I recently read an article in the Hampshire Review about dogs that attended a high school graduation. This was a relatively long-winded piece discussing the many issues of dogs attending graduation. First, let me express my feelings on this issue, keep the damn dogs home! I seriously doubt if your little canine understands that Billy Bob just spent 13 years getting at best, a mediocre education. So now that we have settled that, I would like to address a far more important issue, that is, graduation has gone to the dogs! Many people do not realize the extent of the dumbing-down that is occurring in public education. Do you realize that last year nobody failed to graduate from our local high school, Hampshire High! Your first reaction might be that this is good. Have you seen the test scores of our high school? Take the time to ask a graduating senior a few questions about math, current events or most anything. You may be lucky enough to find one who actually knows a few facts and can add two numbers together, but chances are you will be met by an empty stare and very few answers as they ignore your request to respond to someone’s text message.
It angers me when I hear people discussing such dumb things as to whether we let dogs attend graduation when the state of education has deteriorated to its current level! I listen to people complain about the grass on the football field or how many lights are left on at night at the high school or, my favorite, how much money it cost to educate our children. Come on folks, you must realize that education is what made us the most powerful country in the world! If we continue to abandon education and to dumb it down, we will be rowing to the center of a big lake and then throwing your oars overboard! We have got to get back on track by once again demanding that our children meet certain standards before we award them a high school degree. The beauty of this is it does not cost more to increase standards!
Let me add that I am not blaming any one person, program or educational theory for this mess. They, we, are all responsible! Hidden under the guise of improving self-esteem is the fact that we have forgotten what education truly is! When my children were growing up, oftentimes I had to watch as they hurt themselves or fell down because I knew that one day I would not be there to protect them from the bruising realities of life. School is very similar. The teacher teaches a concept or fact, the student attempts to learn it and then we test to see if they have learned it. Not the best system, but right now it is all we have. So what do we do with the student who can not or choose not to learn? Do we reward them and send them on their way? Surrendering to this idea is what modern schools are doing and what brought us to this level of incompetency!
In most European countries there are several tracks for students to follow based on their aptitude. If they are inclined to be a research scientist, then they are trained to be a research scientist. If they are inclined to work with their hands, then they train them in some trade. In America we encourage everyone to be a college graduate and then become upset when a large percentage of these students are not interested in attending college. This forces our drop-out rate up, frustrates teachers and students and is the main reason we have dumbed-down education to the extent it is today. We have no national plan for improving education other than to test the students until their fingers bleed at the same time binding the hands of the people who could actually make a worthwhile change; the teachers.
When I was a young teacher, I was critical of home-schooling and alternative education in our country, but based on the current state of our schools, I would encourage ALL prospective parents to find another option to educate their children. For most parents this not easy due to the cost and many other factors but it is something to think about.
So next year during graduation ceremonies you may need to watch where you step!