Public school is making my daughter stupid

I really don’t want to get into a whole rant about why the public school system in America is severely broken. But, towards the end of last year, I asked my daughter why she got something wrong that I knew she knew and her response made me cry.

“I did it because someone teased me about getting everything right.”

If you’re a parent of school-aged children, or have been, I don’t think I need to say much more than this. You should already understand why I despair.

I do all I can to educate my kids at home. I offer them as many learning opportunities as I can afford. But, all that work can be undone and my only remedy is to get my kids out of public school.

I wish I made enough money to keep my kids in private school.

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  1. My daughter’s 4th grade teacher sent home a note stating she needed after-school tutoring. Concerned, I immediately set up a conference with him to understand what issues he had with her work. I was a bit confused as she had brought home an all “A”s progress report only the week before. He stated that she was lagging in reading and writing, (by far her best subjects–she reads at a 12th grade level.) He offered two examples of her poor work. The first was an editing exercise that she had failed. Much of the editing had to do with converting run-on sentences into proper diction. He had marked each sentence with large red X’s, but when I read them, they were all properly edited. In fact, her sentences were much more varied and complex than what he expected of her, and since she hadn’t marked them where he thought she should have–F. The other piece of evidence was a journal entry she had written. He had highlighted several words stating that although creative, making words up was not acceptable in a required assignment. Asking for the dictionary I promptly looked up several of them. Lo and behold, plain as English. He got very red in the face when he could not define them. And I was simply in shock.

    Frightening. Very frightening.

    The evidence for home-schooling mounts daily.

  2. Drofen: Fortunately, the public school teachers are wonderful and intelligent so I guess we’re lucky there, but the teaching “agenda” leaves much to be desired. I’m shocked at how much focus there is on the NJ ASK test because of the NCLB Act.

    I recognize that we’ve become a very anti-competitive culture where every kid has to “win” or else it’s “not fair” but sometimes that competitive environment helps foster a certain amount of internal drive in children that will help them continue to achieve as adults. Or, maybe that’s something that can be taught at home which can carry over into school – I will certainly try harder.

  3. Here in Texas we are afflicted by acheivment test-itis as well. I’m not sure how it is where you live, but the amount of money a school receives from the government is directly tied to how well the school scores on the tests. Seems bass-ackwards to me in some regards. Shouldn’t schools that are performing poorly be getting more funding to make up the gap?

    Not only does competition develop internal drive, but the occasional losing effort goes miles towards developing character–something this nation is woefully deficient in…

  4. It’s a slippery slope–if you give more funds to under-performing schools, then where’s the incentive to excel? As soon as the kids do better, you get less funding …

    So, of course you have to tie funding to achievement otherwise it’s too easy to game the system. However, how do those under-performing schools advance? It’s not easy: it takes a lot of hard work and doing more with less. It definitely isn’t easy, but it’s possible.

    Oh, and developing character–I remember growing up having to learn to be a “good winner” and learning not to be “a sore loser.” Kids today? Not so much: everyone has to win “or it’s bad for their self-image and self-esteem.” That makes me sad.

  5. Are you a fan of vouchers yet? :)

  6. Oh, Mark … you have no idea. While I keep hearing that “school vouchers will destroy the public school system” (yeah, so? that’s kinda the point…) I firmly believe that being able to “vote with your wallet” is really the only way to drive up the quality in education.

    Either that, or we need qualification/entrance exams; fine, keep the schools publically funded with tax dollars, but segregate students based on their aptitude. Turn public schools into boarding schools and send kids to schools that match their abilities.

    One way or another, we need to stop educating to the lowest common denominator. We cannot continue to dumb down students to the center of the bell curve.

  7. i don’t see this as a problem with the education system (this specific case). the education system does have problems, but this seems like a societal thing.

  8. lefty: Yes, it is clearly a societal thing, but the fact that it’s reinforced by the educational system bothers me.

  9. Tom Reingold says

    Dossy, why do you blame the school that your daughter caved to pressure that your daughter’s peers created? This is mob mentality, and you can find it anywhere. Do you think there would be less in a private school? I don’t expect so.


  10. Tom: As a bit of background, I attended a private high school, and my daughters both started out attending a private Montessori pre-school.

    My complaint isn’t that there’s peer pressure; there will always be and I’m okay with that. My complaint is that in the public school, the peer pressure discourages kids from being smart! In the Montessori school, kids encouraged each other to do better, to try harder, to master a skill and then help others learn it.

    Sadly, the Montessori school our girls started in only goes up to First Grade … and frankly, I can’t really afford to keep them in a private school right now. Like I originally wrote: I really wish I could afford to keep them in private school.

  11. I agree 100%. My daughter is a very bright and cultured girl, however, her 4th grade teacher is really dumbing her down. It has become difficult for my husband and I to constantly try to undo the damage of her teacher. I am going to begin her tutoring with a family member who is more than qualified to do it and will be taking her trips to various countries to try to keep the culture alive. I know that most people cannot afford to do this but there is always the “virtual” tour of the world. Please, I beg you from one parent to the next, do not let our kids become helpless mindless zombies who can’t think their way out of a paper bag!

  12. Man i graduated from high school in 2007, and I noticed that the students kept getting stupider, and when we moved from a small town in Oregon to a big city in Colorado the schools where teaching stuff I had already learned. And now one of my uncles got a daughter and I see how bright she is, and I think she would be brighter than some high school students now. Though I never excelled in school, I was usually not very challenged by it and got very lazy from being in school and so graduated with a 2.6 i think, not that it really matters anymore. At least usually stayed home and played with legos and read lots of adventure, mystery and sci-fi books.

  13. It’s pretty simple. Don’t let the state raise your children. They are so precious,times is so short and their young psyches are so impressionable. And now they are making their toxic, Mercury and aluminum laden garbage injections mandatory. Get vouchers, grab a dozen of your neighbors, put up an out building and school each other. Otherwise, to judge by the vacant, drooling “graduates”, we are doomed to be content with state’s plan for us, which is to make us breeding, fighting organ factories ripe for harvesting.

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