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STUPID IN AMERICA: HOW WE CHEAT OUR KIDS COMMENTARY

This one-hour show was a 20/20 special report. In one hour this show was WWAAYY too short to fully showcase why our educational system stunk. The show was so fast trying to cover so many topics it never got too deep into any one topic which stunk. This special report also skipped over a bunch of items that should have been discussed.

This show only looked at one other country to showcase what a good educational system was to suppose to look like. The country the used was Belgium and he barely discussed this country’s educational system. This country uses a lot of school choice in its educational system. They gave out an exam to students to kids in both the state of New Jersey and to some kids from Belgium. Both groups tested thought the exam was easy. The Belgium kids got just over 75% of the questions right while the students from New Jersey got just 46% correct. This just shows that we need to look at to why the schools in Belgium are working better outside of the school choice idea and see what could be used in our public school system to get better performance.

He went to a charter school in Washington DC. It was a Knowledge is Power Program(KIPP) type school. As I have reported on this type of school before this is a school where students come to school earlier and leave later. This is a special charter school type program that needed way more time then the few minutes it got on the show to show why it works.

John did spend some time in one state and that was South Carolina. In that state he showed off one kid that was 18 years old and had a very bad reading level. The mother had tried over the years to get the school system to get his reading level up, but they never did do enough for that kid. John took him to the Sylvan leaning center where in 72 hours his grade level in reading went up two full grade levels. I will agree that in this case the school district blew the fat one on this kid. Some kids just fall through the cracks and that should never happen.

Also in the state they talked about the Governor of the state getting his kid into a so-called good school because he was the Governor. I say this a complete no-no. He should get no special treatment when it comes to education. He did want to pass school vouchers in the state though.

John did spend some time taking about teacher unions. Most of it was spent on firing rules for bad teachers in the NYC school district. They showed a massive long rules list that was way too much. It needs to be totally streamlined down which is something both John and I can agree with. Teacher unions can draw a big time crowd as his show showed which is true. The show skipped over hiring practices of the schoolteachers though which can be just as bad. Bad teachers need help to get better or they need to lose the teaching license they have.

Home schooling of kids was one topic 100% missed by this show. The bad curriculum, virtual schools and the No Child Left Behind bill were also missed. School programs such as Success for All, Comer process, early college high schools, and the High School That Work program were missing as well.

The biggest miss in the whole show was the bad side of the non public school system because all of those type of schools are not good at all. One NCES study shows charter school students doing worse than regular school children. He skips over the bad charter schools that have poor grades as if they do not even exist. Charter schools have even closed because of the bad grades. He was not fair or balanced at all on this topic.

In the end this one-hour show looked like a total propaganda piece to get you to say yes to vouchers without enough of the bad side of the bad schools that use voucher money at all. If John missed the Hedrick Smith show “Making School Work” he needs to see it. I also think that John skipped over a lot of research as well that would have given him a different outlook on our educational system.

SOURCES

Making Schools Work Documentary website:
http://www.pbs.org/makingschoolswork/index.html

How to fire a teacher in NYC webpage: http://cgood.org/i/burden/question-6.pdf

Zimmer, Ron W., et.al. ” Charter School Operations and Performance” RAND (2006) n. pag. Online. Internet. January 12, 2006
Available: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1700/

“America’s Charter Schools Results From the NAEP 2003 Pilot Study” NCES (2005) n. pag. Online. Internet.2005
Available: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/studies/2005456.pdf

“Student Achievement in Private Schools: Results From NAEP 2000-2005” NCES (2005) n. pag. Online. Internet. December 2005
Available: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/studies/2006459.pdf

Méndez, Teresa “Good Schools Bad Scores?” Christian Science Monitor (2004) n. pag. Online. Internet. February 24, 2004
Available: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0224/p11s01-legn.html