The PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) evaluates by examination the scholastic performance of 15 year-old students among 34 industrialized nations. The 2009 scores of reading, science and math, concludes that the United States ranks 23rd and 25th in reading and math respectively. Wait a minute! Aren’t ‘Superpowers’ usually at the helm? There are only eight countries dumber than us so, ninth from the bottom, we are lucky to be on the boat! In the grand scheme of things, we are Arkansas! (43/51 middle schools and 42/51 high schools)
No Child Left Behind what, a BULLDOZER?
The celebrated, yet widely under-screened, documentary Waiting for Superman, is an exhaustive (and exhausting) dissection of the U.S. education system, striking fear likened to Saw(s) I, II and III. How can it be that our children are not learning by no fault of their own but rather because there are no books, faculty, facilities and no one seemingly, who cares whether or not they do? These are children dying to learn.
At the other end of the spectrum, the documentary Race to Nowhere shows that some in fact are. It decries the sweeping pressures children are under to compete scholastically behind the notion that only the smartest will survive their futures. The film’s directors infer that children are pressured to perform, not necessarily learn; that they are simply masters of regurgitation. Some are literally throwing up their homework. Those that have not hanged themselves.
As parents wanting the best for our children, we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. More and more, we find ourselves flailing haphazardly in the murk of pushing them too hard or giving in too much. The fear that college may not be in our children’s future has grown beyond America’s inner-cities and is tucked in quietly on suburban pillows at night.
One thing is for certain, whatever the damage may be, I would rather be damned if I do and damned if I mess up. But, damn if I sit quietly and don’t do anything while others wager our children’s futures.
It is imperative that we stand up for our children’s education. Tomorrow is sooner than it appears so make it known that your child is our future.