TCS Daily

The Biggest Mystery in American History

By Bruce Deitrick Price - May 27, 2009 12:00 AM

What is the greatest mystery in American history? Rattle off a few answers. I bet you won't think of mine...

Here is my nominee for biggest mystery: the decline and fall of public school education. Don't agree? Give me a minute and I'll convince you.

Here are the towering facts: The U.S. spends a huge amount on education; more per student than anyone else; more and more every year. Simultaneously, over the last 70 years, literacy has fallen, SAT scores have fallen, American competitiveness has fallen, and the general knowledge of ordinary citizens has fallen. Teenagers graduate from high school who can't read their diplomas; the country now has 50,000,000 functional illiterates. I recently saw on television that the wealthiest, most successful country in the world--that would be us--hovers around 18th internationally on reading, and 25th in science.

I submit that all of these facts taken together are paradoxical; one might say, impossible. It's as if I told you that an ordinary man consumed 5000 calories a day and lost weight. So this, I submit, is the greatest mystery in our history.

But why have our educators allowed this decline to take place? Or is "allowed" a trick word, and they have actually abetted this failure? Ah, mystery on top of mystery. This is a puzzle that academic historians should be trying to solve.

For starters, can't we all agree that genuine experts, making a sincere effort, would have our schools functioning at a higher level? Why, oh why, don't our educators do a much better job?

In the interest of brevity, let me just list the three most common answers given to that question:

  1. Our educators mean well but they get caught up in fads.
  2. Our educators have a lot of bad luck. Who could guess that all their wonderful ideas would have so many unintended consequences?
  3. A harsher theory is that our educators, alas, are nitwits. (Smart people, it's often remarked, don't go into Education.)

The problem with all these theories is that, if true, we would see a greater range of outcomes. After all, there are thousands of these people. Now and then they'd have to get lucky; the law of averages would have to have its day. There's only one problem with this: there are, it seems to me, no successful results, and no good ideas. All we see is a grinding mediocrity.

It goes beyond a failure to find ideas that increase education; many have embraced ideas that are clearly destructive. Our experts really don't seem all that interested in education as most people understand this term. Reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography, for example, don't seem to be priorities. What we see in education makes sense only if we assume that our educators have an agenda we don't know about, or that they are malevolent, or both.

So what agenda, you're wondering, are they actually focused on? What's the answer to the mystery? Here is my deduction: that those at the top of the Education Industrial Complex, since the time of John Dewey, have been collectivists first, and educators second or third. The goal of creating an educated child was too often superceded by the goal of creating a cooperative child.

Broadly speaking, they undermined educational success in two ways. First, they found reasons to delete and dilute the curriculum. Second, the things they did teach, they often taught in confusing, unhelpful ways. I could reel off a list of 50 failed pedagogies, none of which lived up to the hype or the hope, things such as New Math, Reform Math, Constructivism, Bilingual Education, Self Esteem, et cetera.

The paradigm of bad pedagogies, of course, is Whole Word, I.E. any non-phonics way of teaching reading. Around 1931, every public school in the country was told that phonics was out, and the children should be taught by Look-Say (think Dick and Jane). This switch is one of most amazing (and revealing) events in American educational history. Try to think of another instance where a profession abruptly decided to reverse everything ordinarily done for centuries.

Once you assume that all these conclusions are true, you find there's no mystery at all. Everything that's happened in American education is as logical as 1 + 2 = 3. My estimation is that if we tossed out the ideological admixture, we'd see steady improvement. Don't think we can improve things by tweaking around the edges. We need an intervention. We need surgery.



What mystery?
The culprit is socialism.

not so fast.
If France is more socialist then we are and their scores far better then ours, then it is something else.

I think it is a question of salary. Teacher in the US make about 30k a year is about half to 3/4 of the leading European teachers salaries. The quality of our teachers is the issue. The best way to improve quality of education is to pay enough to attract a higher quality.

Its not the amount of money spent on education, its the where you spend the money. We should get rid of all the government mandated requirements and just spend more on teachers.

YET another article on politics WITHOUT the word Right in it; and and the author expect
to INFLUENCE / SWAY public opinion.

When the Rights of Individuals (among others, to live their lives WITHOUT being FORCED to contribute to the benefit of others) are violated, the result is MOST likely bad, apart from being OBVIOUSLY Wrong.

Spend resources on demonstrated success.
That is the 'American Way', no?

What has been proven to be successful are schools like KIPP. Every school in the USA should be replicating their system.

And, disruptive students need to be removed immediately and sent to schools that are equipped to deal with such students.

'Happy Days' high school is a fantasy that needs to end. Schools are for education, not beating the rival town in football.

What about a deginerative culture.
I am a teacher, and admittedly only in my second year. However, I find the overall flaw of this column is it's general tone. I don't believe that the failure of public education can be blamed on teachers and the training of teachers. As I have observed and learned through demonstration, most experienced teachers do not use fads in education in the classroom. Most of that educational research and the fads along with it stay at the universities, just like most other areas of study or professions. Most of the experienced teachers I have witnessed primarily use methods that have been used for many years, but they may have a few twists here in there.

I blame our culture. Look at the societies of most of the countries that are leading in education. Their cultures VALUE EDUCATION. What are the most popular things in our culture? Rebellion, ramping golf carts/shopping carts of hills, street thuggery, drugs, alcohol, and making sure every WANT is satisfied. Our society has no responsibility or respect for anything sacred or of importance. We want all and expect all for a minimum or mediocre at best effort. Parents don't encourage or enforce education, and are frankly not home enough to make sure kids are doing what they need to be done. Most kids I deal with never sit down for a family dinner. They are usually home several hours (until 8 or 9) by them self after school with no parent. The culture's attitude has to change first before education changes for the better.

From a teacher...
My high school English teacher, born in 1923, had her MA in English when she started teaching at our school in '78.
She had nothing but contempt for university 'education' departments and thought they should be abolished.

Our principal at the time, in the '70s, was a very nice man, a Gideon, but not someone who would not fail a student who deserved to fail.

I agree, the culture from the 60s on attacked standards across the board. But few education professionals defended the standards then or now.

The govt/education complex
In most other countries, the govt pays for the education, but private companies provide the education.

Vouchers are the only way out of this problem.

The Factory Model
The great losses in education began when we switched over from the one room school houses to these large schools with multiple teachers. We call it the factory model of education.
If you can build a car better using a factory model... then why can't you build a better education with a factory model?
Here is the problem. Industrial processes require consistency coming in to produce consistency coming out. And human beings come with a wide variety of gifts, talents, personality traits and family backgrounds.
So... the only way to produce consistency is to continuously try to get the kids in the process younger and younger and to aim for something that any child of normal intelligence should be able to accomplish with ease.
This creates laziness... it is an absolute disaster for the gifted students... it creates a room full of bored kids... and all the problems associated with that... and a continuously declining national average... because our teachers are a product of the same system.
Add to that, well-meaning politicians who hear that Johnny graduated from high school and didn't know how to balance a checkbook... creating a new Personal Economics class to see to it that every student knows how to balance a checkbook... when any fifth grader with solid skill should be able to... and you have a recipe for a snowballing disaster.
Oh... don't forget textbooks written by education professors who fail to understand that knowing what an adverb is and being able to diagram a sentence may be important in the theory of language at the college level but is absolutely unimportant in day to day life and unnecessary for elementary or secondary education.

Something smells in the article
OK, I got to the claim of 50,000,000 functionally illiterate people in America, and stopped right there. Really, One in Six people in the country is functionally illiterate? Frankly, I don't buy it

I don't believe that the failure of public education can be blamed on teachers and the training of teachers.


I'm almost 50 and I remember many of my HS teachers being complete and colossal idiots. One even approached me to clean up her spilled coffee-I refused, got hauled in to the vice principal's office (a woman who would later be convicted of fiduciary misconduct). She hit the roof when I calmly informed her that I was instructed to have her call my parents (who already told me you are a student, not a custodian) and my father told her NEVER to bother him about a non-issue at work again or else they'd have a "discussion". Of course, the incident really relieved me of the burden of proof with regard to teacher complaints for the remainder of my senior year.

There were teachers having affairs, and in those days, the smoke in the teachers lounge was thick enough to pour. I had a "social studies" teacher who we goaded into irrelevant tirades. Another routinely began health class with about how our bodies were changing, "especially that thing you play with in the tub". There was favoritism for jocks, at least one student teacher romance (ok, they married but the appearances weren't great).

Despite all this, in my sleeply little suburban HS, we knew what the teachers were all about-because of the prennial threat and occasional calling of- a strike.

Although I had a couple good Math teachers, we all knew the teachers principal concern was $$.

I can't even imagine what its like now.

The best way to learn something is to teach it.
In the one room schools, students of all ages were together. Older students helped to teach the younger students and they were expected to take leadership and responsibility roles with the younger students.
A class of 30 teenagers have no incentive to lead or act responsibly in front of their peers.
That is one advantage the British house system has.

It is NOT about salaries, and what world do you live in where teachers earn 30k a year? The average teacher salary is in excess of $40k, and typically their work day is much less than the average workers. See


And the answer is...
Read "Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add" by Charles J. Sykes if you want the answer.

It really is a conspiracy by the teachers unions and educational establishment. They exist for their own benefit, not for the benefit of the students they supposedly server. It is a monopoly that should have been busted long ago.

BTW, for those idiots who say it is about money, Catholic schools do a MUCH better job of educating their students, but they get paid far less than public teachers. It is NOT about money, and in fact, there is an inverse correlation between pay and results, as the most expensive schools on a per capita basis tend to have the worst results of all.


Not mystery, but 100% predictable
Since the public schools are controlled by government, we can expect them to be plagued by all same ills that happens to everything they touch. Of course beaurocracy and corrupt power will worsen them over time.

Public schools are like meant grinders that take in curious kids and pulverize them with brutal sadistic indoctrination, and spew out mind-destroyed, obedient, complient 'sheeple', ready to go off and fight the politicians wars.

They are catastrophic moral evils, where teachers can't teach any sort of logical consistency. They'll say it's wrong to steal and murder, except if the govenment asks you to murder someone, or steal.

No philosophy because that would mean challenging sacred cows and other political othodoxies.

No methodologies for determining truth from falsehood, because most people's beliefs are based on corrupt falsehoods, certainly the teachers.

Not much about law because the kids can see that the laws are arbitrary, and contradictory, and that if the govenment wants to get you, they'll always find some laws you have broken.

Can't teach economics because they would have to contrast the reigning nanny state socialism with free market economics.

Can't teach much about politics or democracy because they would have to show how votes and politicians are bought, and how governments are based on the threat of the use of deadly force to make people submit.

Can't teach much about the history of education because the kids might find out that before government ran education, the literacy rate was already about 90%, and deTocqville noted and was surprised at the great literacy in america way back then.

I recommend the separation of edu and state. In fact there's even a site dedicated to it:

The factory model would work fine for the majority of kids if we didn't dumb down our schools to the dumbest of them. Our schools pretty much teach to the least common denominator today, meaning that most students are bored and tune out.

Instead, the idiots and delinquents should be put into special schools, as should the most gifted, and then the rest would easily adapt to a mass-production model. Only the smartest and dumbest need personalized attention.


100% was by thecolonel
and I should have quoted the song; "we don't need no thought control, no dark sarcasm in the classrooms..."

factory or...
Some say the real model is the 'Prussian Military Academy' model. At the time when the govenment couldn't stay the competition and horned in on education, apparently Prussian schools were the most advanced at the time. They were mainly concerned with instilling obedience, compliance, etc. too .

Absolutely true...
That the best way to learn is to teach. I tutored math students for years at college, and only then did I really obtain an understanding of the material I was teaching.

I also disagree that a teacher must always be an expert in the field in which he teaches. I remember one teacher who really did not know the material, but his enthusiasm and committment led him to learn the material along with the rest of us (it was an advanced biology course in high school).

I think that in most cases, it helps if the teacher is an expert, but it is not an absolute necessity. Instead, the the teacher must be intelligent enough to know what he knows and does not know, and able to engage a classroom. There is no magic formula. But today's schools systems stifle individualism and excellence, and reward mediocrity and conformity at the expense of real talent.


so fast
Scores don't matter either. We have seen that some asian countris can force feed kids to be like little robots in one specific field. But what's the point of brainwashing a kid to be like a robot when we already have robots to do stuff like math calculations, etc?

You could get a kid to be a real expert at long division for example, but what's the point if we now have calculators? Maybe it would be better for the kid to learn about how to be rational, or just how to be happier.

something smells
Maybe you don't get out much, or have never see 'Jay-walking' on the Leno show. In fact, I've also heard that it's actually 1/5 that's functionaly illiterate.

degenerative culture
When you say the flaw is the general tone, does that mean that you don't believe the actual points are true?

As a teacher yourself, you are one of the special interests groups, part of the 'vested interests' that has a big stake in perpetuating this dysfuncional system. It means you are a feeder at the public trough, because your pay comes from the theft, by force, of the people who have to pay you.

Did the fad of 'whole language' stay at the university? What about the fad of multiculturalism? What about the nanny-state welfare economics?

You said the kids don't respect anything sacred or of importance. Why would you be surprised when they see so many teachers who are merely deadwood, waisting time, and being kept in by unions? What about when they see so many teachers having sex with their own students, abusing drugs, etc? Or maybe you meant the politicians, who are even worse in their depraved venality and corruption.

'kindergarten' is a German word.

Might not be the answer
California has the highest paid teachers in the nation and we have one of the worst educational records in recent memory. I do not believe paying more for K-12 teachers will improve anything.

The biggest road block is the all too powerful teachers union that protect under performing and incompetent due paying idiots.

[Off Topic] Zyndryl calls it right again! (Obama to pursue VAT)
I do recall some of you saying, "no way!" when I predicted that the Obamatons would go after instituting a European-style Value Added Tax [VAT] here in the good ole US of A in order to get around Hauser's Law. I think this last came up during a thread about Cap and Scam two months or so ago, but can't remember. I do remember people not believing me about the VAT, though.

Well, and weep:

Next prediction: They'll call it a 'fair tax' in order to hoodwink all the Real Fair Tax advocates into believing that is what they'll be getting, instead of a consumption tax AND an income tax.

Hauser's Law reference:

Not A Mystery At All
Teachers' salaries are just fine -- especially when considering the lavish retirement/benefits packages they receive. (Don't believe me? Check out the PERA plan here in Colorado and compare it to the average compensation packages in the private sector.) Teacher salaries are the result of a market clearing price, not due to some wistful, arbitrary notion of "moral value." (Which is what REALLY drives the egalitarian dreamers nuts.)

That US education has declined in quality is obvious when comparing contemporary curricula to that of years gone by. The education received by high school students today is comparable to that which I received in junior high 30 years ago, and that junior high education was comparable to the grade school education my mother received. Look up sample tests from various school levels in the late 18th - early 19th centuries and do a comparison to those of today -- the level of expected knowledge is astounding in difference. The primary reason is that basics (math, writing, reading, science, etc) have been replaced over the decades by a touchy-feely "social issues" curricula, giving fundamental knowledge concerns short shrift. The agenda is indoctrination in left-liberal values (environmentalism, multiculturalism, sex education, etc), not rudimentary communication and comprehension skills in the various root diciplines.

The primary culprits at work are the teacher's unions, who fight tooth and nail against any kind of accountability system for their rank-and-file membership. Like all unions, they aren't interested in the actual product (children's education) of their customers (parents), they're looking out for the interests of their union members, PERIOD.

degenerative culture
If you are trying to make as a socialists, well you are far from a rhythmic heart beat.

My actual belief in education is that it should by and large be run by private corporations. I do believe that all kids should receive an education, and I do believe that can happen in a private sector because it is in the interest of private business owners to have it. Now since that is unlikely to happen, I do believe their are many changes in structuring and administrating that need to happen before real success is achieved. But are they failing? No. However, we do have significant losses that need to be corrected.

You are right I am a one with vested interest. I do want a career with a life, but I also chose this career for a reason. I have a vested interest in the correct education of children. Do teachers deserve blame, yes, undoubtedly. But my point was to focus the blame almost ultimately upon them is foolish, and in all honesty being in the classroom daily is necessary to see that. And that is why I bring up the cultural aspect. The things that are and were great about America are being lost. Children today have far less parental contact and interaction during ages that are highly developmental. Children today are making more decisions at younger ages than ever before. It does make them more independent, which is good. But is their independence being aimed in the right direction? I do not believe so. They still need that guidance in their independence so that they can be successfully independent, not scraping the bottom of the barrel independent. The truth is, most people want high society for an effort that is mediocre at best. We want our kids to have trophies for just being on the team and coming to practice. That is a horrible thing for children to learn and accept. And it is not all about competition, but it is about fundamental values. Children need to learn, even at very young ages, that great success comes with great effort, know how, and ability. Our culture is conditioning itself to accept a welfare state. And a large apart of that mentality is a reason why schools are failing. The support from home for education is decreasing more and more, and it is hard to compete with societies whose culture judge people based on their educational success.

I do not disagree their are bad teachers out there that do bad and terrible things. However, they are only the lithosphere of the problem. We still have a huge core and mantle to tackle before anything gets better.

Why not controlled by the customers, parents?
Did you know Chinese parents in the USA send their children to Chinese school on Saturday's?

If real education, and not indoctrination, is desired, vouchers will provide the best remedy to foster competition among real educators.

As we see with BHO, he prefers indoctrination as vouchers were killed in DC. How racist!

A "foundational" problem
Since John Dewey? I would say "since Horace Mann." Public education was designed in its very foundation to produce obedience; any other supposed goal is disguise. But Mr. Price is quite correct that major change is needed; I would say "fundamental change." The very idea of "public" education is flawed. When we see teaching as a commodity, of value to an individual, to be evaluated by that individual and purchased -- or not -- by that individual, then we ... actually, we won't be at all concerned about our "educational system." Instead, we'll read about it in Consumer Reports or some such thing.

How many teachers oppose charters and vouchrs?
"A lot of what is going on in the schools is the result of parents demanding that the children be coddled. That children should not be given failing grades, because it would hurt their self-esteem or cause them to be suspended from sports"

Where are the adults in the school to tell the parents to back off?

When the teacher's unions oppose charters and vouchers they, the teachers, bring this problem on themselves.

Teacher Unions
As a teacher, I am not apart of the Union and I am taking a big risk in doing that. That risk is really the only reason most teachers join the union in most parts of the United States. Their are so many restrictions on what teachers can do or say to kids, and anymore parents will never question their kids honesty when they come home with a claim of something that happened to them at school. That is primarily the teachers join unions, because corporations are very unwilling to fight false claims. It is much easier, better PR, and less expensive to just fire the teacher even though they may believe the teacher still. Parents today are very reactionary and protective (coddling) of their children. They make hundreds of excuses of why their child should be an exception. Frankly, I am getting sick of hearing "Well my child doesn't take tests well." If I go based on that, 75% of my students don't take tests that well. For parents obstacles are handicaps anymore, and apparently there is no reason they should ever be over came. Or it should not require much effort. And it is not because the parents don't care, they do mean well, but attitudes like that tend to keep children from reaching their potential and their attitude at school is worse. A teacher can be a miracle worker at instructing, but if the kids have no intention of getting thing out of the lesson, it doesn't matter what the teacher does, learning is not going to take place. So that is why I say that the same amount of fault put on educators should also be put on the public and the culture.

re VAT
Another way to say 'no way' when they bring it in will be to call it something else. For example some coutries that already have it, call it GST, for goods and services tax, and even PST for provincial services tax.
Got a cable bill?, add another 10% or whatever. Have to pay the plumber, add another percentage.

When they put it in we can predict, and it's 100%, that much more than the current level of the economy will go underground, to avoid these extra shakedowns.
I wonder if the US gray and black markets will reach the roughly 35% of the economy that it already is in Greece, and other places.

I DO also blame parents
Parents often consider the gulag schools as an entitlement day care for their brats.

When a teacher tells them something like, "your little Johnny has failed to live up to the low expectations he has set for himself", they blame the teacher instead of the fat, lazy, play-station kid.

But the culture limits choice.
I bet the parents whose children attend a private Catholic school don't coddle their children. Nor do most parents who send their children to 'tough' schools.
Most of those tough schools are not public schools.

DC parents want vouchers to send their children to quality schools but the government, supported by teachers refuse.

Maybe if some your teacher friends who claim they don't support the NEA should start their own school like the KIPP teachers did.

PS to my article
First, I appreciate all the thoughtful comments.
Second, and most importantly, I never discuss teachers. By "educators" I mean the people with PhD's at the top. They are, in my estimation, best understood as a cult. I feel that teachers are as much their victims as students are. Third, this article is a continuation of my main theme--I often call it The Education Enigma--wherein I try to explain what the heck happened to American education. Something did! I think we can all agree on that.

There's a lot of VAT fraud in Europe even in the Northern nations
I remember reading an article about VAT fraud where some company in Germany was shipping stuff to England but not actually delivering it there and the English 'receivee' was claiming it as part of the Value Added chain and trying to apply it against its other credits (you deduct what you already paid in value added inputs when calculating what you owed).

It got real complicated and detailed, but the end result the British and/or German treasuries got ripped off in revenue.

Europe is different in that 'open border' trade makes it difficult for VATs to be applied as opposed to just applying it to everything that goes through customs (even NAFTA goods) here. But I am sure that firms will find a way if Congress provides the will (VAT rates over 10% would do it at least).

And that was just shenanigans with companies operating ON THE BOOKS. Like you said, in places like Greece and Italy the underground economy is much more prevalent.

Collecting 'sales taxes' on services is much more difficult, apparently. That is why in the US even point of sale sales taxes (what we pay in most of our states) only tax goods. If true, I bet collecting 100% of VATs owed from the local plumber will be difficult for Uncle Sam too.

So, I imagine the 'carrot' used to enforce collection here will be a great reduction or even elimination in corporate/business income taxation. Whether it works or not, I don't know.

Believe it or not, but I would support replacing income taxes with a VAT, but not living with both as the Euro serfs have to.

The 'Parents Part of the Equation' is just another manifestation of the Third Party Payer Problem that they can't control how the money gets spend/directed. That's what the vouchers/charter schools were to solve.

Note, I wish to disambiguate this economic/incentive screw-up from the general problem of many parents who don't bother being involved directly with their childrens' education at all.

Thanks, Mr Price
...and as you no doubt have figured out by now, this is a tough crowd to submit any article to, as well. :)

Look at all of the people who do not think that spelling and conventions of language are necessary for electronic communication. How many times do you hear, "It doesn't really matter."?

Functional illiteracy doesn't come with a sign or a label, but it does come out in other ways, like the person who admits he can't spell well, but "it doesn't really matter because you know what I mean." Or it comes across in the person who can't construct a simple sentence with a subject and verb that agree. Yes, these are small things, but remember: It's not the lions that get you, it's the gnats.

is also widely misspelled as KindergarDen by many people. I had a parent tell me that I had misspelled it on a sign outside a classroom in my school. And, of course, she pronounced it as "kinnygarder." But, then, "it doesn't matter."

Teachers as victims
I don't buy it.

They have every opportunity to oppose and disagree with the NEA.

How many do?

I heard a few conservative teachers comment on how many BHO stickers there were in the faculty parking lot.

The founders of KIPP were once teachers as was the new superintendent of the DC schools, Michelle Rhee.

Teachers are adults and need to take responsibility.

More teachers having sex with students

What are they 'teaching' in teacher schools?

Standing up teachers, administrators, and superintendents is not all that easy. Mainly because you have to stand up to the state government. That is a very risky situation especially in many states that are still considering more consolidation. To be successful you pretty much have to have every school district protesting in unison. As much as most districts would love to stand up, a lot of times the risk of losing the corporation is too much. However, I do think it is possible and I hope superintendents will start to collaborate more.

Did you have a bad experience?
I really don't understand why you are so hell bent on propagating all of this anti-teacher propaganda. It is a shame that there are a few people that enter education for exactly the wrong reason. But how is this only isolated to educators. How about bosses taking sexual favors for promotions in the private sector. CEOs and Multi-millionaires that are drunks or addicted to drugs? What about airline pilots who get drunk before flights? Does that mean these professions are immoral and tainted as well? NO, it is more just a further example of my previous point. We live in a degenerative culture that values very little anymore. Then it sadly enters all aspects of our daily lives and culture. Religious leaders, politicians, ceos, educators, etc. are all affected by it.

Did you have a bad experience?
I really don't understand why you are so hell bent on propagating all of this anti-teacher propaganda. It is a shame that there are a few people that enter education for exactly the wrong reason. But how is this only isolated to educators. How about bosses taking sexual favors for promotions in the private sector. CEOs and Multi-millionaires that are drunks or addicted to drugs? What about airline pilots who get drunk before flights? Does that mean these professions are immoral and tainted as well? NO, it is more just a further example of my previous point. We live in a degenerative culture that values very little anymore. Then it sadly enters all aspects of our daily lives and culture. Religious leaders, politicians, ceos, educators, etc. are all affected by it.

Teachers are expected to be responsible adults.
"How about bosses taking sexual favors for promotions in the private sector. CEOs and Multi-millionaires that are drunks or addicted to drugs? What about airline pilots who get drunk before flights? Does that mean these professions are immoral and tainted as well?"

All these examples are adults dealing with adults.

Teachers are supposed to be held to higher standards. Sorry if you don't want to be responsible.

Where is society's reward for responsible behaviour?

How many teacher's unions and 'tenure' protect irresponsible teachers?

I hear some teachers are in demand all over the country.

If states can't find teachers to hire, maybe they will be forced to fix it as DC may be trying to do with Rhee.

Poor Misunderstood Writer Expresses Contrition (Again) That He Wasn't Clearer
jurban10 has made me feel bad. So I'll try again. I have 150 articles on the web, several sites, and a book out called THE EDUCATION ENIGMA. In all that, I never, ever criticize teachers. I think they are victims and pawns of forces way above them; in any event, they do not make policy. My work is aimed at explaining why we have so many bad policies. And who are the perps that come up with this stuff? I call those top people "educators." (Perhaps I should bring back Arthur Bestor's word "educationists.") In my vision of things, we need to sharply diminish the influence of these bad boys, precisely so that teachers can be liberated to do their best work. So, you see, I am actually pro-teacher.

Teachers are adults.
Teachers have the choice whether to work at a public school. Children do not have such a choice.
Therefore teachers are not victims, they are enablers of the problem in one big way, funding the NEA and supporting socialist politicians who promote indoctrination and do not support accountability for teachers.

"20,000 students statewide are on charter school waiting lists."
"Charter schools were created as part of the 1993 Education Reform Act as a way to develop new teaching strategies that could be adopted by public schools. The 61 schools operate under looser state regulations than traditional schools, have mostly nonunion teachers, and are run by independent boards that report directly to the state. They have been popular in urban districts among parents and students frustrated with traditional schools, and several charter schools in Boston are among the state's top performers.

But unions and many school districts have fought the charter movement passionately, contending they divert resources from the students in traditional schools. Raising the cap has been a deeply political issue that has frequently divided the Legislature and cropped up as a volatile issue at election time."

"Under the proposal, more than 900 positions, including just under one in 10 of the city’s 4,668 teachers, would be axed, as the department moves to slash 5.5 percent from its budget. The plan would also refigure the city into five smaller zones, limiting parents’ choices but reducing the Hub’s huge transportation costs."

Where is the mystery? Teachers are no different than their fellow UAW union members. They would rather kill the goose than work to provide efficient, effective education to students.

Let me guess - Texas
Yeah Heater, you're almost fifty, you have no clue how things are in high schools today. I'm a dozen years your junior and its changed A Lot since even when I was in school. You probably had "greasers versus preppies" culture when you were in high school. You probably also went to school in Texas or Florida, which would explain a lot. Suburbs especially. Stereotypes aside, it appears you blame teachers for a reason of ideology more than a solid understanding of anything realistic.

I also don't think most of the blame goes to the teachers. The two biggest factors are the Administrators and parents. Jurban10 got it right about culture, in my view. Parents in general have failed their kids in this regard, too many parents defend/protect their kids against responsiblity, versus holding them to it with their classwork.

Administrators and their PC, lawsuit-avoidance culture has been a horrible mess. This article was right about that. Did you notice that? The guy is talking about Administrators, not teachers, in his whining. Administrators have become more like politicians. Very few anymore are educators. Thats the problem.

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