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To Americans: Opinion on our schools.

  1. Public schools are: Great

  2. Public schools are: Good

  3. Public schools are: Average

  4. Public schools are: Bad

  5. Public schools are: Horrid

  1. Nov 14, 2005 #1
    For the sake of writing a feasable paper on the state of our public schools, I am requesting opinions with supportive information on the state of American public schools, either way(good/bad). Public school is defined as a school which is under control of some form of government, and is affected by the NCLB act, and is free for students to attend(paid for through taxes).

    Put simply:

    I'm doing a report. Say if you like or hate our public schools, what's good/bad about them, and what could be fixed/has been fixed recently.

    Thank you.

    (About topic title: If you're foreign, but know how our schools are, that's fine. I'm just saying it deals with our schools.)
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2005 #2
    I know i am not an authority an American Schools (i hear there is a great difference in quality from school to school, so averages do not say much in the case of the US.) but as an addendum i would like to present to you the results of an international math/science aptitude test, executed by the PISA-organization in 2003. Download the results on this site

  4. Nov 14, 2005 #3
    I think public schools are bad. I personally think elementary is probably the worst. Right now I can say that there is no way my kids will attent public elementary schools. One of the reasons I would not let my kids go into public elementary school is because I have seen too many elementary education majors, and the majority are terrible at, and hate, math, and they will teach a new generation to hate it.
    I think a big problem with the schools is that everyone passes, even without knowing the materialm, I know I was. I remember hearing somewhere that this was because it is too detrimental to hold a kid back if he/she does not know the material. :yuck:
    Also, if your kid/s end up in special ed you can kiss their future good-by. My sister got straight A's in special ed classes, yet for some reason, she was never bumped up into more difficult classes.
  5. Nov 14, 2005 #4


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    I voted "good" because of what marlon said: quality varies greatly from school to school. Many public schools in southeastern PA are excellent. I tend to thing bad education is more the result of bad parenting than bad schools.
  6. Nov 14, 2005 #5
    Wise words...i would add "bad motivation of students" to your list

  7. Nov 14, 2005 #6
    Motivation is very important. I guess I should not completely blame schools/teachers. I am majoring in math education, and I have been reading about psychology, specifcally persuasion, as I think that is the first step to get someone to learn something. Knowing the best techniques in teaching math will not help at all if your students won't even take the time to try.
  8. Nov 14, 2005 #7


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    It's really hard to say. And when you say "average" or "good," what is that in comparison to? Private schools in the US? The equivalent of public schools in other countries? I don't think you get any better education in private schools, you just don't have the worst of the students attending private schools, either because they don't care enough about education to apply, or they do, but their application is rejected.
  9. Nov 14, 2005 #8
    I picked average because of the vast difference between schools in different areas.
    In regards to your report, if you can, you might want to focus on the public education system in your own area rather than nation wide. Or you could compare and contrast the public education systems of two different states. A good state to use as an example might be CA. For being one of the "richest" states in the country we have abominable public education. Spending on education, including teachers salaries and the like, is also one of the hottest political topics here at the moment.

    edited for the poor quality of my education:biggrin:
  10. Nov 14, 2005 #9
    I live in a really rich neighborhood where all the kids have this immense pressue on them to do well, and as a result, most do. Very few of them actually learn very much, however. There are lots of kids who make sure to study for hours for any test, and do homework religiously, and as a result of their good study-habbits, preform very well in school. But they don't really care about school, they just know they've gotta get good grades to get into a good college and get good money. Grades are the goal, not learning. I suppose that teaches people how to do what they need to do, and in the long run, most people don't need to know literature or chemistry or European History.

    In that spirit though, I think our public schools really lack in teaching stuff that everyone needs to know. I'm still perplexed that personal finance courses aren't required; the public schools take us right up until college, when we'll have to live on our own and manage ourselves (to one degree or another), there should be courses that alert you to things out there in the real world, possibly in the place of some math course or something.

    And, of course, our test scores are horrible. I think we don't really give a damn about stuff like that in America though...
  11. Nov 14, 2005 #10
    What areyou comparing American schools with the one in China, Japan, Russia, Korea, and some parts of EUROPE(don't ask which) I think there good compared to ones in most places in the world
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2005
  12. Nov 15, 2005 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    While first starting my business, for about a year I worked for the State as a teacher/tutor. Due to behavioral or medical problems, and in a few cases due to learning disabilities, some kids can't attend regular classes. It was my job to provide private lessons or tutoring that would enable these kids to pass the final examinations for their grade year. I worked with grades 6-12.

    Even within this small school district the quality of education varied greatly and mostly from teacher to teacher. Also, generally it was seen that the problem kids were simply passed from grade to grade. I had high school sophomores who were in my opinion working at about a fifth grade level [and worse] in math and English. This is an example of a test question for a sophomore that, for obvious reasons, I will probably never forget. When I saw this I think I nearly cried.

    Mary wore a red dress.
    Mary's dress was

    On the other hand, the advanced students were surprisingly advanced. One student, a girl, was in a car accident while nearing the end of her senior year. I only worked with her for a few months, but as we discussed her assignments from her regular teachers, I could hardly believe the level of complexity esp. when compared to assignments for some of the other students. In depth analyses of historical issues, philosophy, and political issues were often required, and she was no slouch in math either. All in all she clearly had received a very good education.

    So to me the most striking aspect of this experience was the contrast. Teachers and students were found that would make anyone proud, and other students were simply passed along as a matter of practice; to the point of being a joke. No doubt, at least a few of the teachers were just doing time and were obviously burned out which is always bad for the students.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2005
  13. Nov 15, 2005 #12


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    Being in chemistry I can relate to this. There's a huge difference between doing well in theory classes and doing well in the lab. The ones who really understand the theory will walk into the lab, go through an entire procedure without hesitation, and get good results. The ones who just memorize things for theory are constantly wandering around asking "do I do this?", "what is this for?", "how do I _____?" and it annoys everybody else. Then there are the ones who are good with practical things like following a procedure to a T, but when asked why they are doing it, they have no idea why.

    Is this what people are talking about when they say things like "standardized tests are total BS"?
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2005
  14. Nov 15, 2005 #13
    Throwing more money at the teachers' union will not improve public education.
    Apparently California has yet to learn this :rolleyes:

    What really disappoints me is that, among the teachers who strike/petition for higher wages, are many teachers who don't teach---->meaning, they just give students A's for effort, party all the time in class, just slack off on the students, and do not even bother with academics.

    From Thomas Sowell's Inside American Education:
    Raising wages for teachers who do not in an academically rigorous style will NOT improve student performance. You see,
    A better paid teacher isn't necessarily a better teacher. Giving students more time or posters to illustrate George Washington's costume or cut out John Locke's face from an internet picture really won't teach them about Washington role in the American Revolution or John Locke's philosophy and contributions to later forms of government, etc.

    What we do need to do is raise standards, write smarter and not-so-dumbed-down textbooks,---->and if possible, make sure that AP classes actually follow a college curriculum. Also somehow,...somehow...I have yet to develop a method unlike Prop74...-->fire the incompetent teachers, and raise wages/benefits for the good ones...you know, the ones that actually focus on academics.

    Now, about national tests:
    *OK...either eliminate the whole idea---->or if you test, then test EVERY grade level, middle school and above.

    You see,
    *It is not a calculus teacher's fault if a student enter the class not knowing how to multiply fractions or what a parabola is. The calculus teacher must teach calculus, not waste weeks on reviewing what should already be known.

    Then again, how might student enter a calculus class??? Simple! Wherever you have a trigonometry teacher who inflates grades, passes students solely on effort (even if they are truly incompetent), etc..etc....-->you have a calculus teacher in trouble!

    Fortunately, a failed grade on a promptly assigned national test will quickly correct the situation and hold back the student in math until they develop some competence. Then again, we don't really have any specific year to test students in that area....so why not test students each year?

    Either test students each year--->or scrap the idea of national tests.
    Btw, even if we do adopt national tests, how do we know that California will actually *enforce*:wink: them?

    Really? And you deliberately leave out "places" like China, Japan, Russia, Korea, and EUROPE??? :mad:
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2005
  15. Nov 15, 2005 #14
    Really, don't bother. I do not think that scott really knows what he is talking about. If so, i would like to ask him why he says the things he says. Based upon which criteria did he make those statements ?
    Check out the PISA website if you want reliable comparisons. The site also explains (very important) HOW they have executed these math/science aptitude comparisons between different countries.
  16. Nov 15, 2005 #15
    Meh, I said "bad" because I go to an "excelling" school, or a top 9.1% school, and I'm still not being taught.

    Test questions are just short-term memorization skill practices, FFS.
  17. Nov 15, 2005 #16
    I said bad... because of the way students are treated. I don't udnerstand the school system here in California. When students get in a fight, they are both suspended or expelled... and sent right back to school... to see each other and sit next to each other the enxt day. When at school, the authorities there should act as parent figures... now if your children get in a fight, do you give them a timeout... then let them go play with each oither again without apologizing?! Students are young, and need to be taught lessons. There should be more sit downs, and one on one's with students, to help them understand the importance of everything in school... because as mentioned earlier, parents don't always d the best job at this... well just becuase a kids parents didn't do a good job doesn't mean we just let him fail and blame the parents, someone's got to intervene along the lines and pick the kid up.... else he's going to end up murdering your grandpa in the nearest am/pm 15 years from now... or raping and murdering your daughter for some crack money. Point is... schools need to be more responsible, and show the kids that they are there for them... and stop being so harsh. Maybe that's just the way my pulic school was... Need more support for the students, and more positive reinforcements... i had teachers tell me i was going to fail and be nothing... c'mon?!
  18. Nov 15, 2005 #17


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    Being a student at a popular center for students to become teachers, mainly Grade 1 to Grade 12 (High School Senior), I would have to say that we need to make it tougher to become a teacher.

    To become a teacher in Ontario you need top notch grade to get to Teacher's College, which I guess makes it already hard. So, what's the catch?

    Our school is inflated with wannabe teachers. Amazingly enough, the classes are dumbed down so much so that they can pass or get good grades. Our school is known for teachers, and it might because of good acceptance rates into Teacher's Colleges. Our academics are rock bottom, and this leads to dumb (maybe not always) students becoming teachers.

    I'm a mathematics major and from what I read some books (biographies) or heard from professors, our math program doesn't relate one bit. I always hear about how a nightmare it is to finish an assignment because it is so hard because it is so rigorous. I have not yet experienced that and I am in a 3rd year Abstract Algebra course. The reason why it hasn't happened...

    Our courses are filled with wannabe math teachers, and they dumb down the course material a lot. The profs don't feel the need to be organized (what I experience). Maybe it's because it is so easy, there is no need to look over things. Also, from I hear from profs or books, is that in some math courses, profs always stay organized because they themselves can get stuck on a difficult problem in front of the class, but staying organized avoids that from happening.

    YES, they should separate us from wannabe teachers, but that's the smart solution, which smart solutions can not be thought upon by dumb (not always) people.

    Well, that's all for now because the keyboard at school sucks too. The ones across campus are good though.

    Note: These are very strong reasons on why I decided to transfer to one of the best schools for math. I want to go to Graduate School, not Teacher's College.
  19. Nov 15, 2005 #18
    I'm seeing two trends...
    1. School quality is bad, and morality is low, and punishments are not happening.
    2. School standards are slipping, leading to a lower-quality learning for everyone.
    Is this true, or am I missing a trend?

    Oh, yes, we can't forget separation of FAITH from SCIENCE, and the right of choice for students!


    That, and the fact that tests get easier as time goes on, so as to show an "improvement" in teaching.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2005
  20. Nov 15, 2005 #19

    Chi Meson

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    This is not the trend.

    1. School quality is varied. In fact quite polarized. Some school distracts are remarkably high quality; these tend ot be in affluent neighborhoord or wealthy counties. Schools are usually funded primarily through local taxes (it depends on the state/county, or in New England, "townships." School funding is just about the only tax that you can actually vote on. What would you do if you could vote on your own tax increase?

    Places where schools are underfunded just happen to be the places that can least afford to raise taxes; coincidently these are the same places that have the hardest to teach students (many meanings and reasons for "hard to teach"). Such places are very likely to repell the best teachers: lower pay, larger classes, more difficult students. All together: horrible school.

    In affluent neighborhoods property values are high and schools have so much money they toss in a swimming pool next to the gym. Students in general try harder because they have parents that care. Teachers would choose to work in this environment for less money, but this is where they get more! The pool of applicants for an opening is stronger, and the better teachers are hired. All together: fantastic school.

    One other point: no matter how good any school is, people will still complain; that's human nature.

    2. School standards hit a low during the eighties; they are rising at the moment (statistically, across the country). NCLB is having an effect and I am one of many teachers who is not decrying NCLB; it is flawed but not totally wrong.
  21. Nov 15, 2005 #20
    I see, variance in quality due to fluctuating economic statuses. Good explination for #1, and YES, people will ALWAYS complain about school, no matter how perfect it is*.

    2. Let me make sure we're talking about the same standards here. Please tell me what standards you are talking about: Quality of material being taught, or quantity of students passing?
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