Comments about ‘Current generation may be first in U.S. history less educated than its predecessors’

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Published: Saturday, Feb. 12 2011 11:00 p.m. MST

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Mcallen, TX

Just a few questions:

1. If ASU is doing so well, why is Arizonas economy doing so poorly? Very high morgage foreclosures.
2. Over the pass forty years, our schools have stressed cooperative learning and accountability through standardized testing. Why so many high school graduates unabled to do college work?
3. I've had many teachers tell me they pass students who should fail, because failure rate is part of their evaluation. School districts do not like high failure rates and will not renew a teachers contract. Do students go to college thinking they will pass without working because this is how it was growing up?

Resolute Voice
Salt Lake City, UT

Colleges have to do more with less. How about cutting degree programs or moving degree programs that have no real applicable value to a college into a comprehensive online program? USU has dedicated online degree programs Utah, UVU, SUU, and WSU are lagging far behind in this area. Why? UVU has one of the most restrictive and selective credit evaluation programs in the state. Standardize the credit transfer criteria among all Utah colleges. If a core, 100-200 level class has been passed at a state school then all of them should, by law recognize it. The goal is to reduce needless class repetition. Require school districts to fail students at grade levels 3 to 12. The last thing Utah needs is some antiquated and ineffective minority quota system. The problems in the minority community cannot be fixed by increasing the number of poor performing individuals into college, which will cause even more harm. Based on the numbers in this article Utah's high schools have become diploma mills where all you have to do is show up and you graduate. We can do better but we need new ideas and leaders not the old ones that are failing.

Ricardo Carvalho
Provo, UT

Worf has hit on some key issues. Too many students make it through the public education system without basic academic skills. We then want them to get a college degree so we enroll them in open enrollment institutions only to find that they are not ready.

One solution to this problem in some places, such as the UK, has been to award government money based on retention and graduation rates. The problem is that the students know this and know that a faculty member with a high fail rate will be raked over the coals by administration. This results in lowered standards, higher graduation rates, and graduates ill prepared for the workplace.

Progress in this area must start at home and in the very earliest grades of schooling. It would also be interesting to separate the data in Utah and make the Latino/other comparison. Somehow, we must as a Latino population find a way to value education among our people.

Mona, UT

Well, let's see, years ago we didn't have the federal government running everything, including the schools. We didn't have all the boards of education from the feds to the states and to the districts. We always did much better without their interference and we are paying for that interference now.

Ogden, UT

This may be a good thing.

For our nation to survive we need less white-collar "service" oriented people and more production blue-collar jobs.

We need to take back our production and manufacturing capabilities. Right now, having an education won't mean squat when all the jobs are overseas.

Are people just waking up to the reality that "education" can exist outside of the university? We need more tech schools, post-high school trade colleges, and LESS universities.

We need to look to tracked exit points in a teen's education that will allow them to exit EASILY to welding, construction, manufacturing, etc. Trying to force every teen into an academic mold is proving to be a failed concept. Most just don't want it!

Kearns, UT

Salt Lake Community College could improve their communication with students when the teacher is unable to be in class for the day. It is really frustrating to take the time to drive to SLCC only to find out the teacher will not be there. This is not just a once in awhile situation.

Hillsboro, OR

I find it interesting the title has nothing to do with the article. I know authors don't usually write their own titles but it is informative that someone thought higher graduation rates equals a better educated populace.

Increasing college graduation rates is easy. All you have to do is lower standards. Which is what will happen if you put graduation in front of learning. A recent book reported that 36% of college graduates learn nothing. The push for higher graduation rates without a focus on the quality of graduates will only increase that number.

The number one reason for the decline in educational quality has nothing to do with teachers, schools, unions, systems, etc. It has to do with poor parenting. All the tweaking at the collegiate level will not make any meaningful impact. Until we focus on fixing broken homes and poor parenting the quality of education will continue to decline.

Salem, Utah

It occurs to me that college students are not enrolled at universities to make America look good. Does it occur to those who care so much about these statistics?

College is expensive. Work is a must for many. Education is a privilege that even in the US, many won't be able to afford. It isn't about being globally competitive. It's much more about addressing the pressing needs caused by the great economic disparity growing ever wider in this country.

Food, clothing and shelter first. Education after.

American Fork, UT

This is a surprise? Knowledge is nerdy these days. Sports, that's where it's at. And we're going to pay for it as a nation.

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

In the 1950's we were told that TV would revolutionize education. Today one strong predictor of success in school is the number of hours of TV watched. The fewer the better.

We have also been told that the Internet will revolutionize education. It has proven to be little more than a distraction.

In Oliver DeMille's book, "A Thomas Jefferson Education" Mr. DeMille explains what a great education is. They read the classics, they write about the classics and they discuss the classics both among the students and with an expert on the book.

For math and science mastery is mandatory. For some reason many "students" feel they can skate by without doing homework.
There are two definitions of the word student:
1. A human enrolled in a class.
2. One who studies.

We have far too many that fit the first definition and too few that fit the second.

Schools have forgotten how to teach and the students perhaps never learned how to learn.

One more point: A modern degree in education from most universities is worthless. Having such a degree is the single biggest disqualifyer for teaching my children.

Centralia, WA

Worf? Right on. As a substitute teacher working well over 100 classrooms I am too familiar with 'cooperative education'. Most teachers give me the choice and I respectfully decline their offers. In every situation I ask the room full of strangers why I believe as I do.
They hit the nail on the head every time with, 'Kids not on task, noisey, fooling around, cheating, one person works while the other is tuning his ipod for 50 minutes . . .'.
Higher education. Put coaches salaries in the classroom. Lets also forget publication. We don't know how to use the glut of text information we have.

Harmony, PA

Time to stop coddling the little darlings. Nothing wrong with these younguns' that a good swift kick in the keester wouldn't cure. It's called laziness, pure and simple.

Provo, Ut


Are you kidding? Production isn't struggling in the US because we lack enough low-skilled labor. Yes, competitive wages oversee's are driving business out. Part of that equation though (and a big part) is the far less regulation oversee's. Lead paint in China? Additionally, the US has become too focused on business activities that serve the financial secotr, ie, stock-price, and short-run perspective which equals short-sightedness. Lastly, our greatest competitor nations are outpacing us dramatically in high-skilled laborers, which threatens give them a technilogical and strategical edge. What we need is absolutely more educated Americans, plain and simple. In spite of our patriotic idealism that suggests we (like Rome) can never lose our place as "greatest nation", the fact is it could take less than two generations to turn things upside down, where we are second, third, or fifth, to India or China - not to mention others.

On a second note - Government needs to catch up with business. You can't build an outcome based system for teacher employment/compensation, and plan to be effective. Systems variance has a greater impact, than teacher influence. Fix the system to fix the problem.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Every comment so far reinforces the fact that the current education establishment is a dismal failure at everything but raising tuition, spending more money and filling seats in classrooms.

ASU is one model cited to investigate for possible solutions.

Please also investigate Hillsdale College and see what they do, and the knowledge and achievements of their graduates. They refuse to take any government funding, and thus retain full control of their standards, curriculum and results. They espouse solid, traditional American and Conservative values. That may prove to be the biggest single factor dividing successful colleges from those which are merely liberal indoctrination camps.

Finally, the performance of minority students reflects the cultural value and emphasis on education among that segment. Blacks and Hispanics have little traditional interest in school at any level. Asians emphasize it to almost obsessive levels. The results are obvious, and quotas will not change the results. Success comes from intrinsic individual motivation, either based on cultural values, or overcoming those values in some cases.

Currently, most of what we spend on education at all levels is inefficient, ineffective and wasteful.

Thank you, liberals, for what you have done to education in America.

Bountiful, UT

According to the Economist, by 2015, 45% of the jobs will require a college education. Going to college is a sacrifice: time, social life, monetary but one is betting for the future. However, I would like to thank:
1. the Junior High and High School's councilors who told my kids they don't need to go to college, and
2. the Junior High and High School's teacher who would give all the chances in the world to the students to complete homework or retake tests. "Don't worry mom, I can ask Mr or Mrs such and such to retake the test". I got tired of telling these teachers they were not doing any good because College is not like that. My kids have the wake up of their lives when they start college and find out mom was not that crazy. That's what make kids to drop college, it's hard and it's not easy and they are used to easy and fun too much.

Mom of 8
Hyrum, UT

We're operating under a faulty premise when we believe that every person needs a four-year degree. But college simply isn't for everyone.

I taught college freshmen and sophomores for 14 years, and half of my students were there because they felt they were supposed to be. But they simply didn't enjoy it.

Most of those dropped out and attended trade schools or received training to be electricians, plumbers, beauticians, LPNs, firefighters, police officers . . . the list goes on and on.

A four year degree will NOT guarantee success (I've seen far too many examples), but following one's heart to become something else useful to the community WILL allow one to support a family.

Mechanics make far more money than I ever will, and I have a BA and an MA. Wished I loved engine oil.

San Bernardino, CA

Why is anybody surprised? We live in a nation where mothers go to work and let daycare and television raise their kids. We have a country where teachers and parents have no real means to discipline children. We have a government that does everything possible to take away the natural consequences of bad decisions, at the expense of those who work hard. Why go to college when you will just pay 40-50% of your income to support the welfare mom who's standard of living will be close to yours? We need to return to being a country of individual accountability, based on functional families; that's the only solution to our many problems.

Cedar City, UT

Mormoncowboy: your post is probably the most spot-on assesment of what's really going on that I have ever read in the comments section of this newspaper. Well said.

Laura Ann
Layton, UT

As a recently retired teacher, I can tell some truths. It is easier to pass on a student than have a parent blame you for them not being able to read. Parents can make a teacher's life misery. I refused to give passing grades to students who couldn't pass. I taught in the upper elementary grades. It was a hard thing to do. Often, I would go though their grades from the previous years or end-of-level testing to see if they had had a problem in the past. Many times it showed that they had a problem, but it wasn't addresssed. Most parents were grateful that I actually told them the truth. I stuck by my grades and I was able to back it up with empirical proof. I once had a parent demand that I change a grade. I refused to do it. I did hand them the report card and told them they were free to do it themselves. They did it. A C- became an A-. Of course, I didn't record in it the permanent record as such.

Laura Ann
Layton, UT

One other comment: Did you know that children in Utah cannot receive resource help until they are two grade levels below in math or reading? Also, it is based on their I.Q. I've had many students who couldn't get help because they were too dumb. I still can't believe it. Loved my job and miss it, but not the unrealistic expectations. I loved my students too much to cheat them. It is better to learn cause and effect in elementary school than college. College may not be for everyone, but those who do go should be willing to work hard to succeed.

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