The U.S. Department of Education’s statistical and testing arm, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), released its latest “progress” report November 1st: The survey measuring fourth- and eighth-grade scores on the controversial National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, was billed as having found “significant” improvement for both grades in math and a slight improvement in reading — until one examines the numbers. The Washington Times piece by Ben Wolfgang, reported that reading scores among fourth-graders “remained flat on the study’s 500-point scale,” results that overall fall far short of the proficiency standards set for 2014 in math, reading and science by the No Child Left Behind Act. This Act is currently being rewritten to provide waivers and other changes to accommodate its failure without admitting so outright.
But a graph depicting the just-released NAEP scores, published by Associated Press as percentage figures in the print edition of The Washington Times piece, shows at most, a 2-percent change in both subjects between 2009 and 2011. Note that there is always at least a 3-percent margin of error for such statistics, which tells us these numbers mean precisely — nothing.
And what of Asian minorities, which have historically done considerably better than whites, blacks or Hispanics? Scores for Asians were not broken out; the only mention from the NCES site is that they were unchanged — indicating that Asians are still doing better at the same comparative rate.
Despite the public perception that public school teachers in general are underpaid, Jason Richwine, senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation and co-author of “Assessing the Compensation of Public-School Teachers,” says “the reality is that it’s just not true. There’s no way to look at the data and conclude that they are underpaid. They are certainly paid more than they can get if they work in the private sector…” In fact, Richwine found that “public-school teachers receive compensation about 52% higher than their skills would otherwise garner in the private sector.”
The reason for the study is that “We want to reform the way teachers are paid. We want to pay the good teachers a lot and the bad teachers not much, or move them out of the profession. We can’t really [get] reform of that kind without understanding the current situation.”
Previous studies that show teachers to be underpaid have grievous flaws and leave out critically important pieces of the compensation package, says Richwine. Most studies that show teachers as underpaid don’t take into account the richer retirement plans provided to teachers, their post-retirement health insurance coverage, and their shorter work year. In addition, job security is provably higher in teaching than in the private sector, says Richwine. Finally, under current practice it’s hard not only to pay the good teachers what they’re worth, it’s hard to know who those teachers are.
Congress should end federal aid to education. This aid has not improved reading scores.
One of the great advantages to being an octogenarian is having lived through a great deal of history. That gives one a perspective on life that the young — everyone under 60 — does not have. I remember the days when I would look around and find myself perhaps the youngest person in the crowd. I took great delight in that. Today I look around and I am usually the oldest.
But I know that God has kept me around for a purpose, and I suspect that He wants me to keep doing what I have been doing for the last 40 years: writing mainly about education and promoting homeschooling.
How different is education today from what it was when I first attended a public school back in New York City in the early 1930s! That was during the Great Depression, but I don’t remember anyone I knew being depressed. My father was in the produce business; thus, we always had plenty of food on the table. My mother actually made her own noodles for chicken soup. She also made her own gefilte fish (stuffed fish), which tasted a lot better than the bottled variety they sell in today’s supermarkets. I was also able to walk to school and come home for lunch, which consisted of a fried egg sandwich and a glass of milk. I remember admiring the smiling policeman who stopped traffic so that we could cross the avenue on our way to the neighborhood school.
On Saturdays my friends and I went to the movies. Price of admission? Ten cents. In those days a penny could get you a Tootsie Roll, a package of gum, a bun. Five cents could get you a great tasting hotdog.
The Internet is very much like television in that it takes time away from other pursuits and provides entertainment and information, but in no way can it compare with the warm, personal experience of reading a good book. This is not the only reason why the Internet will never replace books, for books provide the in-depth knowledge of a subject that sitting in front of a computer screen cannot provide. We can download text from an Internet source, but the aesthetic quality of sheets of downloaded text leaves much to be desired. A well-designed book enhances the reading experience through the visual and tactile senses.
The book is still the most compact and inexpensive means of conveying a dense amount of knowledge in a convenient package. The easy portability of the book is what makes it the most user-friendly format for knowledge ever devised. Kindle, of course, is also quite portable, but you can’t make notes on the book you are reading. Kindle is a portable library, very convenient when traveling, but not the fuzzy book you can curl up with on a cold winter night.
All summer long, news sources reiterated complaints about the once-vaunted No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act as being unachievable. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, many state governors, the teacher unions, and other worthies called for “waivers” to underperforming schools and a serious overhaul to NCLB, ostensibly because many (even most) schools could not reach the goals of 100 percent proficiency in math and reading by 2014. Indeed, many could not even make significant progress toward that goal in the interim years.
So, now that debate in Congress is proceeding about an extreme makeover to NCLB, what issue is taking front and center stage? Not “waivers,” or even academics, but two anti-bullying amendments aimed at making it a federal crime for children to “bully” (definition open to interpretation) gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students. If passed, the further hyper-sexualizing of children will be codified and enshrined, while normal sexual development will be impeded through ever-more aggressive sex propaganda like New York City’s highly contentious new HealthSmart curriculum, utilizing, as always, K-12 health classes as the vehicle of choice for its campaign of graphic proselytizing.
Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences. The ideas behind sex education have done more to destroy Biblically based moral values than any other secular force in America.
The first idea to become a battering ram against traditional sexual morality was Sigmund Freud's dictum that sexual repression causes neurosis. If sexual repression creates dysfunction, then the remedy, of course, is free sexual expression. That was not the cure Freud recommended, but Freud's ideas so strongly influenced American culture that clothes for women went from the trussed-up, sexually repressed fashions of 1900 to the loose, liberating flapper skirts of the Roaring Twenties — in only 20 years!
Greenwich Village bohemians and intellectuals took to Freud like ducks to water. It provided a scientific justification for their free-love promiscuity and disregard of middle-class Biblical morality.
The second major idea came from socialist Margaret Sanger, free-love advocate, who launched a campaign in 1916 to promote contraception and abortion in order to free women from the burdens of unwanted pregnancy.
Rick Boyer and his wife Marilyn are pioneer homeschoolers. Since 1980, they have educated their 14 children at home, having started when homeschooling was still illegal in Virginia. As a pioneer in the home education movement, Rick has written several books on the homeschool experience and has been a much-in-demand speaker at many homeschool conventions all across America. As devout Christians, Rick and his wife believe that Scripture provides a powerful model for the upbringing of children that, when followed, produces wise, proactive young Christian adults who are capable of achieving great works for the glory of God.
Rick also believes that God created the homeschool movement for a purpose: to raise up a new generation of young Americans who will “take back the land.” Mike Farris, the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Patrick Henry College, called these new young homeschooled adults the “Joshua Generation,” because they are being called to do what Joshua in the Bible was called to do after the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and the death of Moses: to take back the land of Canaan from the heathen, land that God had given to the Israelites. His mission was to lead the Israelites in battle to retrieve the land.
The situation is almost similar in America, which was founded by Christians and which grew and prospered as a Christian nation until the middle of the 20th century when the secular humanists, today’s heathens, took it over. The result is a nation in decline, awash in sin and pornography, with public schools destroying the minds and souls of millions of American children.
Just as young people were headed to universities across the nation and the K-12 back-to-school season was percolating in parents’ minds, a front-page Washington Times’ headline disclosed on August 17: “Scores show students aren’t ready for college — 75% may need remedial classes.”
A statistic like 75 percent gets people’s attention. Worse, the Times article quoted an education advocacy group’s finding that “80 percent of college students taking remedial classes [in 2008] had a high school GPA of 3.0 or better.” So apparently, even when students score well, they don’t know much. How is that even possible?
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), son of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, is moving to combat the ninth reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
Enacted as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s "War on Poverty," ESEA was a springboard for the federal government’s unbounded authority and expanding reach in American education. The act was originally chartered through 1970, but the government has reauthorized ESEA every five years since its passing.
NCLB has been tormented with problems and heavily condemned by educators and lawmakers, most visibly through controversial provisions such as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) — an academic measurement for schools and school districts based on standardized tests — and the requirement for all children to be proficient in math and reading by 2014. These provisions have led to serious unintended repercussions, one being the loss of transparency to parents and taxpayers about students’ real academic performance.
Most consequential is the federal government’s amplified role in the education system, as the law has severely diminished local control and influence.