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What is wrong with the US education system?
10-25-2014, 09:55 PM (This post was last modified: 10-25-2014 09:58 PM by Don Shepherd.)
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What is wrong with the US education system?
There was a discussion in the Prime thread about the inadequacies of the K-12 public education system in the United States. I thought it would be nice to have a thread on this subject here. It is not related directly to HP calculators, but I think many forum members are interested in this topic and should share their thoughts.

There are no experts on this. We do manage to provide a basic education to the majority of students, but those students at either end of the ability spectrum are certainly not as well served as they could be and should be. The public schools have largely become the education provider for the poor and lower-middle class. Families with money typically seek out private schools for their kids, and private schools usually have smaller class sizes and more interesting classes.

I attended public schools from first grade through 12th grade, and then state universities for my BA and MA degrees. I learned the basics, like everyone else. I had teachers that I thought were very good, and the opposite.

The public education system is a lot like the Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic control division: it is very resistant to change. That is probably smart for air traffic control; lives are at stake, and you shouldn't tinker with a system that, largely, works. Public education works too, but it could be so much better. After leaving the computer field after 40 years and becoming a teacher, I saw first-hand some of the problems in education, from a crooked principal who failed a new teacher in their end-of-year assessment review so she could appoint a buddy of hers as a math teacher the following year, to hardened teachers who could do nothing but complain about students, parents, other faculty, administrators, the school board, you name it. The irony is, despite the trillions of dollars spent on education every year, most classes remain pretty boring.

I now volunteer as a math teacher at a private boarding school in Louisville. Instead of a ridiculous test-centered curriculum--which public schools must teach--my principal told me "you've been in the business world for 40 years, just teach the kids what they need to know to get by in the world." A public school teacher would kill for that level of freedom.

I don't subscribe to the belief that there is a federal conspiracy to keep schools ineffective and boring; conspiracies require brains that congress lacks. I think the status quo is just hard to break; schools today operate pretty much like schools did in the 1950's. Just newer technology.

Personally, I'd like to see a return to the old "readin, writin, and rithmetic," but that is not likely to happen in this complex world of today.
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What is wrong with the US education system? - Don Shepherd - 10-25-2014 09:55 PM

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