Info Graphic and Video to Explain a Recent Podcast Rant — 66 Comments

  1. Jack,
    I agree 100% with your rant. Our school systems have become a joke. No wait, they’re not even that, they are glorified day care. I actually think my son learned more in pre-k at day care than he did in his kindergarten class.

    Both my wife and I work so homeschooling is out, we had our daughter in private school for kindergarten, it was not worth it and now we can’t afford to put both kids in a different private school. So, we take an active involvement in our kids education. When it comes time for parent teacher conferences, if the teacher says we don’t need one, we go anyway. When our kids are having problems, we contact the teacher, immediately. If I found out cheat sheets were allowed in my kids classes I would be furious!

    • What you are talking about is very common. As an educator just finishing up the year teaching in Oklahoma, my principal ordered me to give children who were “struggling” a “boost to their confidence and self-esteem” by only making them spell two words on the spelling list correctly. If they got the two words correct each week, I was told to give them an “A” on the report card. I teach first grade, have high – but realistic – expectations for my kiddos. The spelling list is not 2 words, but 20. I refused to follow her directive, as I thought it was unethical and gave the child and parents a false sense of what the child was capable of. Our schools have been so dumbed down. America is far behind other countries in academic expectations, and we are falling farther behind with each “new” idea that pops up. But with a Secretary of Education and basketball buddy of Obama, Arne Duncan, who has NEVER been a classroom educator, the situation will not improve. BTW, I homeschooled my kids while I worked full time. I went on the midnight shift and we worked it out. When they chose to attend public school, they all tested in the gifted category.

  2. As a student in the 60’s and 70’s, I wasn’t given cheat sheets, I was just passed without understanding the content of algebra. I have an intense aversion to anything beyond basic math. My brain goes into hybernation when I try to understand the concepts. I had physical reactions of hot and cold sweats, and true panic. I was an extremely high level reader and could actually do spatial problems quite well. Math was my hangup. I actually dropped out of college due to math. Not all kids don’t care!!! I cared and was quite embarrassed. Some kids just have a problem and dont know what to do about it. Passing them on to the next grade without finding some way to fix this didn’t help though, and the cheat cards are no solution either!

  3. THAT’S the Jack I remember…and he is right on target. God help us if he ever really lets go…

    It also is going to make me ask questions about our local area schools. I work with two school board members from a near by small town and know several teachers locally who were school mates. If Jack lets me I’d like to make a copy of this video and send it to them and see their reaction.

    Thanks Jack…now have a cold one and kick back. You’ve done your duty as a Sentinel and got the word out…

    Quae semper excubare

  4. Thank you Jack, you are a brave soul to poke your stick (yet again) into this hornets nest. Everything you said rings true and glows like burning coals.
    Do not expect the dictocrats in education to be sympathetic. They cannot see the forest for the trees…

  5. hey Jack I agree with the sum of what you said but what about those that have disabilities of that aretrying to make it in school and R legitament disabilities supposed to do to make it through school

    • Well they should not be in the same class, taking the same test and judged equally for an A or a B or a D for that matter. You don’t just pass them, move them on, give them a way to cheat and tell them they did just as good as those who were not given such.

      This simply shows the flaw with one size fits all education, it doesn’t work. That said if it is what you are going to do, I say again, if you can’t do 6th grade work, at one time we had a solution, it was called 5th grade.

      My sister “failed first grade”, they didn’t call it left back or trying again, they called it FAILED. She repeated it and it was likely the best thing to ever happen to her.

      Now learning disabilities, etc. you handle that case by case as needed, you don’t let the person cheat, pat them on the end, pass them and make the problem theirs for life and the problem of the next teacher for a semester.

      • I suffer with a little reading and comprehension disability I can do everything else that everyone else can its just with the reading and comprehension of stuff in books I have an issue with that so what I do is find someone to read it to me. I can recite it back to them 100 percent exactly as it was read to me

    • KDouta: my son-in-law is dyslexic. reading is very difficult for him, and writing is a struggle. he got appointed to West Point because no one knew – dyslexia is grounds for being denied that appointment or kicked out if it’s discovered. he worked his ass off, staying up later at night than the others – all of whom were working hard because the Point curriculum is demanding and doesn’t cut slack. he passed in the top 10%. then he got a coveted slot in a jungle ops training, came up here for a ski trip and broke his wrist snowboarding. didn’t tell anyone, went through the program, which 1/2 washed out of. when he finished, he went to the base hospital; they had to take a graft from his forearm and put it in the gap caused by doing chin-ups and push-ups and climbing rocks and ropes with a broken wrist. he will never have full mobility.

      my point: he doesn’t quit. he even got rejected on his first attempt to get into the Point, so he did his senior year over again at a military academy to push his gpa up and show what he wanted. they let him in the second year he applied.

      don’t get the wrong idea. he doesn’t have a “tough guy” attitude. he’s one of the nicest, gentle, soft spoken guys you’ll ever meet; he never boasts or shows off, and he’s a great dad to his kids and husband to my daughter. i’m proud to know him, he makes me strive to be a better person. but, he never let his disability get the better of him, and he doesn’t stop because something comes up – not even broken bones. he sets his sights on a goal and he gets there, hell or high water.

      jack, i’m with you, man. we don’t have to be harsh to kids, but kids do need to know there are outcomes from inputs. and everyone has something they have to overcome to achieve their dreams. character is the result of honestly assessing your shortcomings, finding work-arounds, and getting to the goal post regardless of the obstacles that come up – that WILL come up.

    • If a student has a ‘recognized’ disability, he or she will have what is called an IEP, Individualized Education Plan. Once in place, it is against the law (at least where I have taught) to give that child less than a “C” on the report card and there is no place on the report card to indicate that this grade was based on an IEP.

      • And my mind just exploded again! The individual plan, great, a guaranteed grade, WTF!!!!

      • The issue Jack ranted about is a legitimate issue. The info you are offering is factually incorrect. People with IEP’s are supposed to be graded on progress toward the goals outlined in the IEP. Yes, some teachers end up giving out grades based on effort, but this happens with and without IEP’s. That is an individual teacher problem, not an administrative issue about the formal rules in place.

      • My mother has a recognized Disability and is currently attending college. She is a part of the EOPS program (Extended Opportunity Programs and Services) She gets all sorts of special treatment. She is allowed to use these index cards (not just one but as many as she needs) on all tests. She is allowed to retake tests as many times as she wants and is given no time limits. She is allowed to take tests in a private room. So private in fact that she has called me in the middle of a test to try and get me to tell her the answers. I have always refused of course.

        While a teacher is still allowed to fail her on paper, it doesn’t work out that way in practice. Any time a teacher fails her, or tries to not allow the any of the “additional aid” mentioned above, or even just give her an “attitude,” all she has to do is call up the EOPS office and the teacher is chewed out over it. Two of her teachers were even threatened with suspension if they did not co-operate.

  6. I’m with you Jack. The whole idea of a test is to see what you’ve retained in your head, not how well you prepared a “Cheat Sheet.”

  7. Jack I would take issue with one thing you said..that the teacher should force the kids to work harder. That might work for chores around the house but not for are very aware when they are incompetent and like anyone of any age, try to avoid doing things that make them feel that way. You were partly right when you said the kids just didn’t care…there is a 99% chance that attitude was actively developed by the child as a reaction to feeling lost and inadequate.

    I used to work with disturbed kids, many of whom were disruptive in schools to the point they were expelled. When we got them the first thing we did was assume they didn’t have any background in much of anything, no matter what their age. As they started feeling safe..not challenged to know things they didn’t know..they started tentatively to open up to learning new things. Math and reading … As they become more competent, THEN you can start to challenge them to learn new stuff – and they will. We had almost all of them slow or stop their disruptive behaviour and all but one eventually went back “normal” schools. That one had other issues unrelated to schools which urgently needed to be dealt with.

    I personally know someone who had an IQ in the very high percentiles who teachers had tried to label as “mentally slow” because he couldn’t learn to read..turned out he had dyslexia..the letters turned inside out or upside down or moved around on the page even as he looked at them. I wonder how well that teacher would have done with the same condition? Kids, like anyone else, like to feel capable and most love to learn stuff if they don’t feel as though they are stupid and incompetent if they have trouble with it.

    Telling someone to work harder when they have no idea what they are doing isn’t much use, but too often it’s what teachers do.

    Kids don’t all learn at the same rate OR IN THE SAME WAY> an approach that works for some kids may not work at all for others. For whatever reason, most teachers seem to have only one way to present material and if it happens not to be the way a child is able to grasp it, then too bad for the kid, he or she is labelled slow or difficult or maybe ADD, when it is often simply that the teacher doesn’t know how or can’t be bothered to find a way to communicate to the child so they are able to understand.

    Sometimes the child’s mind is simply not quite at the point yet that he or she CAN handle abstract concepts, for example, the brain is simply not matured to that point, it’s like asking a 3 month old child to walk, then putting various labels on it because it can’t, although give it a few more months and it’ll walk just fine. Nothing wrong with that, any more than some children reaching puberty ahead or behind others of their age, it’s just it doesn’t fit in with the factory mentality of most schools these days.

    That’s the major problem with way too many teachers/schools, they insist that everyone plod through at the same pace..faster ones must be slowed down and the slower ones prodded to “work (try) harder”. It’s a bad, bad deal and causes a great deal of trouble and grief. I think that’s a primary reason why computer learning is the wave of the future, it does away with the need to lockstep the kids.

    • You force children to work harder by challenging them to do so, not though force of will. Stop defending the establishment, their failures continue to stack up, their negative dividends continue to become more and more evident.

      If a child can’t do 6th grade work, we used to have a solution for it, it was called FIFTH GRADE.

      • I agree Jack when I was a kid I was held back in 2nd grade. In fact the school wanted my mom to put me on ADD medication which I am forever thankful my mom said “NO”. I was not forever scarred by that happening to me in fact I met some of my greatest friends because that happened and I would not undo anything if I was given that option.
        The reason I was help back was because my reading skills were lacking. Now Many years later I read all the time and comprehend what I am reading.

  8. I guess I don’t have problems with this type of question as long as there is expectations for improvement. You can’t clear the high jump set at 6 feet without having the form and fundamentals to do it at 5 ft first. Often those kids that can’t do it need more help and get further and further behind. I don’t have a problem with the cheat sheet as long as it gets smaller and smaller over time and is eliminated.

    I am blessed with 3 boys, and the oldest two are twins who are school age. They are in the gifted program at school and are in advanced programs. They need to be to stay on task, I don’t have a problem with them to not only have abcd, but abcde, or abcd and why.

    • But should you be awarded for clearing six feet when you only cleared four? These kids are in the SAME GRADE, with the SAME TEACHER, taking the SAME TEST and only the “weaker learners” get the cheat sheet. They are then both graded at the same standard and pass or fail or get on the honor role as equals. Anyone defending this, defends the indefensible.

      • No of course not. I get where you are coming from and agree that the accomplishment should not be the same, the knowledge required to pass a grade should be a set finish line. It doesn’t work like that for the smart kids either though. Short term memory, take the test, forget info, move on is too often the formula.

        Too much emphasis is placed only on the results and not on the improvements. In the end, the race you run is only based on yourself. I will never be a professional bodybuilder, but I am proud of my gains in weight and reps. When I turned my mind from outside motivation to internal motivation everything changed.

        I want my children to be challenged, but more so by themselves and not someone else.

    • when i taught at the college level, i had a student who couldn’t put a coherent sentence together, let alone a paragraph. i had no idea what he was trying to say in his essays and papers. the english department took him in for remedial work; at the end of the term his writing was as gibberish as at the beginning. i simply could not pass him because i didn’t know what he was saying – even orally.

      the chair of the english department came to see me to ask me to pass this kid. “he doesn’t demonstrate mastery of the content” i said. “even so,” the chair replied, “he’s trying really hard.”

      but that’s not the point, is it? the issue is whether he understands the course material well enough to explain it at a passing grade level. and, as a college graduate, should he not be expected to know how to express a coherent thought in writing? and if not, then what should potential employers and co-workers anticipate from someone, anyone, who has a college degree? is it going to mean anything other than “he attended, and he tried”?

      i could not, and did not pass him. how could i? he should have never been admitted given his mastery of core high school competencies.

      • Good for you. I am glad someone is still willing to stand up for standards. I cannot express how many times in high school and college that I saw other students who could not write a coherent sentence or could not even do basic arithmetic. Many of these students still passed. It was terribly frustrating.

  9. Jack.
    For 20 years my big anchor customer, and friend, was a civil engineer. I was maintaining his apartment buildings. He once told me the trick to being an engineer was you don’t have to know everything, you just have to know where to find the information you need.

    Doesn’t seem that complex, that’s what we all do in everyday life.
    Preparedness isn’t about “cheat sheets” it’s about knowing where the ducks are or knowing how to find out where they are. If a kid is smart enough to write what he can’t remember on his hand and use that info on a test, how is that different from what prepared adults do? I don’t see a difference.

    I am still catching up on past episodes so haven’t heard this one yet so I’m applying general principles to a specific case I have not yet heard, so don’t understand the apparent double standard. Seems to me if the mom doesn’t like it, take the kid away from the school and find an alternate teaching/learning method/situation. The parent owns the kid, not the school.

    • Well you are either not getting it or you won’t get it. I think based on recent comments you won’t get it! Again, when you provide a crutch to one group that another doesn’t need yet judge their performance as equals you seal the fate of the weak to remain weak for eternity.

  10. I retired about a year ago from math/physics teaching in high school. One of the things I learned over and over as I taught was this; if I set up the classroom environment and challenges properly, I could set the expectation level higher than I imagined and students would work hard to reach it.

  11. Here is an example of what you are talking about Jack. I am 38 and when I was in the Middle School 6th to 8 th grade I was basically help back in my basic math class. Brace your self Jack I had all A’s except one B on my report card. At the time I thought ok I have a chance for All A’s. Here is the thing that will blow your mind. I did one of two things I did homework for other classes( treated it as a study Hall) or slept . Yes I took a nap in class.

    O it gets worse it was the same teacher from last year and she knew I knew the stuff she was teaching and let me do this as long as I did not disrupt the class. I should have said something to my parents and teacher about getting into a higher level of math like Pre-Algerba which would have helped instead of going into Algebra 1 the next year. A student should not be sleeping in class but learning. By the way I did get straight A’s that year in math. It was only geometry that I was a little shaky on.

    Everyone including myself are at fault for this ,but the teacher should have had me moved to a pre-algebra class. I should have said something to my parents. The education system failed me I wasted about an hour everyday of school where I could have learned something new.

  12. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

  13. What if the dumb kids weren’t allowed cheat sheets, what if they were just given an ” inclusivity bonus” of 20% on their mark. Would that feel good? Would you find yourself defending that?

    This whole discussion proves this current system is in its death throws. This is a symptom not the disease.

    I genuinely feel sorry for teachers who go into the profession with the best intentions only to have their efforts corrupted because, the systems they go into is philosophically corrupt.

    What are the reasons most people who teach want to teach? Love of learning? Wanting to inspire the next generation? etc all good stuff.

    What is the actual function of teacher in this system? To justify the procurement of taxes (through force) by proving that your school, county, state etc can do better in a standardised exam and thusly your school, county, state etc does justify those taxes not like those other shitty examples below us in the rankings.

    ‘We get 100% pass rate so we prove taxing for state education works”

    • Please don’t say things like “dumb kids” when you do not know the circumstances in which they struggle. Each person has gifts and talents in their own way.

      • Oh dear God more TEA CUPPING! The term dumb kids is NOT MY PERCEPTION, it is the perception of the system that provides such children a crutch the others do not receive.

  14. As Ginsburg said to Podhoretz in the early 60’s, “We will get you through your children.”

  15. I wonder all the harm we’re doing our children letting them think they’ve accomplished something when they haven’t.
    One of the things I know is that accomplishing something new is an awesome feeling, whether it’s fixing the washing machine or turning a cartwheel.
    Kids are smart (even the dumb ones). They know if they’ve really succeeded or not. Telling them they done it right when they haven’t (especially when they know they haven’t), only teaches them you’re a liar and that you don’t care enough about them to tell them the truth or help them to actually do better. It can be handled kindly, but they have to be told when they doing it wrong, or they’ll never be able to make the changes to do it right.

  16. I’m not sure of the back story in the scenario Jack relates and I am the first to admit there is more than one way to look at what happened depending on the context. However, there is a completely ethical, moral and justifiable possibility.

    In Michigan, and I guess other states as well, there is a desire NOT to segregate poor learners from their peers for the entire school day. To the extent it is possible (and learning disabilities occur on a spectrum from high to low functioning so every situation is unique) students are kept in the classroom.

    How, then do you grade them? Everyone already knows they do not learn at the same rate or in the same way as their peers, so failing them all day provides no new information for their parents, special needs teachers, or themselves. One answer has been to adjust or modify (depending on the severity of their case) the assessment of mastery.

    The key is that the report cards have to state that the grade comes from a modified form of assessment (maybe reduced choices in multiple choice tests like Jack described). Then there also has to be a formal written plan on file at the school that states the reason for modifying this child’s assessment of mastery, the types of modification permitted, the length of time the modification will be in place, and the schedule for reviewing the child’s progress and whether or not the modifications are beneficial. The plan is signed by teachers, administrators, parents, sometimes the child, and special needs coordinators. Future plan meetings include a summary of how the modifications have worked.

    Any future organization looking at this child’s transcripts will know the grade resulted from a modified form of assessment. With need-to-know (and most places with a right to see transcripts can probably show a need-to-know) can see exactly what the modifications were, why they were in place, how long they were in place, and if they worked.

    In the situation I describe, I would have no problem with a child having their assessment of mastery assessed. Whether or not there was a plan in place for Jack’s individual I do not know of course. Is a child who doesn’t learn like me a failure for that reason? Not always. Should a child who does not learn like me be segragated from “normal” people during the school day? Maybe, but if there is benefit in being with me and the opportunity for them to show academic progress by being in my classroom why exclude them? DO I BENEFIT FROM HAVING DIFFERENT STYLE LEARNERS AROUND ME? Maybe, if I’m smart I can learn something to better myself from being around people who aren’t exactly like me. Does society end up with a false understanding of a poor learner’s ability by modifying their assessments? Only if they are too lazy to look deeper than the surface of a transcipts. That’s on them.

    • Thanks for writing all this down CharlesH. My wife teaches in NC and has a class that includes both standard students and students who have IEP’s (Individualized Education Programs) who receive modifications to their assignments. To the average onlooker it would appear that they are a single class however in reality it is two separate classes that share a classroom and primary instruction time. I agree that in this particular case a lot rides on whether the “struggling learners” are students who have have legitimate IEP’s or whether this is something solely administered by the teacher. If they have IEP’s it is out of the teachers hands. She would be violating the law to not follow the specifications of the IEP. Now there is definitely a debate to be had about whether or not students with IEP’s should be in standard classrooms but the point I’m making is that this is not up to the individual teacher. I think more specifics are needed before we can cast judgement on this individual case. I suppose it can still be used as a jumping off point for a larger conversation though.

    • Charles as long as these students are graded and promoted as equals while given what amounts to the ability to cheat, everything you just said is complete and total bullshit. Nothing about it is, “ethical, moral and justifiable” do you people not understand that you are destroying the perceived value of education and diplomas and even at the degree level on a daily basis with this bullshit.

      Now if what you say about “modified assessment”, is true, seriously are you not tired of the state having the ability to do something like this to a person as well? You are making it worse, now we take Johnny, tell him to cheat and help him do it and tell ourselves we are moral and upright doing so. We than scar his vaulted “permanent record” for life and anyone who “needs to know” what ever the F that means can. Might as well just embalmer the jacket of his dossier with a giant scarlet S for slow or perhaps S for stupid.

      Should a child that doesn’t learn like others be separated from normal people? Fing arrogant bullshit there man! What the hell makes these other kids normal? Conformity? Doing what they are told to do? Sitting quietly and listening?

      What should be done? The complete dismantling of the public education system that is what.

      All these new BS programs are not the problem, they are the symptoms of a system that completely failed a long time ago.

      • Jack I mean no disrespect but I can’t tell if you understand this or not so I’m just going to throw it out for clarification. Essentially, at least in the case of my wife’s class, these “poor learners” aren’t just students who are having a hard time. They are the types of students who would have been taught in a separate special education class in the past. Many of them are low functioning enough that they will not be able to live unassisted after High School. What happened is that at some point somebody (at the State or Federal level I assume) decided that it hurt these students to not be interact with the rest of their peers so they joined classrooms with non-learning impaired students but received modified assignments. Just to be clear I’m not trying to defend this practice, just clarify what I think might be going on. Its also possible that this isn’t this case and that the teacher is deciding that some students get an aid while others don’t on her own. If that is the case then I agree that its cheating. Again I am in no way trying to talk down to you. I’m just trying to clarify what I perceive to be some confusion in the debate.

        • Okay if you are talking true special needs kids, I understand though I really don’t think most should be in our current schools. Not because they don’t deserve the opportunity but because schools can’t and won’t protect them from the ridicule they likely experience from other children. If that can be done, fine, I have no issues with it. You are not talking about a learning disability here, you are talking about serious mental impediment.

        • It’s a tricky situation for sure and I think I can understand both sides of the argument but I tend to agree with you and fall on the side of having separate classes for special needs students. I think you make a good point with teachers being unable to prevent teasing. In addition I feel like many of these students time would be much better spent learning practical life skills than academic subjects which must be so heavily modified in order to achieve a “passing grade” that the term “passing grade” doesn’t even mean anything. The especially frustrating thing to my wife and by extension me is that primary instructors are given no say in the placement of these students. Its all done by bureaucrats being advised by “educational experts” who more than likely have an advanced degree but no actual time teaching in a real life classroom.

  17. This is in the college university system as well. I teach undergraduate courses, and my students fully expect to have access to the lecture notes, power point presentations and chapter outlines (cliff notes) online. Matter of fact I know that the top tier universities make it virtually impossible for their high paying client’s (insert sarcasm) to fail.

    The paying of college athletes is right around the corner, and that will be the final nail in the coffin for what advanced education is supposed to be.

  18. Jack, I’d be mighty interested in your thoughts on this documentary: “IndoctriNation” by Collin Gunn.

    Seriously, how can parents be involved in their child’s education within the government school realm? The text books are chosen without their consent; curriculum decided without their consent; activities chosen without their consent; meals are provided without parental consent (they just want more money); teachers, aides and other support staff hired without their review, consent or support; their child’s schedule is dictated without parental approval; medical/sexual issues are dealt with without parental involvement and are often purposely kept from parental knowledge; I could go on. And try to question the system: “the nail that sticks out gets hammered back in”. Not ironically, it mirrors the US prison system.

    We homeschool our five children, not because of some fear of government but ours comes from a Biblical view that these children are our responsibility. To our family, government school is no different than paying property taxes, welfare or the death tax – it’s robbery. We are responsible for our family, not the village, but we will benefit the village by being hardworking, ethical citizens. And lest we devolve into a discussion on”not everyone can homeschool” or “what about all those kids that don’t have parents who care – those kids will turn to crime”, government schools have only been around for two hundred years and we have progressively produced dumber, less competent generations since then. We managed just fine for previous generations. Maybe it isn’t the teachers or students but the SYSTEM that is broken – we are simply seeing the fruit from a rotten tree.

    • Oh wow, just read the rest of your post, already had planned for today’s show a segment on how school looks like a minimum security prison. May be I should watch this thing first before I do.

      • We’d be happy to send you an extra we received from some friends. It’s one of those documentaries you watch, get really angry about being duped, then make some life changes… or not. Gunn comes from a decidedly Biblical worldview; whether it’s ones view or not, the stats, history of the public education system and compendium of information are solid.

        • Yea I found it on youtube, the bible thumping turned me right off. One does not need religion to make a case against education. I think using it hurts the cause, home schoolers are already made out to be “bible thumping backwoods evangelicals that only pull their kids out so they can teach creationism”. It is nonsense of course but listening to a televangelist rant about the sins of public education almost at once in a documentary is not helping.

          If you have your beliefs fine, if you want them taught to your children fine but when you bring your personal religion into a universal debate you lose power.

          Tons of us fed up with the Public Sector of many things including education are not Christians, we are your allies anyway. We support your right to teach your children as you choose but we don’t see that as the reason school is failing and most people won’t either.

          Many such Christians want prayer returned to schools, I always say great so let’s do a Jewish Prayer on Monday, a Christian one on Tuesday, then we can due a Buddhist one on Wednesday, a Muslim prayer on Thursday, a Hindu prayer on Friday, then next Monday we can move on to another faith like say Paganism, when we complete the world faiths we start over how does that sound.

          Just remember every person of any faith believes their faith is the right one, or they would not have it.

    • While I don’t disagree with many of your arguments, I do think its a little silly to say that we produce dumber kids than 200 years ago prior to mandatory schooling. I would imagine most children 200 years ago left school at the 5th or 8th grade level knowing how to read and write and maybe basic arithmetic and that was it. Whereas I left High School knowing calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, etc. I don’t know if I am any “smarter” than children 200 years ago but my point is that you can’t compare the two time periods from an education standpoint. Knowledge that is necessary to compete in today’s economy is hugely different than knowledge that was necessary to compete in the economy then. If I was going to take over the family farm it was easy to learn the necessary sills at home. However, today if I want to be a civil engineer and need to know calculus and physics, and my parents are a biologist and an elementary school teacher, then its not as viable for my parents to teach me.

        • That’s my point. They had skills that we don’t and we have skills that they didn’t. You can’t compare education in the two time periods because the purpose of education is to prepare you for the world and the economy that you are going to live in and in many ways our economy today is completely different from the economy then.

  19. with ya on this one Jack, I was the lowest passing student out of high school [76]
    didn’t have any cheat sheets or other help. I owned 2 successful business and worked in several trades.
    now I mentor Engineering students on the ”hands on stuff”
    [why righty tighty/lefty loosey] in real life things not books
    struggling will make you stronger [spell check is great]


  20. In most of my High School math classes you were allowed a note card for basically what ever you wanted but it was intended for formulas as such. The teachers however structured the tests so if you didn’t understand the concepts behind the math you couldn’t do well on the tests no matter what you had written down. They understood some things did not need to be memorized because they were easily looked up.

    Now 30+ years latter I’m helping my son with his school work and while I have to look up the details of SIN, COS & TAN, I know what they are, understand the principles behind them and how to use them to solve problems. Therefore I consider my schooling “well done”. Of course everyone got the same option to individually create a “note card” and the teacher defined the size (3″ x 5″ or maybe 5″ x 7″). I always found it funny that the students who couldn’t write tiny felt those that could had an advantage. The truth is you could easily write everything needed for the test on the card.

    • Smart kids would print that card out at home on a computer say in about font size 7!

      • Yeah well when this happen 30+ years ago the 9-pin dot matrix printer we had could not produce readable size 7 font 🙂

        In truth by the time you spent hours trying to fit all that extra on the card you probable knew it anyway.

        • Sounds like a smart way for teachers to get students to learn to me.

  21. I showed a mentoree high school student this video/article and he mentioned something similar they do in his science class.. the LOWEST scoring students get to choose who they are partnered with for graded projects. Middle scoring and high scorers (if they haven’t been ‘chosen’) are randomly assigned.

    So I suppose it does train everyone for their ‘duties’ within a socialist society.. ;-p

    • He also mentioned that one of his friends has a.. wait for it.. 5.00 grade point average, but only goes to class for three periods. How you ask? By choosing ‘bone head’ classes and doing extra projects.

      So, if you choose ‘hard’ classes, and work hard, you have a 3.75 GPA.. and are a ‘good’ student.. if you choose ‘easy’ classes and slack off.. you have a 5.00 GPA, become valedictorian, and are given scholarships to top colleges.

      As the old saying goes.. you get more of what you measure.

  22. ‘ even more serious mistake…consists in thinking that equality of opportunity can be expected to lead to equality of results.

    The very opposite is expected. The equality of all the children as human beings, an equality that derives from their common humanity and personhood, is accompanied by individual INEQUALITY in talents and aptitudes.

    .. The inequality of results that SHOULD BE EXPECTED conforms to the individual inequalities that exist despite equal opportunity. Though all are given the same quality of schooling along a single track, all cannot be expected to the move the same distance along that track. The ultimate outcomes will differ accordingly.

    The measure or standard of accomplishment cannot, therefore, be based on the expectation of a single arithmetical equality of results. It must be based on a proportional equality of results – a mastery of what is to be learned by all to an extent that is PROPORTIONATE to the individual measure of THEIR CAPACITY for achievement.’

    – Mortimer J. Adler (Intro to ‘The Padeia Program’)

    emphasis mine

    • You know one point I wanted to make and left out.

      “Right to an education”, another HUGE LIE.

      We don’t have a right to an education, we have a right the opportunity to educate ourselves. But all the time we here bullshit like, “every child has a right to an education” and down more of the pablum goes!

      I know you like to read, try this only 11 pages,

      One of the really good things I had to read in school! I loved my English Lit teacher and this was one she bucked the system with. The point is Education is a bargain, a great deal if you take advantage of it and it is a hard life if you don’t. She was the first person I remember telling me that famous John Wayne quote, “Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid”.

      She made me love Shakespeare because we didn’t memorize crap, she poked and prodded the class into debates about who was good and bad, was anyone genuine. Like Brutus and Anthony in Julius Cesar, the class spent entire periods debating their ethics and intentions. We would read the words with different cadence and emphasis and that would change the meaning just by changing those two things.

      The school didn’t really seem to favor her much, I am sure in the world of common core there is no room left for her.

      This made me check into it, not sure if she is still around but as of 2011 she was,

      Glad to see her still having students both love her and hate her. I am sure the negatives are kids that don’t like to be forced to think! I think the oldest review about retirement is funny, cause I am guessing she likely thinks, no these others can’t do my job, to many tea cups, someone has to keep them on their toes. Note that was in 04 and she was clearly still rocking in 2011. I can’t say for sure but I would have put her at least at 60 in 1990 when I graduated. That would make her at least 84 now, I’d say me saying 60 is me being generous as well with her age at the time.

      I wonder if she has any idea how many minds she really made a difference in?

      • I think a good definition of what is a ‘right’ versus what is a ‘privilege’ is:

        If it is intrinsic to your nature, and can only be taken away from you via force, it is a right.

        If it must be given to you, it is a privilege.

        So, freedom is a right. Communication (free speech) is a right. etc.

        Schooling? Nope. A job? Nope. A ‘decent paycheck’? Nope.

        I to am indebted to several excellent teachers. The ones that kicked my ass to make me do better, instead of patting me on the back to ensure my self-esteem wasn’t damaged, are the ones I hold in the highest respect.. and learned the most from.

        Its easy to be the teacher that ‘everyone likes’.. it takes balls, and character, to be the teacher that does what they believe is best for their students, regardless of how their students (and the students parents) react.

  23. I agree with Jack, unfortunately this is very common practice. My high school in the 90’s allowed note cards, and many college classes today allow a 8.5 x 11 page of notes on tests. Below are some of my observations:

    1. Schools emphasize and reward the studying of instructions, not learning the material. This is a precursor for bureaucracy.

    2. Most kids in our schools are so far behind that teachers are extremely overwhelmed. They are tasked with trying to teaching subjects like high school chemistry to kids that are barely able to read.

    3. Teachers that try to make a difference, or go against the schools agenda are fired. Schools districts back parents, not teachers.

    4. Parents just blame teachers for their kids behavior, instead of being parents.

    5. Like our crumbling financial system, No kid left behind is just perpetuating a broken system, making it somebody else’s problem.

    • Where I disagree it is number 3, they are seldom fired if they just buck the system. It is easier to get a priest or postal worker fired than a teacher any more.

      Their lives are made difficult but they are seldom fired. I know one teacher that told a kid that said his parents wanted a copy of a certain form in Spanish, that “well than they should go back to Mexico” and even she was reprimanded but not fired. Hell I am totally opposed to forms in Spanish at added tax payer expense but they do exit and it is the schools policy to provide them.

      Beyond that her comment was rude, hurtful, insulting and wrong. This was not in playful jest with like a high school aged student, it was done to a 3rd grader, who then turned red, was insulted and embarrassed and cried. At that point the teacher took the child from the room, apologized and calmed him down. He did though tell his parents, they did raise a holly shit fit, and they absolutely had a right to. I would have fired that teacher.

      The other side, likely this teacher is burned the hell out, she is likely sick of parent teacher nights with parents of troubled students she is forced to teach where parents smile and nod because they have no clue what the teacher is saying. She is likely tired of children that are a complete and total disruption, not simply won’t sit perfect but the ones that go ape shit in class, and she simply broke.

      My sister in law is at her breaking point. She has had kids that threatened her, wrote her hate mail, etc. She also teaches third grade. She had one boy that would not sit down at all, pushed other kids for no real reason, would just get up and do it to another random kid. This kid was a constant disruption. She’d send him to the principal and she would send him right back. She set many meetings with the parents who simply always no showed. The principal refused to do anything told her to solve the problem.

      This is what I told her, there you go! The principal is telling you to fix it but you can’t, she is deferring the problem but not the authority. Your solution is to send the boy back every time he even mouse farts, send him with a letter that says he is NOT PERMITTED back into class on that day, if he comes back march his ass back to her and explain you were not kidding, make him her problem and she will take action.

      Instead she just “dealt with it” and like magic the kid passed so now he is some other teachers problem. In a few years he will really hurt a student or a teacher and everyone will blame him, when the school and his parents are both to blame. So my sis in law passes the kid on, had a miserable year and now is going to teach kindergarten as an out. The boy is a problem, the school won’t expel or suspend him, his parents won’t do shit and all because my sis in law fears being fired. All while another teacher insults a child and gets by with a warning, it is time to stop fearing being fired and do the right thing.

  24. If schools taught reasoning and critical thinking skills the cheat sheet argument would be irrelevant. I passed many math courses in college without cheat sheets, but today I can’t remember any of the formulas. But I still remember the concepts and can get to the answer if I review the formula. Memorizing does some for learning but it’s pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme. Of course, the caveat that makes cheat sheets irrelevant is the nature of the test. Is it testing knowledge or fact memorization? That’s up to the educator, be it the teacher or committee that prepares the test. Some of the hardest test I ever took were open book, open notes because the questions required the application of the knowledge in the book and no cheat sheet would have saved my bacon that day.

    • yep. in one of my undergraduate courses the professor gave us 10 content review questions at each midterm and final, told us 3 of them would be on the final, and gave us a week to prepare. the exam was in-class, written in blue book. of course, those of us who studied the hell out of those 10 questions got great grades. we also learned the material in a way that still sticks with me 40 years later.

      i had a graduate school prof who used a slightly different method. he provided 3 comprehensive review questions at midterm and final and gave us a week to write and turn in our answers. the caveat: no answer could be more than 3 pages long (standard formatting). because of the nature of the questions, it took serious effort to compose 3-page answers that succinctly and fully answered each, which also produced both integration of content and life-long retention of the material. it also helped hone writing skills – another skill future employers ought to be able to expect in graduates of graduate schools.