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What's the Problem With US High Schools?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the fixing-the-american-educational-system dept.

1095

GrumpySimon asks: "ABC News is reporting that High School kids are dropping out of high school in 'epidemic proportions', with an estimated 2,500 kids quitting daily. What's wrong with our school system that so many kids prefer working 40 hours a week instead? How can this be fixed?" It seems to be an America truism that "things get better after High School," and it wouldn't be surprising if most of you readers feel the same way. However, why does it have to be this way? What's the big problem with American High Schools where more and more children are feeling that it's better to risk the "real world" than to continue on with their education? Of course, another question that should be asked is: Is High School really the problem, or is it America's Educational system as a whole?

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This is disingenuous Media spin (5, Informative)

Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941064)

There's no doubt that dropout rates are a major U.S. problem, but the ABC article would make one think that dropout rates are on the rise. Nationally, this just isn't true. Between 1972 and 2004, dropout rates have fallen drastically. For all ethnicities, they are now almost half what the rates were 30 years ago [childtrendsdatabank.org] (note: the full article that references this table can be found here [childtrendsdatabank.org] )

This doesn't mean that isolated cities (such as Detroit and Baltimore) that have experienced serious economic problems and urban blight are better than 30 years ago, they are likely worse, but to characterize the problem as a national "epidemic" is completely ignoring the truth. Our school systems, teachers, and local governments have been working hard to raise graduation rates nationwide. And the data supports their assertion that they are seeing some success. Sure, there are MAJOR shortcomings to our public school system, but there has been major progress that shouldn't go unrecognized.

Re:This is disingenuous Media spin (5, Insightful)

antoinjapan (450229) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941166)

I think the issue of people dropping out in this day and age is more of a problem due to the expectations of what minimum education a person is expected to have. Nowadays the minimum might be approaching a college education while in 1972 the minimum might have been what a 16 year old might have gotten. If you blatantly assume that what you had at 16 in 1972 is equal to a college education today then even if the dropouts are less the impact and lack of education is more.

Re:This is disingenuous Media spin (5, Insightful)

Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941586)

I definitely agree here. A high school education certainly doesn't provide the opportunities that it used to (nor does a BA or BS for that matter). If we are to get in a discussion around the education levels of Americans as a whole, I'd probably agree with the use of the word "epidemic" in describing our average level of education ... particularly if measured by the average person's knowledge and competence rather than degree earned.

Whenever I have traveled to foreign countries, I always find it amazing that the average foreigner seems to know far more about American culture, government, and history than the average American. This isn't just a reflection of our schools, but of our society and families as well. I also believe the problem has gotten so bad that our leadership in industry and technology cannot possibly be maintained unless we make a large-scale concerted effort to fix education, not just concentrate on statistics such as dropout rates.

Re:This is disingenuous Media spin (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941658)

Are you sure you are really interacting with average foreigners?

As far as the U.S. leadership goes, kiss it goodbye no matter what, there are 5.5 billion people not living in the U.S., the numbers will catch up with us sometime.

Re:This is disingenuous Media spin (4, Interesting)

Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941852)

Great points! Although even the college educated Americans (who would be a fairer comparison) seem to be far less knowledgable on these topics. Part of it could be interest as well ... it's quite common to discuss things like Religion and Politics over dinner with friends in Europe, while these topics are often taboo here.

Also, I don't know if we can predict future world leadership just by population figures. By that measure, countries like Germany, Japan, and South Korea would have never achieved the industrial and intellectual lead they have/had enjoyed over much of the world (outside the U.S. that is). Sure, we probably won't be the #1 in terms of GDP in the future, but we certainly could make a concerted effort to regain the lead in per capita income and quality of life measures that we endanger by allowing the rest of the world's quality of education surpass our own.

Re:This is disingenuous Media spin (5, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941218)

Between 1972 and 2004, dropout rates have fallen drastically.

I was going to say -- the use of words like "epidemic" without a shred of context tells you at least as much about the problems with education in America as the free-floating numbers do. I'm not even going to get into the ironies of "Of course, another question that should be asked is: Is High School really the problem, or is it America's Educational system as a whole?"

Re:This is disingenuous Media spin (2)

Lithgon (896737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941278)

Living in Detroit and knowing about the Detroit Public Schools I'd have to agree. The problem with Detroit schools are that they are a bureaucratic mess. The schools focus on the jobs of the administration rather than the teaching of children. Even tommarrow they just announced that instead of the traditional half-day off before Thanksgiving they are having a full day and I'm not even sure why. The teachers in Detroit are worried about their jobs so they just pass almost any person that shows up to their class. If the burocracy is eleminated then the children will have a better chance of graduating and heading to college then droping or bearly graduating and going straight into the workforce.

Re:This is disingenuous Media spin (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941404)

I guess that your spelling acumen pegs you as one of Detroit's successes.

Re:This is disingenuous Media spin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941584)

We all know it is Bush's fault.

Re:This is disingenuous Media spin (5, Funny)

dwbryson (104783) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941730)

And people are wondering what could possibly be wrong with Detroit schools....

Even tommarrow they just announced that instead of the traditional half-day off before Thanksgiving they are having a full day and I'm not even sure why.

If the burocracy is eleminated then the children will have a better chance of graduating and heading to college then droping or bearly graduating and going straight into the workforce.

You are entirely correct the teachers do pass anybody. Oh the irony!

Re:This is disingenuous Media spin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941512)

Where O Where is Jon Katz when you need him?

Why bother with college? (1, Funny)

ENOENT (25325) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941086)

They'll just try to teach you a bunch of evil stuff about Darwin and other Godless Commies.

(At least, that seems to be the current American zeitgeist.)

Re:Why bother with college? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941764)

This is what some adults (who you disagree with, obviously) might say, but I've never heard a drop-out say that this is why they dropped out. Our role models on TV are rock stars, actors, models, and athletes. Being "book learned" is like following some boring mold. Also, kids want to be free of adults making them jump through hoops. College looks to them like an extension of high school, just more "hoop jumping." They just want to get out and make money.

Learning is going the way of the Dodo (3, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941888)

They'll just try to teach you a bunch of evil stuff about Darwin and other Godless Commies.

Content aside, the problem is that actually teaching has become really difficult these days in schools. With the (non-funded) requirements put on schools by "No Child Left Behind", Bush has recreated nationally the same mess he made as Governor of Texas. Kids aren't being taught in school, they're being made to memorize, and they're trained to take a specific test, which hasn't even been proven a valid metric.

Maybe if the teachers were actually allowed to teach the kids, they could actually engage them appropriately and keep them in school.

Aim High. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941116)

"What's wrong with our school system that so many kids prefer working 40 hours a week instead?"

NEA

Re:Aim High. (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941196)

Let me guess, you're trying to make an anti-union sentiment, right? Go look at what happens in non-union schools. Teacher shortages.
Even so, IMHO the unions should focus more on getting teachers better pay and less on preventing them from getting fired. But teachers with experience are often reluctant to go to non-union schools.

Re:Aim High. (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941736)

I thought he was ragging on the National Endowment for the Arts.

Money (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941126)

Disclaimer: I am Canadian, but I feel it's a similar situation up here as well.

I just graduated from high school last June. I am 17 (I turn 18 in about 10 days) years of age and work for a small local business doing tech/IT stuff. I think that a major factor would be that it has been pushed [forced?] into a lot of people's heads that they need to make a lot of money to be successful.

So I think they figure they can beat the competition and start working earlier. This does make sense to me, sort of. As if you are responsible enough with your money, you can gain from working early. If you put it away in a bank account and later into a Savings Bond or similar, you'd have a much larger amount of cash in the long run compared to someone who finishes school and then gets a job and starts saving/investing.

Anyway, that is my take on it.

Re:Money (1)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941244)


Stay in school. You might get an early start on the ones that go to college/university but they'll almost always come out on top in the long run. In 5 or 6 years you might be answering to an old high school alumni as your boss.

Re:Money (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941300)

If this is directed to me, I am on a waiting list to get into a Business Program at SIAST. It's basically a College and only through-out Sask. Canada. :-)

Re:Money (1)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941482)

Nah, "you" was a general "you" :P

Re:Money (1)

garnetlion (786722) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941726)

Drop out! Finishing high school was the second dumbest thing I ever did. Staying in college was the first.

Gotta be the age (5, Insightful)

GrayCalx (597428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941144)

It seems to be an America truism that "things get better after High School," and it wouldn't be surprising if most of you readers feel the same way. However, why does it have to be this way?

I think a lot of the reasons things "get better after high school" is because of the age you are when in high school. I didn't know who I was, took people's opinions of me too seriously, and couldn't get the girl I liked to notice me. I was definitely excited to get out of high school because of how glorious college was made out to be. I didn't read the article, I'm sure it got involved to level at which i just wouldn't care, I assume that the kids they're talking about dropping out aren't then enrolling in college but it just seems like a lot of those feelings stem from puberty and the social environment created by forcing kids of those ages to interact.

Re:Gotta be the age (5, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941360)

I'm married to my high school sweetie, we have two kids.
That above is my complete summation of everything good from my HS experience.
12 years since graduation and I've flirted with college, work for a major semiconductor company in R&D and am overall happy.
The wife is a stay at home mom, polishing her masters degree in the next year and a half, with a plethora of other degrees in her wake (4 AS/AA, 2 BS).

Why drop out of high school? Because you can teach yourself better. The classes are taught to the lowest common denominator. That means that the bright kids who are not quite bright (or lucky) enough for AP classes get shafted. It's mind numbing and detrimental. My grades sucked because I was bored to tears with my classes. Had our school system taught to grade levels commensurate with Japan or Germany I would have had good grades because I would have been engaged. I don't care if half the class fails every grade, we need to step up our expectations of everyone. Race? BS!, Family status? BS! Income? BS!
I understand there are a handful of exceptions to each of the above, but tough, life is not fair, the sooner that lesson is taught the better.
I'm willing to bet that in only one generation the USA would be back on top in the education field if "tough love" were implemented in grading.

-nB
on a side note, I knew no-one at my 10 year reunion. WTF? People knew me, but I was so dis-engaged from school I was like "Who are you? Oh! wonderful (still don't have a clue) Uh Huh :-) (got nothing, oh well) Ok Bye now, see you later."

National support (1)

fatty ding dong (1028344) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941148)

Its because our young people are ready to fight for our country! Remember:

"You can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

#1 problem. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941150)


The #1 problem? RELIGION! Keep superstition out of schools and get back to teaching what's real: reading, writing, math, science.

Re:#1 problem. (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941470)

WHile I agree that religion should be kept well away from school, I don't see this as a problem. Other than the fellowship of christian athletes, I saw no religious influences at my high school (of course, I lived in a blue state so there was no evolution/creationism battle). Its hardly the number 1 problem.

4 Year Prison Term (4, Insightful)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941156)

Given that most high schools are run as assembly-line institutions with often ridiculous learning-hindering schedules, policies and rules, and given the absurd amount of time routinely wasted in high school classes, this is hardly surprising. I'd estimate 20% of the time I spent in high school classes was even remotely productive.

/Practically never studied
//Graduated with a 3.9
///Didn't learn what an imaginary number actually was until college. Why the high school teacher couldn't just say "the square root of -1" eludes me. Our instructions were to use a calculator program to find it.

Re:4 Year Prison Term (5, Insightful)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941356)

Do you want to know why kids are dropping out? It's because they realize that school isn't about learning - it's about teaching to a test that's taken state-wide. These sorts of tests encourage teaching certain areas very hard, while completely neglecting other areas. Just because it isn't on your state assessments doesn't mean it isn't important. Really, these tests don't test the ability to think spatially, don't test anything above the most meager and basic algebra, and they sure as hell don't measure a student's ability to think for themself. It's ignorant to think that, by teaching to a very narrow test, we are preparing students for the real world.

Re:4 Year Prison Term (5, Interesting)

rbochan (827946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941450)

Actually, it's about the six lessons [cantrip.org] .

MOD PARENT UP (1)

Who235 (959706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941868)

Thanks a million for that essay. It was awesome.

Re:4 Year Prison Term (1)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941618)

Ah yes, the test prep (aka nap time #21-49). That's included in my figure of 80% completely and utterly wasted time. Oh, and I was in band, which accounts for about 15% of the 20% non-wasted time. Then put in all the videos we watched. If I wanted to watch movies all day, I could stay home.

And we were a well-funded "National Blue Ribbon" awarded school. Can't imagine how bad it is in south central.

Re:4 Year Prison Term (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941400)

Man, where did you go to school? Totally not sending my kid there ;)

i was in Alg 2, which could have been taken anywheres from sophomore to senior year depending on your schedule (and drive) at my school. I had a great school though. Like you, I never studied and I flunked a few classes due to not doing my homework. I graduated with a 2.5 or so, out of the top 50%. I took a 4 year stint in the Military, a 2 year stint as a consultant, and finally went back to college. About a year after that I wound up in a math class (precalc, calc, and physics, all in a row). The first day of class, one of the other students from my high school showed up. He performed similar to me in HS, more time devoted to scoring smokes and tail than books and tests. Anyways, after 7 years away from the math books, this guy and I managed to ace the classes. 4.0s for us both through all of them. Each seemed like nothing more than a refresher course to the same stuff we did in high school years ago. Mean while we watched as other students who had just come from public, private and home schooled situations struggled with the classes. Like I said I think I had some excellent teachers and a great school district. I definitely didn't put the effort into those classes that the teachers put into me.

-Rick

Re:4 Year Prison Term (2, Interesting)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941548)

I suffered through the "Integrated Math" system. Algebra, Geometry, and Trig meshed together into one series of texts. Culturally-sensitive texts. Lots of pictures. All the white people were in wheelchairs. Word problems began along the lines of "LaQuisha is having a Kwanzaa party." At the end of each chapter, there were questions like "How does the method we used to solve problem 16 make you feel?"

If I was home sick (or, more commonly, if I dozed off in class), the book was completely useless in actually teaching math. But it had pretty pictures.

The year after I graduated, it was determined that Integrated Math had been a wholly bad idea, and they dropped it in favor of the traditional Algebra/Geometry/Trig sequences.

Re:4 Year Prison Term (1)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941552)

I agree with your assessment, but contend that the time-wasing and idiotic scheduling are pervasive from kindergarten onward. The reason (at least in Texas) is that schools teach "to the test" (the Texas Academic Skills Program [TASP] test) rather than teaching usable skills (i.e. the venerated "three R's" of readin' ritin' and 'rithmatic). The result is bored students who lack basic learning skills and frustration with the education environment. Further, "education" involves far more indoctrination into hip. politically correct dogma than practical learning

The best hope for restoring the public indoctrination system to an education system is eliminating standardized testing, stripping from curricula all non-practical elements (especially in elementary grades), and restoring to educators the ability to deal with disruptive/problem students by whatever reasonable means are necessary. (Most classrooms are a zoo.)

 

Re:4 Year Prison Term (1)

bdcrazy (817679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941688)

One thing i did notice is they should be teaching you more of WHY and not HOW. For instance, the imaginary number is useful for electrical analysis (and many other phenomenon). Knowing how it works is one thing, but never having a need to use it or seeing any use for it can cause a lot of frustration and pain.

The world needs ditch diggers too... (3, Informative)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941158)

The world needs ditch diggers too...

Re:The world needs ditch diggers too... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941570)

Are only the dropouts the ditch diggers? It's getting to be where you need post-secondary for anything decent. Even if they finish high school but don't go on to College, they could end up being a ditch digger.

Maybe that has something to do with it - that the end seems so far away and if you aren't planning on post-secondary, there doesn't seem much point in finishing the useless stuff in secondary school.

The real problem is hopelessness (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941178)

Why waste 4 years of your life in high school, 8 more years in college, just to be told that Americans are too stupid to make money even in menial IT work [slashdot.org] and end up serving fries for minimum wage anyway?

Or at least, that's what we've been telling our teenagers for the last 4 years, as we put their parents, aunts, and uncles out of work so that we can make more profit in India. Is it any surprise to anybody that maybe they'd rather earn an additional $80,000 in their lifetime rather than waste time in high school when their future is dim no matter what they do?

Re:The real problem is hopelessness (3, Insightful)

ral8158 (947954) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941314)

If your job is so menial and simple that you can be replaced with someone who works harder and for less, then why should you not be replaced?

It's an unfortunate truth, but if you can't do something unique with your life, well, too bad, kay? Some of us actually have to think of ways to reinvent ourselves and do creative, individual things to keep our jobs. -An angry fashion designer.

Re:The real problem is hopelessness (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941398)

If your job is so menial and simple that you can be replaced with someone who works harder and for less, then why should you not be replaced?

Because if we replace everybody who is working in menial and simple jobs, we end up removing consumers from our country. Remove the consumers, and you run out of customers. Run out of customers, you'll soon be out of business. National borders exist for a reason.

It's an unfortunate truth, but if you can't do something unique with your life, well, too bad, kay? Some of us actually have to think of ways to reinvent ourselves and do creative, individual things to keep our jobs. -An angry fashion designer.

When no ditch diggers are left to buy your fashions- where will you be?

Actually... (1)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941186)


What's wrong with our school system that so many kids prefer working 40 hours a week instead?

You mean "What's wrong with our school system that so many kids prefer working 40 hours a week for wages that look nice when you're 18 but are shit when you're 40 instead?

Re:Actually... (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941700)

Presumably if you've worked in the industry from 18-40 thats 22 years of specialized experience, compared to 4-8 years of generalized college experience. I'd much rather pay someone who has already proven he knows the ins and outs of real world systems than someone who is good at passing tests. I'm not a manager though, so its hard to say.

Admittedly about 6 months ago I was passed up at a job interview for the kind of MCSE test-head mentioned earlier. From what I hear from some friends that work they strongly regret it because he has no ability to learn their system and actually understand it and instead has to ask for help on everything.

Re:Actually... (1)

bhsurfer (539137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941794)

There's a lot of focus being put on the "system", but not a lot being given to the people who are quitting. My GF is a social worker so I get to hear lots about the state of the kids she deals with. There are large numbers, suprisingly large numbers, of kids who for one reason or another just don't care. Maybe they've been abused, maybe they're mentally unbalanced, maybe slightly psychotic, maybe strung out on drugs/alcohol, maybe all of the above.

Whatever and however it happens, I think that for these people at least their future in the workforce is an abstraction. Kids in trouble (and I mean real trouble) aren't thinking in terms of where they'll be in 10 years, etc. You're way overanalyzing the thought process of a 14 year old runaway who is strung out on meth and has been getting fucked by her mom's boyfriends for the last 5 or 6 years. Algebra? English? A career? How about doing something that makes THEM feel in control of any aspect of their lives? They can decide that they're not going to school and that makes it better...

Teaching to the middle of the class (1)

j.bergdall (960517) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941212)

They teach to (low) standards. The advanced students cannot get ahead (i.e. get bored) without spending money. The remedial students get frustrated (i.e. give up). The middle students become so accustomed to being made sure they aren't left behind, it doesn't properly prepare them for college, or the real world. That in a nutshell, is what is wrong America public schools.

Three words (3, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941228)

Lowest common denominator.

What's really sad is a lot of recent grads won't understand either the math or the implication of that statement.

Re:Three words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941862)

What's really sad is a lot of recent grads won't understand either the math

A tad hypocritical, don't you think, considering the fact that you are actually referring to the highest common factor?

read this book (5, Informative)

Donut2099 (153459) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941234)

http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm [johntaylorgatto.com]
John Taylor Gatto argues that American education fails to properly educate because it was not designed to educate. It was designed to create good consumers.

Re:read this book (3, Informative)

roscivs (923777) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941598)

If you don't want to read the whole book, try The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher [cantrip.org] (by the same author). By the way, Gatto was New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991.

hmmm, kids waking up to reality (4, Insightful)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941238)

I think public education is severely broken in the US, for many reasons:

* single-classroom style -- many students learn in ways that do not work with a single classroom and oral lectures, which is the style almost all high schools use. Almost never are students allowed independent study, and even if they only learn from reading, they are still required to sit in class, which is a complete waste for them

* forced attendance -- by forcing people to attend, there is no motivation to make the most out of it. There is no real opportunity cost to being in the classroom, making a high percentage of people there unmotivated to learn.

* low pay -- financing education on the local level means limited funds to attract highly educated and highly functional people. While most high school teachers are extremely motivated and devoted, the simple financial reality is that jobs that pay 20-40K/year do not attract top quality people. This is part of a larger issue of simple limited resources put on education

* separation of teaching from learning -- mostly in real life, people become experts and learn things when they turn around and teach others. Almost never are high school students given the chance to teach what they learn, and almost never are their rewards for them in teaching others.

* national curricula -- teachers have almost no flexibility on what they teach or the ability to customize lessons for what students really need to learn. Learning is an interactive process that drawn a person to a new understanding from their current one. Set teaching standards eliminate the ability of teachers to understand what their students know now and customize the lessons for maximal learning.

* lack of content applicability -- most lessons in high school are useless and disconnected from real world applications. They are abstracted and meaningless for students who dont experience how to apply what they learn. Mostly, high school has become a babysitting exercise to keep people out of the work force as long as possible to remove competition for existing workers.

In sum, kids dropping out makes sense to me. High school is not helpful to them. This situation will only continue as virtual communities continue to form and become more organized and effective.

Re:hmmm, kids waking up to reality (1)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941344)

Sorry, nice try, but those arguments don't explain the reason for the problem. The proof: other countries have exactly the same characteristics you highlight and they do extremely well compared to the US. So those factors can't be the root cause.

Alain.

Re:hmmm, kids waking up to reality (1)

Blkdeath (530393) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941706)

* forced attendance -- by forcing people to attend, there is no motivation to make the most out of it. There is no real opportunity cost to being in the classroom, making a high percentage of people there unmotivated to learn.

What is this recent trend I'm seeing here about how horrible it is to have to show up somewhere every day? It's called WORKING, people! Out here in the real world most employers require their employees to show up at a prescribed time every day. It's called working for a living.

Re:hmmm, kids waking up to reality (1)

garnetlion (786722) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941832)

Yeah, if you don't go to work, you don't get paid. If you don't go to high school, you don't get to sit and listen to some blowhard on a power trip try to mold your mind into his. What a pity. (This is not to say that your paying job won't involve blowhards, but those blowhards pay you for wasting your time.)

Re:hmmm, kids waking up to reality (1)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941846)

Here's the thing - workers get paid to sit and do menial tasks. Students don't. Why should we have to sit there and be bored for 7-8 hours a day for no money?

Re:hmmm, kids waking up to reality (2, Insightful)

zxnos (813588) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941746)

in general i agree with you, but i have to take issue with the pay. [nea.org] the national average [bls.gov] is typically less than the average teacher salary. also, remember the typical school year is 9 months, most people work 12. holidays? teachers get 'em all. in-service days? from my personal experience very little gets done. health care? typically fully covered. retirement? excellent. lets not forget our good friend tenure.

Re:hmmm, kids waking up to reality (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941854)

I would add that extended education (a large part of what the Public School System gears students for) no longer offers the guarantee of a good job. A problem that has more to do with the way our nation and it's corporations have choosen to do business.

Add to that the economic conditions in the areas the article is discussing (in it's own inflamitory and missleading way) and you get a system that looks pretty useless to someone who is actually working hard for an education.

People have given a particular senator a hard time for a stupid joke gone wrong, but he is somewhat right in either case. Because the fact is, for some the military really is the only way out of poverty (if you consider a military wage a livable one).

Re:hmmm, kids waking up to reality (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941864)

  • First, if you are not learning RTFB. Also, in class the teacher has the opportunity to ANSWER QUESTIONS if you didn't understand the material. Do you think teachers don't answer intelligent questions in school?
  • Secondly what would motivate people who don't want to learn to learn? Not much. So it's a moot point. If you increased the opportunity cost fewer people would go.
  • Third point I agree with.
  • Fourth point I agree with.
  • No such curriculum exists.
  • My middle school textbooks were filled with paperwasting "connections" because of this criticism. They try to say how it is useful. I go to a magnet school, Bergen County Academies where we use collage textbooks without this crap. Basically, trying to give practical examples is a waste of time.
Now, high school is useful. If you have a high school diploma, you earn more then if you do not. If you go on to collage, you earn a lot more. Also, the national trend has been towards increasing graduation rates, not less. And dropping out is not a sensible move from an economic perspective.

My throughts (5, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941248)

I graduated in 2001 from a private Catholic high school that I actually liked quite a bit. However, there were still "problems". Let's ignore the obvious social stuff (which, to a very large degree, can never be fixed) and the fact that I just like smaller schools better.

What was there to hold my interest? There was a Drafting class that I found fascinating, but Drafting 2 was never offered because they couldn't get enough students. I got up through Physics 2, and we had Calc. But I liked computer and the only computer classes were typing, how to use office, and a very basic C++ class (all of which I knew by that time by teaching myself). The rest of the classes tended to bore me (except the ones on the history of the Church, because that was stuff that I hadn't heard before). The only other class I remember really liking was the Econ class because the teacher did a fantastic job (but most other students though it was boring... it was Econ after all). I kind of liked Psychology, but the teacher for that was terrible and while he seemed to be interested in the subject, he wasn't an enjoyable professor (quite dry, by the book, do this, do that). Some other teachers were just terrible (the Calc guy was as stiff as a board and just about killed my interest in Math). There was also Accounting and Business Law which appealed to me. But nearly every one of these classes I liked had a good teacher (important and hard to control) and was optional or had other more common substitutes (so if you didn't go looking to take it, chances are you wouldn't).

There wasn't much in the way of arts classes at all that I remember. If they were there they were purely optional. You had to take Gym. They did offer some interesting things (like Ballroom Dancing, which I regret not taking).

I didn't have nearly as much problems in College because I got to take the classes I was interested in (CS) along side requirements (some of which, like Sociology, I found interesting). High schools have become VERY focused on getting you into college (and every grade before on getting you into that next grade). My HS was college prep too (they advertised that). To a certain degree, I wonder how well anyone who goes through a decent American HS is prepared for the world. They seem to be like middle school now. It's EXPECTED you'll go to college. If you don't, you're either in a no skill job or you go to trade school. How about offering a metal shop class? We didn't have that, but it would have been fun. We were too college prep for that. No wood shop.

I'm not going to claim I know how to fix 'em. It's complex. But I know they did very little to encourage independent learning in the core classes unless you had a FANTASTIC teacher or you already liked the subject. Otherwise, it was "strictly business". And the less advanced your school (like a poorer one), the worse that all might be.

Re:My throughts (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941592)

In Iowa, at least in our (small) high school, students can take college credits on the school's dime before graduating. They can get things like 1st year english and math out of the way before they even set foot at the college of their choice.

Re:My throughts (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941800)

We could too. We we a short ways from the local community college and there was a microscopic (4 or 5 room) satellite campus for some little university next to my school so those opportunities were there. But to do that you had to have completed X, Y, and Z and so on. And when they let you do it, it tended only to be for things that you were past (like to take a higher level of math or English). So if you wanted to take an art course or something, you couldn't (as I remember). I don't think they'd let you use it for electives.

Re:My throughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941792)

You had actual 'classes' on the history of the Church? I thought you wrote it was a learning institution

This must be a trick question... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941254)

Students are learning only enough to correctly respond to the tests. Teaching them how to learn and apply their knowledge went out the same time vocational classes stopped being taught. My Dad graduated from the 8th grade and he knows a lot more than the typical high school student. I didn't bother going to high school. I taught myself by reading whatever I wanted -- mostly science, history and fiction -- for four years at home. I got my associate degree in four years since the adult high school diploma program would've taken five years. (I then got kicked out of the university during my first year since I was playing too much Magic: The Gathering -- but that's a different story.) Schools are not teaching high school students that learning can be fun but can also be hard work. These days it's just a pain in the ass filling out all those stupid little bubbles.

Americans are getting stupider. (1)

Higaran (835598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941256)

Ok, yea I said it, but think about it, why would anyone spend 4 years in high school when they know they aren't gonna go to get any other higher form of education. When they can go drop out after like 2 and acutally make some money at some job, even if it is 7 bucks an hour, kids are getting stupider. Schools teach you stuff you'll need to know how to do when you go to your next school, like tell me after high school how many of you have writter a 5 paragraph essay? But, I bet if you look at the figures more closely, you'll see that its more girls dropping out than guys, usually because of pregnancy, and they figure then won't need a diploma, that they'll just marry some guy that will take care of them for the rest of their lives. There are alot of reasons probably, but if the government didn't support these people with welfare, then I doubt we'd even see a 1% drop out rate.

Is it actually a problem? (1)

drdanny_orig (585847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941270)

First of all, consider the source: ABC News is quite capable of misinterpreting statistics just to fill a few minutes air time. And according to TFA, it's only in the "nation's largest 100 school districts." We all know how crappy big-city public schools can be, and how enticing the life of a big-city drug dealer (or other criminal role model of your choosing) can seem,especially to the well-honed decision making skills of today's teenager.

Mark my words: someday, Science will prove that wearing one's pants too low allows precious brainwaves to escape via the rear vent hole into the atmosphere, carrying with them all hope of a future. Mark my words and mark them well.

Students have no voice. (5, Interesting)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941280)

My Story.

I was a junior in High School, about 10 years ago. One day I had intense nausea and a sharp pain in my back. I went up to the nurses office to seek assistance. I was promptly denied any assistance, as I did not have a "hall pass".

Realizing my situation required medical attention, I left. I proceeded towards my car in the parking lot, with the intention of going to the hospital to get the care I needed. I was intercepted by campus security. I ignored their pleas for me to return to campus, and continued towards my car. Eventually I was physically stopped by a mid 30s campus cop, a female about 5' 4" with very short hair. I told her I needed to go to the hospital, and that I was leaving.

The officer beat me up (as in a fistfight), kicking my knee out and using her baton. I was incapable of fighting back in my condition, and made no effort to do so. She dragged me back to campus, where I was made to sit in the office until the end of the school day. No one ever spoke to me or the officer regarding the incident, but she did stay nearby to insure I did not leave. No medical care was ever offered, despite my requests that they now call 911.

After school was released several hours later, I went to the hospital and was treated for a kidney stone.

What is wrong with our schools is that this can a) happen and b) get blown off completely; as it is obviously my fault for seeking medical attention and since I was a student, I must have started the fight with the rent-a-cop.

~Rebecca

Re:Students have no voice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941434)

I hope you and your parents sued for a few million in damages.

Re:Students have no voice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941534)

Holy lawsuit, Batman. Do students have any human rights when they are on campus or what? That sounds like a perfectly legitimate case against the school on your part. How'd that eventually all play out?

Re:Students have no voice. (4, Informative)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941880)

How'd that eventually all play out?
Catch-all reply for all of those screaming "lawsuit". In essence, nothing happened. I was treated at the hospital and spent several days at home recovering from the kidney stone.

It is easy here on Slashdot for you to believe me, 10 years after the fact. Just the fact I remember it with such vivid detail lends credibility or I am at least a quick creative writer to make up the whole thing so quickly.

At the time however, things were a very different story. I was a high school kid who had left class without a hall pass. The officer said I started the fight, and I was in the process of committing a crime (truancy). It was easy for all the adults at the time to ignore my requests for medical assistance, in their eyes I was just a whiny kid making excuses. There was no room to make a valid case on my word alone.

~Rebecca

Re:Students have no voice. (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941556)

The real question is- why weren't your parents on the ball enough to make sure the school district paid big time in a negligence lawsuit for this mistake?

Two Words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941840)

Sovreign Immunity
I laugh at your naivete
You can't sue the State unless they let you

Re:Students have no voice. (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941652)

But that's how they're supposed to treat an inmate!

Oh wait, I mean a stu-- oh crap, they're on to me...

Re:Students have no voice. (1)

Phydeaux314 (866996) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941872)

I've run into a few problems with my school regarding my type one diabetes. I occasionally need to head to the nurse's office to get medical supplies, or to wait until my blood sugar comes down a bit. Luckily, the one teacher that gave me guff about it got yelled at pretty hard, because before I went into school freshman year I made sure that I had a medical plan set up so that if they didn't let me get what I needed, they'd be out of a job and facing a lawsuit faster than you can say "healthcare." As for student rights - pretty much none. Almost all those wonderful things you see under the U.S. constitution don't actually apply if you're a student and under 18.

rich teachers ... stupid kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941284)

we've never paid administrators & teachers so much ... and gotten so little

schools are far too bureaucratic and teachers far too authoritative to be effective

The Reasons are simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941306)

1: Dropout rates haven't risen; they have overall dropped because it has become much more trendy, not economically feasable but trendy, to go to college. Colleges have, as a consequence, jacked up their prices to teach these overgrown children and I emphasize overgrown and children, how to act like adults while teaching them some mediumally-advanced skills.

Adolesance is the thing which fuels debt and college. Without adolescance brought on by public education, there would be little need for college or debt.

2: Public Education is a goverment monopoly which teachers unions have camped. This has gotten to the point where it is difficult to fire pedophiles and abusive teachers in many districts. Instead they sit them down somewhere and expect them to do nothing for a paycheck. Because there is no competition, some teachers feel increasingly confident about their control over students and their ability to be lazy about teaching any subject. As such, they get rejected by students who've been through enough actual life to realize that what they're saying is manipulation and lies and will do them no good in the long run. More importantly, education standards 200 years ago were far more stringent than they were today; if you were professionally schooled you were expected to know calculus, read at what we'd consider a college level, know geography, history, and philosophy, as well as a trade, by 10 years of age.

3: Could you put a 30 year old adult who's worked managerial positions, through high school? Every reason why this would not work, is the reason why kids drop out. You wouldn't want to go to a place which treats you in a condescending fashon, nor do they.

Google John Taylor Gatto.

 

Hold on here ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941308)

Berrien High in southern Georgia is part of a national epidemic. More than 40 percent of students there do not graduate.

What do you expect from a state that offers a PhD in "ciferin'". A 60% graduation is pretty darn good for them. =)

gee, you think something's wrong? (1)

fool (8051) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941320)

There are a lot of things wrong with the school system and high school is just the first time that you can effectively and easily do something about it. Paul Graham describes several of the problems with school in this essay [paulgraham.com] , but it boils down to: schools are full of disrespect for students and busy work and forced curriculum, rather than open to interesting learning opportunities. School feels like jail and freedom...well...looks pretty good.

Theres a book about unschooling that I've been reading and would probably encourage my kids to try it, if only I were the type to have kids:

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education [lowryhousepublishers.com] .

The preface and a couple of chapters are online at that site. It speaks volumes to me about what my high school wasn't: interesting, a collection of information that is still catalogued in my head lo these many years later, and self-directed. Oh, and being a dork in high shcool didn't help the comfort level. At least I had a few good teachers.

Re:gee, you think something's wrong? (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941362)

Paul Graham describes several of the problems with school in this essay, but it boils down to: schools are full of disrespect for students and busy work and forced curriculum, rather than open to interesting learning opportunities.


Those aren't bugs, they are features. How else is school supposed to prepare students for life as corporate (or government) drones?

Looking for problems in the wrong place... (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941334)

What's wrong with our school system that so many kids prefer working 40 hours a week instead?


While there is plenty, at least arguably, wrong with our schools, the most likely reason people would drop out of high school to work is that there is something wrong with our economy where increasingly families can't adequately provide for children while they are in school; the economy that has been doing well in aggregate terms hasn't been doing well in distributional terms.

It's not about the education (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941336)

That's the problem. It really isn't about education.

In high school you are surrounded by people who either a) don't give a shit, or b) are spineless fools doing whatever necessity to get marks. The a)'s should be allowed (if not encouraged) to leave, and the b)'s are a product of the education system gone wrong. In their eyes, something is right if it is marked right, and vice versa. The actual truth is irrelevant. Neither the a)'s nor the b)'s care about learning.

High school is more about social control than anything else. "Do as we say or you have no future," is what is told, and there's sadly too much truth to it. The people who simply want to learn away from the fast majority of idiots are pretty much SOL.

Why assume the school systems' fault? (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941372)

- Maybe not all people are want the jobs that requires a high-school education.

- Maybe some people are just stupid and would rather do meaningful work then spend time being spoon-fed academic work that won't use anyway.

- Maybe it's PARENT'S faults: not holding their children to standards such as completing their homework and actually understanding the material, which in turn makes the kids' grades lower and makes them despondent about school.

- Perhaps the parents aren't being very involved and interested in the children's school work, and the kids are taking the hint from their parents regarding how important school is.

My general point: If the roles of all parties involved were clearly defined, it would be meaningful to discuss who's screwing up. But the idealized roles aren't clearly defined - there's no known single formula for successful public eduction. So it's not rational to assume the schools are the parties with the problem.

easy, (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941382)

Its that the system forces people to stay at school for far too long when some people obviously don't want to. I left school at 16 - like everyone else in the UK - and then chose to go to college (which here is 16-18) and now I'm just finishing my degree.

I honestly would have hated to stay at school for another 2 years, school is almost intrinsically crap. It has loads of people who are pretty much forced to be there but don't really want to learn and don't have any enthusiasm, they make school unenjoyable for everyone, is it any wonder that a lot of people just want to leave?

Feminization (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941384)

Boys don't want to be feminized, and that's what our schools do. You'll notice most of the dropouts are boys. That's why the dropouts live shorter lives--they're boys, and they generally take up the more dangerous jobs, including crime.

Problem with American Education (1)

Raqem (964006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941428)

The problem is with education in the United States.

I am not talking about the education system (i.e. k-12 public schooling). I'm talking about parents not trying to teach their children in the home before they even start kindergarten. Too many parents here are just letting the public schools teach their children everything they need to know. That should not be the case. The parents should be the first educational source for our children and the public school system a secondary educational tool.

Public school should supplement (and insure a certain level of) a child's education. As a minority, I see all of my minority friends and my minority in-laws teaching their children math (e.g. multiplication) and such before kindergarten whereas some of the... "non-minority kids" are seeing multiplication for the first time in second grade, and they're falling behind because of it. If the minorities focused on teaching their children proper English as well, they'd come out ahead!

Never let school get in the way of education, seriously.

Socialization (0)

daigu (111684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941476)

High school's primary purpose is socialization. While it is possible to get a foundation for a college education at a public high school, what's the motivation for someone who can't afford or does not want to go to college to continue high school? Why not get a GED and actually get paid in a job rather than waste your time with what passes as secondary education in the U.S.? What about young teens that are growing up in poverty? It is a fact that for some getting a job can be a compelling need.

It's easy for people on Slashdot to talk about ditch diggers and burger flippers. Most people with the time and access to learn about computers aren't wondering where their next meal is coming from, how they are going to keep the electricity on, or whether they might get shot when they step out of their house.

People on Slashdot, with a possible few exceptions, don't even understand the problem -- much less are they able to offer a solution to it. Your question is wasted here.

One student's perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941478)

You can start with slavery as the first wrong. My feet never touch the earth anymore. My skin does not make contact with the fresh air. My lungs are linked to the building airflow system. Trapped inside of this cage, the only way out is paperwork, and more paperwork, and still more.

Seriously, even prisoners have it better. In the U.S., prisoners are usually allowed time outside to kick dirt around and at least observe the peculiar motions of the dust particles, the rolling stones that cover the ground, the sheer magnitude of detail that words do not capture. And instead here we are stuck within these buildings not even given photographs of the real world to stare at and analyze and imagine and play with.

Have any of you actually walked into a library before? If not, I suggest you go immediately. Notice the large number of books. Rarely do high school students flip through more than ten of those, and there is no possible way that ten books is enough to get even the beginnings of the story of life. No way in hell.

And then the students are not even allowed photographs of the world, they are told of concepts and ideas and asked to 'apply' them, but nobody really cares because it all seems so very disconnected. Memorizing chemical elements, words, definitions, statements, spellings, all very noble causes indeed, but really.

Our brains don't work like that. Would like to hear some other perspectives, students. :)

Hint of sample... (1)

Jawood (1024129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941516)

FTFA (bold mine): A recent study by the Department of Education found that 31 percent of American students were dropping out or failing to graduate in the nation's largest 100 public school districts.

It doesn't say the national average or any other meaningful statistics. It's just those 100 schools.

The other thing is that I hated High School as much as any of those kids interviewed. I prefered ditching and programming my Apple II at home and subsequently learning math by discovery - NOT boring lectures. But, when I skipped, my parents rode me very very hard about it. There was this family value regarding education - we must have it.

Yeah, it sounded like those kids in TFA had parents that valued education, but if this "trend" in dropouts is in these 100 schools, then I have to point the fingers at their peers. Just about all of my peers had intentions to go to college and on to some sort of grad school (just about everybody wanted a BSME, BSEE, MS**, JD or MD). So, I had a lot of peer pressure to graduate and go to college. That's just me.

No big deal ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941536)

Typically high school dropouts earn $19,000 a year.

Let's see:
- PS3 payment: $50
- Camaro payment: $800
- Camaro payment late fee: $50
- Camaro insurance payment: $300
- Camaro insurance payment late fee: $50
- Beer: $100 - OUI payment to the court: $200 - Baby payment to her mama: $300
- Other baby payment to her mama: $300
- Rent: see Camero

Cool. It works so long as I never get old or sick.

Lack of Respect (2, Insightful)

yancey (136972) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941588)

My opinion on this topic is that current problems in education are a result of not treating students with proper respect. Some will consider this statement completely backward, thinking that students should be treating the faculty with more respect. However, I think students perceive that standardized test grades are the only thing that matter to the schools. Whatever talents or interests a student may have, only the grades matter -- not the student as a person. This perception by the students is demeaning to them. They are only worth the grades they earn. In that case, I completely understand why they would want to leave school, go to work, and be "graded" on real-world tasks, not academic standardized tests. Treat the student more like a rational, sensitive, and valuable person and I think you will see them enjoying their education a little more and staying in school. Of course, it also helps to find ways to make the subject matter interesting. I've also seen far too many faculty who repeat the same tired old riff year after year. Keep it fresh, folks.

Re:Lack of Respect (1)

Raqem (964006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941848)

Very true.

I wish our college professors respected us as human beings. My Discrete Mathematics professor disliked me because I was taking math notes on my laptop. Surely I was ignoring her lesson and surfing the net! No, if I wanted to surf the net, I wouldn't have bothered showing up to class. Anyway, she didn't start liking me until I got the highest grade on our first exam. During our second exam yesterday, I actually thought she would go back to questioning my laptop-note-taking if I didn't get an A+ again. To her, I'm just a grade.

I took a break from college for a couple of years. During that time, I had respectful bosses that actually cared about my life. I went back to college, and the instructors treated us like XBOX-playing, homework-ignoring, party animal brats. No respect at all.

What's the big problem? (4, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941590)

What's wrong with our school system that so many kids prefer working 40 hours a week instead?

When you show up and work 40 hours a week and try to do a good job, people actually appreciate it. They'll even thank you for being helpful and doing a good job. It's rewarding and satisfying. Work is an accomplishment. And they pay you.

No one thanks you for going to school. You're forced to go there. No one appreciates your contributions. There are no rewards. School is a process that a person goes through. No one cares about you at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the process.


I don't think a big increase in funding so the teachers can have a lower health-care co-pay is the answer.

Re:What's the big problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941802)

I don't know if you actually get appreciated for hard work in the corporate world, anymore than an A+ on your paper does... But at least at a job there are legal reasons why people can't physically abuse you. Now I'm not talking about the guy in the next cube flicking water on you, or the other painters in the next truck putting glue in your work shoes, but the physical abuse that's so common in high school. I got punched for not doing someone else work. Got spat on. Got kicked. Got my homework stolen on a weekly basis. I reported it to a teacher once and she said, "I find it hard to believe that Brian would steal your work." I had a kid tell me he was going to kill me because I wouldn't draw a picture for his art class for him. I still tutor kids once in a while. Most of them are sadly and alarmingly deficient in mathematics. Some can't spell. Some can't do long division. Most have attention spans measured, literally, in seconds.

Then there's the faculty. There are some really good teachers there, but for the most part, most gave up caring a long time ago. Most of the teachers suck. The system sucks. It's public day care so these kids don't compete with other unskilled laborers for other jobs.

Hey, but I got through it. Got a job. Got lucky with the dot com and made a few bucks. But if I had to do it all over again, I would have dropped out in 9th grade, grabbed my GED, then started working.

Private Schools. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16941594)

It used to be that at least some voters (read parents) would care a bit about things like school board elections.


Now all the parents who care about the education kids put their kids in private schools -- which leaves 0 voters who care at all about the public schools.


High School has... (1)

TaleSpinner (96034) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941620)

...the same problem as American business: Management. Specifically, management that only exists to improve it's own lot and does so without in any way improving the quality of their management.


I can't think of a single problem that has come up in education that has been really and truly solved. Gun violence? Make it illegal to wear a trench coat. Weapons in schools? Let's not let that honor-roll senior - with a plastic knife...in her car...off site - graduate. Accountability for bad teachers? NEA: Like hell. Actually testing students to see where they fall and what needs to be done to help them? Oh, that's discriminatory. Respect the opinions of others? Certainly! We'll respect any opinion we already agree with. Anything else is pure racism, in'nit?


No. No, it can't be fixed. Nor can it be done away with, there are too many special interests swilling at the public tough.

This question has already been answered... (1)

chrisatslashdot (221127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941622)

...by John Taylor Gatto. Just by coincience I started reading one of his books yesterday.

Gatto "climaxed his teaching career as New York State Teacher of the Year after being named New York City Teacher of the Year on three occasions. He quit teaching on the OP ED page of the Wall Street Journal in 1991 while still New York State Teacher of the Year, claiming that he was no longer willing to hurt children. " -http://www.johntaylorgatto.com

His books explain how there is a hidden cirriculum within the US compulsory schooling system. One example is that children are taught that things are disorderly. The current school system teaches math then switches to grammer then music etc. There is no connection or continuity between the dozens of topics that kids are taught during the day.

Take a tour [johntaylorgatto.com] for yourself.

Standardized Testing (1)

Rockinsockindune (956375) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941662)

In recent years, schools have had their curriculum shifted to cover the materials that are on the standardized
tests. In increasing amounts, due to schools' funding being dependent on students' performance on the standardized
tests, the curriculum has become simply memorize these facts, which you will be tested on at the end of the year.
There is no incentive to excel for most students, there is very little critical thinking taught.

I believe that this change has caused many of the students who are less likely to go to college ever to become
completely disenfranchised with High School. They see, and in my opinion, accurately, that High school has nothing
left to teach them, because after spending eight years learning how to memorize crap, and spit it back out on a test,
how much more can they teach you?

Compare these large school districts... (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941720)

How about comparing these large (and apparently largely unsuccessful) school districts with school districts that are better able to educate kids?

Are there differences between the two sets besides sheer size?

Differences in student backgrounds? In student motivations?

Perhaps urban environments create social or economic factors which demotivate the student population?

Without some basis for comparison, the article is little more than a hype job. It's quite possible that the school district itself is not the core source of the problems being seen...

It's not one thing, it's everything. (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941842)

This is a special time for everyone because media ubiquity is reaching a head. It's possible now to find out things happening anywhere in the world just a few minutes after they happen. In many ways it shrinks the globe.

I'm a Generation-X'er, sandwiched in between the days of the baby boomers and unending patriotism (I call these the "my country right or wrong" days) and the Generation Y types (as in "why", as in "why bother".) Generation X is the first generation to grow up with computers and all that they entail. We have the distinction of being the first generation that can program a VCR, but we also are the first generation to grow up in disillusionment. We grew up knowing that the CIA imports cocaine and that our government sells arms to foreign countries and then goes to war with them a handful of years later. X is the first generation that doesn't believe [statistically] that the government has our best interests in mind.

Generation Y, then, is the product of our cynicism. It seems to be a generation of depression, while the Baby Boomers are the generation of ignorance and hypocrisy. Most baby boomers are still in denial about their role in handing over our freedoms to corporate america, and are busy blaming it all on the permissive society X'ers are trying to build. Y'ers don't much see the point in, well, much of anything. They're even more disillusioned than we are; at least X'ers didn't grow up in a time of utterly prevalent school shootings.

That's the overall societal issue that I think is increasing the dropout rate, but there are several other extremely compelling reasons why school is a sad joke and why kids don't want to be there.

One of them is that the economy is in the toilet. Things are probably going to get a lot worse before they get better, and let's face it, while kids are easily led, they aren't necessarily stupid. Besides, the average adult is easily led as well. I know that when I was in high school, I too dropped out and got a job. In my case, it was because we were poor, and if I wanted money, I had to go out and earn it. This is a pretty minor reason but it occurred to me early on.

Another is that school's purpose is not to teach you, it's to train you. The scholastic benefits of school are utterly secondary to the primary purpose. Our school system was designed to produce factory workers. Once upon a time, that was what we needed, but now we have less and less factory jobs (although, go back a point; we may have more of them in the future, though our quality of life will be next to nothing compared to what it is now) and we're still producing factory workers. Think about the qualities that get you through school with the least effort: you should be a conformist, because the nail that pops up gets hammered down. You need to get up early and show up early, or you get in trouble. You need to do precisely what you are told or they will kick you out, send you to an alternative school, and basically put you on the fast track to incarceration. The school system is designed to erase as much individuality as possible. Kids are getting wiser to this sort of thing as time goes by and they get access to more and more media at earlier and earlier ages.

And of course, the administration is complicit in the whole program. They want things to run smoothly and their primary goal is to avoid problems. Meanwhile, programs like "No Child Left Behind" are so obviously designed to produce mediocrity that it's almost unbelievable that no one seems to have noticed. I mean, I was in GATE as a kid and even THERE they told me that I couldn't do certain things because I wasn't old enough. Now, those kids who are most likely to excel will get even less attention than they always have, because the time must be spent with the children least likely to succeed by teaching them skills that they will never even use effectively. The system is designed to produce automatons.

So, why are so many kids dropping out? Maybe it's because their increased access to information is telling them just how fucked up the system is. Kids come out of a civics class where they learn about our supposed right to free expression, they go home and get on the internet, and read on the web that some kid got expelled for wearing a tee shirt with a snappy statement or for dyeing their hair green. If you don't think that's going to produce some jaded kids who don't believe in the system, well, you obviously don't understand that kids are just little unexperienced humans and some of them are smarter than you are, or I am, and only cannot express themselves as well because they lack our experience.

If you don't think that there's going to be anything worthwhile for you as a result of finishing school, then you might as well drop out and get to work, because the time you spend in school is therefore simply wasted time. I came to this realization in junior high school, but didn't manage to find a way out until my sophomore year in high school, at which point I took the CHSPE (I was in the second half of my fifteenth year of life, having skipped a grade in grammar school) and got out before I even turned sixteen. I went to college for a semester, decided that wasn't too hot either, and ended up working. Now I'm 29, I have a job (albeit not a great one, but that's mostly because I'm too lazy to find another) and things are looking pretty fine for me.

anyway, end of rant. it probably makes little sense the way it ends, but I got distracted in the middle and have no idea what I was blathering on about :)

If they'd stop treating out teachers like crap... (1)

chia_monkey (593501) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941874)

"They" being administrators and politicians. Our poor teachers have their hands tied behind their back when it comes to discipline, teaching styles, curriculum, and pretty much everything else that could make them an effective teacher. Now throw in some long hours, low pay, and more ridiculous requirements and you've got a sad sad state of an education system.

I dated a teacher for a while and have friends and relatives that are teachers. I was shocked to see some of the treatment. The pay is low enough as it is, and yet they are still expected to purchase their own supplies, decorate their own room, and pay for more training classes that are requirements. Again, the hours are long...at school at 7:00 or earlier. Sure, they get to leave at 3:00 or so but then spend the next four or five hours grading papers, making tests, coming up with projects, etc.

I've seen many a teacher with such high ambitions and such a desire to teach our kids only to get completely frustrated by not being allowed to teach (rather, they must regurgitate some lesson plan crammed down their throat by an administration or even worse, prep the students for a test that really doesn't refect if they've learned anything or not), frustrated by not being able to discipline their students, or even to feel threatened by their students.

Will our teachers ever get treated better? Unfortunately I haven't seen any indication of such in many of the states I've lived in. Has anyone else?

It's very easy to name the problem(s). (1)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941878)

(1) Everyone (administration, parents, teachers) hates--HATES--the kids. As in "this school would be fucking perfect if it wasn't for all these god damn high school students everywhere!"

(2) Public schools make no profit. Because only things that make a profit matter (Right, Slashdotters, open marketeers, yes, yes? Hmmmm?) they are a tremendously poor investment and have no money relative to just about anything else in the world.

(3) Nobody in the U.S. things education is necessary anyway anymore. Science is for the godless commies, and lack of knowledge won't hurt your career, you're owed a great career because you're American and white, no matter what your level of education. And if the world won't give it to you, you'll bomb the fucking world, not try to keep a bunch of kids in school or something.

--

Those are the problems with the American high school system.
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