Thursday, February 28, 2008

USA Today reports that Teens losing touch with historical references

An alert reader sent me the URL to a recent USA Today article. Teens losing touch with historical references reports on a recent survey of public education in America. The survey of 1200 students found:

43% knew the Civil War was fought between 1850 and 1900.
52% could identify the theme of 1984.
51% knew that the controversy surrounding Sen. Joseph McCarthy focused on communism.

Half of those surveyed knew that Job from the Bible was known for his patience during suffering.

In 1983 the Federal Government released a report on the state of Education in America. A Nation at Risk warned that education had deteriorated over the previous decades. It had this famous quote:

"If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves."

This is another powerful quote:

"Each generation of Americans has outstripped its parents in education, in literacy, and in economic attainment. For the first time in the history of our country, the educational skills of one generation will not surpass, will not equal, will not even approach, those of their parents."

The survey mentioned in the USA Today article comes from a report released this week by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research investigates to see if there has been any progress in the last 25 years since the 1983 call to action. Still At Risk: What Students Don't Know, Even Now by Frederick M. Hess is a 24 page summary of the state of public education today and is also a call to action.

I don't have faith that the public schools, as they currently are structured, can be saved. Too many people have tried over the last five decades, and public schools have continued to decline.

Our alert reader said at the end of her email:

"I am SO glad I homeschool (my 7 year old knows who Job is)"

Janine and I echo this sentiment. We are very grateful we are able to homeschool our children.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, public school, public education, education


Robert M. Lindsey said...

You didn't include the Failing our Students report

Crimson Wife said...

My mom has a set of her old elementary school reading textbooks published in the late '50's or very early '60's. From looking at them, it's obvious that the authors wanted to teach students cultural literacy along with basic reading skills. They are full of classic tales from literature and history.

My mother-in-law, who teaches 3rd grade in a government-run school, gave me some copies of fairly recent elementary reading textbooks (copyright 1997). They are very much dumbed-down both in terms of complexity (i.e. how they're written) and content (i.e. what they're about). Charlotte Mason would definitely describe them as "twaddle"!

Henry Cate said...

Robert, thanks for the suggestion. It looks interesting. I'll check it out.

Charlotte Mason would be polite. I'd use harsher words, like criminal.

Patricia said...

Recent test scores in Rhode Island showed that 90% of 11th graders could not come within 100 years of the date of the Civil War.

Henry Cate said...


Henry Cate said...

I asked my oldest daughter, who is 13 years old, about the Civil War. She got within 30 years.

She was a bit defensive. "Dad, we are studying the 10th Century in Europe right now." Maybe I should have asked her about William the Conqueror.