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The United States, as a whole, is getting dumber. At least that is the case when compared to the rest of the industrialized world. Among 36 industrialized nations that were examined by The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US was ranked 18th in secondary education.

Now a lot could be said about that opening fact. However, one of the main questions that many, including myself, ask is “Why?” “We’re America, we’ve always been #1 at everything, what happened?” Well, looks like it’s time for a reality check and often times reality doesn’t fit inside our preconceived notions. So why exactly are we falling behind others in the area of education? My own personal opinion rests mainly on the amount of funding our public education receives here in the US. For 2010, the national budget calls for approximately $46.7 billion to go to the Department of Education. This is even up 12.8% from 2009′s budget. $46.7 billion may sound like a lot, but let’s compare that to the budget for military spending, which happens to be approximately $663.7 billion. Tack on $52.5 billion for Veterans Affairs, $42.7 billion for Homeland Security, and you’re talking nearly $759 billion. In case you’re following and doing the math, that is 16 times more than the education budget!

There’s an old cliche that goes by “knowledge is power.” This is true and I think it’s something we here in the US should listen to. What good is pumping money into a military budget when we are not adequately educating our children in science, math, and history? With the world advancing in technology the way it is, you can no longer rely on becoming a power by brute force alone. You need intelligence and educated individuals. You NEED education. So here’s a note to the US. Put more money back into education and back off some on the military budget. You’d be amazed at how quickly you gain more respect in the world (it’s been waning quite a bit lately).

~Mike

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25 Responses to “How Our Children Are Getting Dumber”

  1. Chuck says:

    I agree with all that you say but you did leave out one more important factor and that is PARENTS.

  2. Susanne says:

    Yes and you should check out the amount they spend on Correctional Facilities in comparison to Education. Perhaps if we focused on education more we would not need so much money for housing inmates.

  3. Kathy says:

    I do agree with this, BUT the parents do need to be more involved instead of using the schools as a babysitter and a disciplinarian. Also, why in the world do schools need 4 principals and 4 vice-principals as well as more than 1 teacher per classroom?? We as a nation need to step back and take a look at all the unnecessary spending of taxpayers money…..

  4. Doral says:

    I’m a retired teacher. My last school had 1 principal, 2 Vice Principals, plus a 1/3 time Superintendent of Education. All for fewer than 550 pupils. There were also more than one teacher per classroom plus several teacher aides. I think that you call the excessive administrative staff an example of featherbedding. I believe that too many teachers are just in the job for the money now that teachers are paid just below doctors and lawyers. The state should get out of Education and leave it up to competitive private enterprise. The dead wood among the administration and teaching staff would soon be eliminated. At the very least, non state schools (private, charter, denominational, etc.) should be allowed to compete on an equal footing for the Education dollars. State schools are the biggest socialist enterprise in the world.

  5. Evelyn says:

    Kathy, the teachers in this day and time will not teach a class of even 30 students. They state that they cannot give each student the time needed. I guess that puts my age group into stupid and there was times when I sat in the class room of 40 students and, if my menory doesn’t fail me, the teacher knew everything each student was doing and when a student was in trouble. Of course a lot of the teachers of today were low grade students in college but got through college by the skin of their teeth; couldn’t get a job in what they had their degree in because of the low grades and went to teaching. The teachers of yesterday was teaching because they wanted to be a teacher. They loved children and wanted to see them advance in knowledge. Children are advanced from one grade to the other now without any A-B-C-D or F grades. F in the years ago was “Johnny, you failed this grade and will be held back”. Today they can’t really care if Johnny learned anything in that grade as the government says they cannot fail a child and the chosen teachers have to pass them anyway. As for the children getting dummer….no, not at all. It is lack of imagination that is hurting the children. 99 % of today’s children have never had to imagine a tree twig to draw in the dirt/sand. Now they have to have chalk to draw on sidewalks or they can’t draw at all. The largest thing that is harming the children, though, is the loco-parents doing the job of the real parents. The home school children show the highest scores when tested for college. Those and the children that had Mom at home during their lower school days. It is such a shame that high priced lables are so important to parents and children that Mother’s have to work to provide their children with whatever it takes to keep their children up with the nightbors children. It is a shame that the children need this also.

  6. Dwight says:

    I don’t know about that one , Mike . Have you ever looked at your kids class books ? They are printing lies . Also , have you talked to the teachers lately ? They aren’t teaching that much . I’m not saying that all teachers don’t know how to teach , but , the real teachers are far and away . Think about it . When I was a kid , we had to pass a test , now , it’s a multiple choice . Even though any kid didn’t pass , they still send him on through . One more thing , parents . They don’t want they’re kid held back . They don’t want one kid win a trophy , so they give every kid a trophy . What’s about that ? The parents think that ” Johnny ” is the next Einstein , so the teacher must pass him . But , in reality , ” Johnny ” can’t read . But he can run like the wind , or score like nobody’s business , or hit the ball out of the park . So , the teacher , and his school , will pass little Johnny . Even though little Johnny can’t read or write . All those schools are adding to the problem . If they don’t pass X amount of students , they won’t get the money from the state . Yet , Mike , there are people like you who think that ” it’s the military that stole the money ” . But , little Johnny is the one who lost . All the money won’t help him , now . You blame the wrong people , and let the people who are the part of the problem go on they’re merry way . Obama cut the money from military , but you still blame the military . Who’s next ? NASA ?

  7. Richad says:

    The answer to this problem is not to divert more funds to the educational system.I’m a bit tired of reading that we should pay the teachers a bonus if their class shows improvement in test scores! A bonus for doing their job???I would like to have a job with a week off every 8 weeks, every holiday off, and some 11 weeks off in the summer. The retort to this is that many teachers say they have to do school work at home or attend advanced classes. That’s what we all have to do It seems to me that a lack of motivation is the basic problem and this reflects back to mommy and daddy and the family unit. Unfortunately, in the good old U.S. of A., there is frequently a missing mother and/or father. Family values are gone for many children at a tender age. Children need nourishment, need encouragement, need support, need loving. You get the idea. There is a lot of dead wood in administration and staffing that serve no purpose. When was the last time you heard of a teacher being fired for incompetence? The passing of many Catholic grammar schools with their no nonsense teaching is a smaller factor. The government is unable to run the school system. The ultimate solution may be to privatize all schooling.

  8. Irenkè says:

    This information was in today’s issue of my local hospital’s Magazine, “House Calls”.

    By The Numbers: MEDIA OVERLOAD

    New report by the Kaiser Family Foundation cites sharp increase in kids’ (ages 8-18) exposure to media over last five years.

    7 hours, 38 minutes: average amount of time kids spend watching or using some form of media (TV, video games, Internet) per day, up by more than an hour since 2004.

    66 percent: number of children with cell phones, up from 39 percent in 2004.

    71 percent: number of children who report having a TV in their bedroom.

    28 percent: children who say their parents place rules on TV watching. Thirty percent say they’re subject to rules on video game use and 36 percent of parents limit kids’ computer time. In homes where parents do set limits, children report spending roughly three hours less time consumed by media.

    47 percent: amount of heavy media users (more than 16 hours a day) who got only “fair” or “poor” academic grades, compared with 23 percent of light-media users (less than three hours a day).

    4 1/2 hours: increased time black and Hispanic children spend with media per day than white children.

    74 percent of teens now have a social-networking page on Facebook or similar site.

    50 percent use media while doing homework.

    Age 11: age at which media use goes up dramatically.

    38 minutes: average amount of time children spend reading daily.

    Compared to:
    4 1/2 hours watching television
    2 1/2 hours listening to music
    1 1/2 hours on the computer
    75 minutes playing video games.

    How about the amount of time children spend on their phones texting to their BFF’s with their English grammar shortcuts!
    Irenkè

  9. Roy Leggett says:

    Cutting back on military budget would be fine but what will happen is the government will cut back on veterans affairs. We have disabled veterans now that have to beg food from food banks, wear second or third hand clothes, receive minimal medical care(after waiting 3 months for an appointment) and the list goes on. Cuts should be made from foriegn aid, homeland security( do nothing anyway) and congress salaries and kick backs. I know for I am a veteran that is disabled and I am treated as a second class citizen, even though I gave my health for this country. 36 years with the Air Force should be enough to at least get medical care that is equal to what congress and the ccurrent “president” ( who most were never in the military) receive. At one time I think the government said 1/4th of the homeless are veterans. This is a disgrace to America, Thanks for letting me vent my frustrations……

  10. Carol says:

    The first five years of a child’s life are the most important ones in establishing a habit of learning skills – as in parents who read to them, families that take meals together and have discussions and arguments about various things of interest. These preschoolers are planted, too often in front of a TV set, handed the remote or put in ‘preschool’ where they’re just one of a mob of little folks. Parents need to take back the responsiblity for instilling basics and good learning habits and life skills. The kids aren’t dumber. The parents raising them are – we all need some back to basics in our lives.

  11. Sharon G. says:

    Steve, you are so far off on you blog, and I am amazed!

  12. Louis Tonucci says:

    Worldstart bloggers are getting dumber. The United States spends more money on education per pupil than any other country( mostly by state and local governments and from private sources). Not only that , but the more money spent on education, the dumber the students get. In 1960, American students could compete against the rest of the world. Since then, adjusted for inflation, spending for elementary and secondary education has increased about 2 1/2 times. The results have been plummeting SAT scores and increased handwringing. As American students progress through school, they become relatively dumber. Fourth graders don’t fare too badly against the world, 7th graders do worse, and 11th graders even worse than them, compared to everybody else. Since liberals and teachers’ unions control the schools , this is probably deliberate. As the Father of Progressive Education, John Dewey, put it, “Literacy is an obstacle to the establishment of Socialism”.

    Speaking of Socialism, the totalitarian impulse of Mike the blogger is obvious. Only that portion of education spending which the Central State controls is considered real. The other $600 billion or so doesn’t count. National Security is a legitimate and constitutionally required obligation of the Federal Government. Education is not and every shekel expended on it stinks to high heaven. We would be much better off applying the Timothy McVeigh theory of political science to the Department of Education and using education money for bombs or something else useful.

    BTW, we will gain respect in the world if we support our allies and oppose our enemies, the inverse of Obama’s foreign policy.

    • Evelyn says:

      Louis, did I read you correct? Spends more money than any other Country? That wasn’t saying much, now was it? May I ask where you are getting your information? If the higher in grades the children go and the dummer they get then by the time they get out of College they will be ready to become our President, using Obama as a roll model. Constitutionally…..what constitutionally??? Obama has used our Constitution as toilet paper since he has been in office and you try to convince someone of Constitutional rights? Did you read what you wrote?

      • Louis says:

        I was incorrect, apparently. NationMaster.com lists the U.S. 3rd and 4th in spending, per student, for secondary and primary educaton, respectively. Given the comparative results, we are not getting our money’s worth. Obama is not stupid; he is intelligent, dedicated to his agenda, and evil. I may be an cockeyed idealist, but I still believe in the Constitution. With the rise of the Tea Party Movement, it may be making a comeback. And I think my post is better than Marilon’s.

  13. Wayne says:

    I drive elementary school bus. I hear the conversations. Mostly about everything but classwork. I think the real problem is most think having good clothes or the latest video game is most important. They look down on the bright “A” students instead of striving to be like them. The children of many immigrants do much better then the norm but the second generation, immersed in American Culture, drop to “normal” levels.
    I think the problem isn’t the teachers or the school systems but our culture of fitting in and getting by.

    The children in private schools do well because their parents value education enough to pay extra to send their children to these schools. I don’t think the private schools have all the good teachers, but the have parents that value a good education and expect acheivement from their children.

    The problem is expectations at home. Educated parents have children that do better in school. Genetics or environment? I think children only do as much as they are pushed to do. Lets point the finger at the source of the problem. Parents have the most influence on study habits and classroom achievement. Throwing more money at the schools won’t solve the problems unless the parent push the children to do the work!

  14. Susan says:

    I see many levels of responsibility and everyone involved with a child is responsible at the 1st layer. Parents must treat their children as persons not object: I abhor the word “kids”. They are baby animals (e.g. goats). Parents must be consistent in praise and correction and must give time to their children by being there for them, teaching societal roles, as manners and respect for others as well as for themselves.
    Mothers and Fathers must respect and support each other and show that in how they speak and treat each other. Someone once said that the best lesson a father can teach his children is to love their mother. Single moms are missing that gift to share. Welfare is one of the worst government programs, People need to assume responsibility for their actions. If you cannot afford to care for a child unconditionally, do not have one in the first place. Look at all of the abused children in this world. These people too often blame the child for being born.
    Children see more than we think and if there is too little interaction between adults and children the spoken words that support for what children see remains as unanswered questions, or worse, apathy. I still believe that too much violence is portrayed in games, TV and real life. It numbs the children and terrifies so many that they do not want to go anywhere.
    Television, video games, and the rest of the mechanical babysitters should be in moderation. Excess to anything is not good. Reality TV offers blather; Too many “heroes have been busted for one thing or another. If children do not get the attention and intelligent discourse or family oriented activities, they will go elsewhere.
    Children are neglected in school because we expect the teachers and administration to be the family. I did not grow up in a drug/gang infested neighborhood. But I did grow up in a neighborhood as a latch-key kid whose neighbors would snitch on me if I so much as stepped out of pocket. We were a community on the North side of Chicago in the ‘50’s.
    Parents and the schools need to work together for each child.
    Sorry, I am not impressed with statistics. Throwing money anywhere does not work. Try throwing some common sense caring and love.

  15. Steve says:

    I don’t know why you chose to pick the Department of Defense’ budget as a whipping boy. The Constitution calls for the government to provide for the defense of the nation. It does NOT call for the education of our children.
    In the early days of our nation’s history, education of the children was accomplished at the LOCAL level of government. Cities created schools and hired teachers to educate the children. A Department of Education was created in 1867 but soon was demoted to an Office in 1868. Its creation a century later in 1979 was controversial and opposed by many in the Republican Party, who saw the department as an unconstitutional, unnecessary federal bureaucratic intrusion into local affairs.
    Since it’s creation in 1979, the Federal government has thrown money at the perceived problem with education, and using your own premise, we have gone from being number 1 to 18th! The federal government needs to get out of those areas not specifically spelled out as their responsibilities in our Constitution, and allow states and local governments handle those areas…including education.

  16. Dennis says:

    I am afraid you are correct in stating that our children are not progressing like other countries. Just look at most of the replies that have misspelled words or are grammatically incorrect – “Even with spelling and grammar checkers” built into the system. This is plain laziness, period.

  17. Marilon says:

    All this rhetoric regarding one expense against another is irrelavent. The bottom line is the lowering of expectation from the students. When most of us were in school you got whatever grade you actually did the work for and your grade reflected that effort. In recent years the “leave no student behind” theory has enabled the promotion from grade to grade of pupils NOT able to do the required studies. Letting the grades establish the pass or fail is the only way to encourage today’s spoiled young folks to do what IS required to learn. Passing little Johnny or Janie to the next grade whe he/she cannot even do the basic things like spell or do basic math is just like throwing a non swimmer into the middle of the ocean. Though they may not sink to the bottom immediately, they will continue to flounder throughout the school years, actually holding back the rest of the class as the next teacher tries to help this unprepared individua(s)l come up to the standard the rest of the class already has. To top that insult off, the entire group is learning that mediocrity in performance is acceptible. Let the differently abled students fail if necessary so they can learn to persevere, and reward the ones who excell with the promotions they deserve. THAT is the reality of the real world, and babying them just to make the school dostrict look good on paper is false psychology.

  18. Patricia says:

    Way to go Steve…. You have just about hit the nail on the head. I have not read every comment, but I do feel that the parents are a large problem as well as the overwhelming fact that teachers have no power to control a student anymore. Recently my sister in law gave up her teaching job because they had given her a student that was larger then she and that was a big problem. His mother keeps saying she will bring suit if they do not treat him right. He belongs in a special school, but is in the public school and disrupts the class and causes trouble. He takes meds but sometimes his mother says he doesn’t want to take it in the morning so he comes to school without and is even more of a problem. Recently a teacher had to hold him to keep him from hurting himself and the mother called her up on charges for putting her hands on the boy. The teacher was reprimanded. Can you believe that.
    At any rate the lace of the teacher to control the students is a major problem in the schools today.

    • Evelyn says:

      I personally know a family like the child you are speaking of. These parents said all they wanted was for him to be happy. He now resides in Federal Prison. I can relate to your sister-in-law’s reason for leaving teaching. Another good teacher to bite the dust of teaching because of lack of good sense in parents and the School Board.

  19. JimEd says:

    Don’t throw money into the money-pit. We put 10X the money into education than we did 15-20 years ago and the kids coming out of high school and college are 15-20 times dumber. Ask a young clerk in ANY retail shop to subtract your purchase from the cash you give them. They cannot do it without the aid of a register or a calculator. Spelling, History, Language usage (English) – also atrocious. Yet they know how to use a condom and take a birth control pill, thanks to the lax parental supervision and liberal policies of the education system. We need dedicated teachers, not more teacher’s unions. Parents should accept much of the blame too! THey should get involved in raising their children and stop pursuing the brass ring. Don’t be your kid’s friend, they have friends at school and at playgrounds. BE THEIR PARENT!

  20. Jean says:

    I have been working for a college for 20 years. I was in administration for 9 of those years in the admissions and registration office. I remember so many college-age students coming in for their first year. They would come in after testing to register for the appropriate classes for which they scored. So many of them had to start with basic math, reading skills and basic writing skills. As parents, we have really failed our kids in grade school when full grown 12-year graduate students can’t even add 2 + 2 or comprehend what they are reading on a grade-school level. We cannot expect the teachers to do all the work. As parents, we need to reinforce what they are being taught in school on a regular basis. Too bad if little Johnny can’t go out to play or watch TV until the homework is finished. Kids need rules from little on up through college. These are the next citizens that will take over our country some day. We need to invest time more than money in our kids so we can help them develop good habits while they are young so that these habits can continue into adulthood with a good job that will support them without mom and dad’s help. Kids need the responsibility of making sure that their homework is done. Parents need to spend time with them afterwards to make sure that they are on track and learning what it is they need to learn to move on to the next level of academia. Let’s help our children advance into the next grade with the knowledge that they need to tackle the next steps to learning. American students should be able to read and write as adults and to comprehend a job application. I see so much of that in my current job in a career center where people of all ages come to look for work. So many older adults, as well as some young ones, have to bring someone with them to help them read and interpret a job description so they can apply. It’s really sad. How can we sit idly by while our kids are sailing through school without really learning everything they need to succeed in life as an adult? Let’s get involved and go to some school board meetings and ask questions. See what we can do as parents to help this situation so that all children can be a success in whatever career they choose. I was a grade school volunteer for many years and I made appointments to speak to the teachers of my children when they had problems. By working together, my children got the help that they needed and were ready for college right after high school. They are all a success today because a parent got involved.

  21. Gay says:

    I agree with Roy Leggett. The vets deserve better. Their health and their body ia ruined. My daughter was in the war several times. She has more wrong with her than I do and I ma 65. They are not getting all the money. Look where our money has gone. Give these foreign countries money. Why? We need to help our nation first. And just hand it out to aliens to live here. They get foodstamps, checks, health care and housing. We have vets homeless that are not able to work. We have welfare and SSi abused.
    And for the kids, they get a chioce of what they want to learn. They don’t have to learn the things we did. If they want to take a guitar or some class that they may or may not work at at a later date then they do. I know some that have taken beautician classes. They don’t work at that. I know some that took guitar classes. They run around and drink and live on welfare. You don’t see many with these classes that go on to be someone. The basics we had to take is not mandatory. It is an option.
    And now a days if a teacher suspends a child or calls in the parents, they really go down the teacher’s throat instead of looking at what their child did and punish them. I know dropouts that parents fought the teachers and the kids kept on till they turned 16 and dropped out. Teachers hands are tied but i have to agree with someone in this blog, they don’t teach like they use to.
    When I was in school, and I applied the same principal to my children, if my child didn’t try, I went to the teacher to find out why. My momma said if the teacher or principal has to call saying you were punished, you will get it good when you came home. I told my daughter to do her very best and if she fails then it was her best. No goofing off.
    Well, since someone mentioned NASA, it takes so many million dollars everytime a ship lifts off. And they say every time it lifts off it lets so much radiation back to earth. So this is telling me the ozone layer may have been from that.

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