The American education serves the interest of this country and the economic and social necessities of its people. This means that not all schools are failing. In other words, only "Some schools are failing as are the communities and governments that serve them." writes Sarah from California.
I don't think nobody would disagree on the fact that teachers are sharing far too many disconnected and rote skills which are aimed at memorization and singular algorithms for the most part. But good things are also on their way.
On this topic, I specially like this quote: "American schools could do math and science instruction so much better than they do now. We could decide on essential basic skills that need to be taught and then focus much more on skills and activities related to problem solving, inquiry, analysis, application, and real world contexts. We could make a strong and meaningful connection between math and games and we could empower the majority to be confident in their math abilities and their abilities to learn math."
Many of us point fingers at politicians but at the core of this problem is also the industry. All the machinery behind production of testing, the textbook printing, and don't forget about the educational consultants. They, as the economy rulers in Wall Street, want to keep the system as it is. The only thing they care about is profiting from education.
As far as the utilitarianism is present in our curriculum, we have to recognize that education goes beyond that. School is to form (rather than train) citizenship, aim at sensible care-takers not only to oneself but the family and the environment.
"There is less upward mobility now for Americans than there was thirty years ago and our schools are statistically doing better than thirty years ago as measured by standardized tests for reading and math." I really worry that the same President Obama focus only on vain comparisons with other countries on this matter, forgetting that American has been built on our education public system.
Still, despite of not following international standards, our education is the envy of most of the world. Why? Because it produces a "diversity of well-educated, creative, and energetic students who go on to further educate themselves later in life", and performs to the highest levels in colleges and universities under their own effort.
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