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Whats wrong with Public Education?

Many public school systems have failed to address the gradual breakdown of classroom conduct, respect, and earning your grade. My experience especially in Portland is that the schools lack any form of behavior plan. They may have plans in place but these plans are not followed strictly or by everyone the same way. The administrators of the schools are way too laid back when it comes to kids taking education seriously.
Todays schools are attempting to educate children in the schools with very little control over student behavior and this is hurting everyone involved in public education. Poor student conduct greatly damages the positive learning environment needed for all the students to be successful. It also creates stress for teachers and administrators that should be focusing on educating not dealing with problem students all day. Students lack of focus can be attributed to a shift in youth culuture in which parents have less contol, the media markets everything to teenagers, teens have more freedom, and respect towards adults no longer has any merit. Todays kids also have more to deal with including violence, single parent homes, and poverty. This big social problem of youth culture can not be completely explained and is just something we are going to have to deal with in education. The media and breakdown of the family are things that we have very little control over. I am not going to attempt to explian culture shifts but how we might try to deal with them in public education.
Many public school systems have failed to address the gradual breakdown of classroom conduct, respect, and earning your grade. My experience especially in Portland is that the schools lack any form behavior plan. They may have plans in place but these plans are not followed strictly or by everyone the same way. The administrators of the schools are way too laid back when it comes to kids taking education seriously.
In my experience kids will follow rules more closely when they are consistant. I feel it is the administrations role to put strict rules of school conduct in place that are to be followed by everyone the same way. These rules are then expected to be strictly enforced by all of the staff. The staff must always respond to a breach of the rules and follow a consistant plan of action. This will send a message to the students that you can not skate around the rules, like they are currently doing now. I have seen this work in schools that are socioeconomically worse off than any in Portland. Students must know their expectations and be held to them with very little flexability.
Schools need to change thier image to schools are a priveldge and not a right. Students have the attitude that they deserve to be in the school even though they dont do the work and dont follow the rules. School is a place for learning not a hangout for friends. If students aren't there to learn and reufuse to improve, they should be moved to alternative programs. Most students want to stay in the normal schools. We just need to give the students a reason to work to stay in them. Students should have to work to advance. Changing the way schools are seen by students will imporove the school environment.
Todays schools are places full of distractions that do not need to be there. I see schools full of i-pods, cd players, playstation portables, makeup, CELL PHONES, cameras, and tons of other distractions that should not come through the front door of the school. Their is absolutely no educational benefit to any of these things and I dont understand why administrators allow them in their schools. I was at a school that addressed this problem with complete seriousnes. They would bag any item a student had and thier parents would have to come pick it up in the office for a fee. This stopped any distractions from coming in the school very quickly. It is not the students right to have these items. They make it very difficult to create a positive learning environment. Teachers are constantly having to stop students from sending text messages and listening to music. It is just stupid and it can be prevented.
Students in todays classrooms also feel that they need to question everything. A teacher can not be questioned by their students all the time, im talking mainly about when a teacher asks a student to move seats, be quiet, removed from class, that type of thing. That is showing a complete lack of respect for teachers. Students should not be questioning authority like that. They are just causing a classroom disruption. Students should be removed from class if they can not show a teacher the respect that they deserve. I was in a school in another state that would have a police officer give students a 60 dollar citation if they used any type of foul language towards a teacher, the ticket was for verbal abuse. This may not be fair to students from poor families but the problem stops quickly, money talks.
These are just a few of the topics on my mind for public schools right now. I may add more on the post when I have more time. I am a very liberal person but fear that the liberalization of our school rules structure is very detremental to education. I fear that if we dont curb some of these trends that the schools will continue thier downward spiral. A strict structure will ensure a positive learning environment. I know that a strict structure can sometimes limit creativity but we have to focus on the big problem right now. The quality of future graduating students is dependent on a change in mindset. I would like input on anything you think can help reverse the trend of lower quality studens coming from our schools and student behaviour becoming out of control.

spare the rod 23.Nov.2005 04:24

and spoil the child

> the big problem

What's the problem? Ipods in class? Not enough confiscation going on? Schools aren't enough like prisons?

I think you've got this website confused with some other one.

"Students in todays classrooms also feel that they need to question everything." 23.Nov.2005 07:49

Pravda or Consequences

Hey, at least they give a shit enough to ask.

The quality of our education system is a direct result of 'adults in charge'.

I agree with "and spoil the child". This is a progressive website dedicated to changing the way people think, not a neocon validation center (NVC).

another fascist voice 23.Nov.2005 08:38


This post could not be more wrong. The failure of public education is in its roots as a government entity. As a government entity it teaches lies that have to be backed up by force. A proper education would prepare kids for adult life as a fully thinking questioning skeptical human. Now all we get out of our schools are army ready blood bags that do what they are told. If not those then we get criminals that rebelled so much that they are useless in a civil society.

Last week a boy committed suicide in Oregon. He was sent home, suspended, from school the day before. He'd had issues in the past. One thing is for sure, autobot discipline like that described didn't help him and may have pushed him over the edge the morning he found the rope in the barn. It is an insane world that we're trying to push these kids into. What we need to do is teach them that there is nothing that is black and white including how they are disciplined.

A Closer Look... 23.Nov.2005 08:56


...may reveal that schools are not the loose, unstructured places you seem to portray. I believe that students do question things more now. I have seen the gradual changes in school since the 50's. Students are much different now, but that does not make them lesser quality. Back in the day, things were more strict, but students often went to school in fear. True, grades were tighter, especially in college. 'A' were rare and 'C''s more common, but that's all releative. It's how you learn that's more important. My students (college) are just as curious now as I was back in the 60's-70's. I have a 17 year old daughter who would never learn under the circumstances in which I grew up. Fortunately, she has some kick ass good teachers who keep this "at risk" girl interested and, as they say, "kill her with kindness". However, they do have strict attendance rules as wel as behavioral guidelines. It has saved her butt, whereas with the old school method she would be out on the streets.

Public School Education Does Suck, But..... 23.Nov.2005 09:34

Ben Douglass bendouglass@cheerful.com

Public school education does suck today but it is largely due to the following:

1. Scientific education being questioned and trashed by the religious right;

2. Teacher pay dropping exponentially over the last 40-years;

3. Vast increases in poverty;

4. Parental neglect due to complex reasons;

5. Social upheaval of morals, values, etc.;

6. Vast shifts of American jobs overseas, causing hopelessness;

7. American institutions unwillingness to openly embrace the rise of the new American demographic;

8. the de-liberalization of American institutions in favor of a new ultra right-wing agenda for society; and

9. The total breakdown of American society in general.

Given the above, it is surprising that kids learn at all today!

schools cannot educate 23.Nov.2005 09:47

SE progressive

There are fundamental problems with schooling that have not been addressed and continue to be overlooked even by people who study the issue closely. The idea of 'discipline' is something that shouldn't be an issue in the discussion of education. The lack of discipline indicates failures of curriculum and pedagogy. What is taught in schools is, for the most part, not really stimulating or important for students. I have empathy for the teachers who are required to teach it.

One of the fundamental problems with education as it takes place in schools is the continued acceptance of a Cartesian dualism between body and mind. Even people who study learning continue to treat learning as pushing knowledge into students' heads when research shows that learning is socially co-constructed. Learning is done with the whole body in concert with others around us. Cognition is distributed and accomplished through goal-directed actions with our fellow humans. Unfortunately, teachers in public schools are told to teach so students can pass tests which means giving them facts to memorize. But, ideally, students would learn by being mentored, by being able to try and fail and to be given more chances to try without fear of reprimand. That is how learning happens for most people outside of schools.

Discipline in classrooms is a real world issue for teachers. But for those of us who fund public schools, we should be holding politicians who implement mandatory standarized testing and testing and testing responsible for creating a system in which students hate school and need to be disciplined.

a tough call 23.Nov.2005 09:54

the solution

is probably several responses to the several problems the roller mentioned. I think the first two reponses were a little off the mark. The roller does not seem to be advocating a return to "traditional" schools - it seems like the main critique is directed at the influence of commercial media - and I would agree that the presence of the #1 culture killer is too pervasive and does not belong in schools.
If I were to advocate for school uniforms, would I be attacked for suggesting neoconservative values? That's ridiculous!
In public schools, lack of uniform dress supports classist mentality and marginalization of the poor and increases stereotyping. Now if that isn't confirming neoconservatism, I don't know what is.
Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with promoting respect for the teachers who are underpaid and underappreciated in today's world - which was another point to this post. It may be that some of the things they are teaching aren't worthwhile or are just lies but everyone should be aware that the teachers are just messengers and it's the message that needs questioning.
I can understand the roller's frustration and it's something we all should be concerned about.
These young adults will eventually become voters and participants in our communities. I've had several encounters with the most ignorant and self-absorbed young people I could ever imagine right here in Portland. It's upsetting and almost disgusting to think about what some of the commercial-media-consuming soon-to-be-adults will be contributing to our community. I think roller's point was that we need more civilized discourse and less rude behavior in public schools and I agree completely.

I agree 23.Nov.2005 11:42


Consumerism is a huge problem today and it impacts on students' abilities to focus on important issues.

simple solution 23.Nov.2005 14:32


each class should have no more than 5 students in it. teachers would get to know students individually and could better address problems as they arise, allow students to funtion more as individuals, and allow them to learn in their own way, at their own pace.

five might be a little low 23.Nov.2005 16:32

but it's better than thirty-five

I've read that somebody did a study and concluded about a dozen is the ideal class size.

Watching peers learn is part of the learning process.

not a perfect world 23.Nov.2005 17:07


I am happy to hear input from many different angles any many peoples feelings about the problems facing todays public schools. My original post was just addressing some very topical problems that could be remedied easily by the current system with a few simple changes. We need to make schools a place for a more civilized learning with mutual respect for everyone.
I am definatelly not a neo-con, conservative or the like. I just feel that that we may need to take a more aggressive approach to create the type of positive learning environment in which the majority of students can thrive in.
A think the first few posts address an opinion of an idealized situation that does not occur in our overcrowded, underfunded school systems. A completely humanistic approach with close relationships is the best for both the students and the teachers but this is not realistic in todays current public school structure. I think we need to do our best to create an environment which will work the best for the largest number of students. The current environment filled with distractions, crude behavior, and wasted time does not work. We need to remedy these problems. One of the best solutions is smaller class sizes but this is not realistic with the current tax base that supports the schools.
Blaming the government for failures of the schools is only a problem financially. Local communities have quite a bit of control on the direction they want their schools to go in comparison to other government programs. Blaming the government, teachers, or administration is just an easy answer. Almost all teachers I know care deeply about real education and letting students learn in a variety of ways. Schools have been created using many different models to address the different problems but we have not found an answer yet. I feel that most of the problems lie in the bigger picture, most of these are mentioned in the post by "ben" above. He hits all the big ones. These are the cards that are delt to public education, now how can we successfully play them? I dont think being really laid back and letting kids have a lot of freedom is the answer. I wish it was. I wish kids were interested in learning and would discover thier own interests. Todays youth are very manipulated by mass media. Most, not all, would endulge in mass media and social outlets instead of exploring more educational topics. This is where the problem lies. We need a structure that will give students the best opportunity to learn with the resources available, period. In my opinin this has to happen through student conduct and academic rigor. These areas are slowely being relaxed so much it is ineffective and only hurting the students.

Another scam to rip off the students 23.Nov.2005 19:16

Converse Murdoch umlaut@idir.net

C'mon kids get out there and sell magazines and gift wrap and try to come up with at least seven hundred dollars. Buy a video, buy some Star Wars parephenalia, and have a textbook with ads for Nike. Go home and get some more money from your parents.

This is the kind of systematic exploitation students are being subjected to by the teachers. If you treat people with disrespect you receive disrespect in return.

Roller is advocating a new plan to extort cash from a captive audience. Fuck you Roller.

Public education 24.Nov.2005 04:17


Kids are most interested in sex in the teen years. Hello?

The culture of Black Africans' musicians uses this to mesmerize with Rapp, and keep up the beat to drown out other concerns. A white minority controlling elite actually benefits from blacks underachieving, to continue their lavish lifestyles.

A history of the Rockefellers is a good place to start. Rockefeller spent millions in grants, trusts, and foundations for things like Planned Parenthood,( population black control) buying the Britanica Encyclopedia ( banning most references to the Inquisition ) and establishing new methods on teaching, which actually didn't work..

They and the other 12 most wealthy families of America are cooperating with the power hungry men who want to rule from Jerusalem, the New World Order. They are bent on destroying America and its Bill of Rights. Research Illuminati:
 link to www.planetquo.com
The trend toward earlier and eariler sexual expression has been pushed down the throats of even elementary children, and the corporation's business profits growing from making sex the goal of little kids (Barbie dolls) etc., has even entered the Supreme Court minds, in recent ruling that parents alone can't determine what's good for their kids in public schools....

Even so called harmless and funniny movies like Meet the Fookers ,promote sex, not coincidently are the Fookers Jewish, nor is the father of the bide, a CIA agent and the words used throughout telling "HiJACK"  http://planetquo.com/

Another movie, National Treasures, portrays the Free Masons as wonderful lovers of humanity. False, but the message is there.

That coupled with the wealthy bankers(private owners of the Federal reserve) control of our money is forcing Americans to work four months of the year to pay taxes for which the Middle class is getting less and less services for. Thus forcing both men and women to work, forcing children to learn the state's propoganda at an earlier age.

the best way to reform the education system 24.Nov.2005 09:06


is to arrange a major accident at your local cable tv facility.

Those things called "school" are mostly containment facilities. They also serve the lesser purpose of training kids to sit in rows, to remain silent, and to obey arbitrary commands.

The real education system is, tv, movies, music, books, advertising, infotainment, fantasy.

Yes, I said books. Every one of those could, and rarely does, provide useful information, but only rarely.

A few thoughts from abroad 25.Nov.2005 05:55


I moved to Iceland to be able to make a decent, though by no means extravagent, living as a teacher. I've found that the school system here, while doing an excellent job of avoiding the "day-care prison" aspects of American public schools, faces many of the same problems. Consumerism, and the all-encompassing media enviroment are so pervasive as to render teachers mute, at least with younger children. One very useful strategy here, which is sadly being phased out at some schools, is something called bekkurkerfi, "the class system" in which roughly twenty students go to all or most of their classes together, for the last four years of schooling. Each class has one teacher who looks out for their interests and serves as a mentor. If the students are unhappy with this mentor, they can petition for a change, which unlike in the states, is usually granted. This system gives students a feeling of community and really helps with social interaction, as well as letting students from different social groups interact.
Another very positive aspect of the Icelandic system is that while schools have gym classes, they do not sponsor or support competitive sports. My experience in American schools was sadly that funding and energy was often more focused on sport than on education. Add to this the Jocks&Cheerleaders phenomenon and it becomes a seriously wasteful and divisive element in schooling. Best to get rid of it. If students want to compete in sports, let it be outside of the school system.
Lastly, most of the schools here are not fenced off from the rest of the community, and some of the high-schools campuses are spread out throught the down town, so that the kids don't feel like their in lock-up. That, and they give them the option of "majoring" in certain areas right off the bat. Not speciallising, per se, but if one is more interested in art, then they take listabraut "the art way" and learn the usual things, but with an emphasis on art. The same is done for social sciences, poli-sci, math, etc. It makes a huge difference in keeping the students interested and focused.
In alot of ways, the system over here reminds me of the one espoused by....crap, forgot his name, but the book is called "A Pattern Language", and is very worth reading.

Schools:) 30.Jan.2006 11:33

Carrie cawilco@yahoo.com

So many people have different theories and ideas and they all sound good-Here are my thoughts on the subject as I am a teacher and parent and see the problems:

1. Classes are to large for one person to sainly manage.
2. Teachers are given a curriculum to follow and are losing the ability to just teach-creatively- the curriculum often is drills and paperwork which has no relevance to the real world..
3. low pay is attracting low quality.
4. People making decisions on education are not in the classroom and have no idea what is going on.
5. Cuts in important subjects like the arts- which allows children to think creatively and express themselves as individuals.
6. Their needs to be a bridge built between parents, teachers and the community as to how the school can best fit the children of that area.
7. Wasted resources

Education 09.Feb.2006 16:00


I think the author makes some good points, But i think it ges beyond just the students, we need to make learning the important part, not just going to school, Too many srudents feel they are deserving of rewards for very little effort. Theis has been seen in the workplace with younger workers in the last couple decades also. We focused so much in the last decade on students self esteem and building it up, we forgot to allow them to earn it. There are too many distractions in life, and in the home. It will take parents and society to decide that learning and education is more important than ipods and the latest movie,
I think schools should have extras like the arts, and Music, but we have to remember that that is extra, that first you need to read and learn math and history and science, and then you can play, I am not talking about serious study of music or art as in some schools, or the use of art to teach at the early elementary grades but time to paint with no educational purpose for the painting is a waste of time.
I think too we need to set the bar higher, kids will work harder and they will reach higher standards if they are set for them and set early on in education.
Too often in This country we are afraid to Fail a student.
Just like the real world or a job or career, you have to do your job, and put in the time and work required, We need to put those same expectations on the students.

whats the real problem 26.Jun.2006 01:16

- andrea

A school does not speak it does not feel it just reflects on its students. Every school is good in the first place is just the way we students make the school. If my school for example had more rules, but real rules(strict) that students would follow then it would be diffrent but its not. Theres is no more respect as much as for teachers and the property look at the way we keep our books they are tagged written by who else... us. School is our home we pretty much spend there half of our day. We should respect it but instead Little by little we are destroying it.