“Will America Slip From #1?” This is an editorial written by David Gergen, Editor at Large of U.S. News and World Report dated 4/04/05. The article reads, “22 years ago, a national education commission concluded that our schools faced a “rising tide of mediocrity”. Despite all the reforms, including NCLB, we are still showing uneven progress and other nations are moving ahead of us in education our children.” Bill Gates is quoted in this article “When I compare our high schools to what I see traveling abroad, I am terrified for our workforce of tomorrow.” He continues “America’s high schools are obsolete. We should not only be alarmed but ashamed.” Gates continues “in 2001 India graduated a million more students from college with six times as many university students majoring in engineering than the U.S.. He further states that many of those students are staying in India to work, saying “no” to higher paying jobs in the U.S. As a result U.S. based companies are finding it increasingly attractive to build not only their manufacturing plants abroad but their R&D operations as well.
The article continues, “Our leaders must rally Washington and the country to a revolutionary overhaul of public education. In our founding years, Americans were among the most literate people on earth, and this put us in an upward path. The education of our young has always been a key to our greatness. Will we now rescue the next generation or condemn it to 2nd place?”
The article continues to state “of the kids WHO REACH ninth grade, 32% disappear before high school graduation. Another third finish high school but aren’t ready for college or work. Only the upper third leave high school ready for college, work, and citizenship”.
Another article dated 4/02/05 in the same magazine states that India is turning outcome 82,000 engineering graduates a year, versus about 60,000 in the U.S. A new engineer with top academic credentials earns about $9,000.00 and a senior engineer with eight years experience earns about $20,000.00 a year. “Because innovation tends to follow jobs, key drivers of our economic prosperity could be lost.”
Part of our problems could be solved if administrators and school boards would subscribe to Gate’s advice to a high school class on 11/07/01. I quote Mr. Gates:
Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it.
Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will not make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school….nor will you be a corporate-Vice President with a car phone, until you earn both. (Bill was partly wrong on both these counts, the most talented graduates in demand today sometimes start at forty thousand and even those on welfare sometimes have car phones they need to complete their drug deals.)
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents (most, not all) had a different word for burger flipping—they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parent’s fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes; learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers but life has NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life. (An article in WSJ on 3/11/05 chided organizations who gave out sports trophies to kids for just showing up. Have we really gotten that socialist? Kids now expect a pat on the back when they haven’t even tried!!) When my dad and mom raised nine kids, we got a kick in the butt if we whined and didn’t try hard; today for disciplining us, my parents would have gotten a visit from DCFS. All nine kids turned out to be good citizens because our parents and teachers disciplined us because THEY CARED. They showed their love for us by their actions; they knew words were cheap.
Rule #9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
Rule #10: Television is not REAL life; people actually have to leave the bed and go get jobs.
Rule #11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
Bill was talking to high school graduates; which means the half that made it thru 12 grades. Unfortunately, the other half who don’t make it thru 12 grades should be taught the above rules BEFORE they drop out of school.
Bill should also talk to some teachers. Sometimes when I visit a classroom, the principal introduces me to the teacher who then ignores me and does not introduce me to the class. Some teachers start a class WITH NO OPENING STATEMENT, like, “class, here’s what we are going to learn today and this is why you need to learn it. Some teachers are crossing off the days they have left to teach before they draw their pensions at 55. How can they really teach when they appear “burnt out”? About one half tell me “thanks for visiting, seeing what we often contend with and caring.”