alone. They are kids and the parents are just aids! The teachers and the government are most responsible for the education of the youth: teachers as experts of the craft, and the government as regulators of the experts of the craft....
Children learn to think critically, develop problem sovling skills, discover, use a library book, when they are taught how to do so, and are told that they actually have access to these resources, etc.
I had to learn to use a library as a resource to study once I was informed by my teachers and professors, as well as received the aid of the librarians, parents, etc...
Most of the urban kids do not have the opportunity to be taught what the library or a book can provide them with: knowledge, pieces of the puzzle missing in their studies, and valuable information.
For instance, we all know that the GPS is a great tool in navigating around; however, not everyone knows how to use it, or has the means to afford one, or even have access to one. Even if they did, they may not know how to manipulate it, and so it will be of no use. Reading the manual does not always guarranty successful use of the instrument and its technology.
So yes, kids may be informed of the diverse types of resources "available" to them (which really depends on where they attend school); however, someone has to show them how to use these resources to their own benefit. Come on, that's the role of the teacher! Parents should keep up with the assignments required from the teacher, homework; but that is if they themselves (parents) were educated well enough to know how to help their children. They are helpless... So it's a vicious cycle. Everyone has a responsibility.
I used to and still volunteer today to tutor kids and get involved in some afterschool programs to help the kids who do not have the proper intellectual help home, as well as those who have parents who are too busy working to make ends meet and keep their kids in a good school.
I am not married and have no children, but the strength of a country is in the hands of its youth. We all have to do something, get involve, and improve the eduction of the kids in our communities! That's my take on the situation.
Thank you Larry!

Adrian   September 28th, 2010 10:19 pm ET

I think that Ben Stein is right in that a big part of the education crisis rests with the current state of American culture. Teachers are, of course, a big part of the equation but student motivation accounts for more. How else can one explain that some third-world children that share borrowed books with other students while studying in a shack can outperform American children. My wife and I know several Filipino teachers that have been sponsored by the local school system and this is their main complaint: little or no student motivation. The main problem, although not the only one, is that there was a general belief for a long time in America that one could graduate high school and get a good-paying blue collar job and live the American dream. The American public school system, and perhaps more importantly, the American mindset has NOT been able to adjust to the shift in the global economy towards more education with an emphasis on math,science, and engineering.
Another problem in the American education system has been, for the past 30 or 40 years, has been over relying on well educated immigrants to fill their Master and Doctoral Degrees programs. This has resulted in a general neglect and postponement of the education problem.
Children: Stop following the Lindsey Lohans and Justin Timberlakes of America and hit the books!!!

HB   September 28th, 2010 10:19 pm ET

Good Evening Larry,

I commend your panelists for informing us of their views; however I heard nothing of the method of assessment. At this point teachers are teaching a test and that has not and will not do our children any justice. Before I left the profession the buzz word was portfolio based assessment. We have not made one step in that direction, and this is a stronger assessment tool and displays examples on how a student has mastered a learning standard.

We have for years depended on tests to show the effectiveness of students and teachers alike, and we have not moved anywhere, if anything we have slipped backwards. When are we going to stop wasting our money on the current way of doing things (testing) and go with something that works?

Stacy Clawson   September 28th, 2010 10:20 pm ET

I agree with Ben parents need to be accountable. The school I work in is 85-90% free and reduced lunches. There are some parents who half way through the school year do not know their child's teachers name!! I teach for grades 4-6 in reading. From the first day of school I tell my students how successful they will be on the state test. That it, the test, is one day in their lives. I tell them that I am teaching them to be successful for life. They will all pass their state test and that I am their coach, A reading coach and I like to win. I ask them which of you like to win? Join my team do what I ask which is to read two hours a week on your own and log it. Listen to the strategies that I share with them each day. I tell them to make lots of mistakes in class b/c by making mistakes you learn. You learn to take risks. If they get everything right in my class then I didn't do them justice that day because they already knew the information I was sharing that day. I do not worksheet my students but teach them to be responsible for themselves. Parents need to be involved in their child's educaiton and I am tired of the teachers taking the blame for our poor results nationwide. Yes, there are bad teachers just like bad bankers and lawyers or doctors. Good unions don't want those teacher either. Yes, poor kids can and should do as well as wealthy kids but having a drama free life at home is key to being able to focus at home. Perhaps your panel should read some of Ruby Paines work on poverty. Many didn't seem very prepared and were repetivite with their answers and gave no real solutions to the problems. It is a bigger problem than bad teachers. NCLB left the brightest behind by focusing on the needs of special eduction. I see that as a teacher a lot of money is put toward the needs of students who will never pass a state test instead of moving forward or challening the gifted students in our schools. No one even metioned that one cent of every dollar goes toward gifted educaiton.

There is a lot to say and cover with this topic i just hope your future guest are more prepared with better content. Thank you for your time.

Ms.Teacher   September 28th, 2010 10:20 pm ET

I forgot to say this too....

Our society is VERY DEPENDENT on PUBLIC EDUCATION!!!!!! To the point that parents subconsciously feel that their children get their education through "going to school" instead of public education being a suppliment to what THEY teach at HOME or visa verse. One or the other is a suppliment. The wording is incorrect. it needs to always worded in a way that PARENT is first and not forgotten out of the national conversations. Education includes mor than 7:30 to 2:30. What about taking you child to a museum, or taking your child to the aquarium and not just taking them, but TALKIGN TO YOUR CHILDREN! We, ADULTS, forget that we were children once upon a time and some believe that children should be seen and not heard. How ridiculous! If they were to just be seen then the creator would have children born without a mouth and have it grow in close to adult hood. LOL.

There is a quote that one of my professors told our class a few years ago.

"The child is the teacher of the man."

We could learn alot by observing and LISTENING to our children.

Great job CNN on the education discussions. I love it.


Theresa Almeda   September 28th, 2010 10:20 pm ET

How about looking into some of the Colleges and Universities. We have professors who have reached tenure and are awful. Groups of students complain about these teachers and they are told they have to deal with it. Why is it ok to get rid of bad teachers in our schools , yet not in our Universities and Colleges. They waste students time and money .

Suzanne   September 28th, 2010 10:21 pm ET

My daughter was in 7th grade three yrs ago. Her Arkansas history teacher graded the students by how well they kept their "space" clean and organized and once every nine weeks, she gave a lecture about Arkansas history. The next day, the students took a test. The grade was the combination of a clean desk and one test. The second nine weeks, she was absent, doctor's appt, and missed the lecture. She was given an A for the second nine weeks because she had a clean and organized desk. This teacher is still teaching at that jr. high. Does my daughter know anything about Arkansas history? Her 5th grade elementary teacher at a private school taught some AR history, thinking she would have a full semester taught in jr. high.

Mary   September 28th, 2010 10:21 pm ET

As a career teacher now in my 34th year I believe our problem in education stems from our culture today in this country. Technology has created a different world and has altered the way our students learn. Because of the diversity throughout America educators struggle to meet the needs of many different types of learners. We must all work together and contribute all we can to solve the education dilemma. Teachers need the support of administrators, parents, community, and policymakers in goverment. The students must be held to higher standards. We can succeed only if we all work together.

Claire Newton   September 28th, 2010 10:21 pm ET

I am a teacher who recently retired after teaching thirty-four years at a public high school in North Carolina. As an English teacher who taught seniors in AP, honors and regular English classes, I know a teacher's expectation of what her students can and will do is extremely important. At the beginning of each school year, I always told my students I have high expectations for you, but I also know that you have or should have high expectations for your selves. I also communicated this philosophy to the parents/guardians of my students. My students never failed to work toward this goal because I took my students from where they came - yes, this involved much one-on-one work/cooperations among the student/parents/teacher. My responsibility as a teacher was to see that my seniors were prepared for the world they were about to enter. To do this I had to be knowledgeable and innovative. I took my responsibilities very seriously and I was rewarded many times over by my students. I expected them to learn. They did. Many school days were long because I stayed after school with any student who wanted/needed extra help. Teaching is not a nine to three job as many young people who go into teaching believe today! A person who wants to be a teacher has to be dedicated to seeing that his/her students learn. I loved teaching with a passion and my only regret today is that I'm still not in the classroom. (Mr. Stein just asked the panel on Larry King - what happened to all the "good" teachers such as the ones he had when he was in school. I can tell him this what I saw at my own school, in the years before I retired. The majority of the young teachers entering the teaching field today are not prepared. Is this the fault of the schools of education? Is this the fault of the students themselves? It is a combination of the two.)

I also agree that any "good" teacher would/should not be hesitant about being held accountable for the learning of his/her students.
But this responsibility also extends to the students, the administrators, the parents/guardians, and the community to do their
part in supporting the students' teachers who are trying to teach their students.

The number one reason that a student does not do well in school is his/her lack of basic skills, particularly in reading and writing. Many younger teachers do not have these basic skills themselves, so how in the world can they teach their students what they themselves do not know. (May I state here, that there were many things I did not know when I began my teaching career, but I learned quite early in my career that I, as the teacher, could never stop learning. Over the years, I taught this concept to my students through my own actions. This is the key to success, both for the student and for the teacher.) If a student is still reading at a first-grade level by the fifth grade, why on earth would that student be promoted to middle school? We need to return to the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and when students are successful here, they will grow and be successful in their later classes. Only then, will the United States once again be number one in education.

Greg   September 28th, 2010 10:22 pm ET

I agree with Maureen, you can't put all of the blame on teachers. Parents have the biggest responsibility i feel. My wife and I raised our children in the inner city and they attended public schools but we were very involved. In todays society you have a lot of absentee dads and a lot of parents who are on drugs. I feel our focus should be on the parents or parent in trying to help them break free from that vicious cycle thats been passsed down. I feel we shouldn't keep making excuses about the past but have more programs to help the parents. I commend all of the teachers that have to spend more time on discipline than on teaching. I also fetel administrators should keep it real when it comes to test scores, you have to many of them trying to look good on paper to get recognized or awarded when it isn't warranted. Lets be true to ourselves, the students and their parents.

John J. Viall   September 28th, 2010 10:23 pm ET

Really, I almost beseech you; get three good teachers on your panel some night and let them talk about what the job is really like.

Vicente Espiritusanto   September 28th, 2010 10:23 pm ET


C. Keefer   September 28th, 2010 10:24 pm ET

I have lost total respect for Ben he is generations behind. His comments were so inappropriate. "What happened to the schools" uh we are in the computer age Ben! The kids should all have laptops with teachers or tutors available to answer questions in the evening. Yes some parents are a problem but are really only a product of the failed education system. If teachers went in to teaching to truly inspire children maybe we wouldn't be in this mess. People/children who are truly inspired can move mountains. Not all children learn the same–do our schools help those kids NO! Those kids who score below others get segregated and made to feel stupid! Ben seems to think this is an African American problem–excuse me its all over the country that is why we rank so low! Are you kidding me Thomas Jefferson and our president? He is ONE individual that was able to overcome incredible difficulties to become the president a rarity! We are talking about saving our future our country we need to provide these kids with everything we can to help them succeed across the country! I think teaching children should be considered a profession with a high paying salary but there are so many teachers out there that have baggage, abused themselves, communication issues, and are so uninspired they should be fired.

Su   September 28th, 2010 10:25 pm ET

Hi Larry,

It is very true that education has become a social justice issue and I believe the responsibility lies in teachers, parents and students.

I am only focusing on one tiny aspect of a broader issue. I graduated about an year ago from teachers college and I was actually surprised when I returned to the classroom because so many things had changed. For example I couldn't believe how much time teachers had to spend on lesson plans revolving around motivating students to learn! Back when I was in school education was an important component of my life, I knew if I wanted to get somewhere in life I had to do well in school. Teachers and teaching methods were not as animated and 'fun' back then as they are now. The curriculum has changed numerous times in order to make learning 'fun' and yet I find there are more things distracting students now.

Even among some students they have different priorities and education doesn't seem to hold much value for some. For example I taught in China this past year and the students day was highly regimented and they knew the importance of education. I was surprised by how motivated and determined they were to do better and improve themselves. Students were not allowed to bring anything that may distract them to class like ipods, phones, magazines etc. Where as here in Canada some schools allow students to bring in their ipods and listen to music while doing 'independent' work in class. I do understand how maybe some students need such stimuli to learn but how about we keep such classroom distractions to a minimum so that students can actually focus on the task at hand thereby giving them a task that requires them to think and complete it. However I find a lot of students especially those from schools I have taught at tend to have other priorities and interests that divert their interests and focus from what they should be learning and actually doing at school. It may sound like I am blaming students – but I'm not. I do agree there are some schools out there that are better than others and that such inequality should not exist because it's failing students. I do agree that there is discrimination within the education system. But I also believe that all parents must take an active interest in their kids education. AND all students must also have the motivation, drive and determination to
do well at school.

For example coming from a South Asian family a lot of parents whether they are from low/high income family sends their kids for tutoring. This is done from a very young age and doing one's best at school is an ingrained 'belief' that most Asian kids have in general.
I believe that the teachers have to give 200% in the classroom, parents much give 200% in motivation and ingraining the value of education in their kids and students must give 200% for their futures and that means coming into and leaving all the distractions behind with the motivation of doing their best to learn and improve their academic abilities and skills.

Well anyways I believe this issue is very much layered and needs to be tackled in a holistic manner because one can't single out one particular party (like teachers, or students, or parents) as being at fault.

Michael Lucas   September 28th, 2010 10:27 pm ET

The school system just like the criminal justice system was set up to serve and help white people not blacks, try to remember when the laws that govern this great country were written black people were just property. What I am trying to say is neither of these systems are actually meant to help black people so we are going to have to fight to make these systems work for us. The good -ol-boy system is what's wrong with this country and that is why other countries are leaving American schools behind.We need to revamp the school system and the cirriculum and not just in certain afluent areas.

Joe   September 28th, 2010 10:27 pm ET

It takes four years to get tenure, and teachers will have been observed 16 times in those four years. I conclude we have some pretty good teachers! The unions have helped with conducting research and in collective bargaining. I've only seen them make schools better! There are ways to get rid of bad teachers–and due process is provided. Great! So where are we failing? We've got all these so called "experts" spouting off lately and only Ben Stein was able to hit the nail on the head. We have got to do our BEST to get minority kids to start performing at appropriate levels. Until we set this as our goal, we are just sugar coating the problems of education.

judy   September 28th, 2010 10:28 pm ET

I am a parent who is raising four children in the second worst school district on Long Island. I have two left to graduate out of it. My experience has been that bad teachers are not removed and administrators that come into the system to make positive change are targeted and removed. I have watched this process for the past 20 years in the same district. The union has a powerful control on what these school boards do and don' t do. We have our head in the sand too long and what we have now is the result of our denial-a failure chain.Teachers are refusing to even open science kits because they dont feel like using them. You cannot ask for progress and leave it up to individuals (teachers) to be self motivated to fix it. This fooishness got us where we are now. Teachers need to be maeasured. Teachers must be measured so they can see just how lacking they are in the ability to do their jobs. The cream will rise to the top. The rest should either go find another career or submit to being put into retraining.
Change is never embraced when it means shining a light on this
problem which parents in these underperforming schools have been
tearing their hearts out for years crying out for a change.. Unions will work to keep administrators in that aquiesce to their demands.
Enough talking! Put all teachers on a system of evaluation that will show the effectiveness of their teaching skills-do it now-and it must be done on regular intervals during a school year.
They are the ones responsible for preparing our country's future leaders in addition to what parents do at home.
If this was corporation, heads would roll ( that means people fired)
and new blood(newly hired people) brought in to carry out the new corporate direction. Well, this is not a corporation but we must go in a different direction. This product(our children and their education is priceless). We need to move now and
move like lightening. So while the union tries to hold on to their power lets go about this business of educating our children. My district is the highest paid in New York State if not the country. It is not a money problem.

Sandra Bueno   September 28th, 2010 10:29 pm ET

The state of the U.S. Educational System is a condition that does not have a blanket "one-for-all" solution. It rather presents an invitation for a renewed spirituality to take place across America as a whole.

With cultural, religious, ethnic, financial, demographic and social variables undermining physiological, emotional, physical and spiritual challenges in youth as young as a few months old, we can not blame a specific party, rather we must look at the root causes and determine a NEW PLAN of accountability, responsibility and action.

While it is true that education begins at home and starts with the parent and the people closest to the child, we must all take action in shifting the educational paradigm.

The change begins with engendering a sense of spiritual consciousness founded on our human perspective and existence. The awareness calls for being truthful about where we are individually and collectively, as well as what is missing in our overall culture and as an American Generation.

Teachers, parents, school officials and the public need to openly share the existence of God with our children as this creates a sense of moral behavior and consequence between right and wrong.

We as a population must be willing to reject what is blatantly immoral and damaging to our youths' sense of dignity, innocence, spirit, and welfare. We must turn away from sex on TV, the media, reality TV, music videos, and equally as damaging, violence depicted in everything from cartoons to YouTube postings and available for youth to see and be impacted by.

With violence and disregard leading youth offenses and fear crippling the authority of teachers and educators, adults must learn how to communicate using 21-st Century Educational Skills, Technologies, and Language to elicit rapport and engaging response from youth.

Outside of the school environment, parents and adults must learn to recognize the psychological warfare marketers use in magazines, commercials, fundraisers, advertisements and sposorships to engage feelings and beliefs of youth. Parents must engage in becoming the filters of the abusive and exploitative messages multimillion dollar companies are using to sell their products, drinks, medicine, and philosophy through the young generation.

School officials must use the money they receive from the government to provide effective education, materials, and renew the spirit of learning using technology, science, history and knowledge that engages youth about the world they live in today...not the world their parents came from LAST CENTURY.

The change begins with one parent, one child, one school, one principle; – a PTA that values and protects children and does not sell out for a few dollars by partnering with a company that will use children to prostitute their products in exchange for a cheap trinket the child has been lured by during the "Fundraiser Launch."

Bottom line, it takes a sense of moral judgement, ethics and integrity to positively change the state of the U.S. Educational System. All those ready for personal accountability please stand and lead the way.

Thank you.
Sandra Bueno
Rise 2Win 4 OUR YOUth America!

Chiyoko   September 28th, 2010 10:29 pm ET

I wonder if American ever thought of learning from successful countries, like Korea, Japan and Germany.
My country, Japan, has strictly standardized education, including contents and strategies to teach students. I know many teachers would not like that, but these standards are made based on developmental psychology and other research based studies, not like some lawyers (or congressmen) come up with "something sounds good." I remember my child learned history in 3rd grade, when kids do not care 3 years ago from 5 years ago. I did not learn history until 6th grade, when cognitive development allows kids to understand abstractive ideas. But Japanese education builds up knowledge year by year. Last 3 years, my child learned basically the same contents in Math in the U.S., and Japanese school is now ahead of him 1 year or so at 7th grade.
Do you know 80% of world's stimulant drug, such as Ritlin, is consumed in the U.S? Kids are required too much too early. And for some kids who get contents at the first time, it is very boring. No wonder children in the US drop out of schools. They had enough.

Stacie   September 28th, 2010 10:30 pm ET

I too am a recently retired teacher and that old saying, "Those who can't, teach," is backwards and should read:

"Those who have achieved, can teach students to succeed"

Another new slogan for teaching and learning should be:

"Teach how to dream and provide the means."

This is goal orientated, problem solving learning, not just teaching
answers to test questions.
Mirrors in the class room situation that happens in "real life"
Allows for students to learn in a variety of ways and teachers to
teach via varied learning patterns..
Mandates parental or "big brother/sister" involvement..
Most importantly, grandparents should be called to act, a very
overlooked, but valued family member that have a lifetime of
experiences to teach lessons well.
Finally, this idea teaches children of all ages, that nothing of value is
free or ever handed to them on a silver platter. To succeed
students should be prepared to not only mine their own silver but
create & design their own platter. Meaning, count on yourself.
your hard work, education and talents developed.
Lean on these choices and you'll never let yourself down.

pj   September 28th, 2010 10:30 pm ET

Who gets to determine that a teacher is a bad teacher? There are so many factors involved, not the least of which is lack of knowledge on the part of the reviewer and their personal biases. Just because an administrator (a former Spanish teacher, PE teacher, home ec. teacher; etc.) completes a leadership degree program, this does not guarantee a great leader/evaluator results.

Also, why are we talking about getting rid of ineffective teachers rather than taking that teacher's weaknesses and putting all efforts into raising up that teacher so that he/she becomes a great teacher. This "bad" teacher obviously got out of an accredited university (most of them); so are we so quick to "throw the baby out with the bathwater"?

There are more and more students who are "identified" with some degree of a special need. This results in special learning accomodations spelled out in detail, that all teachers are required to ensure. Many of these students themselves are well aware at young ages that this entitles them to be treated in a different, special way and they "work it". The parents often have higher apirations for their children than they are able to instill in their children. Most schools, especially because of the recession, do not have the resources to provide the manpower to implement the requirements of these accomodations.

Finally, not all students desire to become college graduates. There are many trades and crafts that do not require 4-5 years of college in order for an individual to have great success in life. I propose that we determine what students actually want to do when they graduate, and make it our job to provide the instruction and guidance needed to obtain that goal and NOT diminish the value of that goal just because it doesn't require a bachelors degree. If a student (I know a kid that wants this) wants to be a GM mechanic, why can't we certify him in high school as a GM mechanic so that when he/she graduates, he can get a good job, making a living wage.

One more thought; education is a life-long process and opportunity. Just because a kid does not go to college after high school, does not mean he/she will never go to college. Education was not valued in my home. My parents never knew what I did in school. I believe that I suffered from depression and neglect. I married, raised children, and when my girls were in college I began my bachelors degree and continued to complete my masters degree. Sometimes maturity is just not there for some kids in high school; as well as homelife conditions are not condusive for a student to focus and do well in school. Many times it takes years beyond getting away from a bad situation for an individual to develop and achieve their goals.

I DO think that our approach to education needs to be redesigned; I just wish we could go back to teaching the "whole" child. This includes many enriching experiences that don't necessarily follow the "course of study". Wouldn't it be great if kids learned for fun, instead of for the mis-guided expectations of the adults in their world?

Perry Garrison   September 28th, 2010 10:33 pm ET

I just got thru watching your show on "Waiting for Superman". I was listening to all of the comments and I had to tell you just how bad our schools can be. Back in 1988 when my daughter was in first grade, they said that our daughter had learning disabilities and to NEVER try to send her to College, because she would never make it there. How dare they write off ANY child at that stage of life, because they (the school Mason Elementry in San Diego CA.) didn't want to have to deal with her situation. They even said that it was a shame that she was white because she didn't qualify for any assistance. That was when my husband told them that they should recheck their records, because she was registered American Indian. The next day they gave her some of the help she needed.
Now let's skip ahead to 2007, which is when our daughther graduated from Chico State University in Chico CA, and she was also on the deans list her entire senior year. She is now working is the health industry. I had to fight for good teachers for both of my children and they both graduated from Chico State. I sent this story to tell you how bad our schools were then and probably still are. We need to support our GOOD TEACHERS and help them to help our children any way we can. This was my experience and I agree that until we ALL work together, our kids will be the losers and that is just not acceptable!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lindsay   September 28th, 2010 10:33 pm ET

I really enjoyed the show tonight, as it brought to light many of the important issues present in education today. I am a recent college graduate, have a Masters in Education, and hold a California teaching credential. The past year and a half I have been substituting and have been unable to land a much coveted full-time teaching job. In recent years, there have been many issues in schools and education reform is much needed. There have been many steps forward in education reform, including stricter standards for teachers to earn teaching credentials, increase attention to student motivation, technology, staff development, and funding for struggling schools ( English learners, and special needs students). Unfortunately, the current economic state of the country, along with ineffective standards for teacher and student accountability has created an extremely frustrating. I am optimistic that public education will improve, as it has in the past. Education reform is imperative in order to create the best learning environment for our students. Teachers, parents, and government officials should be focusing on what is best for their individual students and catering to their unique needs. I have been fortunate enough to teach in a variety of schools that are comprised of different cultural, socioeconomic, and linguistic backgrounds and ALL of them have their issues. Each state, district, and each school all have their individual struggles. I fully believe that by working within our communities and making parents, students, and other teachers aware of what is going on in our schools will truly be impowering for our students. I may be an optimist, but I believe I can make a difference in my students' lives. Teachers and students need the resources, tools, and support to be successful. While all problems can not be fixed over night, a positive attitude can make a world of difference!

Mary   September 28th, 2010 10:35 pm ET

There are several factors that affect the education systems that we as a nation have to make sure all has to be considered. It start with healthy pregnancy and healthy home,motivated children, motivated teacher, decent school environment.
I was born and grow up in Kabul Afghanistan in a small village. There was only one small girls school with one teacher and three classroom full of girls ages 7 to 14 attending the same first grade. The teacher was taken term to go to each class and then put an older girl in charge of class behavior and a girl who know a little to read in charge of reading and writing. I was putting in charge of reading and writing most of the time. The teacher and the older girl had the ultimate power in the class. And that is how I was educated in Afghanistan. It started with my mother who thought me how to read the Quran. Then my own determination to go to a High school in the city and then to college and studied electric engineering. As Ben Stein said about President Obama it could be done. Now I am corporate statistician working for a pharmaceutical company here in New York. It all began with my mother encouragement and my own determination.

Fabian Oweazim   September 28th, 2010 10:35 pm ET

It is not a surprise that American education is getting a low score compared to education in other developed and some developing countries.
Fisrt and formost, the education of a child starts from home. In these days and time, you have parents and grand parents who are almost in the same age brecket as the child – babies making babies; parents who are preoccupied with numerous jobs and take the school system as a child care center. The teacher may try all he/she can, if there is no supervision at home, the effort will come to naught.
You have a society where the child decides whether he wants to learn or not, where the student comes to school dressed like a street thug., students use their cell phones in the class and the teacher can hardly stop them. A system that allows indiscipline to pervade does not encourage learning.
There is a need to return to the basic – parents participation, discipline in schools, quality teachers and provision of conducive learning environment.

Marriah   September 28th, 2010 10:36 pm ET

I'm a currently a senior in high school and I would like to say that I appricate all the teachers out there that are trying to be the best that they can be at teaching. I do agree that there are great teachers out there, but what I do not agree with is what Ben Stein and Randi Weingarten said in Larry King Live today. That sometimes its the students fault not the teachers, I disgree completely I know personally that it is the teacher. In middle school I was put down and talk down to by a teacher saying that I will never go to college and I cannot read. So I took upon myself to teach myself and with my families support and help I overcame the discouraging remakes and became an honor student and won many reading and writing awards. I am the poster child that an overcome and that with the right tools and support you can overcome too.

Matt   September 28th, 2010 10:40 pm ET

This problem all starts at home. Educators cannot education a child who has been raised by a family who has not placed an emphasis on the importance of education. These parents are not reading with their children,teachin them their colors, how to write their names, etc.. They are letting the TV be the parent and then complain about the teacher when they show up in kindergarten and aren't the brightest kid in class. The majority of these parents are of low socioeconomic standing and have no reason to show their kids the value of education. Our government has created career welfare recipients who are only showing their kids it's OK to sit around and do nothing you will still get paid. What makes matters worse is if these people want a raise all they have to do is reproduce and the problem continues. Teachers and administrators cannot and should not have to make a child care about their education. This is a value taught at home. School personnel have too much already on their plates when it comes to accountability. It's time to turn the tables on these slacker parents and make them be accountable for raising their kids!

Thelda Reamer   September 28th, 2010 10:41 pm ET

I worked for the school district , as a custodian for 20 years before retiring...most of it is not the teachers, but the parents and the Head Honchos who run the school district, from the local districts to DC...I've seen teachers trying to teach, from the classroom lesson, to trying to get them to turn in their homework...and if they don't, the consequences...passing if they do, failing if they don't...the failing ones' parents take this personnally, and go to the principal...if the principal agrees with the teacher, they then take it to the School Board, and they in turn tell the principal to tell the teacher to pass the the kid learns that he/she don't have to do anything to pass...and now-a-days each student in Jr High or High School are given a lap top, so now they have the computer do the work for them...instead of using a dictionary to find out how to spell a word, or find it's meaning...go to the they don't even know how to use a dictionary, etc, etc, etc.

W. Lynch   September 28th, 2010 10:42 pm ET

Who is to blame for the state of our education system? This question is not as important to the issue as is the question "How do we fix it?" We must all accept responsibility in our efforts to create a solution. There teachers from varying backgrounds who dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to their profession, there are also teachers who do not care. There are parents from different socio-economic backgrounds, some are committed to their role as parents, some are not. Some politicians work tirelessly to improve education, some take advantage to advance themselves. There are many who are to blame, but those who are guilty rarely become those who are willing to take responsibility. Those who must fix our education system are those who are willing to do so. They are the minority. They are teachers. They are parents. They are politicians. They are citizens and voters. They are those of us who work hard and are rarely noticed. The solution will come from people getting together from different backgrounds who are willing to tackle the problem from several different and complex levels. It isn't easy because it is isn't a single issue. But it is necessary because these children are our future leaders. These children will build our world.

Jerjol   September 28th, 2010 10:46 pm ET

@ Chiyoko

The problem with Japan is that the entire country has not come into the 20th century, they still believe their Emperor is a GOD,

I have gone to Japan to teach in one of your Universities there and I found that the students were unable to think for themselves, very very frustrating for a professor to teach students that are like that, so that after three months I had, had enough and went to China, and found that the chinese students were at least three times more intelligent and outgoing and open to accept the new modern way of life

The reason I left Japan was that the Dean of the University wanted me to cheat and give students from wealthy families higher marks than they deserved, "WHICH WAS SOMETHING I WOULD NEVER CONSIDER DOING UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES"

The biggest joke I had while in Japan was the students trying to MIMIC how American students behaved in normal circumstances..


anna   September 28th, 2010 10:50 pm ET

And what about teachers' salaries???Why don't we pay them better and select them better from the beginning? What about universities? They should be accountable for the kind of teachers they are training. We all have to take more responsability. Parents need to be engaged. Students need to work harder and harder. Teachers need to be paid better so that they don't need to work at a second or third job in order to provide for their families. I've seen lots of amazing teachers doing miracles every day and yet they are the ones who are being blamed for everybody else faults. Teachers are experts who are well qualified to participate of open discussions before educators make the necessary modifications for educational success. But it often seems that decisions are made on the basis of other interests and agendas rather than teachers' need for better working conditions and students' need for environments that will facilitate effective learning.

Joyce Seymour   September 28th, 2010 10:51 pm ET

I never hear anyone address the social issues at school. Students are labeled by each other with such titles as preps, geeks, nerds, jocks, etc. Most of us are aware of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Many students are left to feel rather insignificant at school while others become "stars" at school. It happened 40 years ago when I was a student and is still happening. Popularity issues start in elementary and continue through high school. Schools need to take measures to give all students the opportunity to feel respected at school. I have had the opportunity to work at elementary, middle, and high school as an educator and counselor. It was while subbing in a high school counselor's position that I became familiar with the term, "drama", describing the social issues which are very distractive from the educational process. I have read books that address such problems. There are solutions.

david   September 28th, 2010 10:51 pm ET

There are several reasons schools continue to fail. I will share a few of them with you.
1. School district like business sometimes is about the status quo. The game is still like it was years ago with the men controlling except what you see now is women doing the same thing the men did 30 and 40 years ago. They are going to hire who they can control, who will beckon to their calls, and it is about who knows who. Not much different than corporate america or government.

2. I have heard and seen administrators who do their job without the full knowledge of what is going on in schools. I know of several superintendents that were poor teachers and finish graduate school as administrators and get high paying jobs because they know someone on the board or some organization goes to bat for them and have no effective, analytical, or communication skills for this demanding position.

3. Since when was it every time a parent goes in to complain to an administrator the district takes the side of the parent or parents groups. Many excellent teachers are not hired or quit because of such groups. I have seen this personally and now my daughter is going through the same thing. She is ready to quit after 12 years of teaching because she see so many lies and deception come from administrators, school boards, and parents. If they want someone out they will find a way. My daughter has been shifted around three times in 6 years after building each up each program that had been a disaster in the past. Then being replaced by a mediocre teacher who is friends with an administrator.

There are many reasons but I would agree tenure if a huge problem, There are many teachers I have seen as a teacher and as an administrator that are at best "poor" teachers. However because previous administrators havd allow them to pass into the forth year through probation their job is very rarely is in jeapordy.

Get rid of school boards that have personal agendas.

stewart e brekke   September 28th, 2010 10:51 pm ET

Dear Larry:

Thank you for having Ben Stein on the Education program. That man,
although a Republican, is always of great knowledge and insight.

The parents may notr be the entire answer. Once the child in the inner city steps out of the house in the inner city, a whole new set of
behaviors takes over which may be detrimental to the child's school learning.

As a retired teacher of inner city high school students I can onbly say that for some, a significiant number although school starts at 8 o'clock, most students often do not show up to school unitl 10.
Many students in the inner city do not have regular attendance and are absent over 20 days in the semester. A number lose their books
by the 5th or sixth week. Many do not do homework regularly
How can you blame a teacher for not teaching when the students do not regularly come to class or do no homework and repeately disrupt the class. In the inner city schools the disipline offices
are often overhwehlmed with many disruptive students.

Teacher   September 28th, 2010 10:51 pm ET

Why do you ask some real teachers instead of an actress? Why don't you ask people who have been in a classroom with 25 kids on a daily basis? Why are people who have never taught a day in there lives making decisions?

KAD   September 28th, 2010 10:53 pm ET

Well, before our president gives out percentages of where are children stand in rankings, lets remember one thing WE ARE THE ONLY COUNTRY THAT SAYS WE MUST EDUCATE EVERYONE NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The people to blame for our education is our GOVERNMENT!!! We as Americans are letting people that have no educational experience in a clasroom or school make laws for education. Example NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND!!!! WHAT A JOKE!!!! Remember, politicans there is a difference between PRIVATE and PUBLIC schools. So please stop making laws based on what you only see with your children in private schools. That's not reality!!! The biggest problem is all this testing!!! Guess who is getting kick backs? Not the teachers!!!! How can the government base everything on testing? When I know first hand that it is possible to score a 21 on an ACT test and never open the book, because you just filled in the bubbles and were lucky that day!! There are so many problems with education today because we are so worried about labeling, test scores, rankings, etc. that kids are giving up because what do they have to loose? Our government will bail them out and tax payers will pay for them to live... but yet let's hold teachers accountable... not the parents or the NOT Highly Qualified government officials.

Brad K   September 28th, 2010 10:53 pm ET

There is no one thing going wrong. SOME teachers are ill prepared and/or disinterested, SOME parents are ill prepared and/or disinterested. SOME kids are ill prepared and or disinterested. The system is failing for many reasons. Kootos to all of you working so hard to sort out how to bring everyone back to being interested and doing the very hard work it is too teach and learn.

I must say i was disappointed the the first set of three guests when they unanimously misunderstood Mr. Stein and jump to a conclusion of what he was about to say rather than let him finish. VERY poor listening skills coming from those that are supposed to be listening and working towards an answer.
Mr. Stein was about to say that with Interested parents and a motivated child a bad teacher can have little influence on the outcome of the childs education. They need to take more time to hear and listen the other side that is trying to work with them and not see their friends as foes just because they are white!!

Ellie   September 28th, 2010 10:55 pm ET

I think the show School Pride demonstrates that when a community is committed to making a difference it will make a difference. Perhaps that commitment has been missing . It takes parents, teachers, community members, and students to work together to create a viable system. We are the ones that will make the difference. When we harness that community energy then transformation is possible.

Gina Biggs   September 28th, 2010 10:56 pm ET

35years experience proved to me the problem with education now is NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND. Students are put in classes with all ranges of abilities. A student is put into a math class that cannot do multiplication, division, multiple addition numbers, fractions, and the teachers are told to teach the same thing to all students. How can a child who cannot perform the basics solve algebra and geometry problems? With 35+ students per class I had to buy supplies for the students to make sense of fractions and problem solving. Some students would pick it up and others gave up when they couldn't learn as fast as others. The US feel behind when it becamek polictically incorrect to have students in Honors, College Prep, regular etc.. because it was seen as a self fulfilled prophacy, when in fact kids are more comfortable when they are the same llevel and have to work to get to a higher level class. Teachers are not given the material for hands on learning the teacher has to buy them herself. That is why our educatioon system is failing compared to earlier years!

chris thomas   September 28th, 2010 11:02 pm ET

Teachers should be willing to give up the union for the sake of improving education in this country. I was a school board member for 4 years and found it extremely frustrating to not only be limited as to what we could do to get rid of bad teachers but also the teachers union in our district did not allow parents to be involved in the classroom. If teachers are truly interested in better education, then they should be willing to give up their union. The good teachers will not only survive, but they will probably be rewarded as they should be.

Linda   September 28th, 2010 11:07 pm ET

Well the teachers and the unions have been on the front lines and in the classrooms for years and all we ever heard from them.....more funds, more salary, more prep time, more, more, more and all to do with them, nothing about the kids. As the union got stronger the schools got weaker. Yes their main concern is their members, their number employed, their salary demands, job security for all, good or bad or even horrible. That should be the only job they have with some opposition on the other side but no they run those schools. Now that the state of it all has had the spotlight on it – all of a sudden they claim to know what needs to be done!! Where have they been for the last 50 yrs?

Todd   September 28th, 2010 11:08 pm ET

Direction, not intention, determines your destination. As a country, we think our intentions of doing good is good enough. You need consistent action and make decisions that will lead you to the final destination of success. Leadership boils down to defining reality. The reality of the education system is its poor. The unfortunate reality is that our education problems in America have been brushed under the rug for so many years, we are now reaping what we as a country have sowed for so very long. Now that we have this massive problem on our hands which make dumb decisions do have a cumulative effect, we all try to shirk responsibility and point fingers. The ignored principle behind irresponsibility is that it's not a solo thing. It's not something that you put on the floor and just leave it there. When someone acts irresponsible, you are by nature, asking someone (teachers), somewhere to come clean up your mess. Our government has been irresponsible with our education system, instead of taking full responsibility, our government wants to blame teachers for the problems. There are many idiotic arguments as it relates to education today and they make me sick.
The biggest problem is our society and culture. You think when a kid is at home at night and Teen Pregnancy is being celebrated on TV with shows for that purpose, and athletes cheat using drugs, and having sex, degrading women, and pounding alcohol all night is HIGHLIGHTED on TV as the way to live your life. Kids have a daily battle between right and wrong. Our society is our own worst enemy here. Our society as a whole is teaching kids how to live and behave.
Even worse, out biggest ehtical and moral teaching tool has been sucked out of our school system – Bible. You can't even say the word God in school without people having heart attacks. It's really just all disgusting. Our society is disgusting. Until we restore moral decency in society, we aren't going to get better. Schools need more help. They need character education. More Guidance Counselors in the schools. I just read ratios of counselors to students in most public schools in the U.S. is nearly 500-1,000: 1. How on earth is any counselor going to give the appropiate help to a student. He or she probablt won't even speak to some of those students. We are sending people out into the world without help. No wonder kids drop out – nobody ever gets to know them!!

voices   September 28th, 2010 11:12 pm ET

Yes our system is broken. Before anyone points the blame at teachers. We as parents are our childs first teacher. We teach them the basics of life. We must STOP putting the blame on others. Teachers are more of a babysitter now then a teacher. We as parents need to be more involved in the schools. We are the only voice our children have. If we demand and expect more from our children, then and only then can we demand more from the teachers. Education must be first before anything.

L. Pearson   September 28th, 2010 11:15 pm ET

I think that the education issue is the blame of the entire nation. It saddens me to see people speaking as experts that have not done the job they want to see teachers do. Where is the proven track record of success of these experts? Futhermore, why is the teachers' voice being ignored? When is Larry, Oprah,or Dr. Phil going to have actual inner city teachers on their show to voice their opinions and solutions. I left the profession of teaching after three years because I was appalled at the lack of resources, accountability, apathy of students, and combativeness of parents. I had to work a second job just to pay bills. How can a professional dedicate themselves to the profession of teaching when they can't even survive on the salary? For many children the teacher is the most educated person they see. They are very aware of the clothes and cars we drive because our society values such things. They look at us and wonder why should they go to school to live like us? Please support educators. Teaching is a job that you can only understand if you have worked as a teacher.

cindy fraz   September 28th, 2010 11:20 pm ET

There are so many factors to be considered regarding education that it would be ludacris to think we could point the finger at one group or person. First of all it does start at home. If you take a look at the level of education that occurs before a child even enters school you can see a huge discrepancy in both intellect and behavior in those millions of children. This is prior to teachers having any contact with these children. In addition, for anyone that has been an educator to a disadvantaged student they can tell you there are many issues in the home lives of these children that affect their desire and ability to learn. For example, kids hearing their parents state an education is not important (oh yeah it happens more than anyone wants to admit), hearing parents state graduating from high school is not important, the kids who can't sleep at night because they wait up until 2, 3, or 6 in the morning for their parents to come home, kids who are not cared for properly due to parents with substance abuse issues that consume them and their family’s money, children of abusive parents, children who get more food at school then they get in their 17 hours at home...the list goes on. Not to forget the parents who just don't want to be bothered with the responsibility of insuring their children do their homework at night and offer their disapproval regarding homework at community events. These issues can not be controlled by the school but definitely affect student’s education. Did any of these parents show up to be interviewed for the documentary “Waiting for Superman”? Doubtful!
In addition to the home life of a child affecting their ability or desire to learn, there is of course the educational process employed during a child’s time at school that affects their learning. It truly takes a community to raise or educate a child. It takes expectations. It takes support. It takes love. It takes understanding how each child learns. One part of the entire process we need to look at is how teachers are educated, how they are coached once they enter the teaching profession, what role each administrator/official above the classroom teacher plays in the educational process, and what tools/technology/curriculum/support systems are available in the schools that encourage learning. We can’t just put someone through a college program then turn them loose to teach and expect them to flourish without the proper tools and coaching. That is not how Super Bowls are won!! Teachers need coaching (not just evaluated with check boxes) from their building principal and need support from community members, parents and government official. In addition, they need to be paid in a manner that shows their profession is valued. A new teacher puts in a tremendous amount of time and money during their preparation to be a teacher. Unfortunately, many people who attend college with the intention of becoming a teacher either don’t enter the profession or leave the profession because of the low salaries and lack of community support. It appears to be easy to just blame teachers but there is an entire structure in our society that is responsible for where we stand today. We all need to step up and share the responsibility. It is a tragedy that we lose so many well qualified teachers but it is not likely to change with the lack of respect they are receiving, the burden that is being put on them be better (are they all bad?) and the lack of financial support they are given (salary and classroom tools).

7th grade student   September 28th, 2010 11:22 pm ET

I am a 7th grade student trying to get my education, I am in gifted studies... And I just want to say i have great teachers, and I hope that the economy doesn't get any worse than it is today. I Pray that every one could come together on this issue for the kids sake!!!!

Linda   September 28th, 2010 11:33 pm ET

It's time for research to take a step into the classroom. We have known for too many years how children should be taught so all children are able to learn. Dyslexia is very real and is not being addressed in most schools. Children with learning differences must be taught in a way that will actually benefit all children. Universities need to step up and educate future teachers on science based teaching. Many teachers know very well the art of teaching. Many teachers have their hearts fully involved in their students and their success. Let's give them the science.

Jerjol   September 28th, 2010 11:33 pm ET

The problem with education in America is not the carriculum, it is the thousands of distractions young people are subjected too, even at the middle school level.


Kids being sent to school without a decent breakfast, unwed mothers of thre/four children by different fathers that are nothing but BUMS, who think school is a place to send their kids without paying a baby sitter, EXTREMELY LAX GUN LAWS.

And so many more things that would fill 50 pages on this blog.

America has lost it's moral values, and incentives to succeed, and teachers that simply throw their hands up be cause the system has not only failed our kids, but also the teachers who are teaching our kids.

Michael L   September 28th, 2010 11:38 pm ET

Ben Stien is trying to place all the blame solely on the parents and children,when we are all painfully aware that the politicians and school system beuracrats are doing nothing to improve cirriculum.
We need to start teaching our children about critical thinking earlier in life and start puting more emphasis on teaching more career oriented classes before theyget in junior high school other countries have children learning about different career feilds in first and second grade.

Teran   September 28th, 2010 11:48 pm ET

I am so happy to see all the posting because it shows we do know where the problem is. It is a combination of reasons that start at home followed by the culture, teachers, etc.
I do not understand how, actors, singers and sport entertainers’ salaries are at the top of the chart when is teachers who are holding the future of the country? It should be the other way around. Teachers should be making top salaries not drop outs that can sing or throw a ball.
But my big question is, if I am doing my job as a parent why then do I have to conform with a mediocre (if not failing) school? Why can I say I am taking my funds to a school were my child has a chance? Why do I have to support a system that is not working? Why do I have no choice for my child?

Cassie H   September 28th, 2010 11:52 pm ET

As a second-year teacher, the conversations about education in this nation are very discouraging. I and my colleagues work tirelessly for our students. We care about their grades, their home lives, whether or not they see enough images of higher education so they will consider college a viable choice. We attempt to teach them skills needed for the workplace, an awareness of social justice, the ability to think critically. And then we second-guess ourselves because we want to make sure we are doing our best for them.

You want good teachers? Respect the time and effort of your children's teachers. Pay teachers like they do an important job. And do not have discussions about something as important as education on a show that will soon be hosting a discussion about sex, lies, and faking it!

Again, as a second-year teacher, these discussions are discouraging. Right now, there are days I don't know how I feel about continuing in a profession which is treated with so little respect. However, I wonder, if the teachers who care leave for this reason, with whom will the children be left?

Mimi   September 29th, 2010 12:02 am ET

The country has determined it's priorities as reflected in it's foreign policy over the years. These policies have moved the U.S. citizens & institutions more toward being more akin to a third world country, particularly the disenfranchised folks. This shift is clearly exemplified by the situation in the schools. I worked as a social worker in Kansas City, Mo. with a caseload of both white & black youth. As I visited the teens in the suburban schools, (usually the white kids) I experienced the dramatic contrast with the schools the black kids attended in the other part of town. Racism & poverty don't have to rule.
Where I live now, Catholic schools are funded equally as public schools. If you've noticed a difference with kids in Catholic or other Christian schools doing better than those in public schools you might want to consider the spiritual implications. Could there be a God or something about Christian values or values taught by other religions that can affect behavior?

Michael L   September 29th, 2010 12:10 am ET


It is awell known fact that gun laws donot work think about it real criminals do not care about the law so registering a gun is not high on there priority list you need to educate yourself on this fact.Well girls have been permiscuos for centuries and so have boys drugs have also been around for centuies baggy pants are just fashion,every generation has a certain fashion faze these things are not the true problems with our education system,like most of the laws we have they are racially biased and out of date.just like the education system.

Mike Jones   September 29th, 2010 12:11 am ET

I think that a lot of the problems in U.S. schools has to do with the discipline system. Teachers are fed up and really have very few options. Kids are really bad these days and there hasn't been a logical solution to this issue.

Marj Jones, Ed.D.   September 29th, 2010 12:13 am ET

Larry, tonight’s show is a great start for an educational series that I hope you will create. I am tired of hearing that we just have to motivate children or parents are a problem. As some of your guests suggested and the film clips indicated most parents care and children don’t intentionally want to fail. The International Dyslexic Association Conference will be held in Phoenix, AZ, Oct. 27-30. You could do several shows with scientists (researchers), multi-structured language teachers, physicians, teacher trainers, parents, children and adult Dyslexics, famous Dyslexics. You have helped so many other causes, this would be a major step for Americans who have struggled with learning to read know that they are not lazy, they are not retarded; they are valued, have much to give to our society, and there are answers for them. We have had movies on this subject, but I know of no in-depth national discussion. There are more people with Dyslexia than with Autisium. It is time we give them a forum.

Answers to most of our children’s reading problems have been known for over 70 years. Results from the National Institutes of Health & Child Development research indicates that 15% of school children may be brining down reading scores due to Dyslexia when there is no intervention. We must dispel the myths that Dyslexia doesn’t exist or that it is seeing or reading backwards. Dyslexia does exist! Dyslexia is an educational problem! Dyslexia does have criteria for diagnosis! Dyslexia has acceptable treatments to improve reading! Pre-school children may be screened for Dyslexia characteristics!

Topics to include:

A combined show (series) might feature both Dr. Gupta talking about the nearly 40 years of NICHD brain and reading acquisition research and the findings that 15% of our population is wired differently. We have a neurologist in Phoenix that has been a part of these studies and would be a great guest. Your own Anderson Cooper has declared himself Dyslexic. His story might be incorporated with others from several SES backgrounds.

2. Educational and legislative politics plays a significant part in keeping US children from getting what they need. Included could be the mistakes related to Special Education discrepancy vs. differential diagnosis and a new general approach called Response to Instruction (RtI).

3. As educational and political regimes change so often, we return to re-inventing the wheel. The research is done. Instead of attacking the teachers, parents and children’s commitments, we need to provide parent awareness (problem is most often genetic) and improved teacher training developing expectations that there are diagnostic and treatment tools for those with brain differences.

4. Robust and appropriate multi-structured reading/language curriculum is needed for all students, with more time spent with Dyslexics. Why shouldn’t students know the rules to our language? While many teachers can only name the letters used for vowels and consonants, they lack the linguistic understanding of how these elements are used. When taught the rules and given practice, Dyslexics can use their unusual abilities to apply rules, analyze and synthesize letter patterns to develop fluent reading skills. Auditory Processing is also a major key in the difficulties Dyslexics experience. In Phoenix, we have an excellent Audiologist that specializes in this area. Auditory Processing treatment is often a pre-cursor to a multi-structured reading/language curriculum.

Foreign students are appalled that American students have learned to read English by osmosis. Students from other countries often know more about our language than Americans. In response to Ben Stein’s question, “what happened to our schools?” After WW 11, most reading/language curricula dropped teaching phonics and cursive writing. Many teachers complained about boredom for drill and practice; hence the Reading Wars developed. Look-see-take you best guess became the accepted reading technique. This technique is the culprit; it doesn’t help those with brain differences. Explicit, multi-structured, integrated language elements are the keys for Dyslexic’s success.
This is a similar linguistic technique used in foreign language teaching.

5. In this litigious society, schools, teachers, psychologists, teacher trainers can no longer afford to bury their heads in the sand disregarding Dyslexia as a cause of reading failure. Due to the NICHD brain research and how reading is acquired, a new definition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, edition-5 (DSM-5) will identify Dyslexia as a brain difference in how sounds are linked to letters and processed for meaning and fluent reading. We need to stop calling children unmotivated, lazy, or retarded. Dyslexic individuals are some of our most talented and gifted thinkers, artists, actors, athletes, musicians, business people, politicians, and activists. (We could provide a list for possible guests.)

Schools need to stop ignoring these children. Some children are often placed in Special Ed. but without significant results. Beware of school Reading Specialists. They are generally not trained in multi-structured integrated language techniques. Most Dyslexic children left in general education often fall through the cracks and become our frustrated school dropouts. Out of frustration, many parents pull children out of public school to try private or home schooling. What about the majority of parents who have limited understanding of what is needed let alone funds to provide special programs for their struggling child? (Possible Phoenix guests: a champion AZ gymnast with her mother home schooling her. Jesse McGuire, an internationally known Dyslexic musician who has appeared at Carnegie Hall, lead trumpeter w/ Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, author, Dr. of Ministry –Dyslexic.)

JacobS   September 29th, 2010 12:14 am ET

I think the problem with the state of education is a trifold problem. It starts with parent involvement I think parents are not giving the support system needed to today's children in order for them to be their most successful selves. This can range from everything to proper diet, and to sleeping patterns, to the more obvious things such as assisting with homework and being a presence in their schools.
Secondly it lies with the curriculum. Current public and even private school systems don't stress the importance of arts, language arts, and critical thinking skills all of which assist children with problem solving skills and give them ability to think more critically about all of the problems that they will face in school.
Finally it's the teachers. While this isn't necessarily a problem with schools it's an area that needs to be seriously evaluated on a more regular basis, and if there were more funding for things like teachers aids and teachers retreats those types of second looks at the classroom would be possible.

Smallwood   September 29th, 2010 12:15 am ET

I honestly think that people need to stop blaming the teachers. Growing up I've had good teacher and bad teacher, but my parents made the difference in how I was educated. They held my teacher responsible for his/her part, they held me responsible for my part, and most importantly they made sure to play their part. I was never allowed to go to be until my homework was done, if that meant that I had to sit at the kitchen table until midnight doing my assignments, my parents made sure that I did it, and then they would make sure that it was done correctly and make me do it again if they needed to,.

Now I teach at medical classes for one of the largest business schools in the NE and will soon take the position of Director of Education. Private school or public school, if the parents aren't involved then the child will follow their lead. LOOK AT THE PARENTS.

Allan Aronson   September 29th, 2010 12:15 am ET

The blame for the current state of education in America must be equally shared by all those who are stakeholders in the system. When a society as a whole does not consider education as their most important priority then that system will not flourish. Our founding fathers struggled with the concept of who would best legislate education. Their mistake was delegating too much power to each individual state. Our country lacks a uniform curriculum and suffers from different standards throughout the land. Our politicians jump on the bandwagon to further their own cause but never seem to act when it comes to funding what should be a priority. Our teachers are bashed and made scapegoats for the failures of our leaders and parents who are too self-serving to be truly committed to their childrens education. We do not respect or pay teachers well enough for our brighter or innovative minds to consider teaching as a profession. Our colleges do not have rigorous teacher education programs. Our certification laws are wrong not our tenure laws.
Charter schools are a false panacea of hope which only benefits investors and business men. Geoffrey Canada is truly sincere and compassionate in his work. His fervor however stems from the taste of poverty as a youngster. He also has the power to dismiss an entire cohort if they don’t score as expected. Public systems do not have that luxury of accepting or rejecting students who do not fit their rubric.
Finally we need to prepare our students to effectively communicate, interact in society and think critically. They must be technologically skilled and motivated to seek and research higher levels of thought in order to broaden and protect our ideals of democracy. A lesson in history will provide us with the knowledge that only those societies that truly valued education succeeded and flourished.

J Varela   September 29th, 2010 12:16 am ET

My stepson is a perfect example of the school failing him. We just got full custody of him this year. He and the district KNEW he was far behind his other classmates. They tested him and it was proven.He was denied the ability to attend summer school because we are not migrant farm workers(swear). He begged to go and was told no.The school teaches only to test.Tthey do not give spelling tests, they only have the kids try and pick out the correct spelling word from 4 options, that isnt learning! When I am at work preparing reports, I do not have options for every word, I must know how to spell! Now he has a math teacher that doesn't return corrected papers, what the ? How is he to know how he did? Ridiculous. We only have one middle school kin our town and we cant afford 800.00 a month for private school and shouldnt have to with the highest property taxes in the country.

bob   September 29th, 2010 12:17 am ET

UNIONS 100%!!!!!

Keith Jake Boyer , Ph.D.   September 29th, 2010 12:18 am ET

Mr. King,
Lets talk to some successful schools, I was a Superintendent of Schools
for Jim Thorpe, Pa. and we had a very successful school, I will gladly come on your show and define Public Education, Public Schools
educate ALL STUDENTS, and are not selective as Charter Schools.
Special Education, Gifted Students, Homeless Students,
Plus School Boards make the decisions for schools, as your panel said
it gets political .
Also, Inner city schools , Why do cities build BILLION dollar stadiums
with tax dollars and schools get "0".
Lets talk to Public School Personnel,
Thank You, Keith Jake Boyer Ph.D. Teacher, Assistant Principal/ Athletic Director, Assistant Superintendent, Superintendent
and presently , Adjunct Professor for Wilkes University.

Michael L   September 29th, 2010 12:18 am ET

Gun laws are just politicians tools to use to get elected and re-elected.
so they can go washington and ignore the failing education system.

RT   September 29th, 2010 12:20 am ET

Learning starts way before than school. Society and culture, as Ben Stein says, plays important role in shaping up education and learning. Child only spend 8 hours in school, compared to 16 hours spend at home and outside. Can that also be a learning experience ? offcourse yes. Why we have to blame others for everything.

CF   September 29th, 2010 12:21 am ET

As a former teacher in Washington, D.C. I must say I admire Ms. Rhee's ideas but must say there is a huge gap between theory and practice. The fact is the so called "experts" she has observing teachers have probably spent 8 years or so in a college classroom acheiving a Ph.D. and 0 years in a classroom teaching disadvantaged at-risk youth.

Here is the problem with our educational system, particularly in D.C.:

1. D.C. cannot attract and keep quality teachers. Why? Because one they pay low. Two, they are surrounded by counties composed mostly well-to-do white kids that take all the talent away from D.C. like a sponge. Three, there is a huge lack of support for teachers. Rather than asking teachers what could be done to improve the learning of their students, they are told what they should be doing. A teacher is only one person, it takes a community to ensure a quality education.

2. The discipline in most D.C. schools is a joke. Drive around D.C. for one day during school hours and tell me how many kids you see playing in the streets. There is no real consequence for kids or parents for truancy. In many schools, disrupting class, being disrepectful to teachers, fighting, and bullying are not penalized. YOU CAN'T LEARN if you don't feel safe. Make your schools safe, quiet learning environments and refuse to let students to stop that from happening and there will be more learning.

3. The biggest problem I will list last. And this is not only present in DC schools but all across the country, particularly in large cities. It is called social promotion. Kid can't read on a 1st grade level but he is in 3rd grade because he is as old as the 4th graders. This is a problem that a student who should be on a 4th grade level is on a 1st grade level at this time, but by the time they are in 7th grade on a 3rd grade level they have given up. Teachers are just passing them on, this must stop. This is why kids are almost destined to become behavior problems and dropouts before they even leave elementary school. It is a tragedy in our schools. Make kids pass the grade, before they pass the grade.

Mike Jones   September 29th, 2010 12:21 am ET

I feel like the government is to blame. Lawmakers rather, as well as teachers and PARENTS. It starts in the home and ultimately ends in the home. If you don't tame zoo animals you will always have unruly animals. Teachers are there to teach not to babysit. You get these very disruptive kids even domestic in some cases, but it's always a slap on the wrist and the teachers are left to try and diffuse the bomb. With very little power.

R.A. Robert   September 29th, 2010 12:22 am ET

I have been teaching for 30 years. I have taught in areas of poverty and in areas of affluence. There is one factor that cannot be denied, strong parental support results in strong growth for children. I have had to deal with parents who shouldn't be allowed to have dogs let alone children. Education will improve as parents make the choice to care enough about their child's education and hold them accountable for everything they do.

Amy Keats   September 29th, 2010 12:23 am ET

I have read many comments but have heard no new ideas or solutions. Inner city schools need our attention. Why? The correlation between the growing privatized prison system and the educational system is astounding. We have pumped billions of dollars into the justice system while sapping dollars from our schools. Look up the statistics on this fact. Every dollar taken to build a new jail and to prosecute, litigate, and house non-violent criminals is in direct relation to the lack of funding to our failing schools.

The inner city children lack the supports needed to become successful, the streets are dangerous and schools have reflected this aggressive stance. Poverty creates a strain on the families of these at risk youth. We should better support them. Many come from broken homes and are guided by the streets and fostered by gangs for protection and false love. My point is that these same children are the ones going to juvenile halls and detention centers. Many are kicked out of school (often for minor non-violent issues) due to the common "NO TOLERANCE" laws made to protect students at school. We remove the child's' supports by removing music classes, after school sports and structured clubs. We deny them an education because of default. We undervalue there abilities, disrespect their intelligence, and fumble under our bureaucratic babbling.

Open your eyes. Stop spending billions of dollars for prisons to house the children you didn't give an education.

Stop blaming the parents for not taking care of their children. Maybe we should focus our time and money on assisting the impoverished, creating programs to teach parenting skills, give the teachers incentives for innovations in learning. Take the money spent on jails and put it into education. Stop the cycle of insanity please someone.

The monetary cost of housing our poor and disenfranchised young people in prisons is far greater than the cost of prevention and support services. To send on person through a supportive program cost on average $5000.00 compared to $100,000.00 for traditional avenues such as arrest, arraignment, trials, and detainment.

If you want better students start by creating better environments for kids to live in. It takes a village remember? We all need to look at ourselves and take some action.

Sunita   September 29th, 2010 12:24 am ET

Dear Larry,

You have taken a great subject, american education system is not to the level of international education standard, An Asian high school graduate
is more talent that he is more competitive, intelligent, knowledgeable and have a lot better patience than any American high school graduate, the system is very simple there is not enough challenge for the children. What American system is graduating the people with no ethics, no respect just style.

I have to say this because i am facing challenges because of school system.


Sunita   September 29th, 2010 12:28 am ET

System needs enough challenge for students

Every student needs a challenge to there capabilities and intelligence.

nerissa tinio   September 29th, 2010 12:31 am ET

WHAT"S CRIMINAL is that kids of color (particularly boys) are worth more in jail than they are in school. Meaning .... look @ how much we invest per kid per year to incarcerate them up against how much we invest per kid per year in our public schools to educate them! that's the ISSUE !!!

Mike Jones   September 29th, 2010 12:31 am ET


vera   September 29th, 2010 12:32 am ET

it's fluoride.

i think everyone's got it all wrong. i've been thinking a lot about this ever since I accidentally came across an article on the internet about fluoride and how the ADA findings were held top secret by the governement back in the 40's, i believe it was.

we are behind many other countries because we have something they don't have, fluoride! in our water system, our bottled infant water, toothpaste, some foods, and who knows what else. among the many terrible side effects of ingesting fluoride is lowered IQ. in other words, increased stupidity to put it bluntly. fluoride contains an aluminum byproduct. the relatively new disease alzheimer's is increased aluminum in the brain. fluoride was put in our lives during the industrial revolution as a way of disposing of aluminum, steel, and other byproducts.

while other countries, including most of europe, have removed it from their water systems after discovering how harmful it was and that there were no positive effects, we continue to allow it to pollute ours, and ultimately our children and future..

if we removed fluoride from our infants diets, we would see the results after 5 years, when children enter school. and by third grade, when state tests are administered, we would have the truest results.

i have three children in primary school. they spend about 8 hours a day there with afterschool arts. more hours sounds like it could lead to either information overload or burnout for children.

it's not the quantity of time in school, it's the mental capacity to comprehend while in school. REMOVE FLUORIDE. it's the simplest solution for the most logical cause and will probably have the strongest impact with the quickest results..

PHILLIP   September 29th, 2010 12:33 am ET


Lisa   September 29th, 2010 12:33 am ET

Who can I contact or where can I go if I KNOW I have a solution to our education system problem?

Nurse from Ohio   September 29th, 2010 12:33 am ET

Puh-leese, teachers. Why do you say you are professionals, but belong to a union? Why do you whine about how hard you work when you work less days/hours than any other middle class Americans. You are off every holiday, weeks for Christmas and Spring breaks and then all summer??? Give me a break. Your salaries are unbelievable considering your hours...let's divide your salary by actual hours worked and I believe you will be overpaid. And talk about accountability? It is virtually non-existent. And please, do not tell me "you are there for the kids" one more time.....I am glad America is finally waking up and discovering what you have really been up to all these years......NOTHING but WHINING! Corporate American would never have tolerated your would be out on the street, so wake up and smell the roses. Oh, I probably are all off on some type of a break or holiday.

Drew, a teacher who was quit after threat of firing   September 29th, 2010 12:35 am ET

Blame it on who ever makes your ego feel better. But the truth is that many kids are so entitled in this society that hard work is not accepted. Many Parents complian that kids have too much work. Most Kids spend too much time infront of computer and tv screens. Nearly all Principals are more concerned about test scores than real learning. And many teachers have the same entitlement syndrome as the kids. Meanwhile, students telling a teacher to "f off" gets ignored while the parent calls the superintendent or school board because their kid was yelled at! Really?
Kids, you are not entitled to good grades. Parents, you are not entitled to having your kids on honor role! Teachers, you are not entitled to a life long high paying job with out of wack benefits. And principals, stand up to the trouble makers and take control of your schools regardless of the test scores! And the government? Stop the politics in curiculum developement! Time to get back to giving students tools to learn and solve problems. Who cares about a kid's SAT score if they graduate without the ability to create solutions to the problems they sure to face?

Pat in Calif   September 29th, 2010 12:35 am ET

Unions, unions, unions.... Protecting members and the status quo. Who speaks for the children. Who speaks for our future.

scott   September 29th, 2010 12:35 am ET

i agree with ben the parents are just as important to education for there childers...color has nothing to do with it they need to quit feeling sorry for there selfs and get off there duffs and help there children make it to higher education and the teachers arent babysitters

gilbert   September 29th, 2010 12:36 am ET

Ive been in the education for over 21 years and ive never seen such apathy toward education in my life. The parents have no zeal to influence their kids to succeed educationally and so i have several of my 7th graders who cant divide single digit numbers. They dont do homework, parents dont return phone calls, parents dont show up for conferences, open house, parent teacher nite, humanities nite andd so the kids dont do do well and the teachers get blamed for that I am prepared every single day i walk into my classroom, push my kids, i seek inovative ways to teach, im good at what i do. Dont blame me for them not doing well I'm teaching the stuff . No i will not accept blame. the problem is kids having kids who didnt care about their education so little effort is placed on their kids.

Shalona Kipling   September 29th, 2010 12:36 am ET

I believe our government is to blame for the lack of education we are taught. We are only as smart as the stuff they chose to put in the textbooks... the US is lowest because they are the ones dumbing us up. Everything we have been taught all throughout the years is only as much as we are "suppose" to know, we believe what we are told to believe. It's cprrupt & it's a shame, but hey, what can us lower class citizens do about it??

Willie   September 29th, 2010 12:37 am ET

If our schools' academic were managed like college football and basketball programs, we would see tremendous improvement. If a team continues to lose, the head coach and his his staff has to go. The adults have to be held accountable.

Mike Jones   September 29th, 2010 12:37 am ET

I'm sorry panel but I am a walking testimony that the majority of this huge problem begins and ends in the home. I was a victim of a troubled home. And it didn't matter what teacher came in to teach. I had no focus because all of my thought were channeled on the issues outside of the school. Dr. Martin Luther King could have been my teacher and it wouldn't of made a difference. My mind was ALWAYS thinking about issues at home.

Chad   September 29th, 2010 12:37 am ET

I think states' governments are most to blame. I'm in Indiana and our government decided to cap real estate tax. While this looks good, it truly ruined the schools and public libraries. I worked for the library in the past and the cuts were felt hard. At the time, I was attending a public high school and watched the schools crumble, underfunded. The teachers I had were fantastic, they inspired and pushed us hard. The students who didn't do well, didn't care. Their parents don't care, clearly, because they don't respond to their children's punishments.

Anna   September 29th, 2010 12:38 am ET

ENOUGH WITH THE BLAME!!! Let's talk solutions. I teach in an urban Title 1 school with over 50% of students on free and reduced lunches. I have a couple of questions/comments.
1. So much of the blame is on teachers who tracks incompetent administrators and evaluates them?

2. When is someone going to step up to the plate and require parental involvement as part of the syllabus/policies of the school?

3. Lets make students more responsible for their own learning instead of constantly coddling them and spoon feeding them.

Students will rise to the level of expectation that we as teachers place on them as long as we are providing the organization/structure/support for them. We also need to make more college prep programs available for our "mainstream" kids. There are many "alternative" and "gifted" programs but rarely is there programs for our average students to push them and provide the rigor they need to prepare them for college. That's why I love teaching AVID and our school is now seeing the results and we have the data to support that AVID works in our school. Our AVID kids are scoring on par with our Honors/IB students in state standardized tests and they are going to college.
If you aren't part of the solution then quit being part of the problem.

jesse   September 29th, 2010 12:38 am ET

parents parents parents ben stein is 100 percent correct

Kai Drekmeier   September 29th, 2010 12:39 am ET

Something that will dramatically change educational outcomes over the long term will be a large scale effort to educate parents regarding their responsibility for early childhood education AND equip them to fulfill this responsibility. This can be done inexpensively through our existing schools by enacting (state by state) a program that requires early registration for kindergarten – I'd suggest as early as age 3. As part of the program, parents would be provided guidance regarding best practices for reading at home and building knowledge of numbers, letters, phonics and beginning site words.

Yes, we need to improve our schools and change the way teachers are evaluated, hired and employed, but this is just part of the solution. The most critical piece will be having children arrive at kindergarten reading and math ready, with parents who have already established a pattern of supporting and engaging with their child's education.

Sven, KY   September 29th, 2010 12:39 am ET

Ben Stein is absolutely right! Education starts with responsible parents. They have to provide the environment so that their kids can study, doing homework, prepare for the next school day, etc.
And then, there are those people who think they are entitled to everything. They bring their arrogant, spoiled kids to school and demand from overworked and underpaid teachers to take care of their brats. Education starts at home.
The US needs educated teachers, of course. Some of those who want to teach, however, have to overcome the obstacles of applying for a teaching job. I have seen people breaking out in tears trying to navigate the website of the Florida Department of Education.

Dennis Sylvester   September 29th, 2010 12:40 am ET

These pro-reform speakers are a joke. Every one of the changes they suggest lead to quasi-market provision of models of what they continue to call "public" education. In other Western countries that have successful education systems, the provision of education has been exempt from market discipline, which reduces the problems associated with market failures. These failures occur when attempting to provide a "common" good through market models. Unfortunately, for Americans, they refuse to re-evaluate the cultural foundational hubris that leads them to believe all goods in society, be they public or private, are most efficiently and effectively allocated through market activity. Instead, they propose superificial band-aid solutions to the issues in the form of market reforms expecting different results, and end up breaking the system further. Sad state of affairs south of the border.

Tanya Vickers   September 29th, 2010 12:40 am ET

I have had the privelege of working with great public high school teachers and a economically and ethnically diverse group of students. I ran a specialty program in student research and was fortunate to have adequate resources and a small class. As a parent and educator, I feel teachers and students would best be supported by smaller classes. In Utah, some public high school classes have as many as 47 students. How can a teacher be expected to provide regular, meaningful assessments when they have large classes and combined may be teaching 150-225 students (common numbers for Utah high school teachers). Adequate funding, not just for salaries but also to create small classes and an appropriate environment for learning.

Alan Sandrin   September 29th, 2010 12:43 am ET

I am a fifth year teacher in North Carolina. As I was working my way through school as a bartender at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, NC, which is owned by Former Morgan Stanley CEO, John Mack and frequented by Senator Richard Burr, I witnessed his bankers using their bonus money to use cocaine, hire hookers and leave half drunken bottles of $200 wine on the table. When is the government going to regain control of taxpayer money and actually pay teachers instead of bankers? I am so over-worked, under-paid, and under-resourced, I see no reason for teachers to hang out for more than five to grade papers. I'll put my work ethic up against a banker's anytime.

Valarie   September 29th, 2010 12:44 am ET

I am so disappointed with all of the negative comments about our education system. Everyone is saying that there needs to be change, but the first change that must be made is the No Child Left Behind law put in place by Pres. Bush. I am a teacher and I have high expectations of every student that I teach, I want them all to succeed. It is unrealistic to believe that ALL children can perform at a level that is set by someone who has no idea of a childs learning ability. Every chils is NOT going to college, or a technical school. This should be taken into consideration when you are asking high school students to pass exit exams that many of their teachers would have a hard time passing. It creates frustration and disappoint for the students, and after all of that hard work getting that High School diploma they can only get a job at some fast-food restaurant.
But one day maybe a cheild will have a checking account that needs to be balanced, or read a map in order to get to that job interview, teach them things that will realistically help them in life.

The kids who work hard in school and want to succeed will, regardless of where they live, how much money their parents have, or the color of their skin.
Employ teachers who have compassion for their students that they teach, and a passion for what they teach.

Nadrian Smith-Whytus   September 29th, 2010 12:44 am ET

The more I watched the program the more incensed I became. I am a high school teacher at a school in the Inland Empire of California that was recently designated in the bottom 5% of the state academically. The same month we were also listed in Newsweek's article as one of the best high schools to attend in the US. How can we be so awful and so awesome at the same time? The system and the public perception of the system is broken.

I am really fed up with people who have great ideologies about the ability of teachers and who absolve parents of responsibility. I am not a fan of teacher unions. I believe in accountability for all stakeholders. It is insane to ask teachers to assume responsibilities that are those of parents.

I have had to buy supplies, food, clothing and you name it for the students that enter my classroom. I do this because I care for them and their parents couldn't or wouldn't. I work in the only job I know of where I pay for the privilege and every year I have to worry if I will have a job. What career path requires so much education, training, testing, accountability, with so little honor and respect compounded by the the ultimate insult of a pink slip at the end of every year? ( or at least the threat)

I have not seen waiting for superman and I will, but I am not pleased with the panelist on the show today. Do people really understand what teachers do all day? I work in an environment that deals with the ugly part of education. I have been on campus where we had race fights, gender fights, suicide, murder, gang wars and many other horrible culture challenges.

I would never advise a young person to enter the filed of teaching even if you are an outstanding teacher. The system is broken and right now teachers are being made the scape goat. We have larger cultural issues that need to be addressed and aren't and they are being manifest in the classroom.

If trends continue it will be nearly impossible to convince any human to enter a classroom. Teaching will be an automated digital non-human process. Then who will we blame?

Chantal O.   September 29th, 2010 12:44 am ET

No delayed gratification!!!! Society is teaching these kids by example, and talk about getting it ALL right away, even if you can't afford it. You need fun now, so why homework? You want a house, get a mortgage you can't afford. You want a tv, buy on credit. Why would they do something like work for later gain, when the world around them doesn't?

Simon Truelove   September 29th, 2010 12:44 am ET

From Canada we are aware that many American schools have enormous problems. One obvious reason – the elephant in the room – you don't put nearly enough money into schools. Forget Canada for a moment, look at Europe. They assign a far larger % of the GDP to schools because they value quality education so much. Its no secret that they do a much better job than the USA of preparing children for University and for life.
Second reason – you place far too much emphasis on test scores. The way you use test scores – to judge schools – is sadly misleading. But there is a worse problem than that. Numerous studies have shown that the higher the stakes of the test the more inaccuracy will occur. You can't fix the problem by approaching it in this way.
Many of our highest performing schools appear to be very high in Asian immigrants. They tell their children that they have to respect the teacher and work incredibly hard to be successful. They don't walk into the school saying "Change the system to suit me." This approach works so much better than blaming the system, blaming the school and blaming the teacher. I get the impression that many top American educators seem to think that if they could just tinker with their system enough they would get great results with less expenditure. Sorry, its never going to happen.

Yasin Sufi   September 29th, 2010 12:45 am ET

Ben I'm watching the show you are completely wrong about the right parent statement.

Hi Larry

Thank you


Nancy Johnstone   September 29th, 2010 12:45 am ET

Ben Stein's comments aare the closest to being accurate & helpful. Three types of schools are allowed to weed out students who don't do their work, who are substantial behavior problems, and who really don't value the educational process: charter schools, private schools, and magnet schools. Often just the option of sending a student back to their neighborhood school, without ever having to do it, is enough to get them on track and working; doing their homework, participating in class and projects. It's like the story of the man with the blueberry factory; if the blueberries aren't ripe, are full of damage or insects, he doesn't use them, so he has a great product. It's also like boundaries taught to parents via SuperNanny: the child has to know the parent/teacher is willing to discipline consistently. Regular public schools are not consistent in weeding out the students who won't keep up; and Mr. Stein is correct in that the whole culture, including parents, have to value the education in order for this to work. As a retired teacher, I can't tell you how many parents (and they teach their children this) don't honor those trying to teach & counsel their child, and have a confrontational style and attitude. The students think suing someone can solve every problem and make them rich. Too many students who don't even play high school sports are relying on making it in the NBA or NFL to succeed.

Karoline, Los Angeles   September 29th, 2010 12:47 am ET

Hi Larry,

It bothers me to know end that you have non-educators on your show discussing how to fix education. The film producers I can understand, but I don't understand what Ben Stein can teach us about education.

Who is to blame for our failing education system? The people at the top. They designed this magic bullet called NCLB, it's failing, but they don't want to admit that so they blame the lowest rung because it's easy. It's much easier to fire people than recreate a highly complex system.

Firing teachers is a Band-Aid approach when the whole system needs a heart-lung transplant.

Rita   September 29th, 2010 12:47 am ET

My name is Rita and i am a High school student in the 10th grade. and i agree with Michelle Rhee, because i can honestly say that i have teacher that i don't learn nothing from their classes and i want to learn the stuff but is the way they are teaching me that i can't learn the stuff and materials that i need to know,i think teachers need to have more than one methods of teaching.Not all kids learn the same and they are not understanding that. To be honest i do not like math at all,but the teacher that i have makes we want to learn math, and ask questions to understand what i am doing.

Lori   September 29th, 2010 12:48 am ET

I think that the people on Larry King tonight are forgetting a large contributor to the problem. "Educators can lead the horses to water, but they can not MAKE them drink". I teach at a high school with some excellent educators who care about the students and their abilities to succeed; however, the parents and the teachers can care all they want. They are not the ones who need to succeed. So many times it is the student who dont care enough to try to succeed. Homework is not completed, students do not come in for help and understanding, and they particularly do not care about a standardized test that has no impact on them or their education. We cannot FORCE students to learn. They must have a vested interest in the process, and it does not matter how much mom or dad care or how much the school system cares, it ultimately comes down to the student. Poor or rich districts have the same problem: Students who care and students who do not. It is sad that the students who do not care about succeeding are not understanding the impact that learning has on their lives, but I do not believe it is the school nor the parents who are the most at fault. We learn from our successes and our failures; students also learn the same way -sad as that may be...

Omar   September 29th, 2010 12:49 am ET

In life there is good and bad, and you learn from both sides.
American may have the best school but they have the worst students.
If Universities are good here is because they compete with people from around the world. Students should learn to succeed in both environment with good and not so good teachers. That is real life.. that is what life is all about.

Judy   September 29th, 2010 12:50 am ET

I believe that teachers are only as good as the laws and the districts that back them. I also believe that if more parents would get more involved with their childrens' education we would not see as many drop-outs as we do. As a single mother of a Down Syndrome High School graduate of 2008, I know first hand how hard it is to deal with the teachers and the districts. This 'No Child Left Behind' is not all it is cut out to be. The teachers that my son had could only do so much. I spent many nights sitting at the kitchen table helping my son with his school work. Granted he did not have as much as "normal" kids but he had his fair share, and it was a challenge for both of us. I wish more parents could have the opportunity to work with handicapped children as I believe they would see things a lot different. The education system in America is in trouble and needs a lot of help, but I don't believe it is all the fault of the teachers or the administration. The laws need to be changed if we want to see a better education system.

JoAnn   September 29th, 2010 12:50 am ET

I respect Ben Stein. He is often thoughtful and/or provocative. I believe he meant something other than what he said about "parents". But, I must say that he is very misinformed if he believes that the education reform being discussed tonight refers to minorities. All you need to do is go to a white middle-class neighborhood in any state in America, and you will see that our educational system is failing "ALL" children of all colors. I come from a family of teachers; elementary, secondary and university. All of them are sick over what has become of their beloved profession. Thanks Larry for bringing this desperate situation to the forefront and getting everyone involved and talking about it!

Elvia M. Chalmers   September 29th, 2010 12:51 am ET

I just retired from an educational position after over 30 years total in education. I worked at a 4 year college, a 2 year college, 3 inner city high schools, 2 middle schools.

I was in a wonderful district but I saw several frustrated teachers, parents and administrators who could not get beyond teacher's unions and saw ineffective teachers who were passed from school to school and protected. There are many reasons for failing schools.

There is an epidemic of bad teachers or "lazy" teachers in urban settings and in alternative schools and or any school where the constituency does not have political "pull". I saw that in many districts, one school had all of the "cast-off" teachers and there was no learning. I worked where students whose parents could come and volunteer would get preferential treatment and placed with the "best" teachers.

It's like all of life, the "haves" get the best. The union has a lot to do with the failure and it has been pervasive and now we are suffering the repercussions because there are 30 years of parents who passed through the "system".

Samantha Stewart   September 29th, 2010 12:51 am ET

Please read this!! In response to Ben Stine.
I am a single parent of 4 children. I am not an inner city parent, but I am from an economically disadvantaged area. Where I come from walmart and mc donalds is a career choice. At the moment a lot of my friends back home cant even get a job at mc donalds. These people are parents and family people. And those that do have jobs are forced to accept any hours any shift regardless of what is good for their children.

Now minority or not Society is in crisis. The right parents are out there but they are busy working. Some Nights, midnights, Single parents. Survival is near impossible.

I can talk about this for hours. basically, if you work an afternoon shift you don't see your children except for the hour you are trying to get your kids off to school on no sleep. It is impossible to parent when you only see your children for an hour a day.

I Spent the majority of my childrens lives doing this. I have had to fight and move accross the country to be able to even get to the point to where I can start to balance everything because my children now have so many emotional problems.

Now the state would pay a stranger 1400 dollars a month to raise my children and evening daycare is horrendous and undependable.. I didn't even make as much as my daycare provider.

My idea... Evening school options for kids k-12. Take that money that they would pay daycare providers and keep families together. Let them eat lunch together and work on homework and allow parents to parent. It would also give more teachers jobs and cut class sizes.

Also as a society, support single parents.

patrick sager   September 29th, 2010 12:51 am ET

Larry-great show. Bob Stein seems to be the only one with any real
logic on tonights show. It's real easy–You can take a horse to water, but get them to drink....
As a 25 year veteran teacher in Hawaii, I see my highschoolers as feeling entitled and unmotiviated to learn. It's real simple–in our materialistic culture kids today are focused on "now rewards". Pay a kid dollars to get an A on a science test and the kid will get an A. I know. Ive tried it.
Look at the kid studying his drivers training manual during math class. The kid scores an ace on his driving test because his reward is the keys to the family auto. Real simple. Quit blaming the teachers.
It's the raw material we're getting to work with-unmotivated students.

PHILLIP   September 29th, 2010 12:51 am ET





Teacher   September 29th, 2010 12:52 am ET

Pay increases and high end facilities are not as important as smaller classes. Small classes makes specialized magnet programs for top students and supplemental instruction for struggling students less important. In a small class environment, teachers have more time to provide meaningful assignments and to connect with students and provide differentiated instruction. There are a lot of good teachers, their hands are tied when faced with large classes. Create a better learning and instructional environment by reducing class sizes. Compare our classes and teacher loads to Europe, that is at least part of the answer.

Mr j   September 29th, 2010 12:52 am ET

I am a 12 year veteran teacher who grew up in a very low income area. I never disrespected any of my teachers because MY PARENTS wouldn't allow it!

Garfield Hawk III   September 29th, 2010 12:52 am ET

“Negativity is not an Option”

The goal of the Un-included is to create a world where people treat each other with Dignity and Respect. Where peaceful solutions are sought between individuals, groups, and countries. Where man, woman, and child may enjoy the many blessings that Life has to offer.
Everybody wants to be” Included” in some social circle whether that group is” good” or “Bad” . That’s in our DNA as Humans, we want to Be-long. We are known by the company we keep.
Lets look at the word “In-cluded” it is to contain (1) bring into a group (2) to make somebody or something part of a group; (3) or put in a total category; (4)
For example we have all heard these sayings, “Birds of a feather all flocks together”, “You lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas”,
These old sayings are true.
In todays complicated, Fast moving world, there are many choices that children and teenagers must make. One of the main choices is the group they choose to be associated with. You have “good kids”, “jocks”, “cool kids”, “brainy kids”, “church kids”, you have “dropouts”, “ropers”, “dopers”, the list goes on.
Let’s look at the word “Un-included”. Definition is “To be Excluded from the Included”. One of our goals is to start raising our kids in a Un-included Lifestyle. Maybe it’s because of the work I do, but it seems to me that the options for finding healthy, productive, and happy groups are becoming fewer and fewer.
Not only is the group our kids belong to is important, But what kind of adult influence is available to that group is also important.
As adults we are busy with the daily task of living. We sometimes forget that we have a obligation to our children, and the next generation to come.
We need to strive to make the world a “better place”, a “safer place”, and a “healthier place”,
We need to help them get prepared for the teasing, and harassment that they may experience from those who have chosen to belong to “Un-healthy Groups”.
Our mission as the “Un-included” is to break the lifecycle that has continued to render our communities at risk.
We will work to change Undesirable Individual traits to be Desirable Individual Traits.
We will work to Instutionalize a code of ethics and social beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes that become the root cause to achieving acceptable standards.
We need to help kids build Character, Integrity and to be proud of themselves, and of the choices that they make. Our primary Goal is to create a positive situation that takes care of Enhanced Confidence, Self Pride, and Encourages Individuals to Endure.
Our intent is to inspire such qualities as Leadership, Health and Fitness, and awareness of an overall sense of self- advantages, acceptance and usefulness.
We will do this by, giving greater access to an, knowledge of quality programs, resources, and community services. That will enhance their lives and provide hope for the future.
Sincerely, Garfield Hawk III

Join the club

Un-included Club “Negativity is not an option”
Ask for Mr. Garfield Hawk III

Colden   September 29th, 2010 12:53 am ET

I think the people to blame are parents, students, teachers and government. It all start with the parents. If the parent don't care neither will the children. Once a child is in school parents that do what they suppose to do should feel that the teachers are enforcing what they are trying to do. The government should make sure that the teachers and the school system have everything they need to help educate our students. As a child I heard a teacher say " I got my education you need to get yours". There are a lot of bad teachers, parents, student and government officials. If you want things to change. Start with that.

Liz   September 29th, 2010 12:53 am ET

Yes parents play a part in their child/ren education, however, schools, primarily Teachers play a major role in children education. A child has to "feel" that they are just as important as the next student in the classroom. I could go on and on about this but the bottom line is we need an overhaul of teachers...beginning in Greenville Al to Riverside Ca.

rj   September 29th, 2010 12:54 am ET

Why was someone saying all African Americans were from former slave families. This has to be a myth. Well this cannot be possible, because what about all the people from the carribean who came here who were not slaves in the past, and all the people who have Immigrated from Africa thru the decades to our lands who have no connection to American Slavery in their past.
Some of my ancestors were New Mexico Navajo who have been practically run off the map from genocide, and ethnic cleansing..
And we know what the Japanese went through here in WW2.

I’m just saying many groups have suffered through history . It’s no excuse to act out , or give up on opportunity. Treat all students equally.

Marvin Callahan   September 29th, 2010 12:55 am ET

I believe that there is plenty of blame to go around regarding the state of the U.S. Education system. I do believe wholeheartedly that regardless of where a child comes from, where parents care enough about their children's education the possibility exists for all children to be successful. I have taught for 18 years and my greatest struggle is with parents (guardians) who claim to value education with everything they have, yet music, television, video games, and social media dominate the landscape at home. I work with primary elementary students who know only what they are taught to believe. They don't come into my classroom with preconceived notions about what their second grade experience should hold for them. They come in waiting to be taught about high expectations...some never having been exposed to even minimal expectations for their educational success. I have supremely high expectations for my students. Quite often I am challenged because the reality of these little children is that once they leave my classroom the expectations that existed from the time they arrived in the morning to the time they left in the afternoon no longer exist. I could write a book containing excuses and the myriad of explanations for why children did not complete assignments at home. I challenge my second graders to think, to reason, to go out of their comfort zone to reach their potential. I love teaching...I abhor the fact that some of my students suffer from invisible parents who choose to blame our system instead of taking responsibility for their children's learning at home. At my last open house 12 out of 23 sets of parents (guardians) showed up to learn more about the place where their blessed little children spend their day. I have these kids for seven-hours per day. They go home to their parents and spend about 4.5 hours of quality "awake" time with family. Their day has been filled with learning opportunities-their evening with television, video games, and headphones strapped over their heads. I'll never give up because this is what I love. When I call Mom or Dad to come meet with me for 30 minutes to talk about their precious child...leave the excuses about why you can't come in the same place where you found them!

AVA   September 29th, 2010 12:56 am ET

NCLB is the problem/blame because as we can see many children are being left behind. I graduated from public schools in Mississipi in 1985. Many of those with and before me were given grades undeserved due to unknown reasons. There were several who graduated with me who I later realized could not read. No joke. So, let's stop pointing fingers at each other. And start sharing positive means to remedy the situation. Lets begin in headstart. If parental support is lacking, let's educate all kids(public schools) with the basics. Food, manners, behavior modification, creative learning, praise and more praise.

As the ex Marine from New Orleans stated the problems lies with the childs environment and heredity. We can't change to whom they were born, but we can change the environment of which they learn.

Boxed style learning appears too much like segregation. Heaven forbid who came up with it. But who continues to let it thrive? Isn't that the same group who curtailed the high courts decision of the abolishion of slavery with separate but equal. Let's face it. The government doesn't want everyone to be equal. Never had and looks like it never will. Is there anything we can do as a nation to get the governments hands out of education. I understand that want regulation of the monies spent, but let's let educators help. And pay them.

All children are capable of learning. But have different issues affecting their learning. Let's ask middle and high schoolers their confidental opinions, since they are who we are talking about. Real honest questions. Most kids drop out due to no support system of perceived problems. If they can't go to mama or daddy for whatever reason, than school should foster an environment for that. Not saying that they don't, but it should be readily available like the hotline that employers use for assistance of social or mental needs.


concerned parent   September 29th, 2010 12:56 am ET


amy   September 29th, 2010 12:57 am ET

what about teacher's who really want to teach ? what about a teacher who is there for the kids? i have my pre-k – thru – 6 degree and my master's in reading . but can't get a job???

Alexa from Wisconsin   September 29th, 2010 12:57 am ET

I am a teacher who graduated in 2003. The major problem of the education system is the lowering standards of teaching prep programs. The curriculum has drastically changed since I left my undergraduate program due to the shortage of teachers. The teachers that are now graduating are underdeveloped. They are churned out through the teacher programs with less understanding of concepts, standards, curriculum and philosophy of education. I recently went back to school for my master degree in the education and was disgusted by the lack of understanding of how children learn. I have 3 of my own children and have found it difficult that children are not taught the basics! Children are no longer taught study skills, focus on handwriting-past 3rd grade, problem-solving effectively, or many other skills that are essential to learning. Reading programs focus on "whole language," by which students are taught to "guess" what the word in the book is by looking at pictures rather than learning how to decode words and understanding how that word fits into the story and make meaning of it. Math is taken a similar route in learning and is also having a drastic change in children's ability to learn. Parents are now often left not knowing how to help their children in their homework. Also, a MAIN area of concern is allowing people get teacher certifications in less than 18 months if they have a bachelors in any type of field. Many people I have met in these types of programs are not going into education for the children, but to meet their own needs, such as, family commitments, job security, time off during holidays, health benefits,etc. This is not why I went into education and these people are giving teachers a bad name. The teacher preparation is what needs to change and return to the philosophies of those who frontiered the education system and how children learn through understanding of brain development, culture, socioeconomic status, and diversity of all students.

Elvia M. Chalmers   September 29th, 2010 12:57 am ET

I am so frustrated watching this Weingarten person. So many of her ilk have watched failure for years and not spoken up. When "No Child Left Behind" was implemented to "bring attention to the dilemna" the unions argued and fought against it and did not look at what needed to happen for students. Ask her where she's been and what has she "specifically" done to help students.

TWOL   September 29th, 2010 12:58 am ET

Today's classroom child is the third generation of the mis-educated, from broken families, and are at or below the poverty level. Education reform starts in the minds of those children, in those classrooms that it depends on for performance. Even the great teacher in the classroom are challenged in good schools with psychological confrontation, so surely in some of the most under performing schools they are constantly encountered with negative psychological conditioning. Dual curriculum environments that include Self Awareness curricula allows the child to participate in real life applicable conversation and common sense solutions in understanding how external experiences affect their mind and behaviors.

Empowering students with understanding how behaviors are created, creates students that make better decisions in life. Mindful children breed mindful families, communities, nations, and world. We must regain the faith of the child with empowering tools of focus, abilities of self control, self determination, self respect, and psychological self defense in a war they often experience alone.

Rachel   September 29th, 2010 12:59 am ET

I think the US teachers reply on a lot parents participation. The parents who do not receive good education could not provide education support their kids. US teachers should really take more responsiblities to the kids.

Univ of IL Education Policy Grad Student   September 29th, 2010 12:59 am ET

While I appreciate the dialogue taking place about the state of public schools, one of the things that troubles me is the lack of education researchers who are contributing to the discussion. Multi-faceted and complex issue's like the state of public schools requires contribution from an array of individuals (from the teachers themselves to the education researchers). That being said, where is the interview from Harvard University professor Ronald Ferguson, UCLA professor Danny Solorzano, UCLA professor Gary Orfield, University of Illinois professor Bill Trent, or others who specialize in the discourse that is forming? Absence of these voices makes the conversation anectdoctal and lacking of empirical evidence. We ask for excellence from the schools and the teachers, but what about excellence for the conversations that will shape how the public views this issue, and ultimately how policymakers will approach change. In addition, the current focus of this conversation centers around particular school districts. This is problematic because a single model is unlikely to fix all districts; especially when we consider that the varying racial and socio-economic compositions of districts ultimately shape the needs of those schools.

Wildcat1   September 29th, 2010 12:59 am ET

I feel that the Education is in a way the U.S.A. down to local Goverment.

I had been in Special School District in St Louis and learned nothing.

At age 18 my mom and Dad insisted I Should be allowed to attend a regular School Program.

At that time the Rockwood School District implemented the Phase 2 Program Eureka High School.

Though I had the same work as in Special School. I was able to Attend Classes with in the School.

The teacher Mr Hart Would go with other students and I.

I felt that I would like to attend a class on my own and was in the Southmorre English



I was able to return to my home District and according to Mr. Hart I was the only one in the History of Special School District to receive to Granulate and receive a High School Diploma.

Sherrie   September 29th, 2010 12:59 am ET

The epidemic of low literacy and poor test scores begins in the formative years in a child's development and starts in the home. Data depicts that children of low income households have lower literacy rates than those children who come from higher income families. The exposure to language is critical for the the success. Unfortunately, with the number of imigrants who have come into the US, the larger class sizes and student to teacher rations, and language barriers it is no wonder why American students have fallen behind in global stats.

In addition, there needs to be a improved performance optimization efforts with a more rigorous review process that is designed for teachers and administration so that individuals can't hide behind tenure. There should be richer certification programs that teachers, like other professionals, have to complete annually to as part of continuous learning process for their own professional development.

Lastly, there are beyond required knowledge and skills to teach, educators need to hone their cultural competence skills so they can relate, listen and understand where their students might be coming from and not inflict our own personal bias.

Just food for thought...

Elayne Baumgart   September 29th, 2010 1:01 am ET

Your guests were talking about schools that are using blackboards and do not have computers. Any school that is without computers is being managed irresponsibly. The federal government has a grant program called erate that was expressly created to provide the poorest schools with funds (actually for all the accountrements to computers); but grants are available for hundreds of millions of dollars and some schools are not taking advantage of this program.

Everyone was excited about Newark receving $100,000,000. How much money is Newark eligible to receive through erate? How much has Newark applied for?

Samantha Stewart   September 29th, 2010 1:01 am ET

peach riberio...
I agree 100%
Todays role models are not interested in academics. They are musicians and actors and athletes. Lady Gaga is an inspiration because she doesn't take any crap and says and does what she wants.

Parents are crazy overwhelmed and can't keep up with everything society is throwing at their children and some aren't even home when their kids get home. kids are being raised by tv. Welcome to the age of idiocracy.

Teachers aren't to blame either. They can only teach what they can in the time they can and to children that are uninterested in learning.

Sienna   September 29th, 2010 1:01 am ET

I am a retired teacher and I taught for 32 years at the elementary level.
I have also been a substitute teacher for the past 5 years. There are so many issues related to US education today, I am not sure where to begin. There are thousaands of superior teachers that are being blamed for what is happening in our education sysytem. Tonight I heard several times that the students should be more responsible for their learning and I I totally agree! The general public would be shocked and horrified to see and learn about how many students mis behave in class. The administration ( Principals mostly) are not supportive enough and do not help enough. The kids know there are hardly any consequuences and disturb the learning of other students. The teacher is blamed for the students behavior, not the students. The administration is often scared of "upsetting" the parents. So much learning is LOST trying to have the students stay on task and do their work . So many students just don't seem to care about learning as they used to. The average teacher in the public schools spends way too much time managing the kids, when they should use the using the time to be working and teaching them. This is not my view just because I am a substitute teacher, but because the kids have changed so much over the last 10 years. They are often rude and very disrespectful. I had the priviledge of working for 3 years ( grade 3) in a model where TWO teachers taught reading and writing for 2 hrs a day with 26 students,We had the most amazing high scores on the state NCLB tests. Yet even with this fantastic successful model, it ended when I retried. How sad.. I am going to write to the mayor of Newark who is getting 100 million for education and try to convince him to use this model.

merriweather   September 29th, 2010 1:03 am ET

I, as a Black American applaud Ms. Rhee. Black people are the least respected race on this planet because we put the least emphasis on Family, Education and Integrity. There is a plan that exist in todays society called racial engeering and it starts with welfare. Black people don't want to here about education they want to know how much food stamps there going to get. That's why Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton two of the biggest racial pimps this country has known has risen to their positions in life. Welfare has engineered a race of quiters. Anything that you have to work for is totally of the table and it's starts in our homes and our schools. They've develop a quiters mentality and it's gets easier the more you do it. They quit on their girlfriends and find out that getting over that was'nt so bad. Then it move to school. When you have to do little work they quit. Welfare has developed a race of quiters. They quit on everything. They qiut on family, children, themselves, and when they can't get the things they want thru hard work they pick up a gun and begin to take it. That same ignorance put Marion Berry back in office after he was caught smoking crack in a hotel with a prostitute. The blacks in D.C. would say " look what they did to our mayor". Bravo Ms. Rhee. Someone needs to do what you're doing, Our so called black leaders aren't doing anything but sitting on their butts and collecting big fat checks.

Dr. Sej Patel   September 29th, 2010 1:03 am ET

I believe its equally the government, the teachers and the parents are to blame. There is no reason why parents cannot take the time to emphasize the basis of learning and checking to make sure children have done their homework. The teachers are the blame since they are not able to teach properly and are under pressure from government and rules regarding teaching and also the modern technology and government. The government is not providing the funds for more programs, after school workshops for these kids to stay and focus in. You look at schools in India, we have the highest rate of kids being literate and earning top grades in Math and Science without having the access of computers and modern technology. These notions that we need gadgets to learn is absurd. Kids are texting and not focusing in class due to these phones and ipods and what not. We need strict policy rules about this behavior. We need government to let teachers do their jobs and have more workshops set up for them on how to teach and what should be taught. Homework is never too much. Kids in India get weekend homeworks. Their level of math and science is astronomically advanced from such young ages. Why else do Indians happen to have the highest rate of dr's, engineers, etc.. This not only goes for Indians, but for any foreign country such as Russia, China, Japan, Europe. Wake up america and stop spoiling your precious kids with goods,

Are you serious   September 29th, 2010 1:03 am ET

From listening to Ben Stein, it seems the problem is, only black poor minority school systems is the problem. Because he went to college with some poor black minority students and because they wanted an education so bad, they overcame what things a teacher would say or what they did not learn in school and did what they had to do. But why if you are black and poor does it have to be so hard.

Dr. Alston   September 29th, 2010 1:03 am ET

It is quite frustrating to hear or even watch this discussion on education. I am a school psychologist and educator. I work directly with children and schools. To see who is discussing the problem is the problem. There are great and successful schools like Erin Dudley Forbes Charter School in Oxford Pa, that had to close down because of politics. We simply don't value education. We are talking out of both sides of our mouth. It's not more technology, more gimmicks, more teachers, more money that will encourage education-–it's bringing in competent educators. We waste so much money in education. I see it. Truth be told: We really don't care...Education is more about money and less about the children.

The Truth   September 29th, 2010 1:04 am ET

Comming from a segrated we were taught to be better and were expected to be better. Teachers were heroes with status who were copnsidered to have the good paying jobs. Kids listened to teachers because they could see what teachers were preaching. If wanted a good job like this, I needed an education. Now the very ones teaches educate are placed pedestals. Atheletes, entertainers, and others are potrayed as heroes who make the money and teachers are goats, who are broke. Who do you think kids are going to listen to when you trying to educate them. What message are you sending? Just tell teachers you want them to be the scape goat and be done with it, because the problem is so out of control.

ckelly   September 29th, 2010 1:04 am ET

Lets look at complex "economic" and cultural trends:

Children are the product of their parents. If the parent's are too young, poor, drug addicted and have their values in "getting rich" or violence ie. politics, the MUSIC and FILM and SPORTS Industries which has been forced on OUR Youth for more than two generations, you produce children with cognitive deficits.

Cognitive deficits (trauma and drugs and alcohol) combined with a poor social/economic and spiritual back ground BUT with a sense of ENTITLEMENT, (YOUTH's perogative gone wrong) ; combined with bad food; a narcissistic media base and absent parents on so many levels: Will produce children with physical, emotional, psychological, cognitive, moral and social problems. While Race in the US is a factor-Poverty and the vulnerability of TODAY'S youth is a bigger social factor.

Don't blame teachers as a group-the problems with poor education outcomes in the US are deeply embedded in Economic and Cultural factors.
There have always been poor: BUT never have children of all socio-economic stratas have to struggle with SELF, Meaning and Purpose in spite of media driven and corporate driven "OPPORTUNITY".

As a clinical therapist working with children for many years, I do not blame TEACHERS a group for children's failure in schools-THAT"S a scapegoat!! Its the Business world and all its corruption (ie undreground drug world ; Colonializatiion ie THE OLD WEALTHY; and media driven/controlled government and the people's attitude in any generation that elect them- That perpetuates assault on the most vulnerable.

Give TEACHERS A fricken Break!!

Its greed at the top that trickles all the way down that is destroying our children. No more common religious virtues-only the media and its greed to replace it.

Ricardo   September 29th, 2010 1:07 am ET

In my unscientific ( unproven) view, to answer Ben Stein's question as to what went wrong in our education system generally and in particular with the achievement gap experience of American American and Latino children we must begin to examine the social, economic and culture disconnect of the majority of teachers in the inner city schools and the majority of the children that they have the responsibility to educate. The majority of teachers of well intention and want to teach children but to often thay do not understand the world and the reality of the children and the communities in which they teach. In New York City, for example, the teachers do not live amongst the children and their famlies. That was not the case 40 or 50 years ago. By the same token the children do not see themselves in their teachers and realize that their teachers are removed form their relaity and experiences. This results in a mutual disconnect in the core dynamic of the pedagogical relationship between teacher and pupil. This is just one of many issues I see affecting our educational system but is not being openly discussed. Another way of stressing thi spoint is that I believe the inner city school system needs more Black and Latino teachers who come from and live amongst their students.

Mad   September 29th, 2010 1:07 am ET

Thanks Ben Stein for understanding what its like to be an Afro-American. Thank you for thinking that route studies is necessary with today`s cryptic, computer new age demands; and thank you most of all for blaming the parents who you feel," although their `Afro- American", obviously do not live in subhuman neighborhoods like ghettos, and suffer the symptoms of NO economic and community support to assist their children!!!

You are such a genius!!!

carol 98   September 29th, 2010 1:08 am ET

The teachers are to Blame for the failing school system. In line after the teachers are the principals who supervise these failuers. I do not feel that the lack of technology is the issue or parent involvement. While i am sure that technology and parent involvement would help. It is not possible. We can not afford teachers so how will we pay for computers. Then there is parent involvement, parents have to work to care for the kids and pay into the system that pays teachers.
Teachers have a job to teach. In no other field would you require the patrons to participate in order for business to strive. Also while our learning structure is out dated; points of study are no longer relevant to real life. It still does not excuse the fact that children are not learning what is expected. We should privatize the school system.

tracey krasnica   September 29th, 2010 1:09 am ET

Because they all kids don't focused at the same paste.they aren't taking the time to make sure that child comprehension what he read in the first book they r just going to the next to the next and if u don't catch it in work elementary u lost the child they tried to push to much math and reading in elementary graphs algbra they aren't learning multiply division they also need music and play time they need to put it back in the schools in Florida

Angela Savage Austin   September 29th, 2010 1:13 am ET

I believe that the most important element for any child to learn and excel at what they aspired to achieve is having a dream to help other people. Our children are straving on every level, emotionally, morally, intellectually, spiritually,etc. Money has become the motive for a great education and has replaced the solid incentive to service their communities.. service humanity on a whole. We need to encourage the heroes in each and every one of them in every facet of their education...LEARN TO BE CONCERN. If every penny should every child...that makes "CENTS" to me. Study-buddies should be assigned where two...perhaps more, are paired together where each child has a different strength, but together they share their knowledge with each other and exchange their study skills with each other...they encourage each other and each group is graded on how well they work , share, and excel as a group. They will also learn how to communicate and debate while striving to reach the same goal...being a Champion Of Academics!

Danielle   September 29th, 2010 1:13 am ET

This situation is very complex and it not just black and white. There are many factors affecting the educational development of minority children in the public school system. I am a Black American student that is a product of the public school system and I am currently in an ivy league institution. So can we(the minority students) get here? YES! I got here and it is so HARD to stay here, compared to my classmates I have to work extra hard to stay here and keep up because I was not prepared for college as well as my classmates that have had tutors and went to prep school and private schools. I had teachers that pushed me, my family stood behind me and ABOVE ALL ELSE I had the determination to EDUCATE myself.

jff   September 29th, 2010 1:13 am ET

As for tonights subject on education....I am 54, female, dropped out of high school at 16, hated school not only because it was so boring, but I was the victim of school bullies, (another subject that is not addressed by schools even though they say they do), I learned accounting on my own, and went on to become assistant CEO for a payroll company, earning almost double what most other people with the same career who are college educated do...My point: Not everyone learns the same. I'm not againt education by any means, however, there is more than one way to get it....and the school system in the U.S. unfortunately stinks!!! They don't know how to teach the new generation. And getting out of a classroom to learn is more valuable than you know. There is too much old schooling, too much competative crap that makes the average student feel like they just are not good enough, and the ones who push around and bully kids are not dealt with at all the way they should be. I know that a huge part of my hating school was being bullied and NONE

RS   September 29th, 2010 1:14 am ET

Seriously? The answer is to promise the kids a college education if they do well. Are you kidding me?!? Children who have done well in the past are intrinsically motivated. At a young a age, for sure, it is the parents responsibility to instill in the child the importance of an education and knowledge. However, children who are not intrinsically motivated will never do well, or they will forever be looking solely for a reward for their work and their work will always be below par. They will do just enough to get the reward, without taking pride in their work. We will have a nation of "educated" children with no work ethic or true knowledge. How about we change the focus of what is important in our culture. Not that we have to get rid of video games, tv, etc.., but lets monitor what the children are playing and watching and lets limit the amount of time doing said activities. Lets expect nothing less than respect from our children towards their parents and adults in their lives. We reap what we sow. And right now in our society it is really not surprising that our children our failing and falling behind...we, as a society, are failing our children by not expecting more of them.

mskathyk   September 29th, 2010 1:15 am ET

Ben stein asked, "what is different? When he went to school and I went to school we didn't dare get a bad comment or note from our teacher. Parents cared.

The one question I want an answer to is has the drop out rate increased since NCLB with high stakes testing went into effect. Maybe that is what is wrong with education.

Ricardo   September 29th, 2010 1:17 am ET

While I think teacher unions may present obstacles to reform and innovation in education, teachers themselves are not inherently or necessary obstacles to quality teaching. There are,however, teachers who simply may not have the vocation for teaching or simply may regrettably be so "beaten up" and disenchanted with the systemic challenges of a failed school system that they transfer this disaffection to their students in their teaching. These teachers need to be moved out of the system. I also do not think that we advance the debate on the issues and concerns that need to addressed to improve the our edcuational system by bashing and "scape goating" teachers. This does not suggest that teachers and educational administrators get a pass and are not to be held accountable for the role and responsibility they have assumed to educate our children.

Ian Black   September 29th, 2010 1:17 am ET

The Government, Parents, Teachers and children. All of the above are to share the blame for the state of education.

First off what you are taught at home follows you to school. If there is no real emphasis on a good education at home then it will not be a point of importance elsewhere. If as a parent I barely made it through school and have no real academic honors and just fought my way into the job market, what can I expect from my child? If I am struggling as it is and all I need is more money, my child needs to be working and bringing in money not wasting time in school. As a parent I may look differently on the situation and push my child to get an education and thus a better life for them in the long run. I can choose to help them where I can and provide a solid learning environment based on the importance of education. Some parents help and some parents hinder. No matter where you live you have to make it an education friendly place for your child.

As a teacher I may really want to help my students and honestly try to do so. I could start off being that way and become discouraged. Maybe parents lack of interests or students. Maybe my salary or home issues, lots of things can deter a persons eagerness. As a college student I may have just taken up teaching because of the government perks that came with it. I become a teacher just to have a job and the courses might have been easy for me. All manner of things. A good teacher will always be a good teacher if they wish to do so. To push hard and continue the fight despite the obstacles and negative feedback.

The Government is not doing enough to allow EVERYONE to have a complete decent education. The government is allowing the same old thing to occur. Making it easy for the persons who are financial able to get the best. Money can buy a better education in effect. Better equipment, better environment and a better choices of high schools and thus colleges. As a student from a poorer background who actually makes it to a good high school now they have to find the money to go there. Its all about the classes, the government wants to keep the separation. There is big money in 'good schools'.

Finally, it is up to the student, the child. NO matter what happens with your parents, in your home environment, the fact that you have good teachers or bad, you have do for you. There is no excuse for not trying. Nothing great is ever going to be easy, you have to put it work. At the end of the day you have to be the one to read, write, fill out that job application and make it happen. No one can do it for you.

Lisa   September 29th, 2010 1:18 am ET

Coming from a suburban school system I can not speak to the problems in urban school systems. Thus this comment is not necessarily addressing inner-city schools that in my opinion have deeper problems.

In my experience the major problem is culture. I graduated in the top 5% of my high school class and went to a excellent college; however, it took going to college to realize what it means to really put in effort and focus on learning. The majority of people of my generation (mid 20s) and younger generations are apathetic about education. We have been told since we were little that we can do whatever we want. We can live the American Dream. Our parents don't tell us that we can only get there with an exceptional amount of work and effort. Instead of holding children responsible when they do poorly in school, parents raise hell against the teachers. Parents are involved. But because they are afraid of their own children, parents put all responsibility on the teachers.

There are certainly bad teachers out there that unions protect. Certainly teachers should be evaluated and reviewed (and fired) like every other professional. Especially at the elementary and middle school levels a bad teacher can be a disaster for a student's education. However, by the time students reach high school students should have the skills and motivation to take their education into their own hands. Our culture needs to stop accepting the minimum and start requiring excellence. The differences in motivation between international, particularly Chinese, students and American students is glaringly obvious when they come together at our country's universities.

Glad to hear Ben Stein tonight. No one seems to hold the students themselves responsible.

Will in Colorado   September 29th, 2010 1:20 am ET

I enjoyed the show tonight, but the real issues where not discussed. I went to school in an inner city school district, and it wasn’t a fun place for me to go. The real problems with inner city schools are simple economics. These schools need money for new buildings, up to date academic materials, and extra teachers to help the children after schools. Children should not be let out of school before 5:30 P.M.

Carol A. Abaray   September 29th, 2010 1:21 am ET

As a retired teacher and the mother of a present day teacher, I can attest to the facts that TWOL's comments are extremely valid. In some school districts, teachers have become not just teachers but also surrogate parents. Your viewer is correct in underlying the problems as dual, broken families and poverty undermine success in school. I do not claim to have all of the solutions to this problem, however, perhaps Self Awareness curricula would be a beginning step in the process. These courses would of necessity require a full time staff person in addition to the regular classroom teachers. Trained professionals, preferably psychologists with a minimum of a masters degree, who inter-relate with all of the students in regular classroom instructions certainly would be one constructive way to empower students to own their own behaviors, and hopefully lead more productive lives. .

ron p   September 29th, 2010 1:23 am ET

Parents, Teachers, Students are responsible for getting an education.
No matter how poor a school is, a Parent can get there child into another school if the Parent determines the school to be detrimental to their child. Students, and we are referring to those who do not achieve, need to be held responsible. If you can name the top twenty rappers, you should also be able to name the Presidents. Teachers should be held responsible for all students. The under-achieving Student needs more attention. As a Parent, if my child is not doing well and I know it, it is my responsibility to get off Facebook, give up a night of entertainment, stop blaming the school because my child wont wear the school uniform and put some effort into my child.
Neither of my Parents(God Bless Them) went pass 6th grade. I am thankful to be a college graduate. The same thing applies to so many of my friends. Parents, Students, Teachers in that order . I am 53, John Legend is too young to blame poor education on racism. He and none of these kids today had to face dogs, waterhoses, KKK, or segregated schools! That's RACISM!

Lynda M. Clifton   September 29th, 2010 1:23 am ET

Ben Stein asks, " What happen, ed to our schools?" .I will tell you since no one else on TV is mentioning it: DETERIORATION OF THE FAMILY, DISCIPLINE, RESPECT, MORALS LOVE. Our sons graduated from private boys schools that produce 100% college prepared graduates. The school is obviously very good, but in addition, the majority of these students have parents who discipline and love their children; and teach respectfulness. I have heard from teachers about their experiences with parent/child/teacher conferences. Example: the student throws their cell phone at their parent; and the parent does nothing.

John   September 29th, 2010 1:24 am ET

Blah Blag Blah! Most if these comments are from teachers. As a parent of 2 students and dealing with the teachers I can say most of the educational problems is the teachers. Teachers that throw temper tantrums by throwing desks in front of young children. My sons math teacher actually said to my wife and I that she isn't really that good at math and has to use a calculator. While Bullying is a serious problem and teachers, principals, superintendents don't do anything about it when they are supposed to by law, what is even worse is when the teachers are the bully themselves. The whole school district here and many other places is into more punishment than education. Schools are run more like prisons than schools. My kids came from one school and learned a lot. Went to a different school after we moved and they have regressed by a couple years. Teachers lie to our faces all the time. They not only make the kids watch dvd theater movies, but make them watch the same ones over and over again. In math class. What does a movie have to do with math. Gee, could it be that the teachers don't feel like doing thier jobs and throw a movie in so they don't have to deal with the children? This is what is teaching our kids today. Now another thing that gets me is computers. While I used to be a computer technician, I wish they have never came out with them. Now schools are pushing to use them which only opens up a world of other problems. Kids come home wanting to spend all their time on the computer. It opens up cyber bullying. They type and don't spend enough time on penmanship and writing skills. ow with all this crap about we are not 1st in science that they want to push the kids to be smarter. What ever happend to letting kids be kids. Where is the balance between education and childhood. Being just book smart sure doesn't teach you how to survive in this world. I say teachers should go through evaluations and tests to even see if they qualify. Most the teachers I have met are more immature thans the children they are teaching. While I'm sure there are SOME good teachers out there, most of you teachers hiding behind this chat screen that make yourselves seem like your gods gift to children, are more likely the problem behind it all.

Christine Janton   September 29th, 2010 1:27 am ET

Education is not valued in this country, money is. As parents we want the best for our children and personally I was involved as much as possible. I think a lot of other factors are not being discussed. A child can go to a wonderful school where all the teachers are totally devoted and caring, but if that child goes home where there is not enough food to eat, no computer to do his assignment on, or the electricity has been turned off, the odds are stacked against him. I don't hear a lot of discussion about educating the whole child. What about physical education, art, music, dance? These disciplines have all been shown to raise test scores, why are they the first ones to go? What about the poor nutrition provided in school lunches? This also affects the ability to learn. Are all other countries high school students doing calculus and physics, or just a certain percentage? Not every student will reach these high levels of math or science. What about the children who want to be writers, businessmen and women, artists, musicians, interpreters,language teachers, and so on? I think the problem is not enough out of the box creative thinking. Until all the factors are considered, adding more math and science classes or making the school day longer is not going to change anything.

Nancy Jetton   September 29th, 2010 1:28 am ET

Who is failing our next generation?
Money is not the answer.
Poor ability for teachers/student/parents and board members to not stay focused on every day needs of the students.
Teaching is hard work and much like any profession that has to do with servicing children it takes up to 5 years to seasoned reach proficientcy.
It comes to the sad reality that teachers should be allowed to teach and schools are not meant to bea substitue for parents.
The school envoriment is a reflection of the
make up of the students / family/ professional
level of teachers/boardmembers of each school. Each community must take responsibilty to make future-goals for their students a high priority. And not look to big brother to throw money at it..
Ms Rhea was correct on saying people now days prefer not to meet problems head on but cower away. Why should they, they still go home with their paycheck..
In the future will their children or students
have paychecks?
It is gift to be able to teach or be a nurse.
It is time to put a stake in the ground and say yes to teaching to the students needs at the best level possible....

Maureen   September 29th, 2010 1:29 am ET

Education does need to change...but...Larry King, your guests, John Legend and Michelle Rhee who accuse teachers of being bad or racist are somewhat narrow minded. I have worked in urban schools, homes and communities for the last 18 years. From my experience, the worst teachers of African American students were African American women themselves. In these cases, it was more important that children follow the rules, be quiet and not question anything, rather than question and develop thinking and problem solving skills.

I am an excellent teacher of minority students with learning disabilities. My students make gains, but Mr. Legend is wrong in thinking that all students come to school because they want to learn or that all parents care and/or encourage their students to learn or do well. That is not true.

We have many "child" parents, who did not care about school and who themselves did not do well in school, or who have to work menial jobs and who can't be there to see that their kids read at home or do their homework. There are parents who don't fill prescriptions or get their children the help they need or to school on time. Students come to kindergarten never seeing a book or being encouraged to speak and develop language skills, let alone reading.

How will "YOU" judge teachers? What is a bad teacher? What is a good teacher? Will students be evenly grouped by IQ? Will there be a sliding scale for assessing teachers...taking into consideration the teacher with a larger number of slow learners or sped students and a teacher who has many gifted learners? What about ELL students? What about parents?, and the students who have involved parents vs parents who are not supportive? What about medical concerns? What about the money and hours teachers work beyond their work day? ...Urban schools wouldn't be half as good as they are without the selflessness of most teachers. Schools do need to be more evenly equipped...and teachers need to be paid for the many hours they work beyond the day..and the money they spend out of their comparatively low order to reward or motivate students.

I have been a teacher for a long time. I have worked in Catholic schools with nothing but desks and a blackboard..Students learned because parents held themselves and the students ACCOUNTABLE. I have worked in urban minority schools. The range of innate motivation, parental support, pre-school skills and abilities vary and all of these must be taken into account...NOT just the teachers.

ava   September 29th, 2010 1:31 am ET

While I will not deny that there are some bad teachers out there, there is a very imortant factor that is being overlooked or simply dismissed and that is the students themselves. Some of these kids are rude disrespectful and down right threating, if these kids have no respect for parents at home what makes anyone think they will respect the authority of a teacher!!! Kids these days have no regard for authority much less respect it!!!! At least once a week i hear from my teenage daughter about how crazy the class was behaving and that the students have no respect for the teacher. Young men pull up your pants and conduct yourselves like young men, girls quit dressing like hookers and maybe you won't be treated as such!!!!! Have respect for yourself, and others will begin to have respect for you.

one frustrated school admin and educator   September 29th, 2010 1:31 am ET


PLEASE interview school administrators (Principals – NOT superintendents), new, and vet teachers. Get ALL sides of this. There are millions of school administrators and educators that bust their butts everyday with students who could care less about their education. GO TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS ACROSS AMERICA and get the REAL Story. You will find schools implementing all kinds of research-based best practices, but still being blamed for not enough success of achievement. Administrators and school staff love what they do, but are also tired if being blamed and stressed to lose their jobs over students who are unmotivated because they are facing unprecedented poor parenting, inconsistent ethical upbringing, and poverty.

Marshall   September 29th, 2010 1:32 am ET

I listened to Ms Rhee and Mr. Perry and was very disappointed with their views. I applaud Ben Stein for being very honest and not trying to be politically correct and say what people want to hear. I wish Mr. Stein had ask Ms. Rhee what kind of progress her students made when she was in the classroom and if her teacing experience was in the DC public schools. Mr. Perry threw up a red flag when he said that his students were chosen by lottery but not a PUBLIC lottery. He was saying that his students are screened. If you play poker and you get to choose your cards you will most likely win everytime. IT IS A WELL KNOWN FACT THAT THE MOST INFLUENTIAL ASPECT OF A CHILDS EDUCATION IS THE PARENTS. If someone would do the research I believe you would find that children that have parent who are INVOLVED in their education are successful. What plans does Ms Rhee and Mr. Perry have for disruptive students that prevent others from learning. Any conversation about IMPROVING EDUCATION without addressing this is futile. The actress Cheryl Hines has good intentions but seems out of touch with the reality of teaching. The leader of the National Teachers Unions seemed very uncomfortable and afraid she might say the wrong thing and offend someone. I heard a well known educator from Chicago talk about her successes with her PRIVATE SCHOOL. She never mentioned her success in the Chicago public schools. NCLB was the worst law passed to supposedly enhance or fix education in the US. Politicians have a cash cow to stump on with education. Everyone has experienced it and have an opinion on it. It is very easy to say WE ARE GOING YO HOLD THE TEACHERS RESPONSIBLE. Why can't we hold them responsible to balance the budget.

Patrick D   September 29th, 2010 1:35 am ET

Our inner cities are a wreck. How in the world can we expect our kids in these places to do well?, carry their books home, feel safe!!!! The poverty, the violence, drugs all go hand in hand. Great teachers cannot make a dent as long as we have a culture that allows these conditions to continue. When kids live under very adverse conditions a great teacher may make a small difference here and there, but essentially these poverty problems in our country are so big, and long standing, that reforming schools is like giving an asprin to someone with a severe head injury. The education problem is a reflection of a significantly larger issue-multi generation poverty, outsourcing of jobs, over regulation of business, high taxation, illegal drug use, and government waste and more........... And povert y is growing, especially now in these hard times. Please don't blame the teachers, that is really a bad and ineffective excuse.

Elizabeth Levy   September 29th, 2010 1:35 am ET

Hinsdale Township District 86 in the affluent western suburbs of Chicago is one of the premiere school districts in the state of Illinois. While Hinsdale Central High School excels, Hinsdale South consistently fails to make adequate yearly progress. Both schools have every advantage. The average teacher's salary in the district – $95,000. The average expenditure per pupil – $25,000. Both schools are equally outfitted with excellent teachers, state-of-the-art equipment, and tons of money allocated for special programs for the disadvantaged. So why does one school succeed and the other fail? Find the difference; find the answer. A perfect case study for what's wrong in today's education.

Lou   September 29th, 2010 1:37 am ET

I am a graduate student in a medical program. Coming from public school system from elementary school to college I can assert that my education system failed me. One goal was clear from the onset of my education, by any means necessary pass the test. There was no emphasis actually learning. Students cheated to get by and, there were no actions by teachers when they found out we (I) cheated. i am struggling in graduate school because I did not learn the fundamental building blocks of study habits. We must look at the fundamental issue of academic dishonesty even as early as elementary school. We must support hard work and individual contributions to ones education.

davidson   September 29th, 2010 1:38 am ET

larry, i agree with mr ben stein that most important thing about education is parent because "charity begins at home" parents should learn to be responsible step up to the game. we blame the teachers, the school equipments but what we forget that if you don't spend time reading at home, i dont care who your teacher is or the kind of school you attend you turnout a failure. we should quit blaming the teachers and do our job. parents equals teachers. unfortunately african-americans are really the ones lagging behind. one thing i have noticed with the public schools especially the ones here in baltimore city the kids lack manners i mean they are very disrespectful to the teachers and parents supports, and indirectly encourages the kids to keep it up.
i believe it can be fixed if we the parents starts doing our job and stop pointing an accusing fingers at teachers.

Worried AboutThe Future   September 29th, 2010 1:39 am ET

To paraphrase the premise I heard, earlier today "Teachers are not familiar with the new Global economy, but need to learn about it in order to teach our kids better.... But at the same time they do not want to loose their Unions" (No it is not exact but please hear me out)

As someone who has had to adapt to the "Global Economy" I find this to be a fundamental contradiction. To put it bluntly, the "new Global economy" is now almost 10 yrs old now. And in this new economy there is really no room or need for Unions. That is a thing of the past. It made sense at one point in history but now it does not.

Pay for performance is the way the private sector works now. No security blanket. I , like most other private sector professionals, keep this in mind every day as motivation to succeed. What have you done lately?

That is part of the new thinking that no one wants to hear but is the reality. Don't like hard work – then give the job to someone who will do it right. (Charter Teachers or the younger, smarter, hungry teachers)

Public school teachers have no motivation to improve and hence get lazy. I would too. Why try to improve if you can never get fired?
It is a self fufiling prophacy.

Teachers act as if they are entitled.
But it is not charity work it's a J-O-B.

This is a basics of understanding the "global economy" and if our teachers can't understand it our future (our Kids) are doomed. And might as well watch as the rest of the world eats our lunch.

Shannon   September 29th, 2010 1:43 am ET

I equate the situation that public school teachers are in to that of a politician. Most enter their job with the best of intentions and hope to make a significant difference in the lives of others. Each, however, are faced with huge roadblocks that hinder success.

I don't think technology is important in a classroom. I don't think each teacher has to be exceptional. I think a student can learn a great deal from teachers of varying levels of talent.

The two biggest issues (in my opinion) where we are failing our kids are class sizes and the inability to alter our teaching methods.

Smaller class sizes allows each teacher more time to focus on each child. It allows a teacher to follow through with higher expectations. It lowers distractions in the classroom. It helps quieter children find their voice.

Secondly, the "use one teaching method for all" system needs to change. In today's world, we know so much about learning differences. We fail far too many children by trying to force them to learn with methods that don't work for their brain. They are left feeling "dumb" and suffer low self esteems.

All kids can learn to read. All kids can learn math. They simply need to be given the right toolbox for the way they learn.

Tonii Jones   September 29th, 2010 1:47 am ET

I have read every comment of the people who have made comments about the question, that was asked. alot of them didn't answer it correctly. Who do you think is the blame for the state education? Ok! In my opinion it starts with the government every year cutting the educational budget, then the state cuts, then the city cuts, then the teacher cut, then the community cut, then the children cut, so and so on. This problem didn't start today it's been a problem for years. It has been addressed equally, morally, socially, economically.But the buck is still being passed.Thats why education is in disarray.It is horrible in some states even more so. The Superintendents of the schools in every state need to be held accountable. Because thats what they get paid the big bucks for your experience and guidance of education. It takes a village to raise our children. And the the villages are gone. Personally, if you don't equip the child with what they need to learn they are destined to fail. And I would have liked to see some Real Experts on the Panel other than the one they had on, To me those were not Experts.Give me experts like Piagetian, Vygotsky, Charles Barman,Bredekamp and T. Rosegrant. Now here are the experts.I am in college now . I want to become a teacher and make a difference in all children lives. All children can learn given the proper opportunity, I see the need they are inquisitive minds that want to learn and its starts with Early Childhood Development. Back to the Basics. We as educators can redesign the educational system before it collapses like wall street.

Ms. F   September 29th, 2010 1:48 am ET

As a new entry level teacher I am constantly shocked to see how (in my personal opinion) school funding is so grossly misappropriated and unnecessarily spent. Those who are elected to be in charge of budgeting the allowance for education need to be more prudent and accountable for every dollar spent in the name of education. Unnecessary costs need to be cut and only the essentials need to remain. Tonight's guest, Mr. Stein, put it wonderfully when he commented on the fact that our greatest minds have been educated without the need for elaborate technologies and frivolities.

Sadly, I also feel that we live in a world that is sue-happy and that this causes a huge financial strain on public industries needing to make themselves complaint to every conceivable opportunity for lawsuit in the name of discrimination of some sort. An example of this can be seen with the school bussing situation (I see some schools roll in with 2-5 buses just for one or two students) and free breakfast/lunch programs (most of which ends up in the trash because schools are not allowed to store the unopened uneaten food that students do not want because it takes away from their cafeteria funding!) Imagine how much money could be saved from the gasoline and food costs alone with just better planning and monitoring by a prudent budget task force.

People wonder why we have this financial crisis in schools now. Its because MORE is spent on unnecessary costs to operate schools than is really necessary. In the past, students went to their neighborhood schools and bussing was minimal. You ate breakfast at home and brought lunch to school or bought it. There were no free handouts, not because people were uncaring, but because it was financially ludicrous and would bankrupt the economy. Its time for America's school budget operators to cinch up their belts and pinch some pennies.

Cecil Thompson   September 29th, 2010 1:49 am ET

I have not yet seen "Waiting For Superman" so nothing in my comment will address itself to the movie. In almost two decades, New York City has been "mayored" by politicians who have acted out of a belief that public education has failed and should be done away with. It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that Mayor Guiliani, who came out of the Reagan White House, would want to dismantle public education. He came to City Hall complaining that private and parochial schools were succeeding where public schools were failing. But at the same time, he joined the "experts" who were claiming that NYC public schools were failing because too few teachers were certified. The irony of that was that, by and large, the great majority of private school teachers were not certified.. Further, the mayor decided that the way to plug the huge hole of uncertified teachers was to recruit expatriate teachers from Austria, etc who were neither certified nor native speakers of English. He then instituted a quasi voucher system so that families could choose to send their children to private schools with public money. To me, this was the old Prince Edward County ploy; and we knew how that turned out. ploy of re-instituting a voucher system. He introduced the "Teaching Fellows" and and worked to take over the schools. In 2002, we got Mayor Bloomberg who has show in every way imaginable to be a staunch follower of the Guiliani public education doctrine–dismantle public education and kill the teachers' union. He was able to take over the schools and what a disaster it has been. He, like Guiliani, based his argument about failing schools on the Xs and the Ys variables alone. They argued that the 40 plus percent dropout rate is indicative of failure in every respect without any reckoning with the fact that New York City has the kind of "non-native speakers" population influx that will require many of its students learning English while trying to get an education to go to summer school or spend five years getting a diploma. Bloomberg introduced merit pay for principals while he set up a machinery to side line the process for selecting administration. The new selection process became rooted in the idea that cronism, curry favor and youth should be the bases of such appointments. The "Wall Street" bonus system thus put in place, the bar for graduation was lowered and the "cheat index" on standardized tests rose. No one has bothered to measure the level of readiness or retention of the larger number of graduates entering college or the work place. Ha! There is too much to tell.

Manideepa Patnaik   September 29th, 2010 2:03 am ET

Everyone from top to bottom are to be appreciated and blamed for the state of education in any nation. Education is defined as modification behavior that creates individuals to adapt to new developments and crisis in life by making adjustments to meet the needs and wants of that particular situation. If you are outsourcing and throwing away money on charity to different nations when your own people are unemployed and poor looking for charity from own state, then you are a semi-failed state with respect to eduction policy for which everyone from President's office to a farmer is responsible. Manideepa

Linda   September 29th, 2010 2:25 am ET

I am a teacher of 25 years. I agree that there are bad, good, and excellent teachers and administrators out there. (I have worked with some of them.) I taught kindergarten for 18 yrs. and it used to be the child who was a behavior problem or didn't know their alphabet or how to write their name that stood out in the group. As years passed the children who stood out were those who could do all of those things. I got the feeling from some parents that they didn't have to do these things at home with their children because that was the school's job!
The first and most important teacher(s) in a child's life is their parent(s) from day one! Parents need to hold, sing, read, and play with that baby as they grow and encourage them to explore their world. This will build the foundation for learning. Teach your child the benefits of using please and thank you, and how to wait for something will server them well in school and through out life.
Our children today spend too much time in front of some sort of screen be it TV, computer, DS, i-pod, portable DVD player, need I say more? (What happened to going on a family trip in a car and watching for the license plates on cars and the states they are from or the alphabet game by reading road signs? Playing video games.)
Many of our technology items are not age appropriate in many physical, mental, and emotional ways.
I now teach at the high school level, teaching Family Living, Parent & Child, Child Care, and Foods classes. I feel that all students should be required to take Family Living and Parenting classes in high school to educate them on the importance of family, parenting skills, and the growth and development of children. This is as important as math, science, and English! This will give our high school students some background information that will help them to be parents as they will be parents someday and maybe start to change family dynamics in our society.
Our society is an instant gratification society which has transferred into our families, jobs, schools and colleges. WE all want something for nothing, we want it now, we want our child to be the first one to read or be a gold medalist! Rome was not built in a day and neither is the education of a human being.
We all need to remember that children, students, parents, teachers, and school administrators are human!

Kenneth   September 29th, 2010 2:25 am ET

I am an African American male who has had the…“pleasure” of attending schools in Georgia, Indiana, and Chicago. As coy as it may sound, I believe we, collectively as a nation are responsible for the state of our education systems. Furthermore, our desire to exact its hand of origin has distracted us from containing the problem rife in growth. Targeting is a vicious process that ultimately places you in the core of a huge rubber-band ball, all to realize what you already knew… the cause is years of several influences. The action needs to be a response to the active ailments and conditions that fuel the problem. If the new epithet for a “family” is two parents in the work force, chances are there isn’t a parent at home truly engaging with the child and his/her studies. So we need programs to be created for this new trend or jobs to adjust to them. The only constant is change. It takes place in every facet of life. Each individual is involved and responsible which means each individual is capable of influencing it, for better or worse.

Ross   September 29th, 2010 2:44 am ET

Rhee position on education is antithetical to democracy. She wants public schools to be turned into charter schools–we are in the midst of that experiment now–and when NCLB has accomplished that, we will be left with the very same problems/issues that we have in our traditional public schools today. Only then, there won't be anyone to hold accountable, parental "choice" will not matter (obviously), the citizenry will be "proficient" only on multiple choice tests, AND everyone will still be looking for someone to blame. Heres a thought: Look at yourself and ask what you have done for your community lately–have you been to your neighborhood schools?
It is plainly obvious that Rhee hopes to kick the can down the road under the guise of blaming teachers. America needs to stop her.

Maryyola   September 29th, 2010 2:53 am ET

Each of the guests on the panel had a valid point. The conclusion is that all the components of the educational system – including parents -should assume resposibility for educating children, and they all need to be improved in this country. However, I fear that it will be very difficult to raise the level of the education in ALL the socio-economic groups in U.S. because of our constantly degrading culture. Culture that values money more than knowledge, culture that rewards luck more than hard work, culture that promotes stupidity instead of meaningfulness (see the # of Reality TV shows versus educational programs), culture that glorifies violence instead of harmonie (check the # of violent games, movies, TV shows, videos and songs that came out in recent years), etc. Add to this growing number of digital devices that take over our kids lives, in which there is no time left for reading, thinking, reflecting... I really don't know how we can resolve current educational crisis in U.S. without changing values and educational standards of the entire nation.

Theoretically this change could happen by teaching and showing our children that knowledge is a powerful thing, that it gives a person more freedom, pride, prestige and satisfaction than money. Ironically, to do this we need a good and solid educational system across the country, which brings us to the begining of this discussion...

Jeff   September 29th, 2010 2:57 am ET

I have heard this in the news and a friend knows a couple of people in the oil business and says the rigs are moving out of US waters to South Africa waters.Hope New Orleans can find some new jobs for all the fired oil workers.

While the Gulf is off-limits to US drillers because of Obama’s moratorium, now they are being ordered to cap all their dormant offshore wells in the Gulf. The reason that they don’t routinely cap and seal inactive wells is that they go back and re-open them for drilling as the market prices and oil reserves dictate.

Obama is ordering them to seal these wells permanently at a cost of billions of dollars to the companies. That means that we would have to mount an entirely new drilling operation to ever recover the remaining oil in those dormant wells. This order is publicly explained as “protecting the environment,” but there may be another – economically-motivated explanation: Obama has also promised a billion US tax dollars to back offshore drilling in the Gulf by the Mexican national oil company, PEMEX. Their safety standards make BP’s look golden.

· SO US oil companies can’t drill there
· US oil companies have to spend billions to permanent cap their own wells that already have been drilled there
· US oil companies have to cut off access to any remaining oil in their own dormant wells
· US taxpayers are giving a billion dollars to Mexico to drill where we can’t by order of the Obama Administration
US taxpayers have already sent twice that much to BRAZIL to fund their own offshore drilling [off their coast that’s even deeper than BP’s failed well] – without the approval of Congress. More details of the Brazilian deal follow:

Even though President Obama is against offshore drilling for our country, he signed an executive order to loan 2 Billion of our taxpayer dollars (which we can't afford to loan since we're broke) to a Brazilian Oil Exploration Company (the 8th largest company in the entire world) to drill for oil off the coast of Brazil! The oil that comes from this operation is for the sole purpose and use of China and NOT THE USA !

Now here's the real clincher...the Chinese government is under contract to purchase all the oil that this oil field will produce, which is hundreds of millions of barrels".. We have absolutely no gain from this transaction whatsoever!

Guess who is the largest individual stockholder of this Brazilian Oil Company and who would benefit most from this? It is American BILLIONAIRE, George Soros, who was President Obama's most generous financial supporter during his campaign. If you are able to connect the dots and follow the money, you are probably as upset as I am. Not a word of this transaction was broadcast on any other news network – only on Fox!

Forward this factual e-mail to others who care about this country and where it is headed. Also, let all your Government representatives know how you feel about this.


John   September 29th, 2010 3:04 am ET

I think that the federal government is to blame for corrupting the education system. The federal government so easily places blame on educators, teachers and the education system for not doing their job and saying that they are not the problem. Do you remember No child left behind? That was a rule that destroyed childrens desire to graduate. It gives children the reason to not to care about their education or what they actually learn in school. The reason is that they know from the No child left behind policy they will be passed on to another grade anyway. So why do they need to bother to learn anything or even graduate. And you know that in school if some parts of math, science or English are missed or not understood in that grade level then the student will have trouble in the next grade level because of being passed by No child left behind. Do you see a trend here. If students get caught up in this then there is no way for them to easily get back on track. For many students this would be too hard or useless for them to do as far as their thinking is. Remember that our country has more distractions from education than any other country. With the problems students face in school there is video games, computer games, computer activities that are not games, cellphones, other games and things to do around the home, TV, radio, cars and anything associated with them, dating, carousing with friends, city parks, going to movies, sports participation or events, school clubs, entertainment parks ( Disneyworld, Six Flaggs), friends or special friends (Boy/Girl), gangs, drugs, family work or events or projects around the home. This list could go on and on but you get the picture. The Nations listed as having better educated students than the United States do not have as many distractions for their school children as the U.S. One of the nations is Japan and they do have a lot of distractions for their school children but their school system is set up differently from ours and does not have as many burdens as our schools. Japan after so many years of school separates blue collar bound students from college bound students. Also I remember seeing a documentary on Japans educational system. Japanese children that want to go to college study very hard in the schools before being accepted to college. It is after getting into college that the students slow way down in learning more. Apparently the strain is to get in college not after getting into classes in college. Also these countries do not have the immigrant problem that the U.S. has. You do remember that our schools are required to teach these children in their language. And I do not agree with this. You basically have to have two different school systems set up to educate our school students. How can a child be educated if you cannot speak his or her language. This puts a very serious burden on schools and their budgets. Also many school children of today seem to not to care about graduating or being educated. Some of these students in class since they are bored and do not want to be there; do not want the other students to learn so they disrupt the class for fun and to be the class top dog. Also so many students cause problems and protest when they do not do their homework or various assignments. Things like this take away from class instruction and interfere with school childrens thinking and their growth. there are some students that have been taken from class by the police to jail. Now what would that do for your school age child. Some of these school age children are doing grown up; I'll say bad things. One other thing parents these days use schools as babysitters and nannys. Many parents want the schools to bring up their kids. Many parents have work committments that interfere with their kids upbringing so they want the schools to do it for them. Without the parental interaction the school child does worse in school, can easily be swayed to do bad things for his or her development or weaken the childs growth. The child will look for direction and interaction with anyone if there is no parental interaction. This is where gangs and bad influences from the people of poor judgement come into play in child development. Things like this start at home and carry on into the schools for the schools to deal with. Also some parents want their children to be into streamlined education when actually they should be in other education. Children like this hamper other students education because the child has forgotten their medicine, has had a soda before school ( in some kids this causes irritability and a lack of concentration and judgement), and sometimes class students have to see thesestudents be unreasonable in class because of medical drugs, child has a syndrone of some sort, or a lack of upbringing. Things like this make it very hard for the educational system. The schools want to put these children in lower class levels but the parents sometimes fight the schools on this. Everyone has rights but what happens is not allways right. With the way that the media portrays teachers; teachers should be strung up along a wall and shot. That is what the attitude the media says. One teacher stated on a news program; I feel like I am being attacked. Its obvious people who do not know all the details most of the time go off halfcocked, do or write or say something wrong or stupid will cause pain to anyone as long as they get no pain.
You see schools have to be legally correct on everything and have to deal with theft, drugs, gangs, vandalism, rape, incest, parental rights and demands to an extent. Our schools are in a losing war almost because of the morals of our country are being detoriated and destroyed slowly but surely. Also These kids who quit school before graduating are doing a grown up thing by doing this. They have only themselves to blame and their upbringing. That is where social clubs Boy/Girl scouts, etc. help out. Parents are a big force in a childs life. And parents need to participate in and be a part of their childrens life especially in the childs early years. And this is not happening in a lot of childrens lives. The early years are so critical and the parent need to set a good example for their child and not set a bad one. Children follow their parents example good or bad or if there is no parent they will listen to anyone GOOD or BAD. Our country needs to work on the morals of our children very badly. Why do you think that so many parents want to pay for their children to go to school and not go public education. They know this and do not care to fix or change the situation. They just want their child to go to a school payed for by the parents so that they will avoid these public school problems. Also teachers are not supposed to be policemen ( sometimes some kids get violent). One more thing I want to say about the federal government is that they need to really think about the rules and regulations they pass and what affect these things will have on the educational system. A bad rule or change causes many problems and will continue to cause many problems until it is changed. Why don't you interview some teachers each one from a different state and see what you get as statements from them. Also talk to the upper management like principals, school superintendents, state and federal types and compare notes. What do you guys out there say about this? One last thing our country is built on the vacation. To shorten these things will also hamper some states economies. Some things depend on the summer events and things that happen during the summer. As the summer gets closer school kids only look forward to the school year ending.

kalegrace   September 29th, 2010 3:16 am ET

i just graduatd high school and im very dissapointed in the system i went to school in texas and i dropped out because the teachers had no care they were sick of kids but hey they wanted that job i want to be a teacher myself because i love kids and i want to see them succeed now days try get fed up with kid over the stupidest thig and stick them in inschool suspension where the kids miss out on the lesson so i moved to new jersey and went to school there and the teachers cared soo much more and i passed and it was because my teachers cared and wanted me to then next thing the budgit cut and great teachers got cut wtf. its part that teachers don't care and part that great teachers been cut look into who you cut before you cut the good teacher that cares

Sandra   September 29th, 2010 3:25 am ET

Comment to your show tonight concerning teachers, remember, they too are a product of our education system. We need to help draw better education upwards as well as in the beginning.

TEE   September 29th, 2010 3:29 am ET

How come there is no video of this program? It would be nice to be able to replay the program online.

J   September 29th, 2010 3:38 am ET

I believe our society and our nation are to blame in the decrease of our education. We are so focused in trying to bring our economy back up that we forget that without education the economy will continue to suffer in the future. We cannot have the ideology of wanting money if we do not have the knowledge to gain it. Some countries that have surpassed us in education do not charge their children to go to college or any formal institution, in fact it is more of an obligation. Teachers also need to take pride into educating and stop worrying about their paychecks. At the same point we should pay teachers more since they hold the childrens future in their hands. The government need to spread the money to all schools and not the ones that did well in state tests. The tests are flawed. The schools that does poorly on these tests usually dont have the material to educate them for these tests. If we stop being so arrogant and open our eyes to the suffering that the system have provided to families and most importantly the students we will begin to rise back to our supremacy.

Linda Garcia   September 29th, 2010 3:46 am ET

Our system of education is based upon an elected school board from the community being served. While I generally believe in smaller government, the irony of a generally uneducated population, in selected areas of the country, being in charge of educatiing their children can only lead to what result? Majority rules.

Also, I tend to listen to the comments of Ben Stein and have, in the past, regarded him as an intellectual, reasonable thinker with thought-provoking arguments. However, based upon my experiences as an educated and involved (I attend parent conferences, school board meetings, Site Council member, tutor to my children, etc) parent of teenagers in the public school system, as well as being a business member of my community, think he has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to the current education system in this country. His opinions sounded as idiotic as my opinion about the operation of, I don't know.... the inner workings of helicopter engines. No clue.

cap't brian lacina [canada]   September 29th, 2010 3:47 am ET

Your guest this evening said children are pre desposed to a certain life depending on their parents income? That is so ignorant. That pre supposes that a child can never be more educated than their parents.If he/ she is..... wow the goverment is amazed, what happens when the child is more educated than the parents.... nothing. everyone gains. time to educate the parents too. the child will learn no matter what. whether it is at home.. or in school.

M. Rizzo   September 29th, 2010 3:53 am ET


Until the students (and parents) face consequences for their poor performance as well as the teacher, grading a teacher on the result of "standardized tests" is not the way to go. In Arizona, the AIMS test has no consequences until HS. Students take the test and do not put forth the effort that is required. Why? Because the results of the test come months later and is not reflected in the grade for their classes and the students have no consequences. If a student at 5th grade does not test above the 2nd grade reading level, what good does it do to pass him/her on to 6th grade. A teacher who has that student in his/her 6th grade class has a problem. Combine that student with a range of students who read on a 1st through 6th grade level and 30 students in the class and you have a system that guarantees failure. If a student is "held back" until he/she can read at the proper level, then the student sees the consequences to his/her activities outside of school (homework). Back in the "old days" when I went to school, students were held back. We had 15/16 year olds in 8th grade.

Leviathon   September 29th, 2010 4:01 am ET

I honestly found it amusing that so many people don't make it out of High School. Hell I just sailed through it never putting much effort into it and passed with no problems. Now sure it made the initial part of college a bit more difficult. :p

brett   September 29th, 2010 4:02 am ET

if you outsorce jobs you lower incomes of americans which then puts strains on the family unit,of course this is going to put restraints on the ability for children to learn.

Mary Beth   September 29th, 2010 4:06 am ET

The problem with public education is partly the teachers and the students but moreover it is the UNION. There is your 500 pound elephant in the room that no one likes to talk about. The administrations in some school districts are tied up by the union and the power that they wield. But in one school district in the country, Vista Unified School District, they are finally standing up to the Union and suing them for back pay that the Trustee Majority is Union supported and endorsed had to admit that they need to be financially responsible to the children of the district. Now, it may seem that I have gone off topic, but think about this...if this union has acquired money that belongs to the children/classrooms of this country, how many other school districts need to stand up and collect what is rightfully belonging to the children of their respective districts? Food for thought. The reason that Vouchers won't work is because Charter school teachers don't pay union dues. Until the teachers union is no longer the power that it is; parents, students, and teachers in the classroom will lose out. If you want change, take the power away from the teachers union and give it back to the parents. Let parents decide where to send their children.

sue beach   September 29th, 2010 4:30 am ET

RESPECT! The times are so difficult for all of us. I don't care if you're 90 or 19, the world is incredibly complex and unnerving. If only all of us, especially parents, teachers, police, and mentors, can be EXAMPLES of all the wonderful things we want the world to be, maybe our children would emmulate us. By experiencing the rewards of respect, and kindness, more children would choose to be kind, respectful, and WANT to feel good, and succeed. If we, as adults, act in a positive demeanor and are kind, respectful, loving, forgiving, maybe the children would parrot the things that bring them happiness and confidence. Discipline has become taboo. I was disciplined as a child. Got a 'kick in the pants', or a 'spanking', but always when I deserved it, and without anger or agression. I learned respect for my parents, my teachers, and any adult who's purpose was to help, teach, or protect me. Let us go back.

Natalie Gonsalved   September 29th, 2010 4:40 am ET

As a high school principal, I've always fought to do what's right for students and made decisions based on what is best for students which sometimes mean I need to get rid of ineffective teachers... yet the "system" in Hawaii doesn't allow for getting rid of teachers... now I'm being put on leave because these "teachers" are very vocal and the union makes it difficult to fire a teacher. When adults start worrying about "perceptions" and not about students, our public education will continue to fail! This is only one of many reasons why public education is failing our kids.

Alan in Kent, Wa   September 29th, 2010 5:28 am ET

yes, of course the state is to blame. Get rid of the mandatory 12th grade requirement. The U.S. needs local taxi drivers.
The method that teaches to the local common denominator just hurts my kids.

Karin de Groot   September 29th, 2010 5:46 am ET

Why does no one mention the fact that most African American students, as indeed the African American gentleman complaining about the state of education in the US, speak terrible English and refuse to modify their speech ?

Might make a world of difference both to children's education and to the negative image of African Americans as a whole if something was done about this.

I went to an Amercian school for three years and as an immigrant child the first thing I was taught was to speak English correctly and without any trace of an accent; this did not offend anyone back in the sixties, as a matter of fact I am still grateful for the wonderful teachers I had.

A little less ethnic pride would do wonders ! Learn English, learn to speak it correctly !

Karin de Groot
The Hague, the Netherlands

Femi   September 29th, 2010 6:06 am ET

Its strange to hear that some of the schools do not have modern teaching aids – in America, not Africa? And someone is saying the students and parents should take responsibility for the downward slide in education? That some students still excell in the most hurrible learning environment is not and can not be justification for subjecting all other students to the same environment. All over the world, America is known to have a standard of high quality of goods and services, this standard should be maitained regardless of race.

reality check   September 29th, 2010 6:10 am ET

The education system is funded extremely well, unfortunately it is all being sucked up by a union without shame that has the ability to hide behind children. In NJ most starting salaries are around $45k, add the benefits that they get and it's way out of line with everyone else.
Are there other problems such as parent participation, testing strategies and classrooms in disrepair? Sure. But if weren't for the teachers and their contracts we would have a far better chance at throwing some money at those problems and a possible solution.

Put teaching jobs up for competitive bid to qualified candidates, I assure you we will save a ton of money and end up with people that are enthusiastic, dedicated and dare I say it, even thankful to have a job.

Monica   September 29th, 2010 6:25 am ET

I enjoyed the show on education reform until you allowed Ben Stein to make statements indicating that the education problem resides only in minority communities. I am saddened that a journalist of your caliber would allow such a ridiculous assertion to go unchallenged. While I like Cheryl Hines as a performer, I am clueless as to her contribution to this most important conversation. If a "celebrity" were required for the second half of your discussion then perhaps you should have asked John Legend to remain for the entire show, as did Ben Stein, because he is a proven activist in this area and has demonstrated a clear understanding of the education crisis in this country.

Dennis   September 29th, 2010 6:36 am ET

I think you are now going to see a backlash of Michelle Rhee and her position. I would have asked one question to the Charter School panelist too. The kids there won the lottery and 100 out of 2000 were chosen. Public schools do not have this luxury. He boasted that 100% went on to college. Now, put this all in perspective. The 2000 that applied for the lottery were obviously interested in an elite school. The remainder of the population, that did not apply to the lottery, well..... they are going to public schools. I wish we would take a sampling of 100 from the group that did not apply, toss them into the charter school, and hear about the results. Ben Stein hit the nail on the head although he used the word "cultural" and I would have used the word "societal." Are there bad teachers? Sure. No doubt, but show me a kid who fails every single class this semester, and tell me he "happened" to get 5 or 6 bad teachers all at once. I doubt it. Also, show me a school where not one kid goes on to college etc. and I will show you a bad school. I'm waiting. If you really want a good education, it is there for the taking.

Henrik Larsen   September 29th, 2010 6:51 am ET


Being a Danish teacher forced to stay at home today because of illness, it is very interesting to watch the rerun of the Larry King Live show from yesterday, where the American school system is debated.

One thing discussed was the test system and the fact that the teaching might be focused only on the tests, so that the teachers are teaching FOR the tests. The debate in Denmark today is about having MORE tests in the schools and I am concerned that our teaching in the years to come will be too "test focused". One of the mile stones in the Danish Public School have been creating "the whole human being" meaning that life is not only about having great skills in maths, sciense, languages a.s.o. but you also have to learn how to BE and ACT as a human being in a democratic society interacting with other people.

Denmark has always tended to look towards the US and have copied many things – for good and for worse. Copying your school system too much seems to be for the worse, from what I heard in the show.

We also suffer from old, worn schools and increasing number of pupils per class due to bad economy. Huge classes means less time for each pupil. This, from my point of view, reinforces a more "straight forward" and less creative teaching – a "test focused" teaching.

I am not at all against tests, but it has to be tests "with a purpose" and not for the tests only, but as a tool to focus on certain parts of the teaching where a class might be missing something. Tests should not be used to punch schools, school leaders and teachers in the head by.

What is hardly debated (and especially never mentioned by the politicians because it is a "hot potatoe") neither here in Denmark or in your country, I guess, is the parents' responsibility. Too much time, from my and many colleagues' experinces, is spent on pupils behaving non-respectful both towards teachers, class mates and the school itself, and too much time is then "stolen" from the pupils in the class who WANT to learn. I think, parents' responsibilities should be made much, much clearer for everyone to understand.

By this, I do not say that the school systems both in Denmark and the US do not need a make over and a lift up to create more inspiring and better environments for teaching and learning. Sadly, there seems to be no money for neither this nor teacher's education in Denmark today.

Brandi   September 29th, 2010 6:56 am ET

Unfortunately, there is not one entitiy to blame for the issues faced in education, it is a collective. There are many wonderful and talented teachers who are able to enspire. However, there are some who clearly teach to collect a pay check. There are parents who prioritize academics above all else, and those who could care less. Each year school districts are faced with budget cuts, deficits and layoffs, while goverment (both state and federal) spending is astronomical. Sadly, our students pay the price and ultimately our future is at stake. Albert Einstein once stated " No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." We need to think wholisticly in order to make the changes necessary to create an educational system which will prepare our children to live, work, and flourish in a global society. Until that happens we will continue to have these finger-pointing and unproductive debates.

concerned parent   September 29th, 2010 7:22 am ET

i agree john,and with that ole saying if the shoe fit wear and alot of teachers on this screen is wearing that shoe. they are too busy teaching kids "LESSONS' instead of EDUCATING our kids they make sure that they put that in the curriculum.

Vicky Dill   September 29th, 2010 7:31 am ET

I am also exhausted from the litany of blaming the parents. Children bring the best parents they have to school!

Many of the parents work two or even three part-time jobs to keep the family housed, in clothes, and fed. If we had a longer school day, a longer school year, a way to weed out ineffective teachers and a focus that allowed teachers to teach passionately and not be "testocrats," I think we would have a winning combination. Many small changes would bring huge rewards, and we know what these small changes are!

Harry   September 29th, 2010 7:44 am ET

The most important question was when one of your guest asked, "What happened to our schools. We used to be one of the best!"

How sad that the Teacher's rep. fumbled that question twice. You want to know why we are worse off, people like her who have no clue!
Her agenda was to protect the teachers and blame the problem on everyone! Really? Oh, yes, and to push the gov. to waste another $350M on some BS study to make her consultants richer. Ever notice how people who want status quo always want a new study to delay and seem like there are on top of things?

I would fire her! She provided no solution and clouded the issue. Worse is we allowed this to happen!

Honestly, put the parents in charge of teacher unions! Hey they can't screw it up any more, plus they will have to answer to parents!

Want to start fixing the problem, get rid of calculators in elementary school, bring back memorizing multiplication tables, and bring back weekly spelling and vocabulary tests! These are the foundations of education. Then build on them like the old days.
Want an answer to the “what happened” question? Well, we wasted good money on “studies” for programs the “fat cat” administrators put in to “fix” a good system!

The problem is, most of the people on your show are liberals and guess who did this? Yes, liberals looking to fix something that wasn’t broke; probably because the teacher had too much power or some stupid reason like that!

Examples are the failed Chicago math curriculum and allowing calculators in 3rd grade!
My daughters were failed by both! Btw, our school system changed both of these out, but too late for my kids!

Get rid of the administrators and unions. Why do teachers need a union anyway?
Put parents in charge of the board of education as volunteers, saving us money!
And, stop spending good money after bad! Fix the darn schools with that $350M; you don’t need to make your consultant friends richer!

I would fire her! She provided no solution and clouded the issue. Worse is we allowed this to happen!

Honestly, put the parents in charge of teacher unions! Hey they can't screw it up any more, plus they will have to answer to parents!

Wanna start fixing the problem, get rid of calculators in elementary school, bring back memorizing muliplication tables, and bring back weekly spelling and vocabulary tests! These are the foundations of education. Then build on them like the old days.

Th eproblem is, we soend money on studies, these fat cat admins put in new programs that fail the students like the faild Chicago math curiculum and allowing calculators in 3rd grade!

Harry   September 29th, 2010 7:48 am ET

The most important question was when one of your guest asked, "What happened to our schools? We used to be one of the best!"

How sad that the Teacher's rep. fumbled that question twice. You want to know why we are worse off, people like her who have no clue!
Her agenda was to protect the teachers and blame the problem on everyone! Really? Oh, yes, and to push the gov. to waste another $350M on some BS study to make her consultants richer. Ever notice how people who want status quo always want a new study to delay and seem like there are on top of things?

I would fire her! She provided no solution and clouded the issue. Worse is we allowed this to happen!

Honestly, put the parents in charge of teacher unions! Hey they can't screw it up any more, plus they will have to answer to parents!

Want to start fixing the problem, get rid of calculators in elementary school, bring back memorizing multiplication tables, and bring back weekly spelling and vocabulary tests! These are the foundations of education. Then build on them like the old days.
Want an answer to the “what happened” question? Well, we wasted good money on “studies” for programs the “fat cat” administrators put in to “fix” a good system!

The problem is, most of the people on your show are liberals and guess who did this? Yes, liberals looking to fix something that wasn’t broke; probably because the teacher had too much power or some stupid reason like that!

Examples are the failed Chicago math curriculum and allowing calculators in 3rd grade!
My daughters were failed by both! Btw, our school system changed both of these out, but too late for my kids!

Get rid of the administrators and unions. Why do teachers need a union anyway?
Put parents in charge of the board of education as volunteers, saving us money!
And, stop spending good money after bad! Fix the darn schools with that $350M; you don’t need to make your consultant friends richer!

Patrick form Bâle   September 29th, 2010 7:57 am ET

America is facing a crisis in education. But this is a time of crisis, but not only in education and not only in America, but worldwide. Crisis means and requires change, but also it provides opportunity. And because the current crisis is so pervasive, it is telling us that almost everything we hold sacred and true to our way of life needs to be re-evaluated and changed. So what fundamental change should be adopted to put education in America in its proper place in the social order so that it can meet the challenges of an ever chasnging world. The first thing is to get as much government out of the education process as possible. All centers of education, schools or whatever need to be independent of government. Government can support, encourage education and balance inequalities but it must not be involved in the actual running. Eucation is not a business nor is it in the political realm, and because of this fact, it must be free of profit motivation and bureaucratic control and influence. I think its quite safe to say that if you look anywhere in the world government run educational systems are failing; failing not only their nations, their teachers and administrators, but most importantly the students. The French educational systems is probably the best example of a modern public education system failing despite high ideals and the best intentions. When the roots of an edcational system aren't planted in the proper soil, it takes about two generations for the system to show signs of collapse, but they will collapse, and hopefully before the students become disinterested or sick or the administrations debillitated and the teachers ineffective, i.e., American education. Crisis requires fundamental change. Nothing but fundamental change will help fix America's education system. Also, students don't need computers to learn, but perhaps they may need, along the way, to learn to use computers. Computers are tools but perhaps more of a distraction and an invasion in a healthy educational enviornment. There are other fundamental features of a modern educational system that also need to be re-evaluated such as grading and testing, teacher tenure, the arts, competion and sports. etc., but there is no fix for an educational system run by a government!

KJulian   September 29th, 2010 7:57 am ET

Teachers are not completely to blame in this education crisis. Parents must be held accountable and not leave all the parenting to teachers. Another pervasive influence these days is the internet. Chatting is destroying the literacy of millions of children – I'm a high school teacher and I'm quite dismayed at the terrible spelling and punctuation of most of my students...they don't capitalize the first word in sentences and use no punctuation.
Firing teachers will not fix the problem. Monitor your kids' time spent on the internet and chat, and get your ass to the next parent-teacher meeting!

Chris McLean   September 29th, 2010 8:21 am ET

The greatest predictor of academic success (proven) is still socio-ecomic status. The other factor that you didn't discuss in all of this, is that a lot of those countries don't allow all of there kids to go to school. They only measure and test the ones that can. Lack of parenting skills and kids being under prepared for academic life is also a predictor. Are there bad teachers, yes. However, the parents that are involved are involved in the wrong things when it comes to the academics...rather than holding kids accountable, they want to know why son or daughter flunked...This is bigger than some nonsensical "documentary"...class size, early childhood, parental involvement, technology, testing procedures, finances...on and on. Always nice when the Michael Moores of the world become experts on a topic they know nothing about....Way to give credence to another Michael Moore wanna be

thomas braun   September 29th, 2010 8:24 am ET

Michelle Rhee
is not portraying the truth concerning the conditions of schools in Washington DC. I left a affluent school district after retiring from the judicial system as an administrative law judge, Fairfax County, in order to teach at Anacostia High School a predominantly Afro-American high school. The school neither had books nor air for the first three weeks of school We have one copy machine for the one hundred teachers to use. The teachers do not have copying paper. The science classes do not even have one microscope nor experiment kits for an estimated five hundred students. Most classes do not have enough desk for the students as class sizes swell.The school has a very bad rodent problem with rats and mice running down the hallway. The school lacks the basic learning tools. The majority of students lack access to computers in the classroom. I am a teacher, parent and grand father and we can not hold teachers solely accountable. Parents, administration and teachers must all collaborate in order to improve the conditions of education in urban and rural America.

Mary Mitchell   September 29th, 2010 9:39 am ET

I am a Mother of 3 and grandmother of 6. Stop blaming the teachers and look at the parents. I'm proud to say that all the grandchildren went to college and did well. One is now a teacher. I saw how hard those kids worked to excel. Too many parents blame the teachers for not doing their jobs. The teachers are afraid to correct the kids because the parents will blame them not the kids. Lack of respect .

Jerjol   September 29th, 2010 9:39 am ET

Hey Folks, here is one of the best reasons why education in America is failing.

A grade school teacher in Canada earns, $54,000 dollars for a nine month teaching period, she/he has the best pension plan anywhere in the world, along with a health coverage plan that is second to none.

While in the U.S. a teacher earns approximately 60% of what a Canadian teacher earns.

A canadian teacher must have a minimum of a B.A. in education, while in the U.S. a teacher can be certified without a B.A. and is only required to have a college certification in education

Teachers in the U.S. have the worse health care system in the free world, and it is impossible to live on the pension plan they are given after 30 years of service.

In Canada at the age of 54 a teacher must retire from teaching and can only participate within the school system as a Vice Principal or an employee not engaged in the teaching of children on a daily basis, "SHE/HE RETIRES WITH 80% of the salary when retiring.

So in Canada the compensation will attract the best of the best, while in the U.S. we unfortunately get the worse of the worse to tach our children.

Case in point: Canadian Universities are staffed with nearly 50% U.S. educated professors.



be the role model   September 29th, 2010 10:24 am ET

Einstein would be shaking his head in disbelief to see that we are still doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results!

Kudos to those behind the making of the documentary Waiting for Superman! I haven't even seen the movie yet, although I will, but the clips that I and others have seen have certainly started a conversation... and that's a really good thing!

The question is what kind of conversation are we having? It's not about taking sides, judging, pointing fingers or casting seems to me that this movie is serving a greater purpose than just exposing the changes needed in the education's much much bigger than that!

This film is a gigantic wake-up call for all of us...not just teachers, not just parents...but for all of us to become aware of and take responsibility of how we are showing up for our kids...what kind of role models we are.

We all do the best we can...I don't believe there are 'bad' teachers or 'bad' parents...we all have a good and not so good side to us and which side we choose to behave from is a choice we make. The unfortunate part is that in most cases we make that choice unconsciously.

So let's keep having the conversations that this movie is evoking, however, if you ask me, the most important conversation we can have is the one we have with ourselves...examining our own behavior more consciously, making the shifts that so many headlines are pointing for us to make, letting go of the hypocrisy and just start focusing on being the change that we have been condemning others for not being!

We're all a work in progress... ;o)

bobo   September 29th, 2010 10:29 am ET

people are looking in the wrong direction when they try and blame others for highschool drop outs. It all starts at home with the parents. no mater how much money or new laws the gov't throws at schools it all goes back to the parents not doing their job or the lack thereof. how many highschool drop outs come from single home parents or one parent is in jail. i bet that statistic is much higher then any other. parents take alook at yourself and suck it up.

Alison   September 29th, 2010 10:30 am ET

Larry and Ben, I am currently in the thick of our public school system. I have had more horrible experiences then positive ones from the teachers...however, that could be a whole other movie. But heres the problem...most teachers want star students. plain and simple. They don't want to work extra and they definately don't want any kids with any attentional issues/learning issues. Not only are they unqualified to teach kids who need a slightly different learning style, they could care less...and they treat the parents like its their fault and there is something wrong in their house and with their kid. And when you are a parent of a struggling child, you will do anything for that glimmer of hope and put your beliefs in the "professionals," even be pressured by the schools and teachers to put your kid on medication...which is a whole other problem with the schools today...medicating children of all ages; who would have thought? There are plenty of great supportive parents who have horror stories year after year about the public schools. This is not only an inner city problem. The fact that when kids are home, there are over 100 mindless shows for them to watch, and boring, violent, and addicting video//computer games, and lets not forget texting, and their obsessions to be social 24/7. This creates a sense of instant gratification, so when they get to school and actually have to use their brain, they don't know how and don't really want to...way too time consuming. Our technology only fuels the disaster that is in our schools. And, the teachers allow this, because they are only teaching to the ones who can manage both.

what you needed on your panel last night was people who are experiencing these problems every day. Not an actress from Beverly Hills and a famous musician who are only looking from the outside in.Their intensions are good and its an important cause, but lets face it, their kids will never see the inside of a public school, and if their kids have a horrible teacher, believe you me, that teacher will be fired in a heartbeat.

Rich Curtin   September 29th, 2010 10:32 am ET

I don't believe the education system is broken. I think it has been derailed. Public schools were founded to educate the electorate. Now, Social Studies isn't even tested, at least in my state (AZ). And why should it be? Standardized testing only creates a false sense of accomplishment, if it creates a sense of accomplishment at all. It doesn't take much to teach to the test, or cram for one. It does, though, take a lot of teaching and learning to know that students have mastered content. And they show that by their performance, not their test scores. We have a technologically advanced group of students, who are being taught by dinosaurs who can't even pull up their school e-mail account, or turn on the TV. I agree with Ben Stein, Tom Jefferson and George Washington did well enough without computers; and reading and writing are necessary for all students; but think of what Tome and George could have done with a lap top! I would rather know that my students grew up to be active participants in their communites; state and local governments; or, better yet, at the Federal level, than to know how they SCORED in math.

Paul   September 29th, 2010 10:55 am ET

A very good show and such an important topic. Education is a vital element for any society and currently seems to be an active priority in most countries, cities and communities.

I believe ILAMM would be a valuable tool in the education reform challenge being faced, as it can get teachers to be best they can be.

This would give everyone involved a head start in confronting the reform project and will assist in improving the teaching and learning process for the teachers and the students, during and post implementation.

John M   September 29th, 2010 11:52 am ET

Why is the bulk of the issue lying on teachers. I think they are just one part of the issue.

First of all this is not a racial issue.

it's primarily socio-economic issue but can happen to all classes of people.

School: It's the schools responsability to provide a safe distractive free place to learn.

Teachers: It's teachers responsability to teach what they are told to teach to the best of there ability.

Parents: It is the responsability of the parent to manage there child's education. Make sure the child gets up, get's feed goes to school everyday on time, does there homework, check there grades and make sure theey ask the school for help (tutoring) if needed.

STUDENT: Ultimatley the student will be responsible for there education and if they decide that it is important and they need to get one they will. Some how it needs to be instilled in them that they need to be educated for themselves and there family as well as there community and country. I believe if the school and parents work together then this will have a higher chance of happening.

Parents need to hold there kids accountable and not just point there fingers at the school and the school needs to listen to the parents and decifer to the best of there ability and work with the parents to solve it. In my experience and I have two kids in college the schools say the right things but often are complacent. Parents to often take there kids side in a emotional response rather then really looking at the issue.

hd   September 29th, 2010 1:10 pm ET

Hi Larry:
I do apologize for forgetting the names of members of your panel. Below I have a few questions about their comments on your show:

1) To the Chancellor, how scientific is it her approach to measuring a teacher performnace? What are the criteria of being a good teacher, and how are they measured scientifically? For example, if one is to use student performance as a criterion, then one should determine all factors contributing to this criterion (including teacher abilities, student preparedness, etc.) and make sure to exclude factors that are outside the control of a teacher. The reason I am asking is that as she stated in your show, the measurement that are in use in her district include (A) student performance (about 50%?), (B) classroom observation (40% ?) and (C) other contribution (10%?). Have she come across a case where a teacher achieve (A) but fail (B), in this case should we question the observing panel; or fail (A) but achieve (B), in this case should she put the blame on students or again question the observing panels; or this never happen, then why both (A) and (B) are used?

2) To the Chancellor, I believe she should make a distinction between loving and good parenting, between wishing and knowing how. Should we have some scientific criteria to measure good parenting and then derive venues to help parents as well?

3) To Ben and the gentleman on the left of the Chancellor, again I think they did not talk about the same thing. A poor family and a broken family are different.

4) To the gentleman on the left of the Chancellor, I believe his comment about his child piano teacher is off the mark. Parents are not supposed to provide the expertise of the subject but to provide among many things, a structure to their children daily activities. For example, he does not need to know how to play a piano, but he should make sure to have the child commit certain amount of time during the day to practice playing piano, provide access to varieties of music,etc. I might be wrong but I feel that he was a bit quick about "firing" (the piano) teacher. And any piano teachers have raised that question (about him playing piano) to him?

5)To the gentleman on the right of the Chancellor: he mentioned about students who were failed by teachers in their 1st grade and get into difficulties when they go into 4th grade under prepared. My question is what does he think the 4th grade teachers should do and are held accountable for?

6) To the lady who is the producer of "School pride": why did she not counter Ben's remark about the use of technology in education?
My answer to Ben would probably follow this line. It depends on the subject taught and how it is being used. For example, social science our students probably do not need much technology besides access to the internet (widely available outside the schools) and should not be used inside classroom (which should be used to engage critical thining as Ben implied), On the other hand, teaching and learning natural science requires good labs. Again, we should have scientific approaches to analyze problems and solutions. We should distinguish between gadgets and scientific instruments.

7) To Ben: he mentioned about the cultural factor. I think he should provide the guests on your show with a scientific analysis about education in other countries (Western, Near East, Far East, past, present, etc.)

I do apologize for my long comment. I vioalte my own rule.
Thank you Larry

Bev Pacio   September 29th, 2010 1:21 pm ET

Teachers! Is that the only thought we can focus on? While I agree that ineffective teachers need to be removed, teachers are only a small part of the equation to improving schools. Schools are a microcosm of society and if society is suffering, then we all will reap the consequences. Schools are symptomatic of a larger problem.
I agree that we are experiencing a cultural crisis. Value is not placed on families, faith, or education. Families are being torn apart through drug addiction, divorce, sexual abuse, the media, and children often don’t know who one of their parents is. Discipline is often ignored at home or valued in a way not compatible with the school system. Law suits abound and teachers, principals, and superintendants are fearful of being brought to court. The cultural litigation demands placed society further indicts the problems faced with education.
Government mandates have tied the hands of local districts, and the complicated bureaucracy, lengthy paperwork process, and ever changing approach to education makes teachers confused and angry they are forced to continually make accommodations. It almost feels like the teacher is held accountable for the child not doing the homework or the misbehaving in the classroom. Student accountability is obviously void. The teacher must provide seemingly endless types of documentation before principals and other administrators begin to get involved. This can take months for things to finally happen.
Many schools are over burdened with meeting accommodations for the over diagnosed ADD problem as well as other health concerns that plague society. Schools are often asked to do the impossible. In a classroom of 25 students with 5 or more students who must have special accommodations and documentation as well, the teacher is burdened with concentrating all his or her efforts on these demands at the exclusion of the rest of the students. I know this is unpleasant to talk about, but it is truthful.
While many parents are wonderful and caring individuals, there is a cluster of individuals whose main aim is to “bully” their wishes onto the administration and the teacher is the one who is left to comply with the demands. I’ve known of an African American woman who wanted to sue an African American coach because her child did not get enough playing time. She had planned to use discrimination as the basis of the suit. Still other parents, when brought in to discuss how to help their child complete his or her homework, are told it is a three prong concept. The student comes to the teacher to have his or her planner endorsed; the teacher initial’s off on the homework; the parent does the checking for the teacher’s initials. Yet parents repeatedly allow the student to leave the planner at school without consequences or don’t bother to check the planner for teacher notes or updates. Paddling has been taken out of school and coaches can’t allow the students to run extra laps for misbehavior. The big consequence is In School Suspension, ISS. However, In School Suspension is looked on as a badge of honor or a place to get caught up with homework. After or before school detentions are seldom attended because students opt for ISS instead. It seems as though they decide their consequence that is most convenient for them. Disrespect abounds. I have heard students speak rudely and swear at teachers while challenging the rules and authority.
Immigration is also a major problem. Because so many different cultures come to us, schools have opted to try to understand and accommodate their culture instead of acclimating students to the American way of life. Students from other cultures often do not look at education in the same view as Americans and have their child stay at home to babysit other children. Some children go back and forth to their home country on a regular basis and miss many days of school. Their language barrier and the fact they have multiple missing days hinders any advancement the child could gain. Others who immigrate value the beauty of education and uphold the rigors at home that we would hope American parents would model.
Private versus public schools are often a touted option. Having worked in both private and public institutions I can say that private schools can offer options that public can’t. Private schools do not have to take all children and can thus limit their selection of students. This could include taking only exception children, children with similar faith and values, or children with like disabilities. This mentality ensures an elitist attitude among the staff and students or a common belief that allows school to focus on academia matters. Further, private schools can dismiss children from the private school who disrupt the classroom or are not performing. Public schools do not have this option except in extreme instances. In addition, the idea that one has to pay for education on a monthly basis and watch the family’s checking account dwindle or the concept that places a burden on the family to work extra jobs to pay for an education also provides the family a better mechanism for monitoring student behavior and progress.
Finally, curriculum needs to become more rigorous while at the same time introduce fewer concepts, but provide a richer and deeper understanding of concepts introduced. Too many different math concepts, for example, without a solid foundation, leave gaps in student learning, understanding, and application. Schools need to hold students accountable for learning and retain students who have not mastered the subject. Despite what you hear, social promotion still exists and teachers are given choices to pass the student despite the failing grade or re-teach to an unwilling recipient.
So please look beyond the rhetoric of “teachers got to go” and focus on the big picture. I don’t feel confident society is going to be able to move forward. I hope I am wrong.

J.A.   September 29th, 2010 1:29 pm ET

With all due respect, perhaps we should not be turning to actors to discuss the current state of education and the school system.

As an academic who has examined education, there is substantial evidence that suggests that schools do a fairly good job at compensating for wildly disparate home environments, experiences, abilities etc. I'm not suggesting that schools are perfect, or that we can't improve – but the "sky is falling" talk is not productive.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stop turning to actors and musicians to discuss serious issues such as education, health, autism and the like. In most cases, they do not have a sufficient background to seriously engage the issues, nor do they understand how to read research reports. It takes years of careful study to understand what makes a good study/vs a bad study, how to analyze stats etc.

Call me elitist (or whatever term is popular), but if we're going to really solve education disparities and help kids – shouldn't we turn to people who actually know something about teaching, learning, home-school relationships etc.?


Robert   September 29th, 2010 2:00 pm ET

John, I am a math teacher and I do show movies in math class at times. I have a large Promethean board in which I can interact with the movie or a website for that matter. Sometimes I show a math movie if I feel the concept can be better visualize by the movie or if I lack the resource to show what the movie could show. For instance i do not have a million cube or a million of anything to show children what large numbers of things look like but I found an excellent video to show millions, and billions of various things. It is true that some teachers show movies to kill time and I dislike that too but do not disparage multimedia because it might make a teacher's job easier because in fact it simply might be more effective. I use to feel guilty about that myself and want to sand and deliver but found the children will get bored of my voice and respond better to a variety of delivery methods.

Robert   September 29th, 2010 2:42 pm ET

As a teacher I was fuming at last night's show with John Legend and Steve Perry both of whom are black males like myself but are dodging the real truth. I am a teacher at an all black elementary school and have been for 15 years. I see every child in the school and thus see the big picture of what is wrong. Ben Stein had some sense 1. Its the culture, rap, thug life and glorification of dumb celebrities and athletes and little appreciation for knowledge which breeds disrespectful intellectually apathetic students. 2. Lack of options for the teacher to deal with disruptive children. 3. Rigidity of curriculum and its inability to inspire learning. 4. Parents are not involved. 5. Poverty 6. A few bad teachers. In that order! The last one is easy to attack but be careful not to make it worse because the good teachers can do other things beside being hounded with observations and more paperwork and this lack of respect. I like the unions because I didn't go to college to just get fired like a fast food worker, I went to be treated like a professional, one with original ideas and methods and a genuine interest in my field. Steve Perry talks of these gifted teachers that are magical, you live in a fantasy world, even in sports you can see there are going to be role players and there are going to be stars, but you want to fire the bench warmers and think you are going to get Lebron James like teachers to fill their spots then you are crazy.

Mrs. Mae   September 29th, 2010 4:30 pm ET

Here we go again with the blame game. Any time the teachers union has to answer to the public, they play the blame game. Teachers would never make it working in the private sector. They expect guaranteed employment, 75 extra days off a year, vacation pay, sick pay, automatic pay increases and, they, more or less, put in the hours of a part-time employee. I recall that Forbes magazine put out a study wherein they took the average teachers pay, broke it down and compared it to the private industry. Big surprise – teachers came out ahead of lawyers and doctors. I love the fact that this is finally getting the attention it deserves. Keep talking teachers because I can't wait for the Larry King show to share with the public: what your pay is – what your bennies are and what types of pensions you get – all at the tax payers expense! They need to blow the lid on how many hours teachers are contracted to work too. Most people know that schools get lofty budgets but the problem is, most of the money goes to salaries. Hence the fact that parents are being asked to buy and support public ed. more and more. I jsut read an article in my own town that stated the local school district was in a financila crisis due to the lack of funds they would be getting from the state this year. Blah, Blah, BLah. The article went on to ask the public to open up check books and "save the school." At the end of the article it stated, "the school district will still be able to give across the board raises this year. HA! They have fooled us for too long! I have witnessed good teachers but there are too many just skating by , not willing to do anything unless it is in their contract! This is abut the kids in our nation and what is best for them! Where else can I expect to get bad service and continue to support and pay for it???? The union has a monopoly and they know it. The gig is up and it is time for transparency and accountability within the public school system. For the teachers that keep complaining that it is the parents fault, I challenge you to go get a job in the private sector. Who will you blame then?????

Jason   September 29th, 2010 5:18 pm ET

Good teachers are wonderful! I have yet to hear anyone in this national discussion disrespect or criticize good teachers. The focus is on a broken system currently used, which unfortunately does include bad well as bad government policy and unions who seek to protect good AND bad teachers over what's best for the children. I see nothing wrong with monitoring student progress and teacher effectiveness. Teaching is a job and it should be evaluated on a regular basis just like every other profession. Doctors and lawyers are subject to losing their licenses and being disbarred, why should teaching (perhaps the most important job in the nation) be taken any less strictly? We don't have a solution for bad parenting or ending poverty but we can control the effectiveness of our teachers so I see nothing wrong with managing those things within our control.

DD Spraker   September 29th, 2010 6:31 pm ET

I have taught high school Biology and Earth Science. I have also taught Life Science at the 7th grade level. I have taught for 14 years. I would love to be a guest on your show and relate how the anti-teacher campaign that seems to be hitting America is not the answer to how to improve schools. Anyone that wants to blame teachers should go and teach for five years. It does not take long for someone to realize once in the school that teachers have many more responsibilities other than teaching. Teaching is a very stressful but extremely rewarding career. Many people; however, forget to realize that teachers are HUMANS. Yes, humans. Teachers also have children, families and other responsibilities besides teaching. What kind of a parent becomes a teacher and helps students and stays after school and does not take care of their own children. This seems to be what many are proposing. The education of a child begins way before they enter the doors of the school and to say that the end all be all of a child's education lies in the hands of the teacher is absurd. The best influence on a child's education is the parents or guardians. I don't hear anyone bashing parents that are absent, incarcerated, or addicted to drugs. I hear, blame the teacher. Since when are the schools responsible for not only teaching but completely raising children? I have many ideas on how to fix the problems in education. Don't over extend teachers. Give teachers time to plan. Don't expect teachers to work more hours and be pretty much a super hero with magical motivate every student powers and then turn around and tell them they are a horrible teacher just because they don't have an objective wrote on the board. Think about how many children go to school everyday and how many teachers are great and touch a child's life. There was a book wrote years ago entitled "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child" guess what it's true.

D. Spraker

judy   September 29th, 2010 7:49 pm ET

September 28th, 2010 10:28 pm ET
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

I am a parent who is raising four children in the second worst school district on Long Island. I have two left to graduate out of it. My experience has been that bad teachers are not removed and administrators that come into the system to make positive change are targeted and removed. I have watched this process for the past 20 years in the same district. The union has a powerful control on what these school boards do and don' t do. We have our head in the sand too long and what we have now is the result of our denial-a failure chain.Teachers are refusing to even open science kits because they dont feel like using them. You cannot ask for progress and leave it up to individuals (teachers) to be self motivated to fix it. This fooishness got us where we are now. Teachers need to be maeasured. Teachers must be measured so they can see just how lacking they are in the ability to do their jobs. The cream will rise to the top. The rest should either go find another career or submit to being put into retraining.
Change is never embraced when it means shining a light on this
problem which parents in these underperforming schools have been
tearing their hearts out for years crying out for a change.. Unions will work to keep administrators in that aquiesce to their demands.
Enough talking! Put all teachers on a system of evaluation that will show the effectiveness of their teaching skills-do it now-and it must be done on regular intervals during a school year.
They are the ones responsible for preparing our country's future leaders in addition to what parents do at home.
If this was corporation, heads would roll ( that means people fired)
and new blood(newly hired people) brought in to carry out the new corporate direction. Well, this is not a corporation but we must go in a different direction. This product(our children and their education is priceless). We need to move now and
move like lightening. So while the union tries to hold on to their power lets go about this business of educating our children. My district is the highest paid in New York State if not the country. It is not a money problem.

community volunteer   September 29th, 2010 9:22 pm ET

I am a retired engineer. For the past five years I have been working as a community volunteer (no remuneration) in a K-8 public school, in a mid-western city, where I teach science, math, advanced math, and engineering.

I have observed that there is no shortage of good teachers. However, there is a shortage of good students - students who come to school regularly, students who pay attention in the classroom and not fall asleep, students who behave themselves and not prevent others from learning, students who submit quality assignments, and students who work hard, and demonstrate scholarship in their work.

You can have the best teachers in the world – but your efforts will come to naught if students don’t want to learn.

Our political leaders have failed to solve problems of dysfunctional families – burdened with social, economic, physical health, emotional health, and other problems – and whose children lack good learning habits. Instead, teachers are now being blamed for failing to teach students who don’t want to learn.

Charter schools, the schools of choice for so-called urban school reformers, were started to teach hard-to-educate students. However, charter schools do their best to keep out or kick out such students because such students depress their ratings. While charter schools are called public schools – because they receive public funds – they don’t in any way subscribe to the goal of universal education for all. In addition, there are many cases of fraud and greed in the operation of charter schools - and skimming of public funds by for-profit operators for their own selfish needs.

When the United States addresses the problems of hard-to-teach students coming from dysfunctional inner-city families - instead of blaming teachers for failing to teach such students with bad learning habits - only then there will be true school reform.

Mean while - observe more sustained teacher bashings – no mention about solving the problems of dysfunctional families - and listen to the stories of a few successful charter schools without any mention of the hard-to-teach students they keep out or kick out - for many more years to come.

Jim   September 29th, 2010 10:08 pm ET

Why in the world did you hire Steve Perry as an educational expert? All I have heard from him on two shows is that the educational establishment, which is by and large racist, is responsible for kids not learning.
As a former teacher for 38 years, I resent his accusations. If you can't correct the ills of inner city that have a direct impact on whether kids learn, then fire the teachers. If crime in many cities seems 0ut of control, then fire the police. If drug use and teenage preganancies are the problem, then fire the health care professionals. Let's clean house; it's easier than to address the isssues.

Samantha   September 29th, 2010 10:25 pm ET

Not only does it take "A Village to Raise a Child", it also takes "A Village to Educate A Child". I have worked for an inner, metropolitan city elementary, middle, and high school from September 2009-May 2010 and can say that, as a mentor and tutor, the things I observed/learned that affected a child's education.
The first thing that affects a child's education is their family. Parental/guardian involvement is important because that is who the child is connected and/or attached to; this person(s) is who the child looks up to. Some students would share that their parent(s) told them to work hard in school so that they would not struggle in life like the family is now, thus letting the child know that there is a way out. A word of encouragement from the family helps build up the child. Family life/environment is so important because those factors affect if the child is going to trust an adult and give the child the ability to want to focus/learn at school.
The second thing that affects a child's education is the educators. I have worked at schools where the teacher's did not want to educate and I have worked at schools where teacher's did educate. I have had student's who told me that when they had to take their state test, that a lot of the material did not look familiar; they had never seen those type of questions and did not know how to solve the problems. I worked with teachers who used their own money to provide the tools necessary to help their students learn. And just like parents/guardians, educators need to encourage their students, no matter what the circumstances may be. Think about it like this: a teacher(s) may be the only adult and kind adult, that the child has in his/her life.
The third thing that affects a child's education is the education system. Is the school supporting the teacher's who are investing in their student's? I can say that I worked at a school where I wasn't supported and I got depressed. Is there someone responsible to weed out the teacher's who are there for a paycheck?
The fourth thing that affects a child's education is the child. If a child get's his/her needs met by their parent/guardian(s) and they don't encourage the child to do better, the child may or may not invest in their education.
Basically, the things I am pointing out are the human development and human behavior aspect of educating a child. I want to share two stories that show how important these things are to educating a child. I worked with a child who "seemed" to have an excuse for not wanting to participate. The child was participating in a program that helps prepare students for college. One of the requirements for the program is a binder that the school provided. She hated the binder because she "was afraid that if she lost hers or it got ruined that binders would never be sold again." Based off of the other things that she would say in class, I came to the conclusion that her needs at home were not getting met. I told her teacher about what was really going on with her. That semester, something happened to the girl's pencil pouch that the school had provided. The teacher told her to ask her parents to buy another one and she said that they wouldn't buy her another one. The teacher bought her one and told her to make sure she took good care of it. I tell you, before the teacher purchased her a pencil pouch, the girl had a wall/came off as very tough. After the teacher bought her a pencil pouch, her wall was comi ng down/she was lightning up. And my last story. The last day of work, I was spending time with the student's because I wasn't going to see them again. They trusted me and shared things about drinking, smoking, and drugs. One of the girls told me that her parents gave her alcohol at a young age and from that conversation, we talked about her family life and I ended up learning that during her spring break, she tried to commit suicide; she has a hard family life that she struggled to healthily cope with. I had noticed that after spring break, she wasn't taking our group tutoring sessions seriously and gave a lot of attitude; before spring break, she would start the tutoring sessions and help lead the group. I thought what I saw of her after spring break was due to getting back into the routine of school and her being a hormonal adolescent.

Jill   September 30th, 2010 12:25 am ET

Does anybody really think there is only ONE factor to blame for our education system falling below the expectations? Bad teachers are a problem, crumbling schools are a problem, the emphasis on standardized tests that focus on rote memorization of facts is a problem, parents who do not hold their children accountable are a problem, students who do not see the importance of learning are a problem.

The American education system is called a SYSTEM because it has MANY moving parts, not just 1 or 2.

Brenda   September 30th, 2010 1:27 am ET

Ben Stein was right when he said the children need the support of their parents, but not all children have that. I have friends in my high school who are working and going to school to support themselves because they have parents who don't want anything to do with them. Some parents don't care whether their kids have a good education or not. Some are working ALL the time to make ends meet and don't see their children at any point in the day. Some kids don't have the support of anybody. So how are they supposed to get a good education, according to Ben Stein?

Julie Daly   September 30th, 2010 6:46 am ET

I know many excellent teachers and many extremely poor administrators, who have a so-called Doctorate degree from some honky-tonk program and they've never needed to publish anything. We need leaders in education who can inspire good teachers to do great things!!

Tommy G   October 2nd, 2010 6:29 pm ET

Are America's Children Being Cheated? (Larry King Special on CNN , September 28, 2010)

America's children in public schools will never succeed as their private school peers mainly because of the inability of most public schools to maintain discipline in the classroom and enforce mandatory suspensions and expulsions of habitually unruly students - something that private schools are able to do inherently. Even charter schools, which are public but are able to act like private schools to some degree regarding discipline and parental involvement will always fare better than most traditional public schools. Yes, there are many factors as to why our children in public schools aren't doing well, but discipline in the classroom and lack of parental support are the most important factors that I have seen in my 20 years of teaching experience in the public school system.
Yes, an argument can be made for the modernization of the teaching profession. But why do Catholic schools continue to do so well when, in most cases, they have fewer computers in the classrooms, higher class numbers, less qualified teachers, and use the same teaching methods that they used 30 years ago? The answer: discipline and REQUIRED parental involvement. Catholic schools require parents to log in a certain amount of hours of volunteer work at the school and school functions. More importantly, habitually unruly and disruptive students can be quickly removed, and if necessary, expelled from a school - something that is extremely difficult to do in public schools. Therefore, those few habitually disruptive students in public classrooms will continue to wreak havoc on the well designed lesson plans and require so much attention by the teacher that s/he will end up spending 11 minutes out of a 50 minute period TEACHING, the other minutes spent constantly dealing with 2-3 unruly students. Incidentally, those numbers were once documented by a middle school classroom teacher!
Until the public school system decides to become tougher on habitually disruptive students, nothing will ever change. You can throw more money, more technology, more ways to teach the "new Math", etc., but only when we start creating more alternative schools for the habitually disruptive students will we ever allow the other 28 well behaved students full access to the education that they deserve.

Melissa   October 8th, 2010 10:55 pm ET

Do you think a POLICE OFFICER working in Oakland, Compton, Watts, or East L.A. has the SAME LEVEL of STRESS and PRESSURE, as cop in Beverly Hills?


A policeman friend of mine went to his wife's Back-to-School-Night. Imagine his surprise when he realized he had PREVIOUSLY ARRESTED half of the parents in attendance!


Ken   October 10th, 2010 12:42 pm ET

I feel that Rhee et al are missing a couple of important parts of the equation. First off, I agree that there are teachers who are indifferent or don't really understand how to break apart and sequence concepts. However, they are missing what has brought these teachers to this point. Were they poorly trained? Standards for teacher training are as nebulous as standards for teacher evaluation. What about teacher burnout?

I would contend that most teachers are good teachers – often in poor situations. Most so-called bad teachers are made, not born. They are made by the teacher training systems and the education system itself which, in many cases, fails to prepare them well or support them in the instructional process. Most people who enter the teaching field don't do it for the money – they do it because they truly want to help. It's no wonder to me that so many teachers quit the profession after only a couple of years. They had a dream and the system squashed it.

And no-one is mentioning poor administrators and others higher in a school system who are the ones who are failing to support teachers and who, all too often, want to fire teachers for reasons which have little to do with a teachers actual desire and ability.

There are many problems with the education system but the primary answer is not to engage in mass firings of teachers – particularly when there are no reasonable methods for teacher evaluation. The first steps are to fix the systems which surround teachers. Give teachers better training, better support, better evaluation. Even go so far as to revisit the ways we teach children. Give teachers who are having problems ways to revitalize themselves and become the excellent professionals they always felt they could be. Then, and only then, should we start taking a look at relieving the teachers who are still unable to perform. I believe that if we fix the other parts of education first, we'll find that the percentage of teachers who truly need to move on will be strikingly low.

Duane Pitts   October 18th, 2010 2:40 pm ET

Read Gerald Bracey, Yong Zhao, David Berliner, Bruce Biddle, Susan Ohanian. Then re-visit the topic of what's wrong with American education. It's not the students or teachers, that's for sure! Try poverty, for one.

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