Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Teacher-Student Ratio Alibi

Please take a moment to note the above photo of a typical 60's elementary school classroom.  Anyone notice that there are 25 kids in this class...and one teacher..and no "teachers aide".  How is this even possible?  How can one teacher hope to educate 25 kids alone?  How could he or she teach without the aid of modern multi-media or computers?    How is it possible that this generation of kids scored higher on national achievement tests and SAT scores than any time in our history?

Moreover, how did a single teacher manage to turn out students with nearly a hundred percent literacy in reading comprehension when only 60 percent of today's high school graduates cannot read at the 12th grade level?  How did this single teacher steer these students to competency in math and science?

Today's teacher unions do not want you to know this.  They insist that when the teacher-student ratio goes beyond 15-1 it becomes literally impossible to teach any of their students, even with those teachers aides, computers and fancy media machines.

And they may be right.

The difference between today's students and those you see in the photo are notable.  Those 60's kids, stood up and pledged allegiance to the flag to begin their school day.  Most of them were well rested and had not stayed up till midnight watching Glee and finishing off their evening on Facebook and a playing video games.

Most of those kids were fit because they played outside often.  They were given a recess every couple of hours, at which time they engaged in volleyball, dodge ball, tether ball, then returned to the classroom sweaty but calm, having released from the tension of study.  Those kids were largely fit because fast food was a hamburger and fries once a week.  The 20 percent of adult onset diabetes that plagues today's kids did not exist then.

If the kid acted up in class then he or she was sent to the principal for corporal punishment, then sent home to the parents for further discipline.  When behavior problems were persistent, or if the student's academic effort was questionable, the parents would hear about these deficiencies during the quarterly Parent-Teacher conferences.  If a teacher proved deficient that teacher would be the subject of highly attended PTA meetings.  Today the PTA is ineffective because parents no longer care enough to attend the meetings.

The decline in quality of our children's education is staggering.  40% of kids today drop out of school before finishing high school.  According to college entrance exams an astounding 60% of kids who finish high school and go on to college require remedial reading and writing classes to meet basic minimum college requirements.

The heavily politicized teachers unions will tell you that we're not spending enough money on education. However, it is a fact that the U.S. spends more on education that any nation on earth.  Remarkably, as education has declined, the funding per pupil has increased over 1,000 percent since the 60's!

Thanks to my first grade teacher I can still add 2 plus 2 and know it equals 4.  And, for anyone who honestly looks at today's education problems it is equally clear that parent involvement, parental discipline and teacher accountability are essential if little Johnny or Jill are ever going to read and write.  It is equally clear that throwing more money at the problem solves nothing.

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