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July 8, 2023

As a rock music fan, I enjoy Pink Floyd. But “We don’t need no education” is bad advice for life.

When our kids graduate school, they no longer just have to compete with each other. They now compete in a global marketplace. Not only have low-skilled jobs moved abroad where labor is cheap, but to attract new high-paying, tech-based jobs to America (or even to work online), our kids need an education as good or better than students get in China, India, Israel and other nations. Sadly, our schools are not giving them the tools they need to compete in the 21st century.

I have a friend who owns a printing business. He gives job applicants a pencil and ruler, and asks them to mark an eighth of an inch, a sixteenth of an inch and other simple measurements on a piece of paper. He tells me that no more than one out of ten even has a clue what he’s talking about. If America’s students can get a high school diploma without knowing basic fractions, then all we’re equipping them to achieve is a fraction of the American Dream.

Of course, the cry always goes up, “We need to spend more on education!” But we already spend over $550 billion a year, more than 4 percent of the gross domestic product. If money equaled results, then Washington, DC, should be crawling with junior Einsteins. DC public schools spend over $30,000 per student per year, or $10,000 more than the tuition for an in-state graduate degree from the University of Virginia. Yet DC’s reading, writing and math scores are well below the national average. Money alone doesn’t fix the problem.

Those who are obsessed with “income inequality” want to tear down those who earn more, but have no ideas for helping those who earn less. Well, here’s one: finish high school! Nearly a third of US students drop out. Over their lives, they’ll earn, on average, a quarter million dollars less than high school graduates. They’re also more likely to suffer ill health, get involved in drugs and crime, and die nine years younger. Staying in school benefits both them and society.

But if we want students to learn, then schools have to make them want to learn. To ignite their curiosity and turn them into lifelong seekers of knowledge. That takes both involved parents and competent teachers who are rewarded for good results. Kids need to be taught how to think, not just memorize standardized tests. They also need to be taught real facts and real history, not trendy racist, socialist and anti-American propaganda.

Dropping arts and music classes is the most short-sighted budget cut a school can make. Studies show that music class helps kids do better in other subjects, develop social skills, and stay in school longer. It might also improve the current dismal state of pop music. We must remember that schools exist for the students, not for the teachers’ unions or the education bureaucracy (so open the schools and stop letting the unions keep them closed.) And we need to keep most decisions about education at the state and local levels, with close parental involvement, so they’re made by people who know the students best.

If you think that doesn’t matter, look at all the home-schooled students winning academic contests. Home is as local as you can get, yet those students are more than ready to compete on the world stage. Don’t you want your kids to be?

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Comments 1-10 of 50

  • LD

    07/09/2023 07:36 PM

    Money ?? for the college system.

  • Wayne H. Graff

    12/28/2022 10:44 PM

    I just read some of the comments. I agree with most. One thing that I am proud of are the Catholic schools in Fort Worth, TX. Our church has a school and most of the Kids don't have to pay for College, they get scholarships. We have two Catholic High schools that compete to get the kids to enroll. These kids have good backing from their parents and the people in the diocese. These are kids that, even though I am single, I am proud of their accomplishments. They need to bring back wood class as well as the arts. I have been singing since 4th grade in choir. Not a church choir, a city choir that was the brain child of the 7th grade music teacher. By the time I was 10 or 11. We had made a couple of albums. Not a lot of Junior High school students can say they toured, but the last year I was in choir, we met with the Vienna Boys choir. I think that was in around 1972. I still sing in the church choir, our last two directors were trained opera singers. The first one sings for the Fort Worth Opera.

  • Wayne H. Graff

    12/28/2022 10:28 PM

    We need to do away with teachers unions. They are the biggest problem our country has. They are equivalent to tyrannical leaders, do as I say. But don't pay any attention to what I am doing. I would like to nominate Mike Rowe as Secretary of Education. If you could move that forward, that would help us all. Thanks Mike, we listen, we just don't know who to smack upside the head to wake them up.
    Wayne Graff, long time reader.

  • Michelle Clark

    12/27/2022 01:09 PM

    I agree with you. The unfortunate throwing money at education, where they only get in the future what they spend today creates massive problems, for the sake of stupidity. They look to purchase educational dogma from educated idiots who never spent time teaching. Expensive programs, while parents are called in to supply basics like glue and tissue, crayons and other necessities. Mismanagement is the root of all evil! Thanks for letting me sound off.

  • Mark Mittelstaedt

    12/27/2022 01:02 PM

    Imagine if, instead of just burning things down, BLM protesters agitated for inner-city schools so good that white kids wanted to be bussed in. People with jobs aren't out protesting. To get good jobs, you need...skills. Companies like Nike would be falling all over themselves to fund / have 'naming rights' to inner city schools. Make 'em voucher driven. Local businesses would spring up to cater the inevitable 'free' breakfast and lunch. They could become islands of decency. Why, they could even hire general contractors as teachers, and the classwork would consist of rehabbing properties, while the kids learned how to wire, plumb, do drywall, etc.

  • stephen russell

    12/27/2022 11:36 AM

    Voc Tech Ed
    Hands On
    Work Training
    ALL can Help

  • Phycilla Gable

    07/15/2022 02:16 PM

    But don't you understand, Mike, teaching a 5 year old he can change his gender is going to make a huge difference in intelligence!!???????? If there is any logic at all going on in school today, I don't see it!! My granddaughter will be a senior this year and she had a teacher last year that turned the TV on and went to the back of the room and sat down with a book! My daughter has taught at 2 different colleges and she said students in both have come through who cannot read!! Literally!! Unbelievable!!

  • marlene helfrick

    07/12/2022 06:59 AM

    I believe when Pink Floyd sang we don't need no education, they meant indoctrination. Look at the video, "The Wall".

  • marlene helfrick

    07/10/2022 11:32 AM

    It seems to me that my home state of Florida has the best education in America. Our governor DeSantis has made sure our children know how to think and not what to think. That is crucial to a good education.

  • Charlotte Yount

    07/08/2022 07:32 PM