Cal Thomas is a columnist. When his columns do get in the paper, I do what I do for survival. I don’t read them.
But in today’s paper, Thomas talks about how wonderful things are at present in the USA and is trying his best to discredit his Democratic opponents. Debate is fine when you have the facts. But I saw the word: Education and had to read more.
Thomas struck a chord when he said: “Taxpayers are coughing up more for education. If there’s a correlation between the amount spent and student achievement, wouldn’t kids be better educated and better able to compete with other countries where students excel in math and science."
Boy oh boy, Mr. Thomas.
Let’s look at the facts.
In other countries, teachers and instructors begin the school day far in advance of the US and stay far later. They are expected to, at all costs, be a perfect student who only concentrates on that subject matter. There are no distractions. Instructors in other countries are paid as well as other professionals i.e. surgeons, lawyers, newspaper journalists. They are held in high regard and parents grapple to put their children in the best schools. This is the culture of everywhere but here in our country.
Back in the USA, we are up against much more than math and science scores. Teacher attrition is at an all-time high. We can’t fill the schools with qualified instructors because in America, we pay paltry wages.
We insist that teachers put in long hours, not students. We are trained to counsel children who are victims of trauma and emotional problems, have thoughts of depression, or lack self esteem.
Here in America, there have been many more school shootings. I am not sure which countries you are comparing our schools to, but none, not one, shooting has been reported from abroad. . This, itself, is a new phenomenon. In 2018 there were 24 shootings. 114 people were killed. 79 were injured. Education Week's data also shows a map of the US and the shootings are taking place from sea to shining sea.
Oh, then there are the parents who will cheat or do their children’s work for them and scream and belittle the instructors who do not favor their little darlings.
In our country parents will blow off school for vacation, hockey games, travel dance competitions and the like. The importance of the material taught is minimized by this type of commitment.
So please, don't compare the United States and its educational system to other countries.
It is a comparison of apples and oranges.
Our cultures will never be the same and results will never be able to be compared in a quantitative or qualitative way. They simply are not the same.
I would guess that if you compare the climate of schools in other countries and the importance at which the students hold teachers and subject matter, I believe you would see a significant difference. The blanket statement, we just don’t compare…is correct. We don’t place any importance on the day to day, so how do we expect our students to measure up?
But alas, Mr. Thomas, your rhetoric can’t be the sole source of your argument any longer. When the government appoints leadership for education to a billionaire who has never taught, wants to separate students into charters and scrap the rest of the public schools by starving their budgets, or charge huge amounts for college student loans, you set your whole country up for eventual failure.
One more thing, as you turn to within the US to produce your products, you might want to check and see how many workers are actually skilled trades people. I am afraid these schools have gone by the wayside with the visions of an antiquated past. The idea that college is the ultimate destination is flawed.
Perhaps we can agree on one thing; we can’t go back to the past.
You expect teachers to compete?
Give them the tools to be those teachers.
Hold them in higher esteem.
Perhaps they can ramp up their journalism courses and we won’t have to be fed the same old dataless rants that we read in your columns.
Because, ho hum, Mr. Thomas.
Ranting about taxes, candidates, and our scholastic standing is like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. It will never happen as long as education is considered a secondary career.
-An Education for excellence advocate, I remain.
Thanks for listening.