Solving America’s Education Problem – Back To Basics

First President Obama stated that children in America needed longer school days.

Then Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, stated (per the Philadelphia Inquirer): “Our school calendar’s based on a 19th century agrarian economy. I’m sure there weren’t too many kids in Philadelphia working in their parents’ fields this summer.”

The above statement by Duncan is true; school in America has been based on an agrarian calendar. Summer was a time for children to assist their family in the fields, harvesting, and the like.


Don’t get us wrong; we do not particularly have an issue with children attending school longer.

And it is known that there are researchers who have said that adding even short amounts to of time to a curriculum raises test scores.

What we take exception to is that the root of America’s educational crisis is not a short school day.

Witness, the United States has been on the agrarian calendar for education essentially since schools were formed (circa 1647).

Under this system and schedule, the U.S. did lead the world in education for decades and decades.

Thus, changing the school day schedule or the number of days in school is not the answer. It may help some, but it is not the answer.

What is?

Basics.

Pure and simple, the basics of education.

The Three R’s: reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

Youth today have not learned their basics. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

National test scores, as collected and averaged by the National Center for Education Statistics, show slight, only slight, increases in reading and mathematic scores in all grade levels of students tested the last four decades.

Whole word reading displaced phonics as the way to teach students to read. And, despite the fact the National Reading Panel (which reviewed over 100,000 studies on reading) states unequivocally that the use of phonics is the best way to accomplish this task, most of our students are not taught to read using phonics.


Student comprehension is low, as dictionaries, which used to be in classrooms in mass quantities, have all but disappeared from the educational scene.

The problem is not the number of hours a child spends in school.

The problem is what and how our children are being taught while they attend.

And this problem has been staring us in the face for decades.

Our youth need to be taught the basics.

Teaching those basics is the best way to halt student dropout, of which there are 3,000 students who leave school PER DAY.

“In Philadelphia, for instance, about half of all students cannot read or do math on grade level. The dropout rate hovers around 50 percent as well,” states the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Keep in mind that the National Institute of Justice reported that 85% of all juvenile offenders lack basic reading and math skills.

Food for thought.

School House ‘Pork’ Does Not Cure The Illiteracy Epidemic

There have been many articles written the past several years about earmarks for education.

While it might be argued that some may be worthwhile it appears that a majority of them could have been eliminated without any harm to educating youth in America.

Especially when one considers the epidemic of illiteracy that persists with 85% of all juvenile offenders lacking basic reading and math skills and one high school student dropping out every 29 seconds.

Does it make sense to, in one year, fund zoos in the amount of $2.7 million in the name of “education?” Do Hall of Fames for Rock and Roll, Baseball and Aviation deserve to garner over one million dollars instead of teaching students how to read?

The fact that both parties deem it worthwhile to attach billions of dollars annually in education earmarks without addressing the vital need to get American students back to basics with systematic and explicit phonics so that they are able to read proficiently is criminal.

Factually, it would cost a fraction of what “image pork” besets taxpayers.

What is meant by Image Pork?  How about Congress passing an earmark, using taxpayer dollars, in the amount of $1.9 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service or $19 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate or $2.4 million for the Lott Leadership Institute or $10 million for the Strom Thurmond Fitness and Wellness Center.

Why would any reasonable person sitting on Capitol Hill believe that their name is worth more than properly educating children in America how to read?

Education “reform” is not needed.  Political reform definitely is required.

It is time to eliminate earmarks of all nature as they are special interest in nature and burden each and every citizen with a pricetag to pay.

More importantly, it is time to ensure students in America are properly educated how to read because, as Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

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