I do not know how I ended up on a list that keeps sending me e-mails from The Medium. Most of the time I delete those e-mails without opening them, but recently I noticed that The Medium was publishing a series of posts that attacked America’s public schools and teachers and it seems every day there was another assault.
This is one of those hatchet jobs: 20 Ways American Schools Fail Students.
Megan E. Holstein starts with, “Everyone knows the American school system is broken.” A few sentences later, she says, “American Education is broken beyond repair. We need to scrap the entire thing and start over.”
Here is my response (revised for this post) that I left in a comment following Holstein’s alleged propaganda hack piece that I think was written to help destroy what’s left of the U.S. public education system. To be clear, the American school system is not broken. Public education is underfunded and teachers are being blamed for the results of too much useless testing that only benefits the corporations that profit from it.
If the American school system is broken, then some very wealthy and powerful individuals like Betsy DeVos, David Coleman, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, and the Walmart Walton family are responsible.
However, the NAEP is the Nation’s Report Card, and it clearly shows improvement and progress in the nation’s public schools starting in 1969 up until NCLB in 2001. After that, the progress flattened out. The No Child Left Behind Act ushered in an era of high-stakes, rank-and-punish tests and abandoned what was working.
The NAEP report said, “As noted earlier, one of the national educational goals calls for increases in students’ academic achievement. A stated objective of this goal is that the performance distribution for minority students will more closely reflect that of the student population as a whole. In some of the subject areas assessed by NAEP, results indicated progress toward meeting this goal.” — Page xi
In addition, a study released by Stanford University offers more evidence that America’s public school are not failing: “Poor ranking on international test misleading about U.S. student performance, Stanford researcher finds”
“There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries.”
“Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared — Canada, Finland and Korea, for example — has been falling rapidly.”
It is possible that Medium.com also publishes pieces that support public education, but if those posts exist, they are not landing in my e-mail box.
The Atlantic says, “So what is Medium? Medium is a place to read articles on the Internet. Medium is a blogging platform, like WordPress or Blogger. Medium is the new project from the guys who brought you Twitter. Medium is chaotically, arrhythmically produced by a combination of top-notch editors, paid writers, PR flacks, startup bros, and hacks.”
There is always room for improvement, but if you want to see America’s public education system improve, we must turn back the clock and let teachers make most of the decisions just like teachers in Finland do … not someone like Betsy DeVos, Bill Gates or the Walmart Walton family.
Did you know that China actually learned what worked best in public education from the United States and then started rebuilding its education system in Shanghai based on what they learned?
In the 1990s, Chinese scholars visited the United States to learn what the United States was doing in its public schools. After all, those public schools taught the generations that made the United States the most powerful and wealthiest country in the world. In addition, the United States is one of the most educated countries in the world and is always listed in the top TEN, and there are 195 countries in the world today. No matter how great China’s 15-year-olds in Shanghai perform on the international PISA test, China hasn’t made the top TEN list yet. Canada is listed as #1, a country that does not measure success in education with high-stakes, rank-and-punish tests.
“What the Chinese found valuable in American education is the result of a decentralized, autonomous system that does not have standards, uses multiple criteria for judging the value of talents, and celebrates individual differences. Recognizing the negative consequences of ‘test-oriented education,’ China has launched a series of national reforms to cultivate more creative citizens.” – Reforming Chinese Education: What China is Trying to Learn from America
What happened after those Chinese scholars left the United States and went home?
With help from Bill Gates and other billionaire oligarchs that think like him, after NCLB in 2001, the Common Core standards and high stakes rank-and-punish tests were forced on the nation’s public schools literally destroying everything the country was doing right. Getting rid of those tests and that Common Core are the first steps toward fixing any damage those billionaires caused to the U.S. public schools. We do not have to tear down our public schools and start over. We only have to stop people like Bill Gates from meddling in our public education system.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
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