There is now a perpetual finger-pointing exercise going on in Washington, state capitals and cities in this country over why education reform has not brought, well, education reform.
The usual suspects are brought out – teachers, teacher unions, prinicipals, superintendents, video games, the popular culture, and on and on and on. Despite all the money, charter schools, vouchers, after school programs and endless speeches on making America’s school and its students the best in the world, there has been scant progress, especially in urban areas and among the poorest Americans. Most of the middle class school systems aren’t doing that great either, but at least there have been some tiny steps forward.
Absent from the finger-pointing has been the students, who are discussed as the victims of all that is wrong with the educational system. It is safe to say that pointing fingers at students is politically incorrect or should I say educationally incorrect. Blaming the victim is just not good politics; there have to be culprits who are bringing American education to its knees.
But there is more and more polling data evidence available that students are not victims so much as part of the problem. There is today in America the malaise of student apathy – lack of motivation, absenteeism, poor test preparation, an aversion to homework, little interest in remedial programs, concentration on sports not science, and on and on and on. Recent comments from teachers, principals and school districts across the country show that far too many students are just not into education.
Ask a teacher, any teacher what their biggest problem is and they will tell you it is some form of student apathy, whether sleeping in class, not handing in homework, challenging authority, or not giving a damn about whether they succeed in school or not.
It would seem to a logical person that education reform and high educational outcomes that follow reform must be connected to students. What now appears to be the case is that students are not keeping up with their part of the bargain – huge money for new schools, new equipment, new programs, but woeful underperformance by the so-called victims.
If all this federal and state money is going to do any good, the students of America will have to buy into the concepts of hard work, commitment to educational excellence and working cooperatively in the classroom setting with teachers and their fellow students. No more victims, only victors.