"Rook" has some thoughts on our educational system.
The US spends more per student than any other country in the world. Substantially more. The US pays it's teachers more than any other country. Substantially more. Yet the US education system ranks 14th in the world, based on benchmark tests administered to all students. Why?
Each year the percentage of US positions open for physicians, scientists and engineers filled by foreigners grows higher and higher. While we have had high unemployment for many years, hundreds of thousands of jobs that require math and science skills go begging, until employers turn to foreign sources to recruit employees. Why?
It's not a lack of resources. It is a lack of will.
Teachers trained in liberal universities and colleges tend to be liberal in their classrooms. Students are allowed to possess cell phones in the classroom. No other country in the world allows it. Teachers are so politically correct that discipline in the classroom is difficult at best. Teachers are afraid of generating a complaint from a parent or a student that might affect their career. They tend to take the path of least resistance and avoid conflict, even to the detriment of their students. It is not unusual to see students in the classroom playing games on their phones, or even Googling answers to test questions. It is commonplace for underachieving students to advance without critical knowledge having been learned. This makes the next grade even more difficult and leads to a downward spiral in acquired knowledge, but continued advancement in grade level. The end result is an ever increasing number of students being graduated who are functionally illiterate. The US has the highest per capita number of functionally illiterate people in the Western world and even a few third world countries. How can this be improved?
Bring discipline back to the classroom and empower teachers to fearlessly enforce it.
Ban all cell phones and other electronic devices from the classroom.
A re-emphasis on sciences and mathematics in the curriculum. Algebra, geometry, geology, biology, chemistry and astronomy should all be included in the required courses to graduate.
Require testing to prove each student is sufficiently knowledgeable to progress to the next grade. Hold them back if not.
Require testing that proves a student is able to function adequately in reading, writing and basic mathematics and science courses before a student may graduate from high school. No proficiency, no diploma. The high school diploma will once again become a mark of achievment.
Set up a post-secondary public education system that teaches trades and crafts that will enable marginalized students an opportunity to have a good paying job with which to support a family. Electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters, masons, truck drivers, crane operators, heavy equipment operators, auto mechanics, aircraft mechanics and house painters to name just a few. Those that failed to get a diploma in high school can still earn a diploma by graduating from one of these courses.
But none of this can happen without the will to make it happen. It needs to be addressed at the local school board level and rise up as a grass roots campaign to spread throughout the country. We can make it happen, not politicians.
We should be number one in the world, not fourteenth. That's just embarrassing and unnecessary. Lets start making our own engineers, scientists and medical doctors in sufficient numbers to no longer need foreigners to fill the gaps.