The Contrarian

“In the investment markets, what everyone knows is usually not worth knowing.”

Our Failing Education System

We all know about our miserable educational system. About 45 years ago, it was one of the best in world. Now the U.S. is down the list somewhere ranking 30th. The decline of our system is proportionate to the rise in power of the teachers union. When bad teachers can’t be fired, this is what you get.

Sheriff David Clarke, after seen in the major media, writes the article below on how the graduating class is manipulated to include even the worst students. There is no such thing as failure, even for those who don’t attend classes half the time. Here are his words from TownHall:

When all 164 of Washington D.C. Frank W. Ballou Senior High School’s graduating seniors last year applied for and were accepted to college, the whole community—students, teachers, administrators, parents, and education reformers—had reason to celebrate the achievements of these obviously hard-working graduates. With a graduating class the school system considered “academically disadvantaged,” someone in the school district should have smelled a rat.

After all, 98 percent of Ballou’s 930 students were African-Americans, and two percent were Hispanic/Latino, according to data from the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) system. One hundred percent of them were considered “academically disadvantaged” by the system. Kids like this deserve the great opportunity that a high-quality, character-building education can help provide. There was a time when good educators, in fact, would tirelessly fight to give it to them. Those days are apparently over.

Sadly, this happy story collapsed in November, when an investigation by WAMU and NPR found that the much-ballyhooed Ballou graduated dozens of these students despite high rates of unexcused absences throughout their senior year. Half of them missed more than three months of school. One in five was absent more than present. When kids don’t show up for class, no learning can take place. And many continue to be perplexed about the growing achievement gap between black and Hispanic kids and their white counterparts. These truancy rates are a big part of the problem.

Some teachers, saying they felt pressure to pass failing students and get them to graduation, cooperated with the investigation. An internal e-mail shows that in April, just two months before the end of the school year, only 57 students were on track to graduate. Many of the others could scarcely read or write.

All of which means the graduation jubilation in June was not, in any way, justified. Put bluntly, Ballou’s administrators and some teachers cooked the books, used taxpayer money to commit fraud, and above all harmed poor black youths and their futures the most. Quite an indictment.

Perhaps even more alarmingly, NPR’s report led teachers from around the country to share similar situations in many other districts. This is a nationwide academic scandal in K-12 urban school districts, not to mention the serious disciplinary issues they have.

Whoever is responsible for perpetrating, encouraging, or tolerating this Ballou fraud should be held as accountable as those who were behind the Enron scandal. Having helped to deny real opportunity to mostly poor black kids who deserved it, the fraudsters should receive what every such crook deserves. Jail.

But that will require major change in America’s schools. Today, Enron’s cheating is a felony. Teachers’ cheating is job security.

My View: What does the educational system say about the long-term viability of our economy? Put simply, it says there may not be one. Education is key to economic health. Elite schools accept fewer and fewer students while non-elite schools accept nearly everyone who graduates High School. U.S public education has become the laughing stock of the world. High Schools teachers walk into the room, turn on a science TV show, and eat their lunch. We have a credible source who has even told us he encountered some teachers that gave almost no lectures for an entire year. Education is possibly one of our biggest bubbles.

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