America Does Not Value Education

We, as a country, do not value education.  At least those who represent us, who by the way we all voted into power, do not value education.  The irony here is good luck getting a decent job with benefits without, at a bare minimum, a college degree.

Our corporations value education immensely, but as a country we do not finance education.  Each year more and more money is stripped away from public education and the burden to pay for education is pushed to the local level.  Districts are only as good as their population, land value and socio-economic status can afford to bear in taxes.  Unfortunately for me, I’m in Texas (from an education point of view only because otherwise I love being a Texan).

Most within the dyslexia community know the trouble the state has been in for failing our dyslexic population over the last 15 years with an illegal cap on special education identification and refusing dyslexia across the board, but let’s take that a step further.

According to NAEP, The National Assessment of Educational Progress, Texas doesn’t have a lot to brag about when it comes to general education.

https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/profiles/stateprofile?chort=1&sub=WRI&sj=AL&sfj=NP&st=MN&year=2002R3

Complicate this further by my state’s fanaticism about the state assessment tool, the STAAR.  There are endless reasons why this assessment will never actually measure a child’s success in learning (which I’ll explore in another separate post), but the state of Texas insists this is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Recently I heard rumor that our glorious right honorable head of the TEA made the statement that he can only guarantee 60% of the students who actually go to college from public school in Texas will be able to graduate.  Please note I have not attempted to confirm this statement and have no desire to because frankly, if it is true, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

But, focusing on NAEP’s results, let me clarify some of those scores just a little more.

In mathematics for 2017, Texas had a score of 241.  The national mean was 239.  West Virginia was 236 and Arkansas was 234.  I am comparing against WV and AR because they are two of the poorest and most rural states in the country.

In reading for 2017, Texas had a score of 215.  The national mean was 221.  West Virginia was 217 and Arkansas was 216.  Both of those states scored better than Texas.  Now you’ll love this.  In 2015, for reading, the story was quite different.  Texas had a score of 218.  West Virginia was 216 and Arkansas was 218.  So WV improved, AR slipped 2 and Texas slipped 3.

In two years, Texas declined in their reading scores.

NAEP5

Having fun yet?  Are you getting angry yet, I mean, more angry than you already were?

And of course you know where the US ranks in education.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/15/u-s-students-internationally-math-science/

US Scores.PNG

And I’m sure many of you have heard the rumors that US prisons use 3rd grade reading scores to determine the number of prison beds they will need in ten years times.  Fortunately, this is not true.

https://readingpartners.org/blog/do-prisons-use-third-grade-reading-scores-to-predict-the-number-of-prison-beds-theyll-need/

There is however strong evidence on the pipeline to prison.

https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/local/dyslexia-found-in-high-numbers-in-prisoners/289-565432758

“A study found that 80 percent of inmates in the Huntsville, Texas, state prison were functionally illiterate, and 48 percent of those were dyslexic.”

If that doesn’t knock you completely out of your chair, well, then I give up.

We have an educational crisis on our hands in this country, plain and simple.  Common Core is an unmitigated disaster.  Don’t get me started on Whole Language, which is equally as awful, because this is the very essence of Whole Language:

Garfield.PNG

(Image: Copyrighted and owned by Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield)

We should only be educating our children with EVIDENCE based programs, NOT RESEARCH based programs.  If you taught all K-3 with the same approach (and Orton-Gillingham method) to reading and language that you use with a dyslexic child, all children would benefit.

If we refocused on our moral obligations and valued our children in this country the way they should be valued, education would not be defunded year after year.

Education should be this country’s #1 fiscal priority.  If we valued education we would value our teachers too and only invest in evidence based programs and assessments for all subjects, in all grades.  It is not education’s role to teach values, morals, political dogma, etc., that is the role of the family.  It is also not education’s role to override parental authority or to subvert the role of family within the child’s life.

While our children are not constitutionally entitled to literacy (according to the latest court decision), they are legally entitled to a free public education.  As a country we should be morally and legally bound to provide the best education we can to our children, each and every one of them, individually.

If we valued education, funded it, and paid our teachers (and they deserve 6-figures at a minimum) then education as a degree as a whole would be akin to graduating with an engineering, medical or legal degree.  Only the best of the best would be hired.  We would value our teachers at the societal level by which they need to be valued, and they would desire to do all within their power to help our children be the best they can possibly be.

Think of the ramification such ideals would have on our society, our economy.

Until that day though, education is poorly regarded, not valued, not honored and certainly not funded, and we as the parents of the discarded, must stand and fight for our children’s rights to an education.

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