You may have seen the ads on T.V. lately for ‘Strong American Schools’. I got curious about them and decided to see what the whole thing is about.
Below is one of their ads in case you haven’t seen it – “One Nation Left Behind”:
- 70% of eighth graders are not proficient in reading—and most will never catch up.
– Every year, more than 1.2 million students drop out of high school.
– Compared to students in 30 industrialized countries, American 15 year olds ranked 25th in math and 21st in science. Even America’s top math students rank 25th out of 30 when compared with top students across the globe.
If you go to www.strongamericanschools.org – the url they use in the ad, it redirects you to a page on the greatschools.net site. The site EDin08 also shows up in searches and is apparently somehow related. Wikipedia says:
“Strong American Schools, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is a nonprofit organization supported by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that seeks to promote sound education policies for all Americans. Through its “ED in 08″ information and nonpartisan advocacy campaign, it seeks to inspire a debate about America’s schools and to make education a top priority in the 2008 presidential election. “
At any rate the site has a page where you can research and compare schools across the country. They also have a community where you can sign up and have an account and ask questions, etc. A bunch of articles to read – there’s a lot and they look like they are pretty good and useful – about all sorts of topics related to schools and kids. The site provides quite a few other resources and tools also.
Obviously the state of American schools is a big problem, and their ads are rather effective I thought – got my attention anyway! The stated goal of the campaign is:
to achieve nationwide debate on education reform during which every presidential candidate addresses three priorities for improving education:
- Agreeing on American education standards
- Providing effective teachers in every classroom
- Giving students more time and support for learning
Hopefully they will be able to meet those goals. And of course we need a president that is really committed to improving our educational system, but it will take much more than that. And much more than better schools.
Parents and, our society in general, really need to take education more seriously.
Parents who care are already involved and will stay that way. But how do you reach those who don’t care? Their kids will still struggle.
And how do you change a whole society? Being good at sports can’t be ‘cooler’ than getting good grades. TV needs to be replaced with books. Curiosity and critical thinking skills need to be cultivated in our youth (and our adults!) instead of blind adherence to authority and superstition.
How do you do that when most people are too busy and overwhelmed to even think about picking up a book? When the example many kids see is parents who would rather go out and drink or sit and watch TV rather than interact with their kids? When our popular media is filled with reality shows and the latest gossip on celebrities rather than documentaries and articles about science, etc.?
Until there is some real change in the way our whole society functions – our kids aren’t going to be doing much better than they are now. Kids with parents who are responsible – will do well. But a large percent of our population will still struggle.
Am I being too pessimistic? What do you think? Do you think this campaign will make any difference? What do you think should be done?
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