If I could answer that, I’d be rich. I can tell you one of our number one mistakes has been letting politicians mandate what goes on in the classroom, instead of schools and those trained for it orchestrating the framework for learning.
When President Bush got the NCLB bandwagon rolling, no one understood the full concept. It sounds good—No Child Left Behind. However, as harsh as it sounds, teachers can only move forward with the kids who want to move forward. Someone will be left behind, because in this country, nearly 7% of our kids want to drop out of school. If we focus too much time and energy on those who don’t want help, what’s happening to everyone else in the meantime? The bottom 7% will wander off into the sunset to work at McDonald’s or suck the marrow out of the welfare system, and in the meantime, we’ll be letting a new 7% flounder…Bush’s plan is to keep that average up. Think about that for a moment. Let’s increase the average, matter of fact, let’s keep all kids ABOVE average… Did President Bush take math? I’ve seen him blunder statements about fool him once, shame on him, etc. So perhaps someone should tip him that an average is created by numbers above and BELOW it… Teachers understand the reality: we will leave some kids behind. Not because we want to, but because it’s the nature of education…in America.
However, the idealism of NCLB works in Asia. Have you seen Shift Happens? If you haven’t, you should. Because as we face the stressors of keeping American children motivated, other countries are leaving us to eat their dust. The difference? Families. Homes. Respect. Expectations.
I have friends in the PhD program with me who are from China, Korea, Taiwan. Their children don’t talk back to them. Their children don’t expect to be entertained 24/7 by XBoxes, iPods, or teachers. They spend nearly 10 hours a day learning, and their common language? English. They understand that to fail in school is to let their families down. Drugs are for gangbangers and criminals, not casual use on a Friday night. What have these countries done that we haven’t? If we don’t find out soon, America won’t be the leading innovator in anything, not even the highest percentage of English speaking citizens. We’ve taken the melting pot concept to an all-time high. It’s projected that by 2015, the most prominent language in our country will be Spanish, while China and India will be 100% English speaking (as a first or second language). The most startling fact is that our percentage of those living in poverty or supported by the state will exceed those who, well, aren’t. While we’re focusing on how to keep our kids off the streets, off drugs, and out of gangs, Asian countries will be figuring out how to get all American products outsourced to them. They’re well on their way.
To break this cycle, we must address the other number one mistake we’ve made – parents need to step up and remember they are their kids first teacher. We’ll have to decide: Am I going to be politically correct and reason with my child or be a parent and raise my child?