BY JOSEPH DEMARCO – The public, the politicians and the media should be ashamed of the hatchet job they have done on the teaching profession.
As a teacher I am appalled, particularly by the actions of Republican politicians such as Scott Walker. Teachers are the new scapegoats. They have implied teachers don’t work that hard, and they use lower socio-economic schools’ failing test scores as an example. Did you know that in Finland (The World’s Most Literate Country) if you were to go to an area where there are poor people and you were to test their children, you would find America’s poorest school is still better.
Finland, The World’s Most Literate Country, has students performing lower in reading and writing than an American school. How is that possible? According to these politicians, America is in trouble.
Well, Finland only tests 60 percent of their students. So yes, Finland’s top 60 percent score better on the average than the 95 percent of American students that take a similar test.
In China, only 4 percent of the population takes a similar test. Most countries start weeding out their students with a lower level of intelligence as early as elementary.
In America we do not believe in Leaving Children Behind, everybody gets an equal education. This is where the game of politics enters and everything gets spun.
The truth is we spend roughly $800 billion a year on education. We spend more per pupil than any other country. This is where they have a field day and ask the $800 billion question. Since we spend more $7,700 per pupil (on the average about $2,000 more than Finland and $4,000 more than Japan) shouldn’t we have a higher literacy rate and smarter citizens.
These politicians point fingers at teachers. They point to low income areas and they say, “That school is failing. America is in trouble.” Did you know there’s a direct correlation between poverty and low test scores? Even in Finland. Did you know education is a four-legged chair? Student. Teacher. Parent. Administrator. Did you know it takes a village to raise a child?
This year Hawaii teachers will be taking another pay cut. Perhaps we deserve it. Perhaps it is a shared sacrifice of hard economic times. And perhaps the American Institution of Learning is not as poor as many of these politicians and the media would like you to believe.
Did you know that in 1996 the Singapore fifth (5th) percentile score, TIMSS 8th grade Math, was higher than the US fiftieth (50th) percentile score? If this were IQ, the US median would qualify as severely mentally retarded in Singapore. Singapore met the TIMSS sampling protocols, and tested as large a percentage of students as the US. US valedictorians will shine Singapore’s janitors’ shoes. And Hawaii occupies the national cellar.
Several lines of evidence support the following generalizations:
1. As institutions take from individual parents the power to determine for their own children the choice of curriculum and the pace and method of instruction, overall system performance falls.
2. Political control of school harms most the children of the least politically adept parents.
It does not take 12 years at $12,000 per pupil year (a serious underestimate of the Hawaii DOE per pupil budget) to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. State (government, generally) provision of History, Civics, and Economics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers and electronic broadcast news media would be, (are, in totalitarian countries).
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