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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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Is Our Education Failing?

While we have many smart children in the United States, we lag far behind many nations around the globe in terms of educational quality.

As I examined statistics, it is clear that we are way behind China, Korea, Japan, Australia, Netherlands and even Canada, our neighbor to the North. While the statistics are probably not perfect, they are a close reading of where we stand in the world. In terms of reading, mathematics and science the number one educational ranking, in the world, is China. Korea is also far ahead of the United States in all of those categories. Canada is sixth in reading; eighth in science; and 31st in math. The United States ranks 25th in math; 12th in reading; and 20th in science. Astounding — but these rankings should be a wakeup call!

Why are we so low?

While it is not really all about money, take a look at expenditures for a moment. As a percentage of GDP for education, we rank 37th in the world. Interestingly, there is not one of the countries mentioned above which spends more of a percentage of GDP on education than we do. Could it be that it is not really all about dollars? While I do not pretend to be an expert in coming to a conclusion about how poorly we rank throughout the world, there is no doubt that time in the classroom, the dedication of parents, the devotion of teachers, and the motivation of students all play a roll.

When you examine the amount of time in the classroom, we rank quite low. Overall, our students spend around 180 days in school each year with six hours a day learning in the classroom.

China, on the other hand has over 300 days in school with six to seven hours of classroom learning each day. Japan, while not as high as China, spends almost 300 days in the classroom each year with more than six hours of teaching.

Next, as far as teachers are concerned, teachers in the United States do care. But, there are some teachers who do not measure up and cannot be terminated due to tenure mandates. If a teacher is not performing, after warnings, that teacher should be terminated.

As for students, part of their personal motivation has to be self-driven. At the same time, surroundings tend to help that self-motivation. If parents are not caring and do not provide the emotional support for children to do well in school, the children will slide. In my judgment we, as parents, have not been as demanding as we should be in disciplining students through the learning process.

We are leaving children behind and that is sad. No child should be left behind.

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