September 29, 2010

ICYMI: Are America’s children being cheated in school?

Posted: 12:08 PM ET
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elisa serio   September 29th, 2010 2:08 pm ET

I wished that someone would have answered the question....what happen to the US School system:
when money cuts had to was always the school that got cuts first. make the school days shorter was to save money....taking music, art etc. out of schools was about money. Did teachers get cuts no. shorter days less time to teach.
whos fault? adults...making the cuts. Politicians aren't interested in kids.....they don't vote and they sure won't complain about budget cuts.
our teachers teaching now are the product of the broken system that we are talking about. EVERY teacher should be reviewed yearly.....IT'S A JOB....and if you don't do good, you get fired. Unions are not for the kids and haven't been in a long time.
Kids need to go to school 11 months out of the year and 7-8 hous a day. We need to go back at least 55 years and start over.

Riley Weems   September 29th, 2010 2:53 pm ET

I was watching part of the interviews with your three "esteemed" panelists last night. I am a teacher in Grand Island, Nebraska. I was very upset with the fact that your three guests seemed to be blaming all of our education problems on teachers. Ben Stein was trying to point out that students and even parents need to be held accountable as well and I couldn't agree more.
I don't know his name, the man in the pink tie, but he seemed to totally disagree and put 100% of the blame on teachers. I am not saying that their aren't bad teachers out there, but when are we going to wake up and start holding students and even parents a little bit accountable for the students learning?
I am a math teacher. I would love to spend my day actually teaching just math. I end up having to teach kids how to be respectful and responsible and trying to teach them to care about their education. When I was a student, my parents taught me those things and then the teachers taught me the curriculum.
If we want to put 100% of the blame on the teachers, we are going to fall further and further behind. It's time for the students and even the parents to take more of a role in the education process. It's also time for people like the three on your panel to wake up and realize that not every child comes to school ready to learn. We struggle every day to get kids eager to learn and see the relevance of their learning. I would love it if we lived in this fantasy land that those three were talking about and every kid came to school and paid attention and asked questions and focussed all the time.
I really hope that people don't put too much stock in the comments they may have heard from those three, because they are so far off base that I can't even begin to try to bring them back.

Bud   September 29th, 2010 3:36 pm ET

I think it is unfair to blame the unions when it is everyone's fault. We have always had teachers unions and I am 56 years old. But, we do need a way to stop "teaching to tests" and begin to teach strategic thinking. Tests are not the only way to judge a human being. Not everyone is going to be academically gifted. There will always have to be artists and non-conformists to make our society whole. I agree with a year-round school schedule. I will agree that teachers are not entitled to any more protections in a job than in any other job. If my company wants to get rid of me, they just hand me a pink slip and I am gone. No more protections for teachers. School systems around the country are in for "sticker shock" when the stimulus money runs out and states have to make big cuts to school budgets. That is the new reality. Get used to it, the status quo is gone.

Bud   September 29th, 2010 3:43 pm ET

One other thing....the argument put forth comparing our system with that of other countries, like Norway, is ridiculous. You cannot compare a system which is socialist with a system based on capitalism. Any attempt to do so, shows their total ignorance of the way our financial system is constructed. Maybe the head of the American Federation of Teachers should go back to school and take an economics course.

c. matas   September 29th, 2010 4:49 pm ET

It would be false to say that teachers have not gotten cut. We've had cuts to pay, cuts to benefits, and cuts to staff. That said, money is not the entire problem. Incompetent teachers are generally still in classrooms due to the administrator's lack of due diligence. The incompetent teachers in my district were granted tenure by principals, not the union and not by teachers.

Society talks a good game, but in end, we don't value education or educators. We have to teach manners, good eating habits, how to wash hands, give medicine in some cases, and a variety of non-academic tasks. We have parents who allow their children to treat adults with disrespect, not take responsibility for learning, and demand that we change grades so their child's feelings don't get hurt. I think that the majority of Americans screaming about education and offering solutions need to educate themselves. The number one reason for leaving the classroom cited by teachers is lack of respect for their profession. We keep screaming that we need good teachers and must get the best and brightest to take up the career. Then we yell that they make too much money and their benefits are too generous. If the public really wants to know what's wrong with education, they need look no further than the nearest mirror.

the lack of respect is most evident in the recent news shows on education in which administrators, entertainers, and the president of the AFT are the featured guests. Where are the actual teachers? I thought when Mr. King announced that he would present the other side last night, I would see teachers. Instead, an actress and the union.

The Truth Shall set me Free   September 29th, 2010 5:35 pm ET

My solution is philosophy and psychology.Starting in grade 7,the class without grades,give them work but merely allow them to choose and understand why they should try and care.Teaching history and thought passed throughout human questioning.

Teresa   September 29th, 2010 10:03 pm ET

I have been thinking about this program all day! I am so disgusted with the comments made by Ben Stein. His insistence that this problem is cultural is insane! Constantly blaming parents and the neighborhood the child grows up in as the source of the child's inability to learn is racist and simplistic! I am a middle aged white woman who grew up in the mid-west. My parents were farmers. That was their job, their role in society was to provide food for Americans. They did it well! Can you imagine a world where you pay a farmer to grow your food, however you the consumer is ultimately responsible to fertilize the crop, water the crop, to make sure the ground is fertile enough to produce? Crazy, right! You hire the farmer and have certain expectations. You expect someone who knows what they are doing so as to prevent you from starving! Hello Ben! We hire teachers and have expectations! The teacher has his or her role in society! Hold them to it!

pws   September 29th, 2010 11:00 pm ET


How many years teaching experience did your panelists have? Just because they attended school doesn't make them authorities on school matters.They are living in a fantasy world (all except Ben Stein, who is a reasonable, honest, and realistic person).

Teachers are constantly under pressure from principals, superintendents, and society
to do better. They are told that they aren't doing enough for their students. They expect teachers to be hyper-responsible, but expect little from parents.

A child who grows up being read to and seeing his parents read has an advantage over the child who is reared in a bookless environment. This is a fact. A student's first and most important teachers are his parents. They learn by example. If the parents don't value education, it is highly unlikely that their sons and daughters will.

Once upon a time teachers were revered in the U.S. Currently Asian countries honor and respect teachers. Who can't make the correlation between respect and student performance? America has become too materialistic. Teachers aren't paid big salaries. Therefore, they must not be important. It's a wonder that anyone would choose education as a career!

Alan   September 30th, 2010 12:11 am ET

First, I must say that I am extremely disappointed in the panel that was put together to discuss such an important issue. What qualifies John Legend as an expert in education? Probably the same thing that would qualify, me the teacher, as an expert in air traffic control. This entire media blitz that has become the "hot topic", is nothing more than a smear campaign cast against teachers. The so called experts truly have no clue nor any valid suggestions for improving education.

Next time there is a show centered around such an important issue, it would be nice to actually have real experts! I would die for the opportunity to speak on behalf of teachers regarding the current state of education.

As a teacher, I can say with 100% certainty that my young children are receiving a much better education than I received 20 years ago. The sky is not falling!

Is there room for improvement? Yes! Are there bad teachers? Yes, just as there are bad doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, and architects.

My brother in law is 6-4 and an amazing basketball player. Does that make all men that are 6-4 amazing basketball players? Judging all teachers based on a few bad apples is extremely disheartening and short sited.

So, next time, please bring somebody like myself onto your show. It would be nice for the American public to see what is really happening in schools across the country!

Smith in Oregon   September 30th, 2010 1:28 am ET

What's wrong with America's Schools? REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS and REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATIONS gutting school funding, gutting State funding for repairing and rebuilding America's public schools. Gutting Pel grants to needy college students, causing College students to pay high interest rates on their college loans. The abuse list by Republican lawmakers and Republican administrations goes on and on and on.

Republican lawmakers and their special interest corporations are the number one abusers of hiring overseas college graduates and paying them a much lower salary pushing America's engineer's out the door and replacing them solely based on basement level employee salaries.

It is utterly amazing how far America's education system has fallen as the direct result of 20 years of Republican administration gutting. Text books now in many American public schools are 'shared', and the condition of the schools are largely falling apart, with twice as many students crammed into classrooms than they were originally designed for. Teachers are routinely facing a 100% increase in the number of students per class resulting in record fallout rates.

Republican voters just do not seem to understand when you take hundreds of Billions of taxpayer dollars to build new embassy's in Iraq, new Aircraft Carriers and develop new laser weapons THAT money comes directly out of State funding who were the very ones that raised and supplied those hundreds of Billions of taxpayer dollars.

Renita Perry   September 30th, 2010 7:46 am ET

I, 100% agree, with the panel. However, there is another side to this issue that I think that needs to be explored as well. But, let me back track first. Teachers are the single handed most important factor when it comes to educating America's youth. There is something wrong when an entire classroom fails a state standardized test year after year. As a new principal three years ago, I was sent to a school that was the worst performing school in our district. The state was threatening to take it over. In this building, I found many teachers who were ROAD (retired on active duty) who had been led by an ineffective leader who had allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do. Prior to my coming, the school had made AYP 1 time since the inception of NCLB. As I looked at scores, there were teachers who consistently performed and many who did not. It was a mess! After three years, our school was turned around. Now, I will admit that I had to get some people off of the bus either move to another school or retire. The difficult part was getting rid of teachers because the union contract and tenure. I have seen principals in our school district take YEARS to get one ineffective teacher out of education. But for those schools like mine, I didn't have that much time.

Now, here is the other side. I, the principal, would spend many late nights working, which meant that my family was suffering. When I got into administration, my children were in the 3rd, 5th, and 7th grades. I have missed so many meetings, events, games, car pooling, homework assignments, that I just couldn't do it anymore. I realized that I had been there more for the children that I had served and forwarding my own career, than I had spent with my own children. My own children could very well end up like the children who I served, parent less. So, I decided that I couldn't save anyone else's child without saving my own, so I resigned. Now, i teach part time at the University of Phoenix and I am finishing my doctorate.

Teachers and administrators are important to the success of our children and their posterity.

Margarethe   September 30th, 2010 5:53 pm ET

It is Ben Stein's comment about Abe Lincoln as an example of the good schools of once upon a time that irritated me profoundly. Where is the logic of citing extraordinary minds which exist to our amazement and are more mysterious and impossible to explain than one wants to admit. The latest in brain research has something to say about it though. Why did the very school Einstein went to not turn out many Einsteins? Why did in my Austrian school, where admittedly all 15 in my classroom graduated to go to university, not produce all A students? Some of my colleagues hovered on the brink of failing with the same teachers and a same test teaching approach. Many an argument has been made around the lack of critical thinking as central to education, Without the definition of EDUCATION as a shaper of citizens (what kind?) teaching approaches and curricula are also big question marks. Same methods for the diversity of individuals lead to different outcomes. Diverse methods stand a greater chance to bring about simliar outcomes; outcomes as determined by the definition of EDUCATION. I highly recommend to read vol.17, no,3, Summer 2010 of INNOVATIONS, published by Wayne State University. Schools cannot be as of old... and, by the way, how high was the illiteracy rate in the 40's?

Tommy G   October 2nd, 2010 7:04 pm ET

Ben Stein hit the nail on the head. The other panelists failed to talk about the elephant in the living room - the children from broken homes are the ones suffering because of their lack of parental support. Their parents or guardians expect the public schools to cure all of their ills. However, students who have at least one parent at home who is dedicated and proactive in their child's education will always be successful at school. Schools merely reinforce good habits learned at home. They rarely change bad habits acquired from inadequate parenting. Money has nothing to do with it. You don't need a lot of money to tell your child to go to bed at a decent hour, check to see that he did his homework, even if you don't understand it, and send your child to school with clean clothes (soap is cheap), etc... And for those who say there are so many bad teachers: just like in any profession, there are bad teachers, maybe 10-15%, but I suspect the number of bad parents is MUCH higher. And remember this: a bad teacher only lasts 9 months, but a bad parent lasts a lifetime!

Nina   October 2nd, 2010 10:29 pm ET

@ Smith in Oregon September 30th, 2010 1:28 am ET

You said it all. Excellent blog.

The Republican party is always in the business of removing money from "social" programs toward defense budgets. Very sad that the American people continue to suffer and many do not even see it!

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