Comments about ‘In our opinion: Uneducated Americans’

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Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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The Skeptical Chymist
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

The educational quality in northern Europe is definitely well above that in America, and in Utah. The fundamental reason is that teaching is a highly honored profession there, not tremendously different in respectability than that of doctors or corporate executives. Until we as a nation respect teaching as a profession, and pay teachers adequately to attract the best talent, we won't do better. In addition, we have to provide sufficient funding for the schools to guarantee that 4th grades are not stuck in classes with over 35 students. You cannot teach in that environment. It becomes day care, at best.

This is not the only problem. Parents need to foster a supportive environment in the home, demanding a challenging curriculum from the schools and making academic study the top priority for their children. Too often parents, who may be poorly educated themselves, belittle those of higher education, undermining the entire educational process. This may be just a misguided effort to make themselves feel better, but it tells their children that education is not important.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

If the kids don't score well (comparatively) year after year, the deficit in adults and parents is inevitable.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

"Americans are not the most educated people on the planet"...the context of this statement in the article was as if the statement is a surprise somehow. Seriously? There is an Op Ed piece on CNN about this study ("We're Too Dumb") which points out that many adults lack the basic skills necessary to gather information and solve problems, or even read a newspaper column. And we don't recognise the problem for what it is, failing to cite education among the top 5 concerns we have. Apparently the problem starts at the ECS level. As an employer I see this all the time, after reading all the articles about how Gen X/Y need to work differently and all that the fact remains that I can't overlook the fact many cannot functionally perform basic math or even read.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Quality of education depends on those most directly involved, i.e. the parents and the child. Caring parents will see that their children are educated, even if they have to home-school that child. Children who care about education will learn. Teachers are an asset, but they are not the solution. We have tens of thousands of "qualified" teachers and millions of children who are not being educated.

Some European countries could be used as a model to help us discover what we need to change, but we don't have to go to Europe. We have many fine schools in Utah that do an outstanding job of educating our children. We have many parents who are doing a fine job of home-schooling their children. We have many fine teachers in under-performing schools who could do a much better job if they were allowed to teach.

It's not just about jobs. Our nation is at stake. Uneducated and under-educated people believe "leaders" without checking facts. No country can survive when the "leaders" depend on the people being too ignorant of events to know that the country is failing.

EJM
Herriman, UT

And we want to blame teachers for this mess as well, I am sure. Until we make education a priority in our country, and with all the pundits saying we do, then we are going to continue to put out an uneducated population. But we don't consider a quality education important. Teachers are forced to teach to a test. Teachers are forced to make special considerations for little Johnny and Susie because they don't want to have to work hard to learn. I see it everyday in education. It is frustrating. Maybe I should move to Australia after all.

GZE
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Interesting that all the comments so far associate the words "education" and "children." Education is not a process that ends at the age of 18 or 22; it is a lifelong pursuit. Too many adults think that once they complete their years in school, they can quit attempting to learn new things.

In anonymous surveys, the vast majority of American adults will admit that they have not read a book since they left school.

If we want children to value education, we need to show them that we do. That means continuing to expand our own minds.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "Until we as a nation respect teaching as a profession, and pay teachers adequately to attract the best talent . . . ."

Spoken like a true UEA/NEA union boss.

Suggesting that American educational problems would be solved if we just worshiped teachers more fervently, and shoveled ever more money at them and their gritty, greedy union is simply disingenuous.

In fact, suggesting that Americans tend towards illiteracy is also disingenuous. It's really only liberals and the low-information America they advocate and cultivate.

Why become educated when nanny-state liberals promise to take care of you from cradle to grave? It's lots more fun to hang out and play violent computer games or basketball, interrupted only by the gang violence and casual sex you learned in third grade.

Don't worry about working. Even less about supporting and nurturing children. Those same liberals that preach free lunch [and health care, cell phones, and retirement] will take care of you and educate your children, just like they did you.

All they ask in return is your freedom.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

To procuradorfiscal: The ten best educated states all went for Obama. Nine of the ten worst educated states went for Romney. Your thinking on this issue seems to be backwards.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Government and outsiders can't force people to get a good education. I think people in America CAN get a good education (IF they want one) and yet still many don't. When a good education is top priority for the person getting the education... they will work and get educated (even if there are 35 students in the class). If they DON'T want an education... no matter how much the government wants them to get it... they wont (even if there are only 20 people in the class).

We have to admit that there is an element of individual responsibility here. In Utah you can get a good education if you try. You can also avoid getting an education IF you try to avoid it.

The government can't force Americans to get a good education if all they want to do is get out of school and play video games or hang with their home boys, knowing if they don't make it they can always rely on the Government to take care of them. And if that doesn't work... they can sell drugs like their friends and make more than their high school graduate friends.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Roland Kayser,
How did you rate the "ten best educated states"? References please.

Based on per-pupil spending? (as liberals seem to think that is the best measure of education). I think it should be based on how much the students learn (which can only be judged by standardized tests like the ACT and SAT).

Utah students ranked HIGHEST in the nation in ACT scores in 2013 (and I'm pretty sure Utah didn't vote for Obama). That kinda disproves your statement.

If you don't believe me... Google "Utah students ACT scores rank highest in nation"... There was an article in the DesNews just this August.

This is a quote from the article... "SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's high school students earned the highest ACT scores in the nation in 2013 when compared with states where all students take the test, according to figures released Wednesday by the State Office of Education"...

How do you explain that?

We get the highest ACT scores... but you put us in the LOWEST Educated State category???

We DID vote for Romney... so we MUST be stupid... right?

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "The ten best educated states all went for Obama."

Your "study" was based on percentage of the state's people with a four-year degree. No educated person, at least one without a disingenuous left-leaning bias, would accept graduation from an overpriced, underachieving, socialism mill as the sole basis for determining levels of uneducated or illiterate populations of a state. Nor would anyone but an arrogant liberal academic equate college degree with level of education.

My thinking, along with that of the vast majority of real people, is spot-on. Shoveling money to teachers and their unions simply won't -- CAN'T -- solve America's education problems.

Liberals, on the other hand, might want to be a little more circumspect before accepting as true the disingenuous talking points bouncing around in academic and trade-union echo chambers.

That's what genuinely well-educated people do.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

While there’s no question that education should be a top priority for our country – although we might get much more bang for our buck with a properly funded and available to all voucher system just like France & Sweden have – I’m curious to know if this study did apples to apples comparisons.

For example, how do Japanese American kids compare to kids from Japan or Finnish American kids to kids in Finland?

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Tyler D,

I seriously doubt it's genetic.

I served a mission in Japan and their schools are not great in general. But kids DO get a good education there. How does that happen?... Kids and families there are super motivated, and seek every opportunity to learn (they don't avoid them and try to find the EASIEST way to get through school). When they get out of school they go straight to other classes and work on education on their own (outside the class room) WAY more than American students do.

There are some down sides to the way they do it in Japan as well.
large disparities in education. it's critical to get into the right schools. To insure acceptance families start enrolling their kids in the most expensive and prestigious pre-schools possible (to make sure their kids test well and get accepted to the best schools). Then they pressure their kids incredibly all through school and fill them with fear that IF they don't get accepted to the right school they will fail the family. HighSchool suicide rates are incredible in Japan (especially right after testing results are announced).

Is that what we want?

one old man
Ogden, UT

Ah, Procura -- spoken like true believer in the propaganda garbage of the farthest right end of the right wing hate radio mouths.

Truly educated people are not listening to that nonsense.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@2 bits – “I seriously doubt it's genetic.”

Never said it was… culture (as you point out) is a big factor.

And I agree – I doubt we’ll sprout a nation a Tiger Moms anytime soon and I’m not sure we want to. From what little I know (you would more insight) the overly competitive culture of Japan seems to create other problems that our diverse country would likely magnify exponentially.

But Finland is an interesting case – kids don’t even start school there until age 7 and they appear to be well rounded and generally happy (in addition to having the #1 education system in the world).

I think vouchers is the key – as long as schools still go through a basic accreditation process, it’s the only way for schools to become consistently motivated, innovative and customer (student) focused… all the things monopolies (including our current public education system) are not.

The have worked to great success in very liberal countries like France & Sweden so in no way should they be seen as some far-right tool to destroy public education… they will save it.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

Northern European countries have a stable, prosperous economy with little income inequality. They highly value education; thus they lead the world. This is not the reality in the USA.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Irony Guy,
Re: "Northern European countries have little income inequality"...

Is that why many of these countries still have Kings, Queens, and Lords? Little income inequality huh...

The Irony in your statement is... There's a wider gap of income equality between the Kings and their families and the common people in most of these countries than there is between the CEO and his workers in the United States. And most of those CEOs came from other countries and from middle to lower class families (instead of having to be born to Royal families).

If you don't believe me, google "Monarchies in Europe" and see the map in WikiPedia. Many Northern European countries are still Monarchies (meaning they have a King).

Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, are all Monarchies. I wonder if you realized that. There are currently twelve (12) extant sovereign monarchies in Europe today.

Between the Royals and there subjects there is a WIDE income inequality gap.

djc
Stansbury Park, Ut

I started working in public schools as a substitute teacher last year and am amazed at the number of parents who are at the school helping (for free), the amount of money teachers are shelling out of their pockets for supplies, and how awful the textbooks are when available. Most classes don't have enough books to go around, so students are sharing them. The dependence on technology is, I think, overrated. I think we could do with less tech and more hands on teaching, but how can a teacher spend time with students when there are 35 in the classroom? To those who defend our schools, yes they do a amazing job with most students considering all that is against them. To those who denigrate our schools and teachers, maybe you need to spend some time at the school. You might be surprised by what is going on there. Education starts at a very early age, that is why head start, pre-school or even an at home mom with time to teach the kids is/are so vitally important. Yes our students do well, but based on demographics they should . But They can do better! They really can.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

2 bits, I'm fully aware that 3 Scandinavian countries are constitutional monarchies. Income inequality is STILL much lower in those countries than in the USA. Your image of Europe seems not to have progressed beyond Robin Hood movies.

pmccombs
Orem, UT

Ever notice how any critique of American education usually boils down to one thing? Dollar signs! Education, apparently, is supposed to fit us out for the economy. It will make us prosperous and competitive in a global marketplace. Prosperity has become the measuring stick of education.

There was a time in America when education was the thing that qualified us for liberty. It was part of happy human lives--the chief component of the "pursuit of happiness" which had very little to do with economic gain and very much to do with civic virtue.

What would happen to education in America if we were to change our cultural story so that, rather than people serving the economy, it was the other way around? What if the measuring stick of Education became civic virtue instead of money?

Maybe education in America is so hard to get right because we are doing it for the wrong reasons.

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