Students

The Other F Bomb: Our Education Crisis

4 ¼ min

“F” is for failure.

Last week, I happened upon an article reporting over 40 percent of Baltimore’s high school students had a 1.0 grade point average or less. In other words, 40 percent of these students were practically flunking their course load.

That shocking figure led me to look at statistics from U.S. News and World Report, compiled before COVID-19 closed down the schools. Baltimore has 166 public schools and over 77,000 students. Private schools in the city teach another 17,000 students. In the public schools, over 90 percent of the students are minorities, and 58 percent of all students are deemed low income. Only 15 percent of high school students tested as proficient in reading, only 8 percent in math.

Thus, since a majority of students in Baltimore are either failing their classes or barely scraping by, they will likely fail or barely scrape by in life. Despite this sad scene, Americans appear to focus on other political, non-educational topics, rather than the learning that is supposed to be taking place in our schools. It’s time to call this the crisis that it is and begin to do something about it.

For months, Americans have argued bitterly over the justification for school closures, forcing students to wear masks, and the teaching of critical race theory and radicalized sex education in public school classrooms. We’ve heard from some authorities that all subjects, including math and science, are taught through a prism of racism, that boys claiming to be girls should be allowed access to the girls’ locker rooms and to compete in their sporting events, and that teachers should address students by their preferred gender pronouns.

The blame for this mess—and it’s not confined to Baltimore—lies with the schools, the government, and the families of the students. The schools are clearly failing to teach the students. Baltimore City Schools spend more than $18,000 per student—a huge amount of which goes to administrators and ancillary programs—and many of the children come from homes lacking in discipline and with no real interest in education.

This is not a problem waiting to happen in the future. The financial and personal costs of this failure in education are occurring even as I write. By now, for example, many of these young people have either graduated or dropped out of school. Most will find themselves employed—if they can find employment at all—in jobs that will reduce their ability to marry, have children, or own a home. Some will live on welfare and collect food stamps offered by the state. Many will join those they see around them and become criminals. Years ago, I taught adult basic education in a state prison, where about half of my students had the equivalent of a fourth-grade education or less.

We often misuse the word crisis, but in this case it’s true and appropriate. If we multiple these statistics from Baltimore and other cities and communities around the country that are failing our students, we encounter enormous consequences in the immediate future. We are creating a dead weight on our society that will affect everything from our military recruitment to our productivity. Even worse, we are failing our children. We are sending them into the world without the core knowledge and credentials necessary for success.

Until we make education, a real education, a top national priority, we can’t begin to correct these problems.

So what can we do?

We can return the supervision of programs, curricula, and materials back to the states and even to local levels. We can encourage alternatives to public education like private schools, charter schools, and home schools. Government officials from the president to members of local school boards could hammer home the advantages of getting an education. And we can make sure we vote for government officials who actually care about teaching children the 3Rs rather than Critical Race Theory (CRT).

While we’re on that topic, we might also eradicate extraneous programs like these altogether. As a nation, we should be embarrassed that we have high school students who are barely able to read, who have trouble with elementary arithmetic, and who write gibberish.

We can enlist our seniors and retirees and form an army of tutors. We can easily devise programs where we recruit volunteers into our schools, everyone from engineers to retired teachers, to help with classroom teaching, providing students with the example of competent adults willing to share their knowledge and experience with the young.

In short, we should do all in our power to give young people the education they need and deserve.

Meanwhile, the F bomb is silently ticking away.

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Image Credit: 

Pixabay

Jeff Minick

Jeff Minick

Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.

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rwhawk
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Before all the after mentioned reforms the goal for education has to be established which involves selecting the correct worldview to use. If we want a nation of illiterates who hate America stick with the "failing" cultural Marxist worldview. If we want intelligent robots chose secular humanism. If we want intelligent and articulate individuals chose the Christian/Western Civilization worldview. In addition....can the Teachers' Colleges that produce highly indoctrinated indoctrinators. Develop true educators
 
 

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chip4200
From the 45 Goals Of the American Communist Party, #17: "Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks." We are witnessing the culmination of the "long march through our institutions." The question should be, "Why are so many teachers Marxists"? It starts in pre-K and ends in PhD. Also, why are we only #16 internationally in math and science?
chip4200
I was an education major in the early 1970s. The methods courses (total waste of time), were about how to indoctrinate, but it was so subtle, that it went over the heads of our 20something year old brains of mush. After 26 years in the Air Force, I taught in private schools. The indoctrination is just as bad there as in the public schools, despite paying out $47,000 per year for the privilege. Yes, you will get into the Ivy Leagues, where the indoctrination will continue on steroids.
Insectman
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Public schools are a failure and they cannot be fixed.
 
 

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sansme57
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This is a topic near to my heart. This lack of education has been going on for decades. The schools used to offer Vocational education in high schools for students who would rather work with their hands and use a skill to find gainful employment than the only thing offered now, which is a college path... or for some, a military career. The worst case scenario is a life of crime, which our full prison system can attest to. Our current education system is a joke. That being said, there are some very good teachers in it, but there are also many not so good teachers. Something needs to be done, that's for certain. A collective effort. No one entity is to blame for this failure. I wouldn't know how to even begin to do this. Aside from that, I have to ask if your sentence "If we multiple these statistics from Baltimore and other cities and communities around the country that are failing our students, we encounter enormous consequences in the immediate future." was correctly worded? Did you mean the word "multiple" to be "multiply"? If you did word it correctly, then it is my misunderstanding.
 
 

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chip4200
As a former educator I believe that the urban school failure rate is deliberate. The people that work in law enforcement, prisons, probation and parole, and all the social service agencies, need a constant supply of "clients." Functional illiteracy guarantees those clients for those agencies. There is money to be made managing poverty and bad behavior.
Teacherdub
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As a teacher who has spent an entire career in urban education, I believe that the author’s idea of an army of tutors is the only way out of the educational hell-hole society has funded & perpetuated through individual decisions all of us make every single day. There is plenty of blame to go around starting with the nuclear family but also includes the affluent who have hidden & hoarded their skills by never venturing out into communities of color & sharing mentoring the next generation. Retired men are especially needed to not only tutor but more importantly model the behaviors of what it means to be a real man. Call your local school today & be the change we all aspire to.
 
 

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chip4200
Retired teacher here, as well as retired military (26 year military career came first). Army of tutors? Excellent idea. You mention retired men. I was taking courses at the University Of Maryland while I was active duty, and became friends with one of the education professors. She told me that any man that went into Elementary Ed, would never have a problem finding a job, because of the need for good male role models, especially in the inner cities. She was right.
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