Tiffany Gee Lewis: The end of education

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  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    June 19, 2014 3:45 p.m.

    My kids are going to a secular private school with high standards, solid discipline, and good teachers who are worth their salt and have a genuine interest in educating their pupils, or they’re being homeschooled. I would need to get my Masters degree first before homeschooling them. I don’t believe I would be qualified without one.

  • AmkaProblemka South Jordan, UT
    June 10, 2014 7:31 p.m.

    jimhale -

    Actually, for interaction and the exchange of ideas in an atomosphere of creativity and communal learning, there really should be more than one student. And more important than over all class size is in class student to teacher ratio and student density.

    One on one shelters learners to only one person's attitudes, opinions, and teaching style. And if that's a computer then, oh dear. Computers are excellent tools in education but I don't believe they replace good human teachers. Even while teaching facts from a very strict curriculum in both content and technique, each teacher has a different personality. Maybe that's what you mean by being a coach?

    I'm a huge fan of computer aided learning, but I still think a stronger social element is needed. Adults are very accomodating of quirky but intelligent learners, but peers will give them more cues and cluse for succesful social behaviors. And computers even poorer replacements for peer to peer interactions.

  • jimhale Eugene, OR
    June 9, 2014 12:41 p.m.

    Some here say we should all just pay teachers more, respect them more and then get the heck out of their way and let them run education any way they so choose.

    That attitude is precisely why educators cannot be trusted to control education.

    Big class sizes? If 25 is better than 35, if 20 is better than 25, then 10 must be better than 15 and five would be better than 10.

    The optimal class size is one-on-one. We all remember fondly teachers who reached us one-on-one. We remember little what they did for us one-on-25.

    For most subject matter, we need kids one-on-one with a computer - loaded with software capable of taking them through content with 100% success - giving instantaneous feedback for incremental progress - just like a video game.

    Kids need coaches not teachers. Platform instruction is too inefficient, too unaffordable and too highly variable in quality.

    Software should keep the classroom coach (and the parents) automatically abreast of the details of every students progress.

  • jimhale Eugene, OR
    June 9, 2014 12:12 p.m.

    It is time to stop building new schools (red brick or otherwise)....just like it is time to stop building libraries.

    What is a school good for anyway? Social interaction? Play ground equipment? Gymnasium facilities? Child care?

    Those are the main reasons for the continued existence of school buildings.

    Education as we know it has utterly failed. One third of kids are not graduating from high school. No child left behind? Hardly! Not even close.

    Kids should have coaches, not teachers.

    Kids should learn most academic content by computer - where they can progress as individuals - as fast and deeply as they can.

    Expecting a teacher to take 25 first graders (who come to school with highly different individual intellectual abilities, learning styles, pre-school experiences, and parental support) to a certain standard as a class is simply asking the impossible. Then we wonder why the impossible didn't happen.

    After a few years, those first grade differences in learning outcomes grow ever more far-ranging and failure ever more far-reaching.

    Kids may need a school building for recess and lunch. But for learning most subjects they simply need a good computer and software as interesting as video games.

  • AmkaProblemka South Jordan, UT
    June 8, 2014 9:44 p.m.

    There are no simple one solution answers.

    Better pay for teachers would be fantastic. But we also need the ability to fire bad ones. And that beaurocratic paperwork gives us good data - but we should hire people other than teachers to do it. We need to clear the way for teachers. Part of that is providing a clear curriculum and all the resources.

    Early grades do need some rote learning, in a fun and positive way. Math, reading and writing, history and science facts provide the bones for understanding, for connecting thing together, for logical and critical thinking skills, and for the the synthesis of useful new ideas.

    And more than pay, we must appreciate teachers.

    And finally and most importantly, we need parents who are engaged and the ally of teachers. Who take responsibility, volunteer at school and keep structure at home.

    There are probably even a few more factors like different kinds of learners. So, yeah. No one single solution.

  • sthomaslewis Corvallis, OR
    June 6, 2014 1:20 p.m.

    We need to get government out of the school systems entirely, starting with the disbanding of the unconstitutional Department of Education. The American educations system was imported from Prussia by Horace Mann, and its main purpose is to teach citizens to become obedient drones to government and corporations.

    I would suggest you read books by John Taylor Gatto, such as "Dumbing Us Down", "A Different Kind of Teacher", and "The Exhausted School". Gatto was New York City teacher of the year, but quit teaching because he could see the harm being done to children and adults through compulsory, government sponsored schooling.

  • Coach P Provo, UT
    June 6, 2014 11:15 a.m.


    I've taught for 25 years and I've never heard of any curriculum, let alone any teachers, teaching the mechanics of gay intimacy. I've never heard of any curriculum, or any teacher for that matter, teaching students how to fill out welfare forms. I've never seen any of my fellow teaching comrades tell their children to disrespect their parents. I won't be bold to say that this hasn't happened somewhere in our vast public education system, but in my experience, which is a long time, I've never seen any of this stuff you say happens actually happen. I think us teachers would love if all of our students actually lived a life off of welfare and had great lives independent of the government but contributing to the framework of our society. What I see more in our schools are teachers actually trying to aspire their students to great heights and realize their dreams.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    June 6, 2014 8:29 a.m.

    I'm not so naive as to think that all education is is memorizing multiplication tables and reciting letters and charts.

    What I was implying is that under federal control, there seems to be an agenda. I don't mind my kids learning to think outside the box. I do mind them being directed to rebel against parental authority, to be indoctrinated with skewed historical facts. I worry when I hear of school districts teaching the mechanics of gay intimacy and the step by step instructions of filling out welfare forms. In an increasing way, kids are not being taught how to expand their minds, but how to rely upon government handouts and manipulation.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    June 5, 2014 8:27 p.m.

    There are two things required for change, One we have to empower schools and the teachers within the school to do the things they know work, rather than trying to comply with all the things placed on them by all levels of government.

    Second and the one that will never happen in Utah, spend the money needed to create change. It is funny in "the real world" we recognize the need to invest money and resources to grow and improve a company, but when it comes to public education we want to "stack em deep and teach em cheap". Whether it is yours or my personal budget, or the state budget we spend money on our priorities. Utah has the lowest per pupil spending in the country, enough said on that subject.

  • mtgrantlass Camden Wyoming, DE
    June 5, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    Get the current agenda out of classrooms (making little socialists) and true learning, a classic education, will be the result. You have to realize, the agenda has been in place since the 1930's when John Dewey a professed humanist and his cohorts took over American education. No, we weren't aware of it. And, yes, they pretty much won. But we still have to weed their agenda out of our classrooms.

  • DR Hampton Portage, MI
    June 5, 2014 8:45 a.m.

    Last year I met a young high school Spanish teacher who had 5 classes. Her smallest was 42, and largest was 57. There weren't enough seats for 57 if they all came. Honestly, no teacher can be expected to do well in that situation. We truly failed both this teacher, and our kids for letting this happen.

    The issue of education quality and reform is complex. But we all know that the schools must be provided more resources than was the case for this teacher. That is not complicated at all.

    My concern is that we are not doing as well for our kids as our parents did for us. That is not sustainable.

  • Clifton Palmer McLendon Gilmer, TX
    June 5, 2014 7:54 a.m.

    The Federal government does not have any authority to make any law, rule, regulation, or recommendation regarding education in any State.

    When the States created the Federal government via the Constitution in the 1780s, they gave it certain specifically-named powers; then, via the Tenth Amendment, denied it all other powers.

    Nowhere in the Constitution does it give any branch of the Federal government any power to do anything regarding education.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    June 4, 2014 11:11 a.m.

    Most teachers find the kids to be more or less the same as yesteryear. Parents on the other hand are different. And I agree Frogs that parents can make a huge difference in a lot ways. But most teachers don't have issues with the students. But they are growing tired of the endless amount of bureaucratic stuff thrown their way. It is overwhelming. And only our Legislature has come up with stupid ideas like saying our government is a "Constitutional Compound Republic" (a made up term) and requiring teachers to teach it. The new evaluative instrument is 40 pages. Throwing out 300 million dollars for ipads when our teachers have 40 students in their classrooms wasn't a good idea either (some sanity made it so the bill wasn't passed but it got play and this should be concerning). Worf is frustrated by the Feds but most teachers are actually more frustrated by the Legislature, State School Board, Utah State Office of Education and their own local school district.

    I agree Frogs that people need to wake up and get involved in their local politics, especially teachers. Ultimately the people need to step up and use their power.

  • slcdenizen Murray, UT
    June 4, 2014 10:31 a.m.


    "I just wanted my kids to learn to read, write, add, subtract and look for fall leaves and cocoons."

    You present the genesis of problematic education. By inserting your prescription of a valuable education with narrow topics with which to cover, you limit the entire enterprise. We should encourage critical thought, creativity, and challenging pre-existing notions, definitely not provide our schools with a specific list of rote topics to memorize. I'm actually surprised at how poorly this is understood. Look no further than our declining educational standards and the correlation with overenthusiastic parents micromanaging educators. The solution is simple, empower teachers, pay them well, and get out of the way.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    June 4, 2014 9:49 a.m.

    As the author of the article, in my opinion, was trying to point out --- its not just one problematic source, nor is it a one solution fits all response.

    We found that we needed to home school our children. Personally, I wanted them to have the experiences I had in the public education system, but that was a few decades ago and a lot has changed. My first grader was coming home stressed - a seven year old - stressed. She was slow getting her class room work done and so rarely got to go out for recess. She was on the fast track to a breakdown. My son too - he can't sit still and was being reprimanded and punished for it. The education system, in many places, just doesn't have the resources to deal with individual students.

    I'm also seeing a growing agenda - to promote anything but traditional family values or any kind of moral responsibility. There seems to be an increasing effort to promote alternative lifestyles and to question parental authority. I just wanted my kids to learn to read, write, add, subtract and look for fall leaves and cocoons.

  • Frogs, Fish, Windmills & Dams St. George, UT
    June 4, 2014 9:31 a.m.

    I agree mostly with Howard Beal, but I don't place as much blame for the decline of teacher morale on legislators as I do on the parents. Today's parents don't do a good job of building a foundation of respect for teachers, don't ensure their students do their homework, and when the child has behavioral or learning problems, blame the teacher for the problem rather than helping their kids overcome the problem. Parents have given most of the responsibility of teaching their children values, proper behavior and respect. Such usually cannot be taught by teachers when parents lack those qualities and don't reinforce them at home. The foundation for good education is built in the home. In addition, it's kind of hypocritical to blame legislators when few vote in local elections and few of those who do vote don't know much about those they are voting for. We are expecting more and more from teachers and less and less from parents. No wonder so many teachers are unhappy in their profession.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    June 4, 2014 8:47 a.m.

    Bottom line happy teachers make the best teachers. They are the ones that will show the greatest patience with their students and parents, they are the ones that will stay after school to help their students, they are the ones that will go the extra mile.

    In all of this world of politics and legalese teachers are overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed and overworked and underappreciated and underpaid does not make happier teachers. Instead, you get tired, overwhelmed, burnt out teachers. The veteran teachers will stick it out, the new teachers with potential will leave the profession. Schools that have droves of teachers leaving and entering and leaving again will not be the best for our children.

    Now, the big question with our legislature is whether they are doing this on purpose, or are they just misguided in their approach. I think the it's more of the former unfortunately.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    June 4, 2014 8:47 a.m.

    The feds need to stay out of education. Period!

    They have made it too complex, and costly.