"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"
That, if you'll go back in time twelve years with me, comes from President Bush, and actually only ranks 3rd on this list
of his top ten gaffes.
Anyways, according to former New York City schools Chancellor and current head of News Corp's education division Joel Klein, that question (or a grammatically correct variant of it) has not been asked enough in the current presidential race. In an op-ed published
in the Washington Post,
Klein pointed out that even though only one-quarter of US students perform on par with students in the world's top five school systems, this year's presidential debate has devoted only 1% of the time and questions on education.
Then again, at least we're not alone.
According to a recent story in the Global Post,
Australia (generally considered among the stronger education systems in the world) has seen a recent decline in test scores and student performance. In math, for example, Australian students have fallen two to three years behind their peers in some parts of Asia.
Worse yet is the anecdotal evidence of educational decline. A national survey of students in grades six and ten found that many had difficulty identifying food origins. For example, only 45% of sixth graders knew that bread, cheese, and bananas all come from farms.
40% of students in 10th grade believed that cotton was an animal. 27% of sixth graders thought that yogurt grew on trees. Over a quarter of the same group thought the same of scrambled eggs.
On the brighter side, an "overwhelming majority knew where potato chips and coffee came from."
Of course, it should be pointed out that not knowing where food comes from is at least as much a symptom of urbanization as poor education. Still, Australian education minister Peter Garrett has called on his country to provide the highest quality education for its children.
By the way, in recent years, Australia has ranked way ahead of the US
in educational quality.
Meanwhile, national tests conducted last year found that US students know very little about this country's history. Here's an article
with some of the questions American students got wrong.