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‘Our public schools are failures!’

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At least that is what our governmental administrators and legislatures are saying, and no doubt that is the belief of the general populace.
The U.S. ranks 33rd in National Test Scores out of the 172 countries in the world. However, when you compare the test scores to other countries that believe all students should receive a free public education. (Oh, none of the other countries that score higher than us educate the entire populace). The exceptions are countries i.e. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, which have a population about the same as Montana with no diversity.
There is no doubt that the general population considers our schools and classes to be overcrowded, our teachers and principals incompetent and discipline lax. In essence, they consider our schools to be failures.
My question is: Why target the schools? Are not the schools the reflection/mirror-image of our society?
If a survey were conducted on our religious institutions, would not the results be similar? After all, most denominations are shrinking in number and the majority of our youth are not rooted in any religious faith. Perhaps this is why so many are turning to cults.
If a survey were conducted on the American family unit, would we consider it a success? The unwed mothers, teen-age pregnancy rate, divorce rate, single-parent families, dysfunctional families, etc. say not much success here. Perhaps this is why so many children are turning to gang life to replace the missing family.
If a survey were conducted on our judicial system, would we think it successful? We have more people in jail than any country in the world. Florida ranks in the top two nationally with death row inmates. And yet, we turn out prisoners when they serve approximately a third of their sentence; then we put 70 percent of them back in prison. Is that success?
If a survey were made on the positive influence the media has on our children, would the results be acceptable? Let me assure you parents, if you do not raise your children,  cable TV and Internet will be glad to raise them! I could go on, but the picture is clear.
While our schools have a tremendous responsibility in the education and well-being of our students the solution to the problems in schools cannot be found totally within the parameters of education.
Yes, we have incompetent teachers and principals sprinkled throughout the system and I welcome the day that we can more easily rid our system of such. Until then, the multitude of great educators and administrators must not give up or dwell on the negative, but work even more diligently to educate our youth.
With these thoughts in mind, I suggest that the lack of respect for education, drug abuse, high crime rate, child abuse, social disease and so on are merely symptoms of the real disease.
The moral decay and absence of values are the twin thieves that rob our society. Until we accept the reality that we cannot be successful by treating symptoms rather than the disease, we cannot cure the problems.
We would think a physician ridiculous who treated a heart attack patient for pain in the arms and left shoulder but ignored the problem of the heart. Yet, we think everything will be all right if we continue to ignore the destructive sickness of our society and try to cure the symptoms.
Bob Hastings,
Superintendent
Levy County School District