Some problems today with our public schools

Even though there is a big ripple going through our country that our schools are in trouble, there are still many parents who believe in our schools, and that their children will still get an education by attending them.  Let’s look at some problems with our schools today.


There is a growing trend among our children in this country that violence, rudeness, bad behavior and attitudes are “cool”.  This is reinforced by many parents who behave the same way as their children do – or simply look the other way.  Our movie industry, video industry and music industry all attest to this by the huge profits they make from products that contain these behaviors.  It is not common to find nonviolence in any of these industries.  Plus, the movie industry and TV portray disrespect and rudeness.  Kids nowadays find that any movie, TV program or music that does not portray these behaviors and attitudes are for sissies or are boring – basically, “uncool”.  And to reinforce this even more, parents also like these movies, programs, music and videos.

Our schools, of course, are full of these kids.  It is the “norm” in our schools, not the exception any more.  Sexuality is also another characteristic that has become the norm in our schools – especially for middle- and high-school girls.  Fashion is one thing – whether those of us in the older generation like it or not – but we’re talking about bare midriffs, half a girl’s bottom showing, breasts being very exposed, and lots of seductive make-up.  The fashions for girls have also become very sexy – slinky, whatever you want to call it.  Some are beautiful (in my opinion) but are not made for little girls, and I’ve seen many elementary (K-6) school girls wearing these, too.  But the fashion industry is making these clothes, and (again, in my opinion) encouraging this.  The parents also encourage this by allowing their children to dress this way and buy these clothes.

Drugs are also prevalent on many school campuses, even at the elementary school level.


With the laws that we now have in place, our teachers and administrators of our schools really have their hands tied.  There is only so much they can do.  There is no more being sent to the principal’s for a swat; there is no more dunce cap; there is no more being put in the corner facing the wall.  These are all “abusive” tactics.  A teacher can put a child in time-out, but that child cannot face the wall – the child still has to be “included” as part of the class.  A teacher cannot isolate a child from the classroom; it will “hurt the child’s self-esteem”.

I have seen some very disruptive kids where the principal has to call the parents to come pick up their child from school.  And I have seen those kids wait in the office or principal’s office the entire day until the parent or parents decide to pick up their child.  I have also witnessed children running off campus, with the principal and/or teacher running after the child, and the parents still do not come.

I have not only witnessed, but heard from teachers and principals alike that when a parent is asked to help with the behavior of their child in school, that the parent says, “It’s your problem, not mine.”

Yes, there are many positive reinforcement tactics that a teacher can use, but there are a growing number of children who just do not respond to them.  They simply could care less.  (“You won’t be able to go on the field trip.”  “So?”)

Classroom and Teachers

I must really say that I really feel sorry for teachers today.  Between discipline, no parent cooperation and now we’ve got that "No Child Left Behind Act” thrown at those poor teachers, you've simply got nothing left of a "teacher" any more.  The teacher has now become a bureaucrat and a statistician -- and their jobs are at risk if the statistics in their classroom do not meet the required statistics of that Act for the year.  In other words, they have to teach to The Test, not teach the children.  And the kids have become a statistic now, too.  It's pathetic.  There’s barely enough time to teach any more.  It's all about The Test.

Of course, there's more to the problem of our failing schools than that, but that's a biggie right now for the teachers.  Another biggie I find: the behavior of "mainstream" kids is so gross nowadays, and I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the parents for that.  Teachers and administrators (principals) can only do so much within the law to grapple with these kids.  And those kids end up taking up most of the time in the classroom, thus taking the time away from the kids who do want to learn.  And lots of times the kids who suffer the most are the ones who need the extra attention.

Yes, crowded classrooms make it difficult, but that has never stopped good teachers from being able to teach well.  Teachers' and administrators' nerves are strung too tight nowadays to be able to do even a mediocre job.

Remember the one-room schoolhouses?  Many of those were not small, and the teacher was not only teaching to different learning abilities, but also to different ages.  So I disagree to some extent about how many kids are in a class.

In my humble opinion, teaching is an art.  There are as many ways of teaching as there are different types of artists.  And many teachers were "called" to teach or have a "passion" to teach.  They love working with kids.  It's a creative endeavor.  But just like anything else in our society, there are bad apples in the lot, too -- of course.

Where I see the problem with our public schools is the "institution".  Teachers and administrators alike are now dictated to about what they can and cannot do or teach in the classroom.  There is very little room for creative teaching any more.

With the No Child Left Behind Act it's become increasingly so.  This is also compounded by the current behavior of kids and their parents nowadays.  So many parents look at school as a babysitter.  And so many parents do not correct bad behavior -- and/or think rude and bad behavior is okay and normal (“cool”).  Teachers and administrators (principals) can only do so much within the law to grapple with these kids.  And those kids end up taking up most of the time in the classroom, thus taking the time away from the kids who do want to learn.  And lots of times the kids who suffer the most are the ones who need the extra attention.

School districts decide on the curriculum and even decide on the way to teach and to discipline.  In our district, we use the Open Court curriculum and the Baldridge method of teaching/disciplining (as I understand this program).  Between these two factors alone, the teachers have it really rough, and the ones who suffer in the end are the kids.  There is just no room or time any more; it’s sink or swim for the kids.  The teachers are now there to just follow a script.

So when I hear or read that the teacher doesn’t have time for a child because there’s too many kids in the classroom or that the teacher has a short temper – yes, I agree – but I also understand where the teacher is coming from.

I am just SO THANKFUL that we have the option of teaching our kids at home now – to take them out of that environment, to cater and create to their learning styles, and to make sure they ARE learning.  We have the CHOICE now.