Saw the above video on how Americans drop out of engineering. One young man talks about how he took lots of math and science in high school, including calculus, but he was somehow unprepared for science and engineering at the college level. He had interest in the subject but was not adequately prepared.
What is crazy and makes little sense is that America has one of the best systems of higher education in the world, and yet we have one of the worst systems of grade school education.
I had a debate with a public school social worker friend just a month or so ago. He argued that public schools are much better at education than private schools because they were versed in dealing with a wider variety of students. While he’s right that they deal with a wider variety of students–you’ll find more crack heads and gang bangers in public school than in private school, and public school teachers have to deal with that–he’s completely wrong on the education thing. Private schools are MUCH better at actual teaching–partly because teachers don’t have to deal with crack heads and gang bangers. Plus, they have more parental involvement and parental control. This is why politicians and rich people, including those who appoint and fire public school administrators, usually send their kids to private schools. If you’re a crappy and lazy teacher in public school, they keep you around and give you a comfortable pension that could potentially pay millions. If you’re a crappy and lazy teacher in a private school, they have a board of trustees to deal with people like you. Private schools have job security, but only for good teachers. As conservative talk show host Michael Berry correctly points out, private schools usually pay their teachers much less than public schools, and yet teachers clamor for these jobs.
In Oregon, we have one of the worst teacher-student ratios in the country, along with one of the shortest school years. What makes it particularly difficult is that there are so many different views on this subject. Lots of the problems probably start at home–parents who don’t encourage education–but we need to get serious about education in this country. It’s a travesty that our public grade schools and high schools are not preparing our young people to meet the standards of our colleges. A good public education ought to be a right.