20 January 2006

Study: Most College Students Lack Skills - Yahoo! News

Study: Most College Students Lack Skills - Yahoo! News

I'm shocked! Shocked! This is the most upsetting news I've seen in, umm, about ten minutes.

I am jesting, of course. Why should I, or anyone for that matter, be surprised at a story like this? American public schools are dismally poor at graduating students with even a modicum of traditional skills such as reading, writing and 'rithmatic, so why should those same students fare any better once they get to college?

This quote really makes me cringe:

"Most students at community colleges and four-year schools showed intermediate skills. That means they can do moderately challenging tasks, such as identifying a location on a map" [emphasis mine].

Since when is identifying a location on a map "moderately challenging"? I suppose it is to a fifth grader. The really tough assignments, that require really "proficient" skills, are interpreting a table about exercise and blood pressure, or understanding the arguments of newspaper editorials (oh, come on!) and comparing credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees. Okay, so maybe that last one is a bit of a challenge, given the abstruse and convoluted way the credit card companies present those offers.

Our public education system needs to be scrapped, or completely overhauled. John Stossel of ABC's "2020" gave an excellent expose of the public system, and demonstrated quite well that where there is competition (in the form of vouchers) that students do much better. I agree. The only way to improve the public schools in this country is to introduce competition into the system. This will weed out the poorer performing teachers and educrats, and then at least some of our students will get a decent education.

Update: here is a great quote by John Stossel that I pulled from The Patriot Post:

"Not enough money for education? It's a myth. The truth is, public schools are rolling in money. If you divide the U.S. Department of Education's figure for total spending on K-12 education by the department's count of K-12 students, it works out to about $10,000 per student. Think about that! For a class of 25 kids, that's $250,000 per classroom. This doesn't include capital costs. Couldn't you do much better than government schools with $250,000? You could hire several good teachers; I doubt you'd hire many bureaucrats. Government schools, like most monopolies, squander money. America spends more on schooling than the vast majority of countries that outscore us on the international tests. But the bureaucrats still blame school failure on lack of funds, and demand more money." [emphasis mine]