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National Education Association

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

Problems in American Education

I read a poll that found nearly half of Americans under 30 believe Socialism to be as good as Capitalism. There is a direct correlation in the results of the poll to age. The older one is in America the more likely to favor Free Enterprise—Capitalism. Why would this be?

There are problems in American education. It has to do with the aims of those in control of our Public School System. This article will explore some of those aims.



John Dewey

"The Father of Modern Education" was John Dewey, a Communist, an Atheist, a leader of a teachers union, and a signer of the Humanist Manifesto.

This declaration called for Humanism to become the new religion of America as a replacement for the fables of Christianity, which it calls powerless, insignificant, and backward. It specifically states that there is no God; rejects the supernatural; worships science; and states that religious worship and churches should be eliminated. Humanism opposes Capitalism; favors Communism.

In 1983, Humanist Magazine featured an article that boasted: "The battle for mankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom. The classroom must and will become the arena of conflict between the old and the new, the rotting corpse of Christianity and new faith of humanism."

Or as Obama's best friend Bill Ayres said in 2006, "Education is the motor-force of revolution."



National Education Association

The National Education Association (NEA) is the largest union in America. They represent public school teachers and university faculty, as well as support personnel in those institutions. These are the people entrusted with molding the minds of our children.

The NEA claims to be non-partisan but—in keeping with their core tenet of the relativism of truth—that is not true. The teacher's union consistently backs leftist ideology including same-sex marriage. The NEA has never backed a Republican candidate for president. Their contributions to political campaigns are almost exclusively to Democrats.

They have also helped fund the Gay and Lesbian Alliance. The NEA plans to change public opinion of homosexuality through the indoctrination of our children that heterosexuality is not the norm—moral equivalency. To quote Bill Ayres, "Queering Elementary Education is an important contribution to nourishing the ethical heart of teaching." "Presumed heterosexuality is an artifact of oppression."

Along with this has come the deliberate feminization of boys, exemplified by recommending Ritalin for male children who act like real boys. Boys are in trouble because of this horrifying social engineering. Girls today are twice as likely to pursue a professional career. The teacher's union favors feminine behavior—wants to make boys into little girls—and boys suffer a disconnect from themselves.



What Is Social Justice?

What is Social Justice? It's a euphemism for Socialism or even Communism.

As usual for leftists, well trained by Lenin and Alinsky, Social Justice does not mean what its words mean. It is an ideology that believes that all people in our country should have equal resources, i.e., income and assets—equal outcomes to their lives regardless of unequal contributions to society.

This involves teaching children that if any people have attained more wealth than others, it is the result of oppression—injustice. "Teaching for Social Justice" is required by teacher credentialing programs.



Moral Relativism

The teacher's union subverts the American Way of Life by teaching our children Moral Relativism. This is an ideology that posits there is no such thing as truth.

This is diametrically opposed to the highest goal of education: the search for truth. And educators don't really believe in this theory. They are quick to point out the moral failings of America.

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What moral relativism really is then is the denial that our children should have any personal morality, which has been replaced by a focus of societal morality. There are many social indicators that demonstrate the destruction caused by moral relativism. If all ideas are right then none are.



Multiculturalism at School

The NEA has been at the forefront in promoting multiculturalism in public schools. This contradicts one of the greatest American traditions: assimilation.

Rather than America achieving unity in its societal values and culture; multiculturalism teaches that the American Way is no better than any other, and in fact is probably worse. It teaches that all cultures are equal—that putting a bone through one's nose is of equal value to putting a man on the moon.

This leads to some black kids persecuting good students for "acting white" or "talking white." Many have a pitiful grasp of the English language. And it leads to white kids turning their backs on their awesome heritage—a little something known as civilization—to emulate dysfunctional cultures, as witnessed by the "wiggers" phenomena.



Self Esteem Curriculum

The focus of public school education has been diverted from the learning of knowledge, wisdom, and truth—to "Self Esteem." Honor rolls and spelling bees are going the way of the dinosaur. Competition and achievement is frowned upon and if prizes are awarded, they must be given to all kids in a group.

Honors classes, designed so the brighter students could learn more, have been discontinued at most schools because the vast majority of the kids who qualified for them were white. We can't have that. We'd rather have them bored to tears in remedial classes with everybody else.

Constructive criticism has been replaced with undeserved praise. This underrates the importance of effort. 200 studies have shown that the Self Esteem Movement in education has yielded zero positive results. In fact, the opposite is true. It has spawned a generation of narcissists who face every choice with "it's my life!" If they fail in life it must be because "society" is oppressive.

What should be taught is personal responsibility. The Self Esteem Movement has given a generation the freedom to be fools.




The NEA promotes identity politics. Instead of working for the betterment of America, one works for the benefit of oneself or the group to which one belongs. The only group disbarred from participation in identity politics is white males. Any other group is conditioned to see themselves as victims of oppression, with the resultant boulder on the shoulder that one can see all around us.

For the white kids is reserved the NEA doctrine of White Guilt—making them ashamed of who they are. I don't think that is good for their Self Esteem. But it serves the leftist goal of leveling down the achievers.



Political Correctness

Political Correctness is an enormous part of the NEA agenda for your children. The term "Founding Fathers" is now banned in some schools because it is not gender neutral.

Any classroom discussion of art, literature, music, technology, inventions, or civilization must include an equal number of achievements by all racial groups and genders. A history textbook therefore thanks the American Indians for their contribution to the United States Constitution, which is make believe.

Political Correctness offers harsh penalties for free speech and the right to think for yourself. Many do not know that this doctrine originated with Vladimir Lenin and was a favorite of Mao—Cultural Marxism. George Orwell would be surprised that America has become the home of the Thought Police.



Teaching Tolerance

"Tolerance" is the goal of much of this idiocy. There is nothing as intolerant as Tolerance. Supposedly it means refraining from forcing your views on others or judging them for their actions. But as we have observed, many of these other tenets held by the leftists of the teacher's union are all about not tolerating views or speech outside the leftist canon.

Conservative people or Christians must tolerate the views of the radical socialist but their views are not given the same treatment. In fact, they are singled out for intolerance above all others. Boy Scouts may not use a classroom to meet after school unless they tolerate homosexuals; but homosexuals are not expected to tolerate Boy Scouts.

Tolerance theory has now gone so far over the edge, that to be against anything the Left is for is to hate. If you don't agree with me—you hate me. And you're a racist bigot.



Dead White Males

Along with this is the NEA mandate to ignore Dead White Males as much as possible. Go ahead and use that Bill of Rights; our legal system; clean water system; sanitation; roads; automobiles; trains; airplanes; medicine; irrigation; health care; electricity; telephones; refrigeration; air conditioning; agriculture; social safety net; personal freedom and liberty—but don't tell kids how it all got here. By all means, don't read the Great Books of Western Thought.

Allow me to quote Allan Bloom from his book The Closing of the American Mind, "The relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate, and it is the modern replacement for the inalienable natural rights that used to be the traditional American grounds for a free society. As it now stands, students have powerful images of what a perfect body is and pursue it incessantly. But deprived of literary guidance, they no longer have any image of a perfect soul, and hence do not long to have one. They do not even imagine that there is such a thing."



American History Textbooks

The indoctrination of our children with leftist ideology is complete with the usual anti-Americanism. Children are taught that the famines and starvation in Africa are the fault of America; not their own pitiful, utterly corrupt rulers. Children are not told that American citizens give more money to Africa, and volunteer more time, than the rest of the world combined—or anything else flattering about our nation.

The history of America is portrayed as a long story of oppression and injustice—not as the greatest nation in the history of the Earth. It is certainly not a place with any values worth fighting for or that children should feel damn lucky to live in. The only taboo in public school education is Traditional Values.



Anti Christian Indoctrination

Christianity is shunned and Christians are routinely discriminated against. Meanwhile, public schools go out of the way to accommodate Muslim children. The Koran is called the revealed word of God; Christianity and Judaism are called claims or beliefs. Jesus is described in one sentence: He was a Palestinian—a word not invented until the 20th Century.

The leftists in charge might want to paraphrase Diderot: "Let's strangle the last rich person in America with the guts of the last preacher."

In one 30 page section about the Pilgrims in a Social Studies textbook, Christianity is not mentioned once. American History is presented devoid of Christianity. Not one word is written about motherhood being important; not a word about immigrants coming to this country and achieving the American Dream; and the only men written about as role models are liberals.

History textbooks hardly mention Abraham Lincoln or George Washington. Instead, they go on and on about the oppression of minorities, women and the poor. American History has been revised to paint America as a villain. Democracy is not written about much.

A teacher's union official stated, "There are still a lot of people who take the view that we're being too chauvinistic if we say democracy is superior."




Then the coup de grace: Darwinism. The schools insist on teaching the Theory of Evolution as if it were fact—which it is not—and plenty of students have been publicly ridiculed for disagreeing. Kids do not want to be humiliated in front of other kids. This we know.

They teach our children that they are primordial slime and nothing more. This is quite a contrast from the Biblical truth that our children are the very Image of God.

I can't help but think this trumps all that Self Esteem training. And it makes killing unborn babies so much easier if they are merely a random accident and clump of cells, rather than an immortal creature made by a Creator with a plan and a purpose—and a Judgment Day.



Problems in American Education

By concentrating on all this nonsense, in lieu of teaching children to learn, Americans now trail far behind Europe and Asia by every measure of scholastic achievement, especially in math and science, despite spending far more than any other country on our schools.

Only 41% of a student's day is spent on basic academics. Students in Japan and Germany spent 250% more classroom hours on basic academics every year—while Americans are in sensitivity training—and are assigned three times the homework. Instead of holding back children who need remedial help, everybody must pass, leading to a dumbing down of the curriculum for everybody.

America has seen a 50% drop in the number of students who score over 700 on the SAT verbal test in the last 45 years—back to exactly when the teacher's union rose to power through changes in state laws regarding collective bargaining.

The top 5% of our students are matched academically by 50% of those in Japan. In algebra and calculus, the Japanese and the Chinese double our academic success. 25% of our high school graduates can barely read their diplomas.

There is an appalling lack of understanding history, knowing geography, having the ability to write above a minimal level. The teacher's union comes up with all kinds of excuses for this dismal failure, none of which hold water. The teaching methods and theories, and the union itself, are the problem. And this is ruining the minds of future generations.



National Education Association Protects the Worst Teachers

An article in the New Yorker magazine dated 8/31/2009, describes how over 600 teachers in New York City who have been suspended for malfeasance, sit around playing cards or sleeping for years at a "Temporary Reassignment Center" while receiving full pay (over $100,000 a year) and benefits (including a lifetime pension at 50% of salary).

They are protected by their union. "One school principal has said that Randi Weingarten, of the teachers’ union, 'would protect a dead body in the classroom.'"

98% of all teachers are given tenure (a job for life) after three years, after which it is nearly impossible to fire them. Joel Klein, city schools chancellor, says, "Tenure is ridiculous. You cannot run a school system that way. The three principles that govern our system are lockstep compensation, seniority, and tenure. All three are not right for our children.”

An appeal of a suspension costs the city about $400,000. The union contract requires 700 to 800 excess teachers be paid full salary even though they are not needed—costing the taxpayers perhaps $100,000,000 per year!

The article says, "These teachers, who have been on the reserve rolls for at least nine months, have refused to take another job (in almost half such cases, according to a study by the New Teacher Project, they have refused even to apply for another position) or their records are so bad or they present themselves so badly that no other principal wants to hire them. The union contract requires that they get paid anyway."








A recent study concluded Our schools are indifferent to instructional effectiveness.

The union contracts are riddled with senseless work rules. New York City spends $200,000 per classroom, yet leftists constantly complain that lack of money is the problem.

Incompetent teachers should be fired, like any other job (except other union jobs, of course).

Charter schools outperform public schools significantly, using traditional teaching methods—not the progressive programs still favored by the ideologues running our educational system despite a track record of zero success.

The biggest reason young teachers quit is because all that sensitivity and social justice training did nothing to prepare them for the terrible behavior of the coddled students.

One solution is vouchers for parochial or other private schools—which naturally the union is vehemently against because they are not about the kids, they are about the teachers.

In New York, Catholic Schools graduate 90% of their minority students in urban neighborhoods—versus 50% in the public school, beholden to the union, up the street. But Catholic schools are closing rapidly. In The City they have room for 15,000 failing students right now. Vouchers could save a lot of kids.

The Catholic schools save a lot of taxpayer money, too, spending $7,000 per student per year versus $20,000 per student at the public school. So, they do twice as good a job for 1/3 the money!? Yes! They do.

Shouldn't parents have a right to save their children from a life of poverty? One would think that leftists, who never run out of things people have a "right" to, would agree. But not compared to their love for unions. As Karl Marx said, "Unionism is the first step to Communism." We can't remove that sacred step, no matter who gets hurt.

When I read that young people think Socialism is a good idea, or that it is fine for the government to take over health care, banking, insurance, manufacturing; to set wages, and in the future implement Central Planning and Collectivism, I am not angry with them. How could I be? They don't know any better.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on July 18, 2011:

WesternHistory— Your name is my favorite subject! Welcome to the Hub Pages Community. I look forward to reading your articles.

Your remarks are outstanding! I enjoyed reading your thoughtful insights and I agree with you wholeheartedly. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

WesternHistory from California on July 15, 2011:

There is no question that our American school system is inadequate in providing a satisfactory learning experience. Like most things, it's more than just one issue. Teacher unions and the resultant teachers who really don't teach or in some cases don't enjoy teaching. It's also very difficult to replace an unsatisfactory teacher mostly due to the unions. Add to that what the media puts out everyday which is basically junk and violence and it's quite hard indeed to educate the young. It's not what it was decades ago and it truly seems to be getting worse year after year.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 15, 2011:

sbetz— The tactics of the teachers unions are very socialistic. Christian schools are great, and the students that graduate from them are highly successful. You learn the same knowledge but with wisdom added in; and without the indoctrination of the Secular Humanist worldview.

If we can bust the grip of the teachers unions and the progressive educators, we can have the best schools in the world in America. Otherwise, schools need to be privatized.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 15, 2011:

sbetz— I am sorry to read of your great misfortune. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I appreciate the visit and your comments.

sbetz on March 14, 2011:

in regards to above statement it seems to me that these tactics are very socialistic.what can be done to give some sort of dignity back to public schools?being a student of the 1970s,my best time in school was two years in a christian school in daytona beach.i only think that it will get worse with schools rather than better.the socialist snake has a pretty tight grip.

sbetz on March 14, 2011:

having been a custodian in the public school system i know all too well how it is. was injured on job in late 90s.they denied i was injured at all. i decided i would take matter to court.(i had back surgery on this non existant injury and still suffer from pain to this day.)members of the njea have tried defamation of character against me and have been quite successful at it.i am sure it is not the first time they have done this to a person.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 03, 2011:

MrHunter— You are welcome. Thank you very much for that link, my friend. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community. I read your article and it is quite good.

MrHunter from Highway 24 on March 03, 2011:

I linked this hub to my take on Waiting for Superman. I'm sure some regard your work as a treasure. Thank you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 16, 2011:

You have a point there, that my experiences have been instrumental in forming who I am, for better or for worse. And yes, the accumulation of sins does indeed humble the hubristic. I am learning every day, my friend.

What do you think about determinism, or fate? Do you believe in coincidence? Better yet: Is God ever surprised?

Rod Martin Jr from Cebu, Philippines on January 15, 2011:

And yet, could you appreciate the current "you" any better without that experience?

Sometimes our past sins can help us gain new humility, if we let them. There are so many things yet to learn.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 11, 2011:

lone77star— You are welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

My book is a history of America during my lifetime (1955-2010). I have kicked around several titles but have not found the "one." My book is sort of an apology for my participation in the Woodstock Generation, which I see as wreaking havoc on our great nation. :D

Rod Martin Jr from Cebu, Philippines on January 09, 2011:

James, this is a real eye-opener. Shakes up some gray cells.

You mentioned to SirDent that you're working on a book. Writing one? Can you share the title?


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 02, 2011:

SirDent— I had not thought of doing a Hub on the Humanist Manifesto. If you do it, let me know. If you don't, I will make a point to do so in the future. Not right now though, I have to get back to my book and finish it this time. I may not be publishing any Hubs until I do. Then I'll be back.

There is a conspiracy. Google "The Frankfort School" and "Cultural Marxism." :D

SirDent on January 01, 2011:

Interesting. Have you ever thought of doing a hub on the Humanist Manifesto?

I sense a conspiracy that has been going on for ages. I recall when israel asked for a king and God gave them one. He knew they would be sorry for asking for one. I see that we in the US did the same thing.

Maybe 100 years or so ago, we decided we wanted to be like other naitons, mainly Great Britain and other European nations.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 27, 2010:

Jason R. Manning— I am grateful and encouraged to receive your warm words, my friend. Your Hubs are outstanding, too. Thank you for fighting the good fight. I appreciate the visit and the comments.

Jason R. Manning from Sacramento, California on September 26, 2010:

Hi James,

What a wonderful and lively conversation your hubs present. I suppose at this point all I can contribute is hope in small corners of America that there are 30 and under citizens who are raising conscientious, conservative children. We are studying our founding fathers, looking to put right some wrongs foisted upon us by our universities. Great teachers like you will not have worked for naught. Please know your diligence will be duly rewarded and is not falling on deaf ears or blind eyes.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on July 12, 2010:

Doodlebird— That's OK, the situation with the NEA hasn't changed any. Thank you for your kind compliments. I greatly appreciate the quote you provided. I'll research it and add it to my book. I have a chapter devoted to the public schools debacle. In fact it is the chapter I am presently working on. I'll come over and read your education Hubs soon. I think homeschooling is wonderful!

Doodlebird on July 12, 2010:

Hi - I see I've arrived here a little late :) but this is an important topic. Sometime I'll have to go back and read all the comments. But, well done on the hub - lots of important points.

Anyway, I've been a homeschooling mom for over 10 years and I've been reading a lot on the history of education lately. I think one of the most revealing statements made by an NEA Executive Director prior to WWII was that his organization expected "to accomplish by education what dictators in Europe are seeking to do by compulsion and force."

The reality is that our government system was never designed to allow the masses to become scholars and leaders. Instead, it mainly educates people enough to maintain a manageable workforce. The story is both fascinating and alarming.

I've written a couple of hubs on government and homeschooling realities. I haven't gotten much of a response except for the loss of a few followers. Guess my points are tough to swallow.

Anyway, keep up the great hubs.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 15, 2010:

Kaie— You might.

Kaie Arwen on May 15, 2010:

Might I say "ouch!" ?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 13, 2010:

Peggy W— I hear ya! There is nothing worse than heaping praise on kids for nothing. In many activities they still give out gold stars—but only if ALL participants get one. Just for breathing I guess. As if that's an accomplishment.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 12, 2010:

As far as building self esteem...back in my early school days...IF WE EARNED IT!...a red star sticker (and even better) a gold star sticker was affixed to our paper assignments. THAT was always a proud moment to receive one. Kids seemed to take more pride in receiving good grades and there was no such thing as being passed to the next grade unless one met certain criteria.

Times have certainly changed...and not for the better with regard to educating our kids, I'm afraid.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 12, 2010:

Peggy W— I agree with you, dear. The kids are passed through—because it would hurt their self-esteem to be held back. They can't do simple math—that's for sure. Our public schools are a joke, designed mainly to indoctrinate kids into the coming Socialism. The Teacher's Union is in control but cares nothing about education. Home schooled kids do far better.

Thank you for visiting and commenting. It's always a pleasure to see you.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 11, 2010:

Took forever to get to the end of the comments but I was fascinated with most all of them so kept reading. All I know for a fact is that high school and even many college students cannot write a decent thank you note. Going from a parochial school (with several classes in one room taught by a nun) all I know is that the next year ( 8th grade ) was just about a total repeat for me. I helped the science teacher grade the other student's tests! Does that tell you something?

Back when I was in school corporal punishment was still performed...and if the boy or girl was punished, when they got home and the parents heard about it, another punishment lay in store for the child. Dark ages.........I know! Seemed to work however.

It is no wonder that so many parents are now home schooling their children if at all possible.

Many schools today are built almost like little country clubs. Do they have to be so lavish? Couldn't the money we taxpayers are assessed be better spent? It certainly doesn't seem to translate into any better test scores.

Interesting hub as always, James.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 21, 2010:

stars439--- Thank you! You never fail to provide encouragement to me in regard to my writings. I appreciate you, my friend.

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on March 21, 2010:

Very enlightening hub. Never realized how much socialism has been entertained and by whom. God Bless You.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2010:

gbychan— Well, assimilation is important to prevent the Balkanization of a nation, which leads to its destruction. One purpose of a nation is to create ties that bind. I would not expect to move to another country without learning their ways, customs, traditions. Otherwise, I would stay where I am, with the culture I am used to and prefer.

Multiculturalism surely has some positive aspects. And I am in favor of freedom for thinking. Students should be taught and encouraged to think. Everyone should not think the same way, true. What is most important to me is that students not be taught untruths. All cultures are not equal.

I like that you are a deep thinker. I am glad you left your insights here. I appreciate you and them. Thank you!

gbychan on January 04, 2010:

The compulsory public education system was created to force "assimilation" on children from what were generally regarded as less-desirable cultures and religions. Although the NEA continues that tradition by indoctrinating children to favored ideology, the advent of "multiculturalism" in the 1970s could be interpreted more positively than done in this hub since promoting it requires some sort of recognition that not everyone thinks the same way.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 03, 2009:

A friend sent me this link and it is great and relevant to this article

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 03, 2009:

Bibowen— Isn't that pitiful? My mother-in-law is a famous public schoolteacher (retired) and a radical leftist. Nice lady, simply misguided somehow. I like your description of my style. :) Thanks for coming by to visit.

William R Bowen Jr from New Bern, NC on December 02, 2009:

I think the saddest thing I saw here was the picture of that American history teacher with that sign. What a waste of a life if that's what he spent his life promoting.

James, once again you fastened it in nail-gun style, but with grace. Keep up the good work.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 29, 2009:

elearningguy— You enjoyed that did ya? :D Hey, she's pretty sharp. Thanks for coming by and quoting my own words.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 29, 2009:

50 Caliber— There have been a lot of comments. I am especially gratified to see a few teachers educating us as to what is going on for those who live it.

I was bored to tears in school. So much review! I never did any homework and my grades would be knocked down for that, even though I could demonstrate I knew the material.

History is my favorite subject. My dad had gone to high school with my history teacher and he ran into him in a store. He said, "Hey, Bob. How's my boy doing in your class?" Mr. Rakauski said, "Jim, he sleeps through my class. But if I make a mistake, that hand shoots up like a bullet!"

I was a heavy reader even then. I read the Encyclopaedia Brittanica at 11 and 12 from A to Z. But I left school to go on the road with a rock band. To exotic places like Toledo, Flint, Rockford, Valparaiso, Duluth! :)

I am so pleased that you enjoy my writings. It makes it all worthwhile to read your uplifting commentary. God Bless You!

50 Caliber from Arizona on November 29, 2009:

James, it took a long time to get to this box today. I followed your hub and agree with many points and by the time I got through the comments my head feels like a ping pong ball. You certainly stirred much deep thought on many angle from Christianity to tape measures as well as another piece of your autobiography, of being a fellow drop out, never finishing high school. You have educated yourself well, as I have to keep the online dictionary open to follow some of your hubs. They are well worth the time to do so and you are slowly educating me into some big words, but mainly some deep observations that I agree with to a full extent in most cases. I thank you for the discourse you provoked with this one. As for special ED for boys based on their inability to stay seated and pay attention, they didn't have ADD or ADHD when I was a kid or I might have been drugged. I look back and in the 4th grade my reading and comprehension was measured at the 12th grade level and my report cards were sans any grade below a B. I was bored and acted out getting the paddle most often. I don't know why you didn't finish high school, but I'm guessing you were ahead of the curve. I did return to school post USMC, and pulled a bachelors in vocational education from Cal State Long Beach. I remain a simple man and never used the pathways that piece of paper might have led me down. I think you have chosen to invest in yourself as much as I have in your own way. I respect that quality I glean from your hubs. Paraglider has forced my hand here to look him up and take a peek. He is well spoken but I have to question his wisdom. I would also wonder if he is bold enough in his views to publicly curse the Holey Spirit.

Quite a Sunday morning of reading and I will have to go back and read it again and leave out the comments section so I might get the full effect of the hub in it's own right.

elearning guy on November 25, 2009:

Thank you for your accolades. I very much appreciate your intelligence, and acute observations

- LOL... nice comments... i agree

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 25, 2009:

prettydarkhorse— No doubt. Ah! The stakeholders. Yes. You are so right, that the family is the basic building block of civilization. That is why I am extremely concerned at its deconstruction by many of the same forces who indoctrinate. By weakening the family, the indoctrination has a clear path.

Thank you for your accolades. I very much appreciate your intelligence, and acute observations.

prettydarkhorse from US on November 25, 2009:

hi James, the institution of education is a powerful tool to create a set of values in the direction they want it to be, I remember that Americans when they colonized the Philippines, they left us with the educational institution similar here in the US, there are stakeholders of course, like the NEA,

I can very well understand indoctrination, been to private school, public also..

I would just like to posit that the "family" is still the basic institution which molds the youth,

Good hub, well researched and good incite as always, Maita

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

Paraglider— Oh yes, surely there is. But it does not have the participation of the dying main-line churches. There is a strong movement:

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on November 24, 2009:

James - thanks for these responses and links. It goes some way to explain the polarisation of opinion that seems to characterise modern US. Europe generally appears less divided against itself, though I'm not pretending it's all sweetness and light in the old world either. So is there no serious ecumenical movement active over there?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

cameciob— Your points are well taken. Coming from a truly oppressive society, I am sure you are surprised that American Social Liberals claim and teach that AMERICA is oppressive. Rest assured, they do. I agree that I would have a short life if I were behind the Iron Curtain. :)

Thank you for giving us a new perspective. It is an honor to have you here.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

Kaie— All of your comments are been outstanding and I have learned a lot from you here. Thank you for very much for taking the time to give us the inside scoop. Education is vital to our nation and society.

cameciob on November 24, 2009:

I’m really speechless. Such a straight attack at education system…

I lived under communism for 25 years. Then I lived in a transitional society since the collapse of communism in 1989. Then, for more then 6 years I lived in american capitalism. I found no major difference between those three stages. The point is how the governments use their power and how powerful is the public opinion (see free media, free speech, free gathering, the right of ones opinion etc). But I believe you would be dead in a communism regime before having a chance to write your first hub!

As for education…I do agree with some of your points but I think is manly a matter of cultural approach. But I would rather fallow lousy educated but free Americans then some other indoctrinated fellows from some indoctrinated countries.

And tolerance…this is a good word. I’ve personally witnessed what intolerance can do to people shorter after the 1989 revolution. I think Americans should be proud of their attitude towards diversity.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

Paraglider— One more book review that might shed some light on the root of the split here:

Kaie Arwen on November 24, 2009:

Thanks, but I don't think I turned him around. I think he was always right there, but nobody wanted to admit it; they just wanted to make it easy and make excuses for what he couldn't grasp. He just needed the time to put it altogether, and then he flouted the system and said "here I am."

The girl, she got caught in the cracks. Before her last IEP I made the mistake of saying that not only the educational system had let her down, but that our school made the biggest contribution to the place she ended up. She's been in our school since first grade; it took until fourth grade to put her into school based problem solving, and in fifth grade she was put on consult because I caught the fact she could NOT read. I spent hours testing her fluency and comprehension levels, and even more hours deciphering her writing because I couldn't read it, and she couldn't either. She can't write.

Mid year...... last year she was placed in a self contained room for everything but math. At the end of the year, everything we'd accomplished went down the tubes because they placed her back into inclusion.

I was not welcomed for questioning my co-workers, and I do not welcome the fact that a young girl made it to fifth grade before somebody noticed she couldn't read and write. It is shameful. I don't enjoy watching a twelve year old cry, nor do I enjoy her embarrassment while working on group projects. I will always be thankful that there are always a handful if kids who are completely gracious with her while doing group work, and I am very careful with whom she's placed. She can't take notes or write for the group, and she can't do the research, but we do find the thing she can do, and that's all for her, then I let her run with it.

I think that it's possible boys are railroaded into special ed., but I don't think I'd use the word railroad, and Ritalin and other drugs used to tone down a boys behavior do contribute to the problem. It's a drug, and like any other drug it has effects on their capabilities to perform in a classroom. I don't know how many of the kids take these drugs anymore; we used to have to dispense them in school. Over the years they've made them so that they can be taken once or twice a day, therefore they're usually administered at home.

I'm not a fan of drugging kids to keep them still, nor do I think that it necessarily improves their focus, but that's a parental decision.

Tape measures, yardsticks, rulers, gallons, pints, and every other measure conceivable are a problem, and believe me; I'm even baffled about that. As to fatherless children; I don't know. I was mom and dad for everything from fishing and skating to measuring and drilling. Very versatile. : )

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

Paraglider— I am not saying they are monolithic. Some stay behind out of habit or family ties. But you will rarely find a pro-abortion person in a Baptist or Evangelical church and certainly not in a Pentecostal church. And these are the churches with all the growth. I don't think a church with wishy washy anything goes beliefs attracts new converts. The old main-line churches have mostly old members. For a quick book review try this:

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

Paraglider— I was not familiar with Boolean logic but I just now looked it up. Over here the Christian churches began splitting between the Social Gospel churches and the Evangelical churches maybe 80 years ago. It accelerated when several of the old main-line congregations declared themselves, at the national level, pro-abortion. Ever since, they have steadily lost members. As they lost members, those leaving tended to be more fundamental in their beliefs—not meant in the pejorative; just those who believe in the fundamental tenets long established. Therefore, those left behind were shallow in their convictions, many of the types for whom church was a social function, something to do on Sundays. Oh, and the Social Gospel functions, of course. Once the old main-line churches were missing members who believed in the fundamentals, those left went even further, studying the Historical Jesus Project, and at many of them, no longer believing in Jesus other than as a fine feller with some nice ideas. Meanwhile, those who fled, fled to evangelical congregations who are generally very conservative and these congregations are growing and strong.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

SirDent— Thank you. I am glad things are going well with your son's education. I am pleased you liked the article. You're welcome. I appreciate the visit.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

Kaie Arwen— They don't know how to use a tape measure or a yardstick? Are there a lot of fatherless kids in your school? (Not that anybody needs fathers.)

How is it that that girl can't read? Do you know her story?

I have heard that many boys are railroaded into special ed, or put on Ritalin, as part of the ongoing feminization of boys in school. As befitting the social liberal philosophy that boys and girls are, or should be, the same.

This is sobering stuff you're sharing here. It's grim but I can take it.

Thank you for your great work with that boy who you've turned around. I love to read that.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on November 24, 2009:

James - looking at your conversation with Bill Yon, have you ever studied Set Theory and the meaning of 'union' and 'intersection' in this context? Or the Boolean AND and OR operators? I ask because your view that congregations can be defined as lib or con is very much at odds with these methods and with my experience of church people albeit outside the US.

SirDent on November 24, 2009:

Well done James. My wife and I homeschooled our son in the 4th grade. He did great on the testing to go to 5th grade. We are homeschooling him this year also.

There is way too much pressure it seems at public schol anymore for children to be able to focus on their classwork. The teachers have a certain amount of time to use on each subject daily and can't go beyond that time. It doesn't matter if a child doesn't understand, there is no time for them to ask questions.

I admit that I had to look Ritalin up to see what it was. Thanks for the great read. Comments are great also.

Things certainly are different than when I went to school. I also noticed you mentioned Orwell as you know I also mentioned him in my latest hub. It is time to shake off the wieghts that everyone puts on us.

Kaie Arwen on November 24, 2009:

Ohhhhh my, I love that question! You are the first that's ever asked. Boys tend to be tested and staffed at a far earlier age. Call it a problem with attention, call it boys being boys, and it all really comes down to the same thing. If a little boy doesn't pay attention in full day kindergarten he's ADD, if he can't pay attention or sit still; he has ADHD.

Boys historically don't educationally "blossom" at a young age. They'd rather be out playing, pushing, shoving, and competing. I raised one of those of those boys, and loved every minute of it. I see the boys coming into their own around middle school age, the time when they are less worried about what their peers think, and are no longer embarrassed to raise their hands and let everyone know how really smart they are.

I'm not saying that anyone shouldn't be labeled as special ed., but I think some of our successes aren't really successes at all; their just the boys maturing and catching up. I have eight special ed. students that I work with in the eighth grade. Only two are girls, and only two of the boys are what I would define as LD. One of my boys spent the first four years of his schooling in a self contained classroom. He is now fully mainstreamed, and his only modification is that he be tested in a small group. He is also on the honor roll. I have been tied to him since fifth grade, and he is wonderful.

The other three boys that I would take the label away from are simply lazy. It's very frustrating to modify the entire curriculum for students who simply don't do their work, and if you saw my modifications I think it would make you sick. They've had me modifying tests and creating their study guides for four years, and they still don't take the time to even look at the study guide that is in essence the test itself. Thus, that's my reason for the large number of boys.

Teachers don't want to deal with exuberance, and neither do parents. Parents come home and they don't want to make their kids sit down and do their homework, so they are perfectly comfortable with applying a label that makes them unaccountable. Don't get me wrong.......... this isn't the norm, but it is happening, and I hate to say that and then admit in the next breath that we are also mainstreaming students who in no way should be expected to meet the standards of their grade level.

I have a student mainstreamed for both science and social studies at the sixth grade level; she reads at the first grade level. LRE has insured her tears, and the classroom teacher and I are supposed to make it work. Instead of spending the time needed to improve her reading and comprehension we have to do everything orally, so she doesn't have to read, and two years from now she'll go off to high school still unable to read. Someday they will all be back in court turning it all around again, but until then, we send them on unprepared.

I know what you mean about Burger King, and better than that I would love for you to walk into a 7th grade classroom when rulers, yard sticks, and tape measures come out. Someday, someone will be making a fortune simply taking on measurement as a career. They don't know how, and my response would be "Hey guys, second grade?"

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

Kaie Arwen— Thank you for coming back to continue our engrossing conversation.

Does this actually mean that 25% of all kids in the nation have to do summer school? Or does 25th percentile not mean compared to other kids in your grade exactly?

I have heard about the use of calculators in math class. I don't know. It would seem like they would have to grasp math in their minds to ever understand it. I have been to Burger King and the bill is $5.22; I give the girl $10.22; I see she is puzzled as to why I handed her change; she waits for the machine to tell her to give me five bucks.

Why do you suppose it is that 90% of the special ed students are boys nationwide?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

Kebennett1— My sister makes a great living as a tutor in Manhattan.

I am glad your children are doing so well. Good work on your part. I know a ton of homeschoolers. And it's usually not so much the studies as it is the government school worldview, as I described in this article, that they don't want pushed on their kids. Thank you very much for coming and leaving your fine comments.

Kaie Arwen on November 24, 2009:

Yes, Kaie is like sky.

The pressure of promotion is terrible for third graders; I find it unacceptable, but policy is policy, and no, it's not 25% of the class; it's the 25% of the national norm. I have no problem with summer school or retention. In fact I don't think it's used enough. The norm in MA, or Il. is higher than that of say Mississippi. There are statistics out there, but I really don't know them well enough to cite them here. Not having gained basic knowledge is every reason to hold a child back, but you are correct; few are actually held back. I know of at least fifth graders in the class I am in for math who CANNOT complete even basic tasks, and they are NOT the special ed. children I am in the room to service, but that's okay; they get to use calculators during testing. Need I say more???

The sixth and eighth graders are able to handle the test. I didn't mean to make it sound as if they couldn't. The problem again, is that summer school seems to be a "token" that the system is working, and it isn't. I know very few children who haven't passed out of summer school, and the ones who fail are usually looked at as candidates for testing.

Eighth graders I lose compassion for altogether. Too many of them do NOTHING. Making a "C" a requirement for all core subjects in order to be promoted is something I feel has"kicked them in the butt," so to speak. I am also thrilled that we are now able to fail children in special education. For years they could receive nothing lower than a C on their report cards, and then that changed. Modifications had to be made in whatever form they took in order to pass them onto to the next grade level. They could do nothing and still pass. Now, if their IEP's are followed, their tests and homework are modified, their "extra" time has been met, and they still continue to do nothing. They can fail. I love special ed., but I won't even get into the way I see NCLB and the way it doesn't work, or the way it in essence leaves us doing the majority of children it was meant to help no service at all. That's a HUB in itself!

Kebennett1 from San Bernardino County, California on November 24, 2009:

James my friend, you are so right! I taught my children at home from middle school on for this very reason! They know United States and World History as it really happened! The graduated with knowledge. Both of my boys had learning disabilities yet my older tested way high on all of the TESTs that were required, his IQ is amazing. The younger still has problems with spelling but did very well in all other subjects. He may always have problems with spelling!

My sister-in-law is a Teacher, she would agree with you as well! She was laid off at the end of last year though and is only subbing and tutoring now.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

Are you saying there are not liberal congregations and conservative congregations? You don't know what you are talking about. Of course there are. Do you even know what the Social Gospel is?

bill yon from sourcewall on November 24, 2009:

you are so far out there man that you really need to get a grip.I'm a baptist,you cannot divide liberals and assume they believe in certain catergories.just like you have conservative baptist you have liberal baptist,that's the way it is across the board,there is no liberal/conservative religions,because liberal and conservatives attitudes make up everybody in the nation,I am conservative about some things,and liberal about others,it depends on the one is 100%liberal or 100% conservative,man you are really living in another world a world of your own creation.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

bill yon— If you take the membership in the Liberal churches (UCC, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Methodist, and the others) they represent about 20% of American church membership—at best. The Catholics, Orthodox, Evangelical, Pentecostal, etc. are over 80%. The easiest way to divide them up is this: the former group are officially, at the national level anyway, pro-choice. The latter group are decidedly pro-life. The pro-choice denominations are the Social Gospel group. The Social Gospel group, for the most part, does not believe in the resurrection. They follow Jesus' social teachings but do not follow him as the Son of God. I see nothing arrogant about pointing out the facts of the world.

bill yon from sourcewall on November 24, 2009:

I'm a liberal/Democrat and I believe in god.I grew up in the church,that's the problem with conservatives you are to quick to label people as godless.20% of the people in church are liberal?that's crazy talk!if anything it's 50%!your arrogance is so far out there that you really need to take a real good look in the mirror.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

C.J. Wright— Thank you for clarifying your position. I appreciate your words above. You and Kaie are both great people and we all need to love each other!

(Blessed are the Peacemakers.) :-)

C.J. Wright on November 24, 2009:

Kaie Arwen

What you are calling an atrocity is reality for children in many countries where public dollars are used for education. France and Germany operate to some degree on the premise I stated. I would rather the government get out of education all together. However you can see the direction we are going. My point is, pick a direction. I'm Not advocating either.

Like James I'm a a self taught man. I value learning greatly. I hold education, as it exist in America today in complete contempt. The day the education system attempted to tell me what to think, vice how to apply logic. I severed the relationship.

Out of respect for James, I would suggest we leave our difference alone. I'ts James' hub, don't want to steal his thunder.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

maven101— I think I have read that story . . . let me think a minute . . . Oh my goodness, yes! That is an incredible short story. Here is a synopsis, faithful readers:

Great contribution, Larry. I owe you one.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

maven101— Whoa! Now I must admit you make a great point. Relativism and Elitism are surely huge factors in the problems of our public schools. I have to hand it to you, Larry. That was good.

Larry Conners from Northern Arizona on November 24, 2009:

James..Sorry for the off the court scuffle...getting back to your thread, I read jiberish's comment about equality and I was reminded of Kurt Vonnegut's short story " Harrison Bergeron " which shows " equality " enforced and its logical consequences...Larry

Larry Conners from Northern Arizona on November 24, 2009:

@ Paraglider: Coming out of left field with scientific theory vs absolutism has nothing whatsoever to do with the discussion at hand; namely, the decline of American education and the challenging your statement I did so in that context, since to my mind moral relativism is the root cause for that decline...and in that context there is indeed a snobbery, an elitism that insists " we know better "... Larry

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 24, 2009:

mercon— Thank you. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

mercon on November 24, 2009:

nice info...

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

jiberish— Wasn't that speech an eyeopener!? Man, everybody needs to hear it. Thanks for the transcription. That is most helpful.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

Paraglider— I knew what you meant. I thought, in general, that you and Maven both made fine comments. Let me see if I have a pair of boxing gloves around here and you boys can settle this the old fashioned way.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

jiberish— How lovely to see you! Equality is encouraged. You've got that right. That has become a twisted word, that used to mean equal rights not equal outcomes. Anybody with the brain the size of an ostrich can see that people are not equal. It is damaging to try to equalize them and bad for society. Thanks for your keen observations.

Jiberish from florida on November 23, 2009:

Chanin closed his nearly 25-minute speech by explaining the influence of the NEA:

Despite what some among us would like to believe it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power.

And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year, because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.

Oh, it gets more interesting.

This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary. These are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights and collective bargaining. That simply is too high a price to pay.

Too high a price to pay for educated children. Chanin got wild applause from thousands of NEA members at the San Diego Convention Centerfor his remarks.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on November 23, 2009:

@Maven & James:

re {{when you remarked to James " never underestimate theories. They have been more fruitful to date than any 'absolute truths'! " you provided a moral relativist conclusion denying absolutist argument to the contrary}}

Perhaps I should have made myself clearer. Among the theories I had in mind were: Newtonian Mechanics and thermodynamics which gave us the industrial revolution and all of modernity; Electromagnetic Theory which gave us wireless, TV and now the internet, plus all of the medical scan technologies, etc. But these are theories. Science does not deal in absolute truth. It deals in undisproved hypotheses. And they have been incredibly fruitful.

That has nothing whatsoever to do with moral relativism. Still less to do with snobbery.

Jiberish from florida on November 23, 2009:

Children today are not challenged, they are not allowed to be individuals, and are steered away from creativity. Most are bored and the few who aren't are encouraged or threatened by their parents. There are very few debates allowed, and equality is encouraged. I know that it has become better, but 8 years ago, when my daughter was in high school she complained that questions were discouraged, and homework was geared towards SAT test. Well researched hub, and great comments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

Kaie Arwen— How do you pronounce that? Like Sky?

I understand the pressure may not be good on children as young as the 3rd grade. I would hope 6th and 8th graders could handle it. Do you mean 1/4 of the class must go to summer school? I didn't think kids were held back anymore. If they haven't learned basic competencies—shouldn't they be?

I wish you a great day with those children. God Bless You.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

swosugrad09— Congratulations on your graduation. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community. Thank you for the accolades. I can never have too many of those. And you are truly welcome.

Kaie Arwen on November 23, 2009:

I could make a very bad joke about the instrument thing,,,,,,,,,,, but I won't. I'm sure he was a very short man! :-D

The Iowa test has been replaced by the ISAT test here; I'm not sure about elsewhere. Big difference being that when we were young the Iowa test was just a test. We sat in our room and took it until we were done, and heard the results the following year. No stress, just an easy few days of school, and if we did well it made us feel good, and everyone was proud of us.

The ISAT is used here as a promotional tool; you're promotion is not merely based on your report card anymore. If you score below the 25th percentile you are not promoted and have to attend summer school, this pertains to grades 3,6, and 8. Eighth grade is a little bit different though, not only do they have the ISAT's to pass, they can't have any D's or F's in core subjects. A D will guarantee your summer school placement as well. Since this policy was implemented a few years back I have seen more and more children completely losing it during testing. Imagine being in third grade and having your parents and teachers telling you that if you fail the "test;" you're repeating third grade.

You ruminate........... I need to sleep so I can get some children to think tomorrow.

swosugrad09 from Oklahoma on November 23, 2009:

As a recent college graduate and now teachers aide at the local middle school, you are right on with your hub! I definitely agree with the points you make about self esteem and the dumbing down of our education system. This is a great hub, thanks for publishing the truths people find it hard to hear!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

Kaie Arwen— Yes, Orwell was a fan of the controversial but interesting Jack London. "1984" describes a nightmarish, collectivist, totalitarian world. It was the one book I remember most from high school. Orwell foresaw a future of government surveillance, mind control, historical revisionism. He invented the terms Big Brother and Thought Police.

That's a funny story about the bus driver run amok and the parent volunteers in the bar. That A.R.T. program does sound excellent.

I have spoken to a few high school classrooms about jobs in aviation; and at Stetson University about entrepreneurship. I never realized that speaking about History and Art in that setting as a layman was a possibility. I am intrigued by your suggestion. And I have a huge high school in my neighborhood.

You have nothing for which to be sorry. I've enjoyed your commentary. It's educational. :) Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and point of view. And you are most welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

Kaie Arwen— Do they still have Iowa tests? My school made a big deal out of me being in the top 1% in the nation. I think it may have been 5th grade? Not sure. It was a long time ago. :-)

I understand what you mean by "teaching the test." Not as good as teaching children to think and understand.

The steering test reminds me of band. I wanted to play the saxophone but the band teacher said I had the "lips" of a trombone player. I don't know if there is such a thing. I always suspected he was simply short a trombonist. :-)

Then again, in my school days I loved tests. Besides the girls and sports, tests were the only thing I loved about school.

Again, I appreciate your insights. I have learned a lot from you in this short while. I'll have to ruminate on it a bit.

Kaie Arwen on November 23, 2009:

James- I have to thank you for allowing me to be so long winded on YOUR HUB! Thanks and sorry!

For you.......... go volunteer, and yes you'd need a background check and a TB test....... that's a definite. You don't have to help a teacher; you have too many other things to offer. Your travels and experiences could be brought into the classroom, your knowledge and love of history could be implemented into a specific unit, and the art; go for it. The Art Institute (I think), once sponsored a great program at our school called A.R.T. It was fabulous, and I can see you doing something like that. One year they did an entire unit on ancient architecture; the kids molded their own ancient structures, and the unit was ended by perusing all of the old, old cemeteries and the mausoleums.

On a lighter note that was the year the parent volunteers left and went to the bar, the kids ran off to chase ducks, and the bus driver drove over a 150 year old headstone (it was four feet high) while she was touring). Well, she didn't drive over it; she got stuck on top, and yes, I laughed. It was hilarious!

Anyway, onto literature. I don't know about 1894 (George Orwell?), I have never read it myself, and I think the content is a little above my kids. He was a huge fan of Jack London, yes?

What I do love to do is Enders Game (Orson Scott Card). If you want a great read, go get it. I am not a science fiction buff, more of a fantasy/ non-fiction girl, but I love it. It was the first book in years that I actually sat down and read cover to cover. Card is a Christian writer, and he is fabulous; a lesson in every novel.

When I let my kids choose a banned book I don't check lists to see if our particular system has banned it, but I do read them backwards and forwards before I approve them, and then I require the parents to sign a permission slip. Always have to cover myself. Books never seem to be banned nationally; it seems to be more a district decision across the nation. Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer are both highly banned books and my groups have done them both over the years. Uncle Tom's Cabin made its entrance only once, and that decision was based upon the maturity of the group.

Oh, and just for the record.......... from our previous yearly hour count we need to deduct a minimum of 1o days for standardized testing. We just dipped below 700, and thanks for the links, they were interesting.

Kaie Arwen on November 23, 2009:

C.J. Wright - I appreciate your comments and your opinions, but I have to disagree on one point in particular, this statement-

"If America had truly socialized education we would steer children based on standardized testing scores. That's how its done to in most places where there is socialized education."

Every year our eighth graders take the Explore test. It is yet another standardized test designed to make an assessment of a student's progress, aptitude, and capabilities. Children may also be signed up to take the test in younger grades; this would enable their performance to be tracked from say fourth through eighth grade.

I guess I should say right up front I despise standardized testing. I have a very large problem with the fact that our teachers no longer have the ability to simply teach, the time to teach an entire concept, or the luxury of reinforcing a concept that's been covered. I don't believe in teaching the "test," in focusing on making children better test takers, or in exposing them to as much as possible in a very short period of time hoping they'll recognize something when they don't know an answer. I don't believe in encouraging (uh, forcing) them to write in a rote, boring, predictable fashion that is then graded on how close it follows the rubric. The rubric that changes every year right along with the state/ national standards, but back to the Explore test.

This test is very popular, especially among the parents who want their children tracked, assessed, and deemed likely to attend Yale when they're 13, five years before they'll ever get there. It claims to help eighth and ninth graders prepare themselves for the coursework they will take in high school, and to "steer" them towards their post high school options.

We use a "test" to "steer" young students, and that test tells them based upon its results what "careers" they are most suited for and capable of. That is an atrocity. These kids don't even know who they are yet, let alone what they want to be when they grow up. I've seen kids who want to be lawyers take a look at their scores, and the suggestions only to be told that they should seek out a career in which they'd use their hands.

I could go with this for hours, but I won't. Bubble sheets could keep me up at night.......... they are the things of nightmares!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

maven101— You are truly a gentleman and a scholar.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

rebekahELLE— Thank you for that information. But a background check?

Just kidding. So I would be helping a teacher in a classroom? That is a fascinating idea. I did not know regular citizens did such things.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

C.J. Wright— You are quite perceptive, my friend. That is what it means when carried to its logical conclusion. Good work. Thanks for the addition.

Larry Conners from Northern Arizona on November 23, 2009:

@Paraglider...But I am a man of charity...I WAS being charitable when I commented on your remark...and as to attacking moral relativism...but of course, considering this is the genesis of our academic degradation...when you remarked to James " never underestimate theories. They have been more fruitful to date than any 'absolute truths'! " you provided a moral relativist conclusion denying absolutist argument to the contrary...I simply provided that by illustrating the elitist snobbery in that conclusion...but, being the charitable man that I am, let me apologise if you took it personally...I would much rather comment on your fascinating and informative travelogues....Larry

rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on November 23, 2009:

James, you could volunteer to help out without a degree; as far as teaching, that would fall more into the category of substitute teaching where you would need a degree.

if you really want to help and get an idea of what it is like, even from the students perspective, go into one of your local schools and ask about their process. I believe most schools now have you fill out paperwork and do a background check if you wanted to volunteer regularly. when you volunteer, you're helping the teacher, not actually teaching. you could read with a group or help someone who may need more help. they don't want just anyone coming into the schools as you can understand why.

C.J. Wright on November 23, 2009:

James, you're absolutely right on the PC thing. I was horrified when I saw the motto of the Memphis City School System..."Every Child, Every Day College Bound" I thought to myself, What a waste! I can't imagine how anyone could fall for such flowery, yet intalectualy dishonest words. If one analyzes the phrase carefully, it screams MEDIOCRITY!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

C.J. Wright— Thank you. I hadn't made that analogy before between health care and education but by God that's scary!

You are right, in socialized countries they steer the brightest kids not only to different classes but to different schools. Here, that would be politically incorrect because the racial composition would be heavily skewed and that might make somebody feel bad. We can't have that. Hurting people's feelings far outweighs the success of our nation.

C.J. Wright on November 23, 2009:

James, Nice work. Even if you take away the radical viewpoints and indoctrination. The public school system is a failure. It's a clear representation of what turning a privilage into a right will do for an industry. Ultimately it causes it to lose its value. If America had truly socialized education we would steer children based on standardized testing scores. That's how its done to in most places where there is socialized education. American's brand of socialism is the most dangerous of all!

How anyone can't see the future of health care by looking at America's education system is beyond me.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

rebekahELLE— I didn't know I could volunteer. Can I volunteer to teach without a degree of any kind? I never graduated from high school. I am an autodidact and proof that anybody can educate themselves, even more so today with libraries everywhere and the internet, too, than in the days of another famous autodidact Abe Lincoln.

"parents would do better to help their children learn how to think, how to be respectful and come to school having had a decent breakfast" AMEN TO THAT!

I must admit, the parents do a lousy job, in general.

Thank you for your visit and comments. You are much appreciated by me for trying to help these poor lost souls.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

Tammy Lochmann— You are most welcome. Thank you so much for coming to visit me today. I surely appreciate your support and encouragement.

I certainly do not blame individual teachers for the failings of our schools. It is the union and their ideology and agenda: to dumb down the kids so that they will accept the Communism the teachers union has in mind for our future. To make them ashamed of America, so they will accept the New World Order that the teachers union has in mind. The teachers union needs to be busted up just like that Air Traffic Controllers were by his eminence Ronald Reagan the Great. Air traffic control has never been better. Because they got rid of that damned union. Unions are anti-American by nature. "Workers of the World Unite" is right from the mouth of Karl Marx. These schools can be fixed. America can provide the best education in the world. Only this union stands in our way. Now let's go get 'em!

rebekahELLE from Tampa Bay on November 23, 2009:

reading a few of these response, I can only suggest to those complaining about lack of instruction to spend a few days in your local school and volunteer. your eyes will be open to what teachers are faced with each and every day. if kids didn't spend countless hours in front of t.v.'s, computer and video games, they may have a better attention span in school, but parents continue to give their children everything.

and there are many success stories which are never heard. for the parents who do their children's homework, well, you're not helping your child. parents would do better to help their children learn how to think, how to be respectful and come to school having had a decent breakfast.

I see both sides having worked 14 years in education. Many teachers would appreciate some volunteer time rather than constant complaints. and yes, school is different than when we were in school, both for the better and the worse. but much of the problems are not the teachers or schools blame.

it falls back on the parents. let's be fair. and there are many going to school now with government funded scholarships. some right here at HP would not have had the chance without this opportunity.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

Kaie Arwen— I wish I was a teacher. I would love to teach high school History, Social Studies, or Philosophy.

720 is about half the number of the study I used below. WOW! That is distressing.

The diversity of your days in wonderful. I am sure that keeps things more interesting. Your comments here on the discussion of the Founding Fathers is heartening. Glad to hear it!

I am impressed with the Classic Literature you mentioned. Fanny Hill? That's funny. I read that "1984" and "Brave New World" are banned. Is that true in your school? It is a public school, right? I am surely getting a better picture of the content than I have been reading from critics of the curriculum.

I think you are a fantastic teacher! The kids are blessed to have you. Thank you so much for taking the time to enlighten us about what it's really like. Feel free to add more if it comes to mind. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

Paraglider— RE:@MAVEN: I figured them was fightin' words. :-)

Charity. Now there's a big word. Big in meaning. Big in spirit.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 23, 2009:

eovery— You have made very interesting and keen observations. The inmates are running the asylum. I can tell you that when I was in school, you didn't mess around with the teachers or you got the paddle. I know, I know, I can the Liberals shrieking in horror. Hey, I got it a number of times and it didn't really hurt me any. It hurt at the time. It made me think twice before disrupting the school, I can tell you that. The boys I knew, would have done ten times the mischief had they not had the fear of that wiffle paddle. I know that's out of style. But just look at the results of the new style. Good God Almighty! We've lost control.

Thanks for coming, my friend.

Tammy Lochmann on November 23, 2009:

Unbelievable. Your article comes at a time when my husband and I are questioning the competency of the school system in our area. Most of the things that our children are learning right now are taught by us at home. If we hadn't taught our son the 7 times tables and all of his vocabulary words last week he would have failed. My son is a straight A student but when we slack off or don't pay attention