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September 19th, 2009
05:54 AM ET

The State of the Nation's School System: What do you think?

A conservative public policy research group commissioned a survey to determine Oklahoma public high school students' knowledge of U.S. history and government. 1,000 students were asked ten questions taken from the U.S. citizenship test.

Only one in four students could name the first President of the United States. You can see the rest of the results here.

What do you think this says about the state of our nation's school system? We may air some of your comments this morning in the CNN Newsroom.

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soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Billie

    As a high school social studies teacher, I am not surprised at all. A major consequence of NCLB, and the resulting obsession with standardized testing and accountabiliy in math, reading and science has all but gutted the social studies curriculum (especially in urban schools) and social studies teachers have been warning about this for YEARS, with the cries falling of deaf ears. Many students arrive in high schools knowing virtually NOTHING about their country's history, government or geography. The fault here does not lie with teachers, it is squarely on the shoulders of policy makers.

    September 19, 2009 at 6:09 am |
  2. Jeffrey Ludwig

    What does it say about the school system?? What does it say about us?! What is it we have prioritized above our children's basic understanding of their surroundings?

    September 19, 2009 at 6:18 am |
  3. Bridgitte

    I have a few questions on this... Where are the parents and why aren't they involved in what their kids are doing? Maybe we should look in these no child left behind acts... maybe these are disrupting the actual process of those who would like to learn.. As a volunteer in my daughters grade school, I think we have teachers being more than teachers, their main goal of teacher has been pushed to the side so they have less time to teach and more time dealing with inappropriate behavior because people out there are having children and give up on them when the going gets tough.

    September 19, 2009 at 6:20 am |
  4. Desmond

    The students were asked to take a 10 question sample test. The most disturbing thing to me about the results was that out of the 1,000 Oklahoma students tested, 46 students did not get a single question correct. On top of that, not a single student was able to correctly answer 8 out of 10, 9 out of 10, or all 10 out of 10 questions! I know the US is falling behind, but this is just embarrassing!

    September 19, 2009 at 6:20 am |
  5. James

    These tests lack validity. When you are a high schooler and told that you don't need to pass a test, you get free time to play around. People who view these surveys as factual information about our children's intelligence are extremely gullable. There's more truth in the surveys that people send into media news. What a joke.

    September 19, 2009 at 6:32 am |
  6. Jan H

    CNN can do their part to improve civics literacy by including the answers to these questions in your report in some manner.

    September 19, 2009 at 6:41 am |
  7. daisy

    This brings to light what we already knew. Education needs reform too. Can you imagine these kids running things in the future? Scary! We need to do something soon. Maybe give teachers the respect and money they deserve?! Just a thought.

    September 19, 2009 at 6:50 am |
  8. hugh darcheville

    I believe it is important that kids know the history of their country, but when Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the knowledge of God himself is being removed from schools, i donot think it is important that students don't know the first President.

    September 19, 2009 at 6:50 am |
  9. ken

    It means either that the students in Oklahoma are stupid, or they just don't teach civics. I would like to see how other students in the U.S. compare to Oklahoma. Generally I think we spend too much money on education. It is insane what we spend on education in the northeast .

    September 19, 2009 at 7:04 am |
  10. Laura

    It is clear that
    a) the students taking the test did not care
    b) they have uninvolved parents
    c) they have teachers forced to teach to the test
    d) all of the above

    It is impossible to think these kids were never taught the first president of the US. They probably got the test and joked around with it. That is another problem with high staked testing: students enjoy not caring. Whose fault that is...

    September 19, 2009 at 8:15 am |
  11. Pauly

    And to think an OK state legislator was one og the biggest critics against President Obama addressing students. All those parents should be happy they had their kids stay home from school. After all, they aren't learning anything at school! Not much at home either!

    September 19, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  12. Charles Kopack

    The question should be expanded to say, why is one of the world's largest nations ranked so low in education standards? The answer is that the emphasis had shifted away from basics and gone to the more "touchy feely" subjects and other activities.

    Rather than holding students accountable we seem to be more concerned about how children feel about themselves than what they learn.

    The school system in this country has turned into nothing more than a babysitter service.

    Hold all parties accountable – students, parents and teachers.

    September 19, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  13. Col Hank Reed USMC (ret)

    I am a former advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps, as such I served from the Mekong Delta too the northern border.

    Recently, I saw a segement where you are deeply involved in going back home...It brought TEARS TO MY EYES...Keep up the good work..Semper Fi..Hank

    September 19, 2009 at 8:53 am |
  14. Mark from Boston

    What do we expect when we as a nation haven't realized that education begins at home with parenting. There are too many people in this country that are simply irresponsible by default. And, these irresponsible people are trying to raise children. This is also why one in three children are considered obese. You can't sow tomatoes and reap soy beans. It doesn't work that way. That being said, how do we expect children, most from single parent homes, to learn off a diet of hot dogs, Cherrios and domestic violence? Did we not think all the meth and crack babies would one day grow up and have children of their own?

    We have fundamental issues in this country that promote incompetence. Education, healthcare and government are improperly incentivized And, although they mean well, too much government is creating welfare states . Ignorance and Capitalism don't mix (Period) This is how you end up with the aforementioned test results or the likes of Fox News. Ever watch Jay Leno's Jay Walking? This would be funny if it wasn't so absolutely cynical. As far as I'm concerned, you're not a citizen if you do not know the answer to these simple questions, and every citizen should be required to take this test.

    September 19, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  15. Theresa

    I have to agree with Billie. Working in the field of education I can attest to the mantra, "What is measured is accomplished." (or at least attempted). With the high stakes testing associated with No Child Left Behind, the focus is on reading, writing and math because THAT is what a school's funding is attached to. If the passing of this test were tied to a school or a district's funding, you'd bet that the focus would be slightly different.

    September 19, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  16. monique

    This is sad but not surprising. The emphasis of NCLB and standardized tests have forced teachers to teach to the test. Since the students in my state are tested in language arts and math, the subjects of social studies, history, and science and the arts are put on the back burner. NCLB only requires students to be proficient in the areas of math and language arts. Shouldn't we be striving to bring our students to the above proficiency performance level? Critics of education should also examine the effects the inclusionary classrooms of NCLB have on teaching especially when the number of classroom aides is constantly being cut. The needs of special ed, regular ed and most importantly, gifted students are not being met. Stop blaming the teachers. We are only doing what the legislators and school administrators are telling us to do. The state of education might turn around if everyone would let us do the jobs we were trained to do.

    September 19, 2009 at 9:14 am |
  17. jt / carson city , nevada

    tj & betty
    i just saw your news on the person arrested for plotting terrorism against the united states , ... this is the Homeland security responsibliity to screen visa holders from afganistan & pakistan whether to allow them in the US in the first place ...
    why not suspend all entries from this area , until we r certain of no further risks ???
    thanx
    jt

    September 19, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  18. Chris

    The biggest problem with our school systems is that there are large groups of people who disproportionately contribute to the system. Illegal immigrants pay very little taxes as do lower income citizens. They also do no work in the system with the children as much as more afluent citizens. There sense of good will is lower and they are unable to pass along good citizenship standards through their children. Yes, there are a few of them that do well, but the mass of these people do not. The rest of the system pays the price and the standards are lowered as the system cannot sustain a backlog of students. They have to push on through and 'grab' whatever education they can. It's no wonder our educational system is dropping lower and lower towards a 3rd world level.

    September 19, 2009 at 9:32 am |
  19. Pauline

    In my job I receive letters from customers in the US. The lack of literacy is astounding. It would almost be amusing if it weren't so sad. I have seen threats to take us to the "better business burro" and had to amend a return address to "Rockefeller" street from the original "Rockafella". Even normal words like "due" and "paid" are massacred.

    Leads me to wonder, if the Americans are so proud of their language, why don't they want to learn and teach it properly?

    September 19, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  20. KT

    Perhaps we should start letting educators make decisions about education and funding for education rather than unqualified politicians.

    Education for our children should be top priority. Yet, when my state faced major budget deficits and cuts this past year, the laws stated that the only places that the budget could be cut was in education and healthcare. Oh yeah, that makes plently of sense!

    By not educating our children properly, we give them reasons to commit crime, become unemployable, etc. Then our tax dollars have to fund more prisons, food stamps, unemployment benefits and welfare. How about we fund education first and help prevent these problems? Pay teacher what they are worth. Fund public schools properly. But no, apparantly, that makes no sense to those that make the decisions.

    And I agree with many other posts here regarding NCLB. Unlike it's catchy name implies, children ARE being left behind BECAUSE OF NCLB.

    September 19, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  21. Raaj from Chesapeake, Va

    I feel that all the high school students should be made to undergo the civics test as is done for the naturalization process then we can be quite sure of a decent number of children to know some history of the country.
    It is indeed very disturbing to note the results as it reflects on the future generation of young people who will govern the country.

    September 19, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  22. Judy Assselmeier

    If this is just a teacher union problem, then North Carolina students should be great because we do not have unions in North Carolina. I think there is more to this problem than teacher unions. I think the 'teacher union' analysis is rather simple in nature and scope.

    September 19, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  23. Susan Snookal

    As a public school teacher of many years, I am continually dismayed that schools and teachers are being held accountable for "not educating" our children. Where is the responsibility of parents and, more importantly, the students themselves. Today's expectations are that students will take a rigorous course load while holding a job, being involved in sports/activities, and having a social life. What about going to school, studying, and interacting with family? I teach Advanced Placement and Honors level English classes and hear from parents that their sons/daughters are staying up too late due to English homework. Right now, the comments are based on work that was assigned as "summer reading," and as such, should have been completed during the summer, not the night before it was due. I am not held accountable for the student staying up late at night; somehow, I don't think that is my responsibility. Maybe if society's needs for cars, part time jobs, cell phones, different possessions became realistic and practical, students and their families would have more time for school work, for studying, for mastering material. Also, if parents would stop making excuses for their students' and stop intervening in student-teacher issues, our children would have a chance to learn and, more importantly, to mature into self-motivated, contributing members of society.

    September 19, 2009 at 10:43 am |
  24. James

    Are schools and teachers failing students or are parents and students failing the schools? I have been a teacher for eight years. Parents need to step to the plate and get more involved with their child's education. Kids are coming to us with very little support from home. Kids carry so much baggage with them to school, it is hard for them to "get into " school mode. I think parents and most students have forgot the value of an education. Society is too quick to blame the schools. Let's hold parents more accountable for their child's attitude about school. As teachers, we believe a good education starts at home. Teachers are not miracle workers.

    September 19, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  25. Terry

    Are people aware of the fact that in the U.S. we offer the opportunity of a free education to all children? In many other countries only the wealthy and privileged children have this opportunity. Their parents encourage and assist their children in school. A teacher is a respected individual. It is unfair to blame teachers completely for low test scores. The policy makers are making education a tedious profession of endless requirements that do not assist children. If you are a child wondering where your next meal will come from or if mom will come home or who cares who the first president was or how many years a senator serves. It takes a community to educate a child....not just a teacher. Yes education is flawed, but I don't believe it is the teachers fault completely.

    September 19, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  26. Lynn

    As someone who has been involved with the Education system through volunteering for close to 40 years I can tell you that what I've seen is not a deterioration of the quality of teachers but a vast decline in the quality of parents. Too many aren't interested in their children, will lie for their children or threaten law suits if their child is held up to the same standard as other children. The truth is bad parents raise bad kids who in turn become bad parents. If we don't break that cycle, we will never improve our schools.

    September 19, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  27. Jim

    I am a second career educator who became a teacher at the age of 52. When I started teaching at an inner city school, I was able to view the system from a business perspective. Yes, I agree not all teacher are doing their job, but it is a minority. There are good and bad in every profession. The biggest problem I have observed is that education in an inner city school becomes secondary to classroom management. Discipline is such a horrific problem that very little teaching is going on. The majority of the students come to school to see their friends and have a good time. I have seen a revolving door of teachers. Every year we hire good new teachers who leave the next year to go to a suburban school where you have students more interested in learning and more concerned parents. I invite people that judge teachers so harshly to come to an inner city junior high and see for themselves what teachers have to deal with.

    September 19, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  28. Kathy Parker

    I am a Public School Teacher and member of AFT and I am working on school work on my own time and watching CNN and some idiot decides to BLAST the teachers and our Unions again. How much did he get paid to bash public education again? What makes him an expert on foreign education? Why don't you ask AFT what they are doing to train teachers? Seriously, do some research in the other countries..First of all NOT ALL CHILDREN get an education there. Secondly, TEXT BOOK COMPANIES do not run their systems and they do not have ridiculous NCLB criteria to deal with...THEY SIMPLY TEACH. Finally, how are public employees gaining from our current education system? Ask a teacher how much of his/her own monies go toward helping students. PLEASE STOP PUTTING TEACHERS DOWN !!!! AND GET EDUCATED ON WHAT OUR UNIONS ARE DOING!!!!

    September 19, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  29. Pete

    The accusation that teacher unions create an atmosphere detrimental to learning show a clear lack of understanding of the learning environment. I taught HS science for 27 years. When I set the bar at the National Science Standards (for HS), I was accused, by students and parents, of teaching at the college level. Parents complained to the Principal that their children didn't have time for family vacation during the school year, and that homework interfered with the student's work schedule. They needed money to maintain their car. The Principal told me to "ease up". Administrators and School Boards are subject to political pressure. The problem is not usually the teachers, but the lack of work ethic imparted by the parents. If I don't get support from the home, students see no reason to learn. NCLB places all the responsibility and the blame for failure on the teachers, but ties their hands. Until teachers, Administration and parents become a team, no reform is going to be effective.

    September 19, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  30. Jonathan Smith

    I just saw your segment with Steve Perry and excuse my language but I am ****.... It's funny that the anchor mentioned how now Steve is getting paid to be a contributor because obviously that was his main goal. I'm tired of all the problems of education being laid at the doorstep and ownership being put off on teachers alone. There are more stakeholders than just teachers. Where are parents? Where are administrators? Where is the community? I hate to be the one to tell you but teachers no longer have the authority, power, or respect that some people apparently think we do. Most teachers only see their students for 1 hour in the day. In that one hour we are asked to be counselors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, parents and then find time to actually teach the students a curriculum that has been mandated and designed by someone who has never been in a classroom. Couple that with the fact that class sizes have been increased dramatically while teacher numbers have been decreased and you should expect America's education system to be failing its students. I really wish these reformers, many of whom left education, particularly the classroom, because they couldn't handle it, would go back into the classroom and see firsthand the challenges that teachers face in trying to educate their students. Teachers themselves are extremely frustrated that the one thing the want to do, they aren't allowed to do and that's teach because of varying agendas of others.

    Education is one of the only professions where the people who control it are not or do not necessarily have to be educators. You don't see no lawyers on the various bar associations. You don't see no medical professionals making rules for doctors and nurses. However everyday you find non-educators making rules regarding education and improving education. There are no rules requiring board of education members to have any knowledge of education; how students learn or how schools function. Anyone can be elected to their local school board if they get enough votes, a plumber, a carpenter, high school drop out, manicurist, etc. Many people become school board members no to help improve schools but as a vehicle for other public office and so they make decisions that will further their aims and objectives at the expense of children. Teachers know what their children need but when they are obligated to follow mandated policies generated by the local school board who caters more to public opinion and perception than teacher or student concerns.

    It also upsets me that reformers are quick to quote research studies that are inherently flawed in an effort to promote an agenda or ideology. Many of the research studies are inherently designed to get a specific result and are often conducted by individuals who rarely step into a real classroom instead conducting phone polls and mock classrooms.

    I think if you really want to know what's going wrong with education, you should ask the people who are trying to make it work on a daily basis, the ones constantly being blamed for its problems are the same ones who really know what they are....the teachers.

    September 19, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  31. Whitney

    As a middle school teacher for several years I can tell you that it is exhausting constantly being blamed for students not succeding. At what point do parents become responsible for their childrens learning? Of course politicians and parents want to blame teachers, they feel that they can control that factor within schools. For politicians to point the finger at parents would be to tell their voting base that they are doing something wrong. I cannot tell you how many times I speak to parents who are in complete denial of what their child is doing at school. It is amazing as a teacher how many times a parent has told me a student could not do a project for my class due to their lack of funds, but the same child had brand a brand new mouth guard for football practice or glove for baseball. Parents need to wake up and realize that the effort they put into their child's education at home is as important as the teacher in front fo the classroom. The only thing books and conversations about teachers at fault does is drive good teachers into other proffesions due to frustration and burn out.

    September 19, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  32. matt tennessen

    Well, I think the "story" here is actually contributing to the problem. A general civics quiz is failed by a vast majority of students and its being presented as "a failure of our educational system". I certainly believe there are problems in our system, but I don't think a civics quiz is an appropriate metric in determining that. Civics hasn't been a priority in curriculum for a long time. As many others have stated, educators are responsible for relaying curriculum as determined by other bodies, not the teachers union. Testing has become paramount and math and science testing even more so. Schools with poor test results don't get full evaluations, they get administrators breathing down teachers' necks to get those scores up. People talk of incentivizing teacher results, well, we already incentivize schools that appear to perform, and the kids are no better because of it. People (like CNN's Steve Perry) point to magnet schools as the answer but fail to mention that magnet schools can remove or not admit kids who under-perform academically. And parents are incredibly important to a child's education. Parents who don't prioritize their kids' education are probably not going to keep on their kids, go to parent-teacher conferences, or even think about selecting a school that might better meet the needs of their child–unlike the parents of magnet and private schools. And finally, the comments on this topic are sparse when compared to what people think of someone like Joe Wilson or his comments. That's probably the most disappointing part of all.

    September 19, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  33. Pete

    Hugh has it wrong. Prayer, the Ten Commandments and God are not prohibited in school. What is prohibited is teaching of any religion by a public system. Students in my town have prayer meetings every morning. I taught in a different system, and I allowed a few minutes during homeroom for those who wanted to pray. What is not permitted is for me to lead the prayers as if my way was the only correct way. What is missing is prayer, the Ten Commandments and knowledge of God in the home. Students come to school willing to lie, cheat and steal. It is not the job of the public schools to teach religion.

    September 19, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  34. Mr John

    Statisticians! pollster experts! teachers! and all the others! Lend me your ears and tell me if I'm crazy.

    I think that test is fake.

    Perhaps no test was actually administered and the 'results' have been simply invented.
    Perhaps there really had been a test, but the responses have been manipulated.

    Follow my reasoning.I don't want to get into details about what sort of an organization OCPA is and other questionable 'information' it has disseminated in the past. Someone else can talk about their ongoing feud with the Oklahoma teachers' union.

    I'll simply repost this mission statement from their webpage:

    WHO WE ARE
    Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) was founded in 1993 as a public policy research organization focused primarily on state-level issues. OCPA has been part of an emerging, national trend of conservative, state-based think tanks. The founders, led by Dr. David Brown, envisioned an organization that was capable of affecting the state’s public policy similar to national level think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation. Throughout its 15 years of existence, OCPA has conducted research and analysis of public issues in Oklahoma from a perspective of limited government, individual liberty and a free-market economy. OCPA has promoted the conclusions from its research through an array of media that have steadily increased in breadth, scope and ultimately, effectiveness. Today, within the arena of public policy and politics, OCPA is regarded as "the flagship of the conservative movement in Oklahoma."

    MISSION STATEMENT
    OCPA's mission is to accumulate, evaluate, and disseminate public policy ideas and information for Oklahoma consistent with the principles of free enterprise, limited government, and individual initiative.

    September 19, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  35. Dave

    Hey Betty and TJ...how's about giving credit for the abominable scores to "No student left behind"!

    September 19, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  36. Mike Armstrong TX.

    I think that theres alot of teachers thats getting paid to much.

    September 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  37. Samara

    Teaching to the test is such a misnomer. Of course we teach to the test!! If we are good teachers we have identified the concepts we want the students to learn, created the tests, THEN crafted the how wea re going to teach them. The concepts or targets are now decided by NCLB for us. If we don't teach the information that is on the test what should we be teaching them? Should we spend class time taching them things we deem important? If other information should be learned then other things need to be on the test (NCLB). I never give my students a test that has things on it I haven't taught them. I wouldn't be doing my job as a teacher!

    September 19, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  38. Roberta Bush

    After Frederika reported the state of today's students I was very excited to be able to try to share my opinion and it is this: I believe that "parents" more than teachers are to blame for the students lack of knowledge "because" students today are not only being spared the rod, so to speak, but also because parents are spoiling their children beyond spoiled with material things, and lack of dicipline. In fairness to parents however, the court system is partly to blame for taking that out of parents hands. So, not only are they not being expected to learn in school, but they also have very poor work ethics because of being handed too much from parents without having to "earn" them. I know from whence I believe this because I am a 72 yr. old grandmother, and have been witnessing this tragedy first hand.....................Thanks for listening..............Roberta

    September 19, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  39. William McAuliffe

    I'm not surprised about the results of your poll. I taught history, government, economics, psychology, and geography at the high school level for a brief period. I was also a member of the board of education for the largest school district in our state for 6 years. Unfortunately, the teachers unions have convinced our parents that the answer to the problem is teacher's salaries, yet our neighboring state, New hampshire pays teachers less,and gets better results.
    Students tend to rise to teacher expectations. The complaint of teaching to standardized tests is ludicrous as teachers have always done so. The real objection to standardized tests is that they lead to objective standards which allow parents to compare schools and demand good results.

    September 19, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  40. brandy hedges

    i read some of the comments. well yes teachers and staff need more credit and money. But they also need to wake up and look at there surroundings at school, what kid needs to be bullied or picked on and what are they doing? So the kids are more tuned into whats going to happen to me next. I have a kid and in 1st grade had lunch money taken twice by a big kid reported as normal to the office still nothing. finnally went very angry and said if you cant control the kids on the playground would you like some help? meaning ill show you how to pay attention to the kids. so maybe it starts with whats going on in school thats making these kids not do well cuz there to busy trying to protect themselves.

    September 19, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  41. Pete

    The real problem with standardized tests is that they are watered down. NJ started with a Minimum Basic Skills Test. When too many students failed, instead of holding the line, we made the test easy enough so that 60% could pass, and gave the test a new name. I can write a test that is easy enough that all students can pass it, but it won't test learning. Then, we redesigned the curriculum to the test. This sets the bar for college bound students at the same level as basic skills students. NY use to issue 2 different diplomas, one for putting in the time, and a Regent's Diploma for achievement. The latter prepared students for college. However, helicopter parents seem to think grades are more important than real learning. They constantly intervene for grades, then complain that their kid got into college, but flunked out because the school did a poor job of preparation, and they wasted a semester of tuition. Be careful what you ask for. You might just get it.

    September 19, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  42. Mrs. Eileen Curras widow to Hernandez (WWII)

    T.J. Holmes you want to have opinion of the State of the Nation’s School System but I think you are not ready for a reality check. A conservative public policy research group commissioned a survey to determine Oklahoma public high school students’ knowledge of U.S. history and government. 1,000 students were asked ten questions taken from the U.S. citizenship test. I think it is a shame that only one in four students could name the first President of the United States.

    September 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  43. Dee in FL

    My opinion of the nation's school system(s) is that they are in a state of emergency.

    And I do not think throwing money at the schools is the answer. Nor do I think that "no child left behind" is the answer, either. In fact I think it is the WORST possible proposed solution for the school crisis.

    Several things MUST be done if we are to improve our schools and educate our children.

    We need to look for better teachers, and PAY them a salary adequate to someone who has the future of our country in their hands. It is a disgrace that we have such a large number of administrators, who seem to be adding nothing to the system, and who are paid the highest salaries. THEY are NOT the ones who will turn out the finished product, an educated child. Consequently administrators should NOT be the highest paid. That money should go to attract GOOD teachers. And we need to be SURE the teachers are good. If a teacher is shaky on the "three r's" how can they be an effective teacher?

    We need to guarantee our teachers a safe and well equipped environment in which to teach. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that if a teacher makes a low salary AND in some cases is unsafe in the schools, the best teachers will leave the profession. And if a teacher has to buy supplies out of his/her own salary, the solution is to fire a couple of administrators and use the savings to supply the TEACHERS and the KIDS!

    Teachers need to act like the professionals they want to be treated as. QUIT trying to be one of the kids. We don't need more kids, we need an ADULT in charge, and maybe dressing like a professional would help.

    We need to take a hard look at our current teaching methods. It is clear that they are failing, which means we are failing our children. If the methods were NOT failing we would not be having the problems we have.

    One way (and to me it seems to be the simplest) to decide what teaching methods get the best results would be to (1) take a look at what methods the country in the number one position educationally in the world is using and (2) USE THE SAME METHODS!

    It seems that if we are in something like 35th place, in comparison with other industrialized nations educationally, then the nation in the number one position is the nation whose methods we should be using.

    We need to stop, take a long look at our kids, and admit that SOME KIDS LEARN FASTER THAN OTHERS!!!! Equality in education should NOT be based on any factor except RESULTS. And we need to be realistic about the results we expect. Not every kid will be president. Not every kid will be a doctor or lawyer, or make some huge impact on the world. Not every kid even needs to aspire to go to college. But EVERY kid should at the minimum LEARN TO READ AND WRITE. In our present system that is not the case, and it only makes the inequality of education worse.

    We need to stop "dumbing down" our kids. But we need to teach according to the level at which a child learns. There should be no stigma to grouping children so that those who need to most help get it, while those who need very little help progress at their own rate. We need to quit being afraid to say that some kids are better learners than others. It's true and by not admiting that we have nearly destroyed our educational system, merely so some kids can pass tests with high marks, and some kids will get discouraged and leave the system. That can only bring trouble to us all.

    September 19, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  44. Viriat

    This comment is for everyone, but specially for James, above, which is surely Republican, and for all those persons considering this student's survey as bogus.

    Here goes the link with the whole survey data: http://www.ocpathink.org/publications/perspective-archives/september-2009-volume-16-number-9/?module=perspective&id=2321 . As you will be able to see, it is not CNN's responsibility or authoring for the test. It was Oklahoma officials alone.

    I'm European. I've been living in this country for the last 5 years, but now I am completely ready to go back. I have been teaching Spanish in the US, either in high schools and colleges, and the result of this survey does not surprise one bit. Half of my HS students cannot point out the European continent; one third cannot point Mexico; few though cannot even point the USA in a map. This is truly the state of education in the USA in many schools throughout the country. Last year, while still i=on campaign, I wrote a letter to Mr Obama giving him some highlights about what is wrong in the US education system, but no one replied to me. I sent an email to the US Congress. Same result. The problem is that most people do not care anymore about anything else but keeping their fragile job and status quo. See what happens with the healthcare reform: everyone is only concerned about how to pay for it. What about those 45,000 human beings that die every year because they cannot afford going to an emergency room or consult a doctor? This eagerness for money and total lack of social mind will be the downfall of this great country, that I once thought it would be the best place to live. It isn't so no more.

    In terms of college education – especially if it isn't Math or Sciences – scholars knowledge is mediocre. I attended a Ph D program that was worse than my BA overseas. I had to supply some bibliography to a couple "professors" because they had no idea of what they were saying, and their ignorance sound quite pitiful to me. Obviously, I left the program. Actually, it would have been quite unfruitful continuing in any US Ph D program, because they are simply not recognized in Europe. Some of them not even as Masters, especially after the European new legislation and credit hour minimums established by the Bologna Treaty.

    I am sad and disappointed about being here. I came to America with high expectations. My wife is American and she can't believe what she sees. She's going back with me to Europe.

    September 19, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  45. Betty Phillips

    I have many friends from Oklahoma and they are blessed with smarts, so it tells us that the school system is not too smart either. These schools should enforce testing every term and those that are struggling should be made to attend school when school is on the summer break. Maybe the schools should start by having the parents to return to school also., This shows a hugh waste of the funds that are issued to these schools. We need to get a grasp on these kids, after all they are the ones we have to depend on for future education skills for our young generation. This is a terrible thing that is taking place, all the young minds are being wasted. How sad. Betty

    September 19, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
  46. Janice Isaac

    Families at home need to participate more in the lives of their children's development and learning processes.

    September 19, 2009 at 7:26 pm |
  47. Laura

    I would have to say it's obviously the value placed on education in this country that has led to such dismal results; meaning, when it comes to what people value in this country, education is probably close to the bottom of the list. Money, success, fame, fortune, power, looking good...yeah, that's what most Americans care about. That's what most kids are thinking about while sitting in class for half the day, not what the teacher is saying. It's hard for a teacher to teach to unmotivated students. When did these become our values? Maybe when that's what people started getting rewarded for. I dunno.

    September 19, 2009 at 9:26 pm |
  48. Billy Thompkins

    This shows that Oklahoma is racist. And does not want to acknowledge a black president, rather African American president. The media immediately called Obama black. He's not black he is African and American all mixed together.

    September 20, 2009 at 6:32 am |
  49. "General Show"

    What is more pathetic, the fact that we are raising remedial youth, or the fact that you point out a single school's results to silently insinuate every other school seems to be doing better?.....thus nullifying the Awareness impact of the clip.

    September 20, 2009 at 6:59 am |
  50. Theresa Carusona

    Let's interject some logic here. Our schools systems are failing because its our own undoing. We tell and debate and protest that certain books, and history lessons are useless. That we dont need them. They serve no purpose. So there stricken from the books and from the teachers that teach them. Its no wonder these students are dumb founded .. Its the adults that are supposed to be in charge but even that is going a muck.. Children learn as long as we feed them the information they need, even if they dont use it in there adult life.You teach the fundamentals of our country and what it was based on.. But ya see, when you wipe out all of the past and the traditions of what our country was written on then you have to come up with students that say DUH!! dont know anything.. Is it there fault..? Think about that????? Its the teachers that wereent allowed to teach it..Because of a liberal approach.... Lets wipe out ALL things of the past and tradition whats left.. illiterate people that go around thinking there are no rules there are no laws, there is no education of the past, there is religion, why should we have to believe in anything..??? Isnt that a little about being an atheists??? So your all getting what you wished for.. And its showing up in the children of the future.. So dont blame the the right wing? Whats up with that? ITs the left side that is the leaders of dismanteling of the moral and educational values of life..So your all going to get what you all wished for...SO live with it...
    And blame no one but what was taken away from our education system all for the glory ignorance..

    September 20, 2009 at 7:07 am |
  51. Luie, Hialeah Gardens, Florida

    This guy you had on at 6:40 am, hit it right on the money! How long I have been waiting to hear that from anyone on TV News! Of course, I knew CNN would be first. The problem is huge, here in Florida, it is specially bad due to a large hispanic situation. That is no excuse however, this can be fixed with the proper organization and we must improve the education for our children, not Europe's or any other continent. Organize the school system by taking the best of every country with smart kids, Japan has a school day lasting over 12 hours. I went to school in Spain which was 15 hours, how can anyone of our kids compete when they attend school for just 6 to 7 hours? The curriculum is ridiculous, no science and as you can see, no American History! I always thought the three "R's" were wrong as even the spelling is: Reading, 'Ritting and 'Rithmatic? What is that? This will be a bigger problem than the health care fiasco currently happening, why can't people see health care is broken? How will they see the educational problem if they can't see this?

    September 20, 2009 at 7:08 am |
  52. Luie, Hialeah Gardens, Florida

    Everybody is to blame, from the superintendent or school boards, to district offices, principals and yes, most of all, teachers and parents both, not just one of the two groups. The latter two have no communication at all! There should be daily forms or in todays' world, electronic communication if available and it is, drive a Ford instead of the beamer you can't afford, your kids are more important. What is missing and what is needed between the two groups, has no cost, needs no extra space and is not rocket science, it's called "CARING", all you have to do is care. For a parent, what is more important than your child and your child's future? For a teacher, you can reach out to the parents, ask for their cell and text them, speak up about your needs to be a better teacher but CARE! Do your job and document it well. Be honest and tell the parents what they need to hear, it will help you and them and most important, the CHILDREN!

    September 20, 2009 at 7:34 am |
  53. Ocie H. Burton II

    It doesn't surprise me and while Steve Perry is correct he falls short of explaining the real issues here...there are several – 1. Capitalism requires that it be built on the backs of someone (general the poor) in this case our children (education is all about $$$ Construction jobs, Admonistrators, Teachers, Janitors, Engineers, etc). 2. It's Indoctrination also because a lot of what's taught are FANTASY, LIES & MISINFORMATION. 3. Curriculum is based on losing the interest of most of the current children which are a new breed they're RAINBOW children and come via a different path which means they need a different method of education (simply they're not interested in LIES); Curriculum is also based on not teaching the real needs of the market place, local economy and isn't solution oriented. 4. Thinkitis causes problems for the powers that be (this system doesn't want too many people to THINK for themselves thus Critical Thinking isn't part of the curriculum. 5. Control of Capital Formation – It's important to understand that money isn't suppose to be in some persons hands because they may begin to solve some of the enormous problematic issues we face in this society. 6.Entrepreheurship is just beginning to be discussed in the school system and that's Charter Schools the Public Schools are lagging behind, even where it's taught it's not taught by Entrepreneurs people that know about business first hand. After all this we blame the children for not competing or only being able toserve fast food (which are terminating foods) selling drugs, etc. I ask what else was provided for them. It's time for a Comprehensive Solution Oriented approach to revive education but it can't be done by those currently in control...this system is over anyway.

    September 20, 2009 at 8:05 am |
  54. Ocie H. Burton II

    I forgot about 8. The Superintendent Recycling Program, they get fired or leave for personal reasons (generally more money, back to capitalism & greed) from 1 district and go somewhere on the other side of the country. This has been going on for years Same Superintendents Going Different Places. 9. Nutrition – You can't learn without knowing who you are and eating the proper diet that nourished the brain...I could go on and on but it's sad what's going on in the supposed Greatest Country in The World (LOL).

    September 20, 2009 at 8:21 am |
  55. Ocie H. Burton II

    Most Americans would get the first Pres. of the U.S. question wrong anyway because John Hanson was the first President (and there was seven others before George Washington) under the Articles of Confederation now the reason he's omitted is SAD, however he's not mentioned but his actions & policies were kept. He initiated pay, food & housing for the Army and a couple of other Cabinet positons – U.S. Departments. In this case they kept the bath water and threw out the baby. Oh also John Hanson was a Moor (Black).

    September 20, 2009 at 8:32 am |
  56. T Yancy

    The expert in this video needs to leave his perch and get down among 'em.
    In the south, teachers unions focus on improving education, not on wages and strikes. Teachers there are underpaid, overworked, and, as elsewhere in the US, are always the scapegoats. People always blame the teachers, never themselves.
    State legislatures and education agencies crank out an unending stream of conflicting "solutions" and every couple of years teachers have to throw everything out and start over. It is exhausting and, thanks to the influence of self-styled experts bearing PhDs, the underlying reason behind failure is never addressed.
    The most significant factor in the failure in the US educational system is American society itself. – kids from broken homes, with no self-discipline, whose environment destroys ambition and any interest in education. – Poor general knowledge skills, too

    September 20, 2009 at 7:34 pm |
  57. Tim Thompson

    I don't think it's fair to so heavily blame the teachers for failures in public schools. My wife has taught middle & high school and I see a lot of what happens. The simple but politically very incorrect truth is that the students, for the most part, don't care and don't try. How is any teacher supposed to teach someone who actively ignores them? It's not like the guy said, that the failure is that teachers are not teaching, it's that students are not learning. Education requires a teacher and a student who are *both* interested in the process. If either one does not care, then the whole show fails.

    Of course, it would not hurt any if the state would not work so hard to prevent teachers from teaching, and work so hard to discourage anyone from ever wanting to teach, as they do in California.

    September 21, 2009 at 1:37 am |
  58. Gary

    Ask those families that have buried their children what would they rather have; thier child alive or an American flag with condolenses. We will never win in the middle east, because of thier committment to their cause. When someone is willing to strap on a bomb and blow themself up in order to kill their enemy. America is not that determined in their cause. BRING our Children home before they return in coufins.

    September 21, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  59. ARIC MADISON WI

    EDUCATION IS VERY IMPORTANT IN ACHIEVE THE AMERICA DREAM TODAY IN THE US. I WS RASIED FROM A VERY EDUCATED FAMILY. MY FATERH WAS THE REGISTART AT MADISON AREA TEXCHICAN COLLEGE FOR 30 YEARS FROM 1965-1995. I ATTEDN COLEG AT THIS SCHOOL FOR 2 YEAR S BEFOER TRANFERSING TO GET MY BA DEGREE IN GEOGRARPHY/CLIMATOLOGY FROM UW-MADISON I HAVE CERTIFCATION IN NWS-DOPPLAR RADAR AND FORECAST INGERPREATION AND GEOGRAPHICA INFORMATION SYSTEM WXMAPPING AS WELL
    I ENCOURAGE ALL CHILDREND TO GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL ADN GO TO COLLEGE TO BE READY FOR THE TOUGHT WROKF FORECE IN THE COMING YEARS

    September 23, 2009 at 6:43 am |
  60. Reggie Greene / The Logistician

    Although both sides / factions in this debate are entitled to their positions, I seriously doubt that any one side is fully or primarily responsible for what is occurring here in our society at this point. It's probably 50/50 or 51/49 at worst. However, I am reasonably sure that continuing to argue and fight about it, without actually addressing the underlying root problems, will not advance anyone's interests.

    September 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm |