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Dumbing-Down The American Student
by Bob Wilder
ISBN 1425102263 / 9781425102265 / 1-4251-0226-3
Publisher Trafford Publishing
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Veteran newspaperman Bob Wilder, whose journalistic reservoir includes four plus decades as a political reporter, news editor and sports writer, examines the $750-billion American public school system, focusing on what he thinks is wrong with it and what is needed to fix it.
Major problems which require immediate attention, according to the sometimes acidulous and sometimes humorous author, include terminating the influence of political connections, accelerating the teaching ethic to what it once was - excellent, and preventing politicians and bureaucrats from holding students hostage as an excuse for raising taxes.
Wilder's deeply seated concern over the future of our youth and their need for a higher quality of education is at once discernible. His passion is real because as the consientious parent of two children he once quit his job and left the state because he adamantly disagreed with its educational system and felt it was a threat to the well-being of his children.
Among the targets Wilder attacks are the National Educational Association (NEA), Free Speech, Affirmative Action, inadequate teachers, professors with personal leftist-liberal agendas and out-of-control parents plus an angry fistful of other issues.
He urges everyone to support a vigorous education reform, beginning with flunking teachers for not doing what they are paid to do - teach. He asks insistently: Why should taxpayers dig deeper into their pockets to fix the problem? He also objects to teachers having to pay exorbitant union dues, totalling tens of millions of dollars.
Pointing out that 50 percent of our nation's 12th grade high school students are perfoming below the basic level of expectancy and are lagging behind 14 European and Asian countries in reading, math and science skills, Wilder insists that our need is basic. Our schools must educate students toward literacy and knowledge, he maintains, so that they will be able to perform acceptably in a competitive society. Schooling, self-esteem, hard work and self-reliance, he emphasizes, are some of the passwords to success in life.
Free speech policies on some college campuses, Wilder rails, are strongholds of left-liberalism and he protests the abundance of left wing speakers at some college graduation ceremonies. He also condemns teachers and professors who are covering our youngsters in emotional plastic wrap. The inflated salaries of certain college deans and professors also rankles him.
Excessive drinking binges and sexual behavior by college students do not escape Wilder's sometimes razor-edged criticism, he accuses some teachers who promote profane, anit-war and anti-conservative views, and he is appalled to learn of a "Condom Club" at a Northern California high school.
He says today's high school students are lacking in their awareness of history and geography, that some college students lack analytical skills as simple as comparing prices of items offered in retail outlets, and that trying to exempt some students from a California High School Exit Exam is a disservice to those students who prepare for and pass the test successfully. As for the also controversial No Child Left Behind Law, he believes minority students are off being held accountable , that no exceptions or excuses should be tolerated, and that good deeds by homosexuals do not belong in our public school textbooks.
The sooner U.S. education returns to responsible economic and basic education regimen, Wilder recommends, the more secure our future as a nation will be.
So, what does all of this frustration and anxiety over the dumbing-down of students mean, boiled down to its simplest explanation? Just this: Teachers can expose students to curriculum, explain it to them and test them on it, Wilder explains, but if the students decide they don't want to make an effort to cooperate, and parents refuse to become concerned or involved, then the schools and the teachers "do not deserve all of the blame for a failing system."