Current generation may be first in U.S. history less educated than its predecessors

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  • jenrmc Fort Worth, TX
    May 16, 2011 12:01 p.m.

    I know an engineer whose children graduated in the top 5% of their class in a 5A school (largest high school class in Texas). They were in the bottom 50% of the SAT scores. He recommended to me that during the summer of my daughter's 9th grade year I put her in SAT prep classes as he didn't think schools prepared their students for this exam. He recommended continuing these throughout her high school career.

    The only test our students (Texas) are prepared for is the state standardized test. I live next to teachers and they say it is ridiculous the amount of emphasis that is placed on this test.

    If we want to improve the rate of graduations in high school and college we need to increase the amount of useful, thought provoking information taught. The successful people you meet are like that because they can think, reason and find solutions.

    Parents also need to reinforce the need for a good quality education and give advice about which classes to take in order to prepare their child(ren) for college. Direction and guidance on choosing a major is also extremely important.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    Feb. 17, 2011 10:44 a.m.

    "Some are commenting that schools have forgotten how to teach. I disagree."

    Sure, they know how to teach. What they lack is the ability to enforce any rules and hold students accountable. If there are no consequences for a student not learning, the quality of the instruction has little value.

    And we are fooling ouselves by thinking that a child learned something when he was just part of a group that made one kid do everything, while everyone else benefitted from the good grade.

    The relationship continues on into adulthood. The kids who sat back and contributed nothing are either collecting welfare or shirking their duties at work, making a co-worker pick up the slack, and the kid who did all of the work is the one giving up 15% or more of his income to support them, at a job where he is surrounded by idiots. Enough is enough. We need to start enforcing real consequences from day 1 in Kindergarten. It's better to stick a kindergartner in the corner a few times and set him straight than to have to support him financially throughout adulthood. We can't afford it anymore.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    Feb. 17, 2011 10:33 a.m.

    There are no consequences for kids in cooperative learning situations who make the smart kid do all the work. There are no consequences for kids who can barely read, but get promoted anyway. There are no consequences for kids who are accepted into universities based on their phony grades. There are no consequences for people who cheat their way through college, or graduate because their classes are such a joke, they didn't require that much work anyway. There are no consequences for being a bad employee if your employer is required to give you health insurance, and can't fire you because of tenure, union rules, or for fear of violating your civil rights and lawsuits. There are no consequences if you can't make it in the real world, because the government will take care of you, or you can just keep living with your parents. What I want to know is how will we manage to take care of ourselves when all of the people who are my age and still living with their parents make up the entire tax base that funds social security and medicare?

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Feb. 14, 2011 8:24 p.m.

    Some of what's in #5 might be helpful. What would be great is allowing teachers to teach so those positions won't be needed. These positions are created by a quest to pass a state test and follow some useless state requirement. I went to school in the 1960's and we had just one principal and secretary. The students were academically ahead of those today.

  • Goet Ogden, UT
    Feb. 14, 2011 5:15 p.m.

    Worf... all agreed upon points but one. #5

    We need all those to lighten the load of the actual workhorse, the teacher (and the principal, in the case of VPs.) I can name a several incidents where each one of those people would be useful to me, to lift my load so I can accomplish my goal. That being said, each one of those positions exist as an AUXILIARY to teachers. We somehow have deemed most of those as more important jobs that must be paid 2-3x what the average teacher makes.

    The most important part of the educational workforce is the teacher and they are almost always the least paid and least respected.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Feb. 14, 2011 2:42 p.m.

    Want to know why education has weakened? Here are some opinions:

    1. Cooperative learning.
    2. Standardized testing.
    3. High pay scale for administrators.
    4. Unproductive teaching statagies pushed on teachers.
    5. Too many unproductive admistrative positions--Example--testing coordinators, curriculum directors, counselors, assistant principals, science coordinators, social studies coordinators, math coordinators, reading specialists, etc.
    6. To much emphasis on sports.
    7. Feeding breakfast and lunch to thousands of students is costly.
    8. To many after school and summer programs.

    Education does'nt have unlimited funds. Careless and greedy spending has downgraded education and wasted tax payers money.

  • oldschool Farmington, UT
    Feb. 14, 2011 8:22 a.m.

    Kids can't afford school nowadays. Neither can most of their parents. I used to work summers to pay for my entire school year. My quarterly tuition was roughly 50 times my hourly wage. So I worked 1/4 of the year to earn all my tuition as well as almost all of my living expenses. Many of my classmates did the same thing although many of them got help from their parents. My parents did not contribute money toward my college education. Though my university is on a semester system now, I don't think the average student could earn enough in one semester to pay for the other two. My children and sons-in-law have had student loans, grants and have had to quit school at times just to work for the money they needed to pay tuition and precious little else. The price of tuition has far outstripped inflation.

  • Larry Willard, UT
    Feb. 14, 2011 3:59 a.m.

    There is no jobs for the highly educated, Those that are in school are in a vastly high amount of debt and can not afford to pay themselves out of the hole. Years ago a city college was free except for the books, Can you see what is wrong with schools today?

  • Common Sense Says Enid, OK
    Feb. 13, 2011 10:34 p.m.

    Article title: "Current generation may be first in U.S. history less educated than its predecessors"

    Sadly, one only needs to read comments on here from the majority of those on the liberal side of the fence to see this is true.






  • oldschool Farmington, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 9:21 p.m.

    When my children were in middle school and high school just 10 to 15 years ago, they arrived home from school daily at an earlier hour than our classes ended in the '60s and '70s. And they were allowed far more days off than we were. No wonder they don't learn as much.

  • utahteacher lehi, utah
    Feb. 13, 2011 7:19 p.m.

    I think all education is important and valuable whether it be in the classroom or through other life experiences but I think it is sad that less people are obtaining degrees when it is very apparent that the job market will require more education in the future. What will happen to our economy when we no longer have a qualified workforce? I think the children growing up today do not have the work ethic of past generations. They are failing in school not because teachers are not teaching but because they are not doing the required work. Teachers are under increasing pressure to raise test scores but many times they are working with a population that lacks motivation to learn and succeed. The blame is put on the teacher but when are we going to start holding the student and parent accountable for their end of the bargain. All of the motivating tricks in the world cannot force a child to learn that doesn't want to learn. Earning a degree requires an internal drive to keep going even when it is tough and overwhelming. Too many today just quit rather than find ways to overcome challenges.

  • Rock Of The Marne Phoenix, AZ
    Feb. 13, 2011 7:05 p.m.

    Rifleman, yes the private sector does it better as evidenced the by far highest level of student loan default coming from graduates of the many fly by night "colleges" in business parks that entice high school dropouts to spend $30,000 plus on a useless degree to become a medical assistant or something of that ilk (a $11 dollar an hour job at best). Also said private education companies are dependent (90% plus of their business) on US Govt. backed student loans. The facts speak for themselves.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Feb. 13, 2011 5:37 p.m.

    With no-child-left-behind the eager learns have to wait for those who have less or no interest in getting an education.

    Government can't run ed-ur-kation any better than they can Social Security or anything else they touch.

  • MickO Williston, ND
    Feb. 13, 2011 4:05 p.m.

    Maybe the problem is not the schools, but the failure of immigrants to learn the language.

    Would I do well in school in another country if I did not first learn the language? not likely.

    This is not prejudice; it is fact.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Feb. 13, 2011 4:02 p.m.


    I agree with you that there could be greater emphasis on technical skills, and that trade schools have their place. However, you are completely undervaluing the social and personal benefits that are realized by society with higher intellectual acumen, not just technical. Furthermore, the technical trades you mentioned (Construction, Welding, Manufacturing) rely almost entirely on progress from those darn University trained engineers, architects, IOB, statiticians and analysts. Consider some of the quality initiatives that stared in Japan's manufacturing in the 1950's. This measures that started there precipitated in the US under the direction of a forward thinking American Physicist (Ph.D.) and Japanese statitician (Ph.D.). Yes, technical training can get a person to perform a task - even efficiently - but progress comes education. Unfortunately that's just how it works.

    Furthermore it is a big mistake to dichotomize University "education" from "technical skill". Ideally these two qualities are just different sides of the same coin - Theory/Skill. Eliminating the theoretical underpinnings to a technical skill is ultimately a recipe for technical stasis, as a tradesman's greatest tool for improvement has been naively reduced to trial-and-error.

  • pat1 Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 2:38 p.m.

    Does anyone keep statistics about non-traditional students who come back and finish their degrees later? Or are these statistics just about high school grads for about 4-6 years?

    I know many adults who have done this and are in their 40s.

  • scambuster American Fork, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 2:20 p.m.

    We have become a leisure society where education is not valued. This is what happens to societies that reach a pinnacle of civilization. Just look at Rome.

    Some are commenting that schools have forgotten how to teach. I disagree. Schools are still teaching, but you can't make a disinterested student, one who has too many distractions to think about, learn. As the old saying goes: You can lead a a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

    It is time for parents to start acting like parents instead of friends to their children. Shut off the TV's, Video games, I-pods, etc, etc, etc for a least a few hours in the evening. I just shake my head in amazement at the way many families function. We are raising a lazy generation. For instance, I can list several neighbors who have teenage boys who lay around the house all weekend, while their parents do the chores such as shoveling snow in the driveway. It is time to teach these kids some work ethic and that starts at home.

  • teachermom6 Davis County, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 1:59 p.m.

    I am not a liberal and usually do not agree with Obama about anything, but when he said we need to celebrate academic success rather than only our athletic superstars I couldn't agree with him more. Kids today, and many of their parents have grown up in the lap of luxury compared to their grandparents and great-grandparents. Many of our children today are growing up very lazy, without either a moral compass or any type of work ethic. As a teacher, I have so many students who can find hours of time to play video games and watch t.v., but find little time for meaningful academic endeavors. Until, we as a nation start putting more emphasis on work and less emphasis on pleasure we will continue to fall as a nation.

    Another Note: I wish that the "preserve the child's self esteem camp at any cost" would be out of business in education. If Jr. can't perform on grade level he should be held back! We need a European system with two for the college bound and one for trade work. Not everyone is meant to be an academic.

  • Atlas Colorado Springs, CO
    Feb. 13, 2011 1:55 p.m.

    More money is spent per pupil than ever before and the results are worse than ever before. Lack of money is not the problem.

    The love of money (student and government and bureaucrat) and the lack of value (low effort, no clue) all waste our time and money.

  • Goet Ogden, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 12:45 p.m.


    Not low-skilled. Highly skilled. That's my entire point, which you missed. We should be allowing, encouraging, and even designing educational tracks that allow students to have technical skills in their formative years. Instead, we have this mindset that EVERYONE must go to college to succeed. Colleges love it because they live on tuition and remedial classes. Kids, however, don't.
    The answer is not found in higher college enrollment. It is found in a higher level of skilled workers in all areas. We have to begin, once again, to value the technical and labor trades as desirable and viable options during high school years.

    College is not the answer for everyone.

    Take that as my 2 cents being a teacher.

  • Laura Ann Layton, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 11:40 a.m.

    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.

  • Laura Ann Layton, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 11:36 a.m.

    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.

  • Cedarite Cedar City, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 11:17 a.m.

    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.

  • sisucas San Bernardino, CA
    Feb. 13, 2011 10:39 a.m.

    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.

  • Mom of 8 Hyrum, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 10:30 a.m.

    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.

  • mecr Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 10:21 a.m.

    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.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 10:20 a.m.

    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.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Feb. 13, 2011 10:09 a.m.


    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.

  • djras Harmony, PA
    Feb. 13, 2011 9:39 a.m.

    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.

  • Chickenchaser Centralia, WA
    Feb. 13, 2011 9:08 a.m.

    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.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Feb. 13, 2011 9:07 a.m.

    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.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 8:56 a.m.

    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.

  • Erika Salem, Utah
    Feb. 13, 2011 8:23 a.m.

    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.

  • Krisjhn Hillsboro, OR
    Feb. 13, 2011 8:18 a.m.

    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.

  • sally Kearns, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 8:15 a.m.

    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.

  • Goet Ogden, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 8:12 a.m.

    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!

  • huggylady Mona, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 7:59 a.m.

    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.

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 5:36 a.m.

    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.

  • Resolute Voice Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 13, 2011 12:33 a.m.

    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.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Feb. 12, 2011 11:57 p.m.

    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?