Learning to be Dumb?

Over the past couple of years, schools across the country have been lowering their standards, actually dumbing down lesson plans so that under-performing kids can pass standardized tests to avoid sanctions under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In other words, some schools are not educating our kids, they are simply passing them along to make sure they get their money. Instead of  hiring teachers to teach a real curriculum, some schools simply baby sit the students and make it seem like they are educating our young people.

That act of education reform was brought to us by one of the greatest Presidents in the history of the United States of America President George W. Bush. It mandates that every child in school must be “proficient” in reading and math by 2014 and schools that fall short are subject to sanctions. (How does a “C” student get to lead education reform?)

The way NCLB works is schools get to set their own standards and write their own standardized tests. All they have to do is make sure their kids pass them. If the students fail, the federal government will take away some of the funds the schools were given. In other words, some schools are running a “pass for cash” program in some places. They cannot afford to lose those federal dollars.

People get thrown off when they hear the term “proficient.” When we say proficient, do we mean proficient enough to pump gas for a living, or proficient enough to go to college and become an accountant?

A new federal study shows that nearly a third of the states decreased academic standards in recent years. Fifteen states in all lowered proficiency standards in fourth and eighth-grade reading or math from 2005 to 2007. Three states – Maine, Oklahoma, and Wyoming – decreased standards in both subjects at both grade levels.

For example, in Mississippi, the state with the easiest standards, a score of 163 is deemed “proficient” but in Massachusetts, at the top, the standard for skills is set at 232. That’s a difference of 69 points. Should your child’s education be determined by zip code? Shouldn’t there be a universal standard? We have universal standards for everything else. My credit score is universal….

I know first hand that the standards are different in certain areas. I went to a public school in New Orleans called John F. Kennedy Senior High. I was in “Gifted” classes and I graduated ranked #7 in my class with a 3.90 GPA. That did not mean shit. When I got to the University of New Orleans for college, felt like I should have been in Special Ed classes. I was not ready for college academically. I was being exposed to things for the first time that some kids had in the 10th grade. After 5 years (yes I said 5, don’t judge me),  I managed to graduate with a very low “B” average, but it was very difficult.

So in today’s global economy, where our kids are facing all kind of competition from students all over the world, where kids in many foreign countries are focused on academics and technology, our kids in some areas are getting a third or fourth rate education and learning different variations of the stanky leg.

That’s why some of our kids are uninterested in school. The teachers are teaching to a standardized test and our kids are not being ready for the future. What are you teaching with ditto sheets and old practice test booklets from 1987? Where is the stimulation for a child’s imagination?  Kids aren’t reading Shakespeare anymore and having science fairs. Kids are not having cultural resources events at school. They have even taken art and music classes out of a lot of schools.  That’s why these kids are dropping out.

Our kids are not dumb, they are filled with passion and infinite potential; they are just not being given the training they need to go to college and beyond. Kids think they have a good education just because they get diploma (a piece of paper) that says they’re finished with high school. We’re lying to our children when we tell them they’re proficient, when they’re really not achieving at a level that will prepare them for success once they get to the real world. Let’s keep it real, you got nurses who get their degrees online in six weeks, do you really want them helping you in the hospital?

It’s like when a kid in the Special Olympics wins the 50 yard dash and everyone is proud of the fact he/she won in spite of their physical limitations. Somebody would be doing a terrible disservice to that kid if they told them that they were ready to go out and race Usain Bolt in the 2012 Olympics in Rio.

Remember what they did to JJ on Good-Times?

Some countries are training their kids to be scientist and software engineers. In other places, kids are learning about agriculture and technology, while the there are schools in the U.S. grooming the next Gucci Manes, Frankies & Neffes, and Lil Boosies.

Isn’t the purpose of school is to make our kids smarter so that they can be productive members of society? Why doesn’t anyone realize that dumb kids will grow up to be dumber adults?

It is not like this everywhere, but it’s happening  in too many places. How do we supposedly have the best educational institutions in the world, but have the highest drop out rates?

Here is a copy of the study: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/studies/2010456.pdf

Parents, we need to step up. We must still take responsibility for our kids receiving a good education. Help supplement what your kids are learning or not learning in school. Go to a PTA meeting.

Ways to Help Our Kids:

  • One on One Tutor Time at home
  • Talk with them about their career aspirations/support them
  • Help your aspiring rapper not become a rapper
  • Watch Sesame Street
  • Buy “Hooks on Phonics”
  • Buy “My Baby Can Read”
  • Make Some Flash Cards (Spelling, Multiplication Tables)
  • Read them any Book ( A history book or biography book)
  • Teach them about computers and how to use different software applications. Teach them about the web other than how to use social networking sites

If you read any spelling or grammatical errors in this article, remember that I went to public school….


Filed under Opinion

5 responses to “Learning to be Dumb?

  1. Whitty Gritty

    I have to agree with you. The quality of education is determined by the funds of the school. Wilde Lake High School has a $30,000 Mumba. A million dollar theater and Chic-fil-a at football games. Meanwhile about 20 minutes away a Baltimore city school doesn’t have enough textbooks and paper for the copier.

  2. K-Kizzle

    it’s a MARIMBA. not a ‘mumba’.

    i agree that the quality of education is dropping. even between counties. i went to Howard County schools then switch to Arundel and they were JUST learning what i had learned a month before.

  3. Lerner Joy Davis

    I love it!!! I just read this piece with my 13 year old son and he even agreed. As the parent of four sons it has become painfully evident that being involved is a must.

  4. Angie

    I’m reading this article all late but I feel like you. I went to a Baltimore County Public School, got straight A’s, on the honor roll, and everything only to feel like they were going to kick me out of college. I didn’t know how to study, wasn’t prepared At All!!! I was so angry at my high school the whole time I was in college.

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