SchoolFamily Voices

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Our Schools Work

I'm sure you've heard that our schools are failing us, that international students kick our kids' fannies on tests,and that we'll all be working for the Chinese and Indians in just a few years, right? Those assertions have always troubled me, as they just don't seem to fit with the fact that our country is still leading innovation and taking care of much of the world financially.

Finally, though, there's some sanity in the discussion. While I do know that there is plenty we can do better in our schools, Jay Matthews -- the best education columnist on the beat -- adds a much-needed dose of facts and reality to the discussion. His conclusion? The sky is not falling on our schools. I agree.

Key points from the piece:

  • If you're going to compare test scores, helpful if kids taking the tests are same age or taking test after same prep.

  • If you're going to compare career paths, helpful to check if "engineer" means same thing in both countries.

  • If one country (the US) aims for the most part to keep all of its students in traditional high schools and another siphons off (early) many of its lesser academic stars straight to career-training (and doesn't test those students), then do you have an apples-to-apples comparison on testing?

In the end it comes down to how you and your school are doing with your child? Is he or she challenged? Are you connecting and getting involved and keeping things on a good track? Or you encouraging life-long learning? That's what this site is all about, and it's important that we don't let doom-and-gloomers tell us that we can't do it well. Thanks Jay!
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#1 Aish A. 2008-11-04 14:36
This articles definitely gives a spin to the notion that students from other countries are doing far better than those in the US. Even the presidential candidates have touched this point time and again.

Once thing to note however is that various articles and statistical reports point in different direction. I recently read an article in the New York times- Math Skills Suffer in U.S suggesting that U.S students do in fact lag behind the students from other countries and the US students that do better in international tests are children form immigrant families that have moved to the US.

This shows that the school system in the US is still pretty strong and at the end it comes down to individual families on how they are raising their children and imparting the value of good education in them. Family and society are equally (or more) responsible for the right upbringing and that's what you talk about on your site as well.

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