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Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write or Add

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Dumbing Down Our Kids is a searing indictment of America's secondary schools-one that every parent and teacher should read. Dumbing Down Our Kids offers a full-scale investigation of the new educational fad, sometimes called "Outcome Based Education" -the latest in a long series of "reforms" that has eroded our schools. * Why our kids rank near to, or at the bottom of intern Dumbing Down Our Kids is a searing indictment of America's secondary schools-one that every parent and teacher should read. Dumbing Down Our Kids offers a full-scale investigation of the new educational fad, sometimes called "Outcome Based Education" -the latest in a long series of "reforms" that has eroded our schools. * Why our kids rank near to, or at the bottom of international tests in math and science * Why "self-esteem" has supplanted grades and genuine achievements * How the educational establishment lowers standards and quality in our schools - while continuing to raise their budgets and our school taxes * The dumbing down of the curriculum so everyone can pass - but no one can excel * How parents, students, and teachers can evaluate schools and restore quality learning


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Dumbing Down Our Kids is a searing indictment of America's secondary schools-one that every parent and teacher should read. Dumbing Down Our Kids offers a full-scale investigation of the new educational fad, sometimes called "Outcome Based Education" -the latest in a long series of "reforms" that has eroded our schools. * Why our kids rank near to, or at the bottom of intern Dumbing Down Our Kids is a searing indictment of America's secondary schools-one that every parent and teacher should read. Dumbing Down Our Kids offers a full-scale investigation of the new educational fad, sometimes called "Outcome Based Education" -the latest in a long series of "reforms" that has eroded our schools. * Why our kids rank near to, or at the bottom of international tests in math and science * Why "self-esteem" has supplanted grades and genuine achievements * How the educational establishment lowers standards and quality in our schools - while continuing to raise their budgets and our school taxes * The dumbing down of the curriculum so everyone can pass - but no one can excel * How parents, students, and teachers can evaluate schools and restore quality learning

30 review for Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write or Add

  1. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    Dumbing Down Our Kids is an expansive (but not chronologically organized) history of educational fads and failed reforms from the 1920’s through the mid-1990’s, complete with numerous spine-chilling anecdotes of outlandish teachers, classes, and curricula. Sykes doesn’t quite put it like this, but his book shows that U.S. education is largely a story of traditional, fairly successful, basics-focused education giving way to the trendy, “progressive” ideas born of the educational theorists in the Dumbing Down Our Kids is an expansive (but not chronologically organized) history of educational fads and failed reforms from the 1920’s through the mid-1990’s, complete with numerous spine-chilling anecdotes of outlandish teachers, classes, and curricula. Sykes doesn’t quite put it like this, but his book shows that U.S. education is largely a story of traditional, fairly successful, basics-focused education giving way to the trendy, “progressive” ideas born of the educational theorists in the academically mediocre Education Departments of the nation’s universities, resulting in students’ decreased ability to read, write, and compute, until the disaster becomes obvious enough that there is a return to basics, only to give way again a few years later to the same inane trends under different names, in a never-ending loop of “back-to-basic” and “progressive” approaches in which any educational gains are wiped out every few years. What kind of public school education you receive depends largely on where you happen to hit this cycle when you enter your local school. One would think this book was out of date, having been published in 1995, but the point is that educational fads have a way of circling back again. It was written not long after I graduated from high school, so I recognized some of the educational ideologies from my own experience, “cooperative learning” being the major one. I only very nearly escaped the “open classroom” fad; it was going on in the elementary school for which I was zoned, but as my mother was a public school teacher, at the time she was permitted to send me to another public school of her choice, one that was fortunately not expecting children to learn from osmosis in a chaotic environment. Other educational ideologies detailed in this book I did not experience myself, but I recognize them from my daughter’s first year in public school – the most notable being “whole language” (also known as “creative spelling” or “language experience”), the excessive promotion of groundless “self-esteem,” and the “mainstreaming” of children who would better benefit (and less distract other students) in separate classes. Nearly all of the teaching methodologies and ideologies the author denounces I believe to be, based on my own experience or that of my daughter, entirely worthy of harsh criticism. And because of this, I give the book three stars. It does not receive five stars, however, because, like most educational books of its kind, it relies far too heavily on anecdotal evidence, often presenting the extreme case as the normative case. I can pull out a handful of horrifying anecdotes from my own years of public schooling (an English teacher who did not know the difference between an adjective from an adverb and taught us incorrectly; a math teacher who regularly showed up late for class, taught us very little math, and allowed us to earn A’s and B’s with extra credit assignments that involved, among other things, making paper airplanes; a P.E. teacher who brought his students to tears), but these stand out as exceptions for me in a sea of otherwise good teachers. While I certainly felt that “cooperative learning” was a royal waste of time, with a 6.5 hour school day, one manages to learn enough real information despite all that, provided cooperative learning is not ALL the teacher is doing. I can read, write, and add, thank you very much. The problem with these books is that there is no way to tell if these outrageous tendencies are indicative of even an entire school, let alone an entire town, an entire state, or an entire country. While such inadequate methods should be decried and replaced, I think it goes a bit far to say our children can’t “read, write, or add.” I would also like to know more about these international comparison in which the U.S. figures so horribly. What are these “international tests”? Who writes them? Who administers them? Who takes them? I don’t ever recall being given one myself. And how does one compare reading and writing ability in international tests, anyway – when one considers that French and Spanish and Korean, say, are rather different languages than English. I never feel like I get an explanation of this in any educational book, and I certainly did not in this one. At least this book confronted one of my objections to such comparisons. I have always thought that, given the compulsory nature of our education system, it wasn’t really fair to compare us to a place like Korea, where education is a privilege and not a legal mandate, and where the slow and disobedient eventually get kicked out of school. Sykes does address this, noting that all of these other nations DO have compulsory schooling through elementary level, though it does become selective in junior high and high school, but the U.S. still falls behind on elementary school test comparisons – so that excuse for American failure is inadequate. In addition to failed educational methods, Sykes addresses sex education curriculum; sex-abuse prevention curriculum (here I disagreed with him most, as I find this curriculum fairly reasonable and helpful); and the excessive use of (and overly subjective criteria for) the “learning disabled” label (another point I can agree with based on my own personal experience of narrowly escaping such a label despite being a satisfactory student at the time and an exceptional student years later). And what are his suggestions for improving the U.S. education system? He notes that there are successful schools throughout the country, some private, some public, some in affluent suburbs, some in inner cities – but research shows they all consistently have three major things in common (notably, you will NOT find among them either funding or class-size): (1) Emphasis on “pupil mastery of low level skills” and consistent “attention to the progress of all students in…reading, writing, and computation,” (2) high expectations and a willingness to fail students who do not meet standards, and (3) constant monitoring and evaluation of student progress. How to get more schools to share these successful characteristics? Unfortunately, he argues, it won’t be easy because of a deeply entrenched, bureaucratic, union-protected, monopoly public school system. (And not much has changed since he wrote this book over ten years ago, except that the federal government now has even more control over education than it did then.) We have to get rid of this idea that support for “public education” necessarily means support for the public school SYSTEM and seek public financing of education without necessarily demanding public production. But if we’re ever to get anywhere near a solution to our educational woes, Sykes suggest, we’ll first need to eliminate the federal Department of Education and all 50 state departments and open up entry to the teaching profession to non-“educationists” by abolishing current teacher certification requirements. I happen to agree, but … yeah … good luck with that. All in all, it’s a decent book, providing a lot of information, and giving the reader an understanding of what educational theories (such as “outcome based education”) truly mean in practice. It could be better organized; there could be less redundancy, and the anecdotes could be put in a broader statistical context rather than left to imply a normative, universal state. (There are plenty of statics regarding test scores and funding and such, but not a great many regarding, say, percentage of schools or teachers using phonics vs. whole language). Like many books on education, I think he expects too much of teachers and ignores student limitations. For a rare book that takes these (and other) limitations into account, read Charles Murray’s Real Education instead.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Numbers tell us that this national is in a academic decline, with its highest 10% of students matched with those of the middle 50% in Asia. It is a reality our nations so called "educationists" are unwilling to accept, and one in which American kids are wholly oblivious to as they wander the halls gossiping about the latest show on mad T.V without a speck of knowledge about how or when the television even came about because such information are labeled as trivial and futile in creating "well-rou Numbers tell us that this national is in a academic decline, with its highest 10% of students matched with those of the middle 50% in Asia. It is a reality our nations so called "educationists" are unwilling to accept, and one in which American kids are wholly oblivious to as they wander the halls gossiping about the latest show on mad T.V without a speck of knowledge about how or when the television even came about because such information are labeled as trivial and futile in creating "well-rounded citizens". Class rooms across the nation have employed a methodology of teaching called "outcome based education", and the traditional courses of mathematics, history, and the sciences have essentially been stripped of their meaning as educationists ruthlessly attack the very essence of learning itself. Charles J. Sykes elucidates this occurring national crisis, albeit one that many myopic individuals would consider to be negligible, by presenting the reader with hard, empirical facts that point to the egregious failures of this nations seemingly avant-garde methodology of teaching.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rique

    Although I could not find it within myself to actually finish this book, I did get quite far, and definitely far enough to know my thoughts about it... When the author proposes a statement, a viewpoint, or an idea, he then goes to justify his proposal with facts and/or statistics. While I believe it helps him establish his ethos, and it is much more believeable a book when he can sopport his claims, after a few of these, already enough to get you to say to yourself "Okay, I get it," he continues Although I could not find it within myself to actually finish this book, I did get quite far, and definitely far enough to know my thoughts about it... When the author proposes a statement, a viewpoint, or an idea, he then goes to justify his proposal with facts and/or statistics. While I believe it helps him establish his ethos, and it is much more believeable a book when he can sopport his claims, after a few of these, already enough to get you to say to yourself "Okay, I get it," he continues to state more justfifications, to where you begin to actually say outloud, "Okay, I GET IT!" However, him being an author he doesn't know what we are saying, so he simply continues to write although it has become, inevitably unnecessary. Thus I believe his book is quite factual, and insightful as to the education systems of today's society, I believe he could've went about his reasoning in a much smoother, easy-to-read sort of way.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Written in the early nineties, it is only more relevant today. Or maybe because I am living it with my kids now, it's just more relevant to me. In any case, I did not read the book cover to cover, but did skim through most of it pretty thoroughly. I think that if you already feel the way the author does, this book pretty much validates any preconceived notion you may have had about the failure of our schools to challenge our kids now. Inventive spelling from kindergarten on ( my 5th grade daught Written in the early nineties, it is only more relevant today. Or maybe because I am living it with my kids now, it's just more relevant to me. In any case, I did not read the book cover to cover, but did skim through most of it pretty thoroughly. I think that if you already feel the way the author does, this book pretty much validates any preconceived notion you may have had about the failure of our schools to challenge our kids now. Inventive spelling from kindergarten on ( my 5th grade daughter still comes home spelling errors in her written work that are not identified by her teachers), group projects in lieu of tests, getting rid of class rank - these are all examples of what our schools do now so that kids don't feel bad badly if they are not doing well. What about challenging them to do better? What about expecting more, not less? It's a grim look at the trend of public education.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    More frightening than any Stephen King book. The last section Sykes plays with fire by taking the moral high-ground, but the rest of the book is disturbing and excellent. Sykes is at his best sticking to facts and using anecdotal information.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    A fairly scathing review of the school system in the United States. Sykes is not critical of schools Prussian beginnings, but of the direction the school system has been going for the last 75 years or so. He believes not enough time is spent on actual learning and studying, the curriculum is watered down, the teachers union is too corrupt and powerful, and that our national textbooks are severely lacking. Sykes also takes issue with the 'self esteem' philosophy purported by the teaching establis A fairly scathing review of the school system in the United States. Sykes is not critical of schools Prussian beginnings, but of the direction the school system has been going for the last 75 years or so. He believes not enough time is spent on actual learning and studying, the curriculum is watered down, the teachers union is too corrupt and powerful, and that our national textbooks are severely lacking. Sykes also takes issue with the 'self esteem' philosophy purported by the teaching establishment in that instead of teaching kids to read, write and compute, the business of schools is to artificially inflate self esteem by not requiring any real work or mastery and by praising mediocrity. He believes the focus has turned to the end produce without any attention placed on how to get there. I appreciated that the author didn't delve into any conspiracy type arguments and instead dealt just with facts and extensive research for each of his points. This books is a good read with relevant information, though a bit outdated.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Deb Cornell

    A scathing, yet necessary, vivisection of our current public education system. As an educator for nearly four decades I have witnessed the "dumbing down" of our expectations. A must read for every educator, legislator, school board member and parent. A scathing, yet necessary, vivisection of our current public education system. As an educator for nearly four decades I have witnessed the "dumbing down" of our expectations. A must read for every educator, legislator, school board member and parent.

  8. 4 out of 5

    carlos f ramey

    I lived this. I grew up with the experience of being home schooled, being enrolled in private school, and finally the public school system. This laid out what many of us, as students surmised.......that no one knew what they were doing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Milo

    Thought this was pretty darn good. It's like an updated version of John Holt's stuff. It's about time the system was questioned, not the teachers. Thought this was pretty darn good. It's like an updated version of John Holt's stuff. It's about time the system was questioned, not the teachers.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark Greathouse

    You'll be ready to home school your kids after reading this book! You'll be ready to home school your kids after reading this book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    JP

    A clear, well-written expose on the appalling state of education in modern America. Sykes chronicles the repetitive history of the progressive education movement and consistently demonstrates the failure by comparison to the tried-and-true traditional methods. The effect of the current self-esteem emphasis can be summarized in Sykes observation that US high school students ranked lowest on an international comparison of mathematics scores but highest in student self-assessment of those same skil A clear, well-written expose on the appalling state of education in modern America. Sykes chronicles the repetitive history of the progressive education movement and consistently demonstrates the failure by comparison to the tried-and-true traditional methods. The effect of the current self-esteem emphasis can be summarized in Sykes observation that US high school students ranked lowest on an international comparison of mathematics scores but highest in student self-assessment of those same skills. The armada of social workers, specialists, and psychologists hired to combat non-existent problems has resulted in a teaching staff that are expected to be many things they are not. More importantly, a lot of them seem to dabble in psychology without the requisite training ("Your parents don't understand you, but we do.") The examples (particularly in Petaluma), show kids encouraged to report their parents for any action the kids do not like. These same students are faced with a curriculum that fosters selfishness (Essay: "I want..." "I'm going to..." etc). Sykes explains some of this through the possibility that each generation tries to protect their children from what they went through. The WWII generation went through hard times and worked hard to supply material happiness for their families. Their children, the Baby Boomers felt they missed out mostly on emotional happiness and seek that for their children. [return][return]Sykes portrays the failure of the pure self-esteem approach in contrast to a system of developing confidence through striving and competition. American society and the global economy are competitive -- it can be a rude awakening for someone who has never encountered it before. Sykes also discusses the full range of "don't blame me" defenses posited by the education establishment and backed by equally defensive parents. The array of medical maladies ebb and flow with the availability of specialists and special programs. Even the esteemed Dalton school reversed it's numbers dramatically twice within a 10-year period. The incessant basis on ideology instead of solid science is both indicative of the poor education of the advocates and also dis-proven when actually measured by someone who knows what they are doing (even if they set out to prove the opposite in the first place). It strikes me that rather than eliminate the alleged wasteful process of testing, we have moved and consolidated the process into one very important test that begins on the first day of the first job. Showing the roots of the progressive movement, the "belongingness" of the 1940's held that teachers did not have time to test, that children who didn't embrace the opportunity for open, unstructured learning were "ill," and they there is no room for loners or the ambitious. The poor respect for history also allows the educrats to miss that their philosophy dates as far back as Rousseau's Emile. Even John Dewey maintained that the teachers had to at least know their subject in order to be able to teach it. My own conclusion from this and other instances that I've observed is that one cannot recognize progress without knowing the classics. (I think often of the number of people I know who put forth some equivalent to Pascal's Wager as if they were the first to ever think of it on their own.)[return][return]The best case study in support of Sykes' point comes from the Barclay shool system in Maryland, in which Gertrude Williams adopted the Calvert home system, got grass roots support, backing from the Rhodes educated mayor, and built a successful program very quickly. More important than anything else, the "progressive" movements continuously attempts to squelch the individualist in any student and instead promotes the like-mindedness of it's own system.

  12. 4 out of 5

    James Carter

    I agree with just about everything in Dumbing Down Our Kids. If I read the book during the 90's, I wouldn't have believed any word of it. I had a pretty good traditional education that taught me how to read, write, and do math. But a lot of that was done through independent learning, that is, I did it on my own. Then, I was gone away to college and doing other things in life. Deciding on going back to school to teach math, I taught for three years. Everything I saw in school ran contrary to what I agree with just about everything in Dumbing Down Our Kids. If I read the book during the 90's, I wouldn't have believed any word of it. I had a pretty good traditional education that taught me how to read, write, and do math. But a lot of that was done through independent learning, that is, I did it on my own. Then, I was gone away to college and doing other things in life. Deciding on going back to school to teach math, I taught for three years. Everything I saw in school ran contrary to what I was subjected to. The practices that actually worked were discarded for progressive education which included unproven fads and gimmicks. The curriculum kept being changed, and nothing really stuck for a long period of time. When I taught, the way I was taught, everybody learned, and achievement scores were unprecedentedly higher than at any point in my students' history. I didn't really think any of it to be surprising. But what bothered me the most was how much of their time was being wasted during school. What were they doing in the classroom the last 7 to 10 years? Largely discouraged by unsafe working conditions, lack of administrative support, and lax enforcement of discipline, I left the profession for good and vowed to never come back the rest of my life. The truth is: I am not their mommy and daddy, psychologist, social worker, and counselor all rolled into one. And I am certainly not jibe with the whole "touchy-feely" program. Unfortunately, the schools I worked for were rather student-centered, and that was all they cared about: the kids' feelings. Hence, down the drain went about any notion of academic achievement. Oh, by the way, the Barclay school experiment in Baltimore? That didn't work. The whole thing was scraped in 1996, one year after the book was published, due to failing test scores. They went back to what they were doing before. The principal retired two years later, having gone through brain surgery which was probably caused by accumulated stress on the job. She died in 2011. While reading the success story, I was highly skeptical about the whole thing. The bottom line is: you can't improve anybody's IQ. Results that look great in the early grades tend to fade out in the later grades. IQ separates everybody in the academic race, and race is a big factor. Barclay has 91% African Americans, but the history of intelligence testing says that they typically have an IQ of 85, which is one standard deviation lower than their white counterparts. In other words, they are very hard to educate. It's not a racist statement but a fact of life. How is Barclay Elementary/Middle School doing today, if you ask? As of 2015-2016 school year, it ranked 793rd out of 848 Maryland elementary schools. It scored 9%, 9%, and 15% on standardized tests for English, math, and science, respectively. On Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), an average of 7% of their 6th to 8th graders passed the exams in both math and reading. Well, my friends...that's not great. One problem with Dumbing Down Our Kids is that it's quite repetitive, just the same message over and over. The conclusions reached in order to save the schools aren't quite simple, but they make sense anyway. The book was written in 1995, and a lot (REALLY A LOT) has changed since then. In other words, the picture is so much worse that the problems are too far gone to be easily solved. All in all, Dumbing Down Our Kids predicted everything that would be the mainstay of America's public education system, and all I can say is: I am glad to have been immune to it when I was a child.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    My dad passed this book along to me after he read it. I think it always frustrated him that his kids (or, well, at least me—I can’t speak for the others) weren’t learning the “important stuff” in school—history, particularly, dates, wars, people, etc. And, maybe it frustrated him that he used to be a math teacher, and none of his kids really got any of those mathematician-genes of his. This book’s focus is about how education is being dumbed-down to fit kids that are the lowest denominator. I.e., My dad passed this book along to me after he read it. I think it always frustrated him that his kids (or, well, at least me—I can’t speak for the others) weren’t learning the “important stuff” in school—history, particularly, dates, wars, people, etc. And, maybe it frustrated him that he used to be a math teacher, and none of his kids really got any of those mathematician-genes of his. This book’s focus is about how education is being dumbed-down to fit kids that are the lowest denominator. I.e., there are science classes that have 8th graders draw portraits of great scientists, instead of learning about scientists’ actual contributions to science. Schools are now not only in the business of teaching the 3 R’s, but also the teaching the “whole child” (emotional and physical health, values, safety, etc.) Additionally, much curriculum gets dumbed-down to make the school’s scores look better, and to make graduation rates higher, even if that means many children leave school completely unprepared for college or “the real world.” Now, this book is on my “Didn’t Finish” bookshelf because, while many of the points the book made were interesting and insightful, I disagreed quite a bit with its rigid attitude about what ought to be taught in schools. It criticized schools that have too much emphasis on subjects such as art and gym class. Now, I may be no gym class fan, but I do know that it is promoting healthy living for a child to have a break in the day and run around for one period a day. And as for its various criticisms of art and creative instruction, that really bothered me. Of course, I don’t necessarily feel that art has a place in, say, a science class, but many “real world” jobs are creative by nature and I feel like it is a creative mind that can make a real difference, whether in academia or otherwise. As Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” To conclude, I don’t feel like you should not finish a book just because you don’t agree with its premise (how would we ever learn anything if that was our belief?) but I don’t feel guilty about gaining some degree of insight and then moving on. Is our education system flawed? Certainly. But I don’t feel like I’m any less intelligent because I never got a grasp on advanced algebra.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cissy

    Though I don't agree with all his conclusions and I tend not be quite so alarmist, Sykes does present plenty of informtion for me to form more focused opinions on education. His theme is: emphasize academic achievement, and then will come self-esteem. He criticizes the education system of the last 50 years for spending too much time trying to falsely build up kids' confidences, while neglecting the thing that does that automatically: teaching children to master tasks and acquire knowledge. I rec Though I don't agree with all his conclusions and I tend not be quite so alarmist, Sykes does present plenty of informtion for me to form more focused opinions on education. His theme is: emphasize academic achievement, and then will come self-esteem. He criticizes the education system of the last 50 years for spending too much time trying to falsely build up kids' confidences, while neglecting the thing that does that automatically: teaching children to master tasks and acquire knowledge. I recommend reading portions of this book: I particularly liked chapters 4,5,6,8,and 10. I think the chapter on values (12) is scary, but it reminds me of the fine line teachers must walk when it comes to teaching morality (ie., I want a moral classroom for my kids, but it's not the teacher's job to instill MY values and MY morals). Finally, I recommend chapter 20 for concrete ideas on improving education. (One caveat: Read the author's statistics carefully, because sometimes he seems to turn them to his benefit. One fact said something like...only a third of the children could point out all 50 states, and 25% couldn't locate Washington D.C....or something to that effect. Anyhow, his second percentage would actually be an argument against his point because it means that 75% could locate the city, but he pairs it with the similar figure of "a third", and I suppose hopes that no one notices. But I do notice trivial things like that. My point is that he does have an agenda, so I took everything with a grain of salt.)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ami

    Charles Sykes chronicles a detailed (and at times, painfully thorough) look into the declining public school system. This book is a must-read (or a must-glance-over) for every parent of a child attending public education. The book divides itself into two parts. There are chapters explaining what exactly is failing at schools and why. These include topics on textbooks, declining SATs, omitted curriculum, and the insidious rise of "pychological" educating. Then, interspersed within the book, are ch Charles Sykes chronicles a detailed (and at times, painfully thorough) look into the declining public school system. This book is a must-read (or a must-glance-over) for every parent of a child attending public education. The book divides itself into two parts. There are chapters explaining what exactly is failing at schools and why. These include topics on textbooks, declining SATs, omitted curriculum, and the insidious rise of "pychological" educating. Then, interspersed within the book, are chapters titled "From the Front Lines." These infuriating stories are from real schools, involving real teachers and real children. While parents may chorus "This is not happening at our schools," at least this book gives a look at what is happening in many other schools. It also places the parent on the alert of what could occur inside their schools without vigilance.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca The Files of Mrs. E,

    I had bought this book years ago and finally read it since I am on a mission to read all the books I've bought and then forgotten to read. It had some great information but it was also really dated and I wish I had read it sooner. Even though some of the information was older or focused on past education trends, his main point was right on target. And it was helpful to read about where we have been in education. One of Sykes main points was that education tends to just cycle through ideas whethe I had bought this book years ago and finally read it since I am on a mission to read all the books I've bought and then forgotten to read. It had some great information but it was also really dated and I wish I had read it sooner. Even though some of the information was older or focused on past education trends, his main point was right on target. And it was helpful to read about where we have been in education. One of Sykes main points was that education tends to just cycle through ideas whether they have worked or not and with some distance since its publishing, the book actually made his point for him. Trends that were popular when it was written have already gone out of style and are now coming back into vogue. It definitely makes you think twice about our school system and what we are expecting from the teachers who are getting over-worked by unrealistic expectations.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nclark

    By the title, this book sounds like an apocalyptic warning for parents about their children's educations. I was not too far off on that guess. The author emphasises the slow but sure lowering of standards in America's schools, explaining that instead of striving to make students smarter, educators are trying to make schools lower their standards to achieve the same effect without disappointing students with failing grades. The message of the book was good and made me think about my own education By the title, this book sounds like an apocalyptic warning for parents about their children's educations. I was not too far off on that guess. The author emphasises the slow but sure lowering of standards in America's schools, explaining that instead of striving to make students smarter, educators are trying to make schools lower their standards to achieve the same effect without disappointing students with failing grades. The message of the book was good and made me think about my own education, but the book was tedious overall. This book would have been just as effectively presented in a short essay.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Sykes seems to be a mass producer of junk. Even the title is amazing: "our kids" as opposed to "their kids" whom should go to heck. Anyway, "our kids" feel so good many are on anti depressants, others do not reach that stage and kill themselves, and in some extreme cases they kill many others before being killed by the police. The remaining individuals feel so good about themselves that they need to bully others or are terribly traumatized by the bullying. Yet by OECD standards even if their rea Sykes seems to be a mass producer of junk. Even the title is amazing: "our kids" as opposed to "their kids" whom should go to heck. Anyway, "our kids" feel so good many are on anti depressants, others do not reach that stage and kill themselves, and in some extreme cases they kill many others before being killed by the police. The remaining individuals feel so good about themselves that they need to bully others or are terribly traumatized by the bullying. Yet by OECD standards even if their reading levels can be below a certain expected level, they DO read, write and add. Only the clients of Sykes are the religious nuts thinking any supranational organization as Satan's creation.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    An expose of the demise of our public school system. I was especially struck by the continuance of Progressive ideologies from the late 19th-century that still pervade our schools. I am also peeved by the political clout of the NEA and other bureaucratic bigwig organizations. I guess the only solution is to teach our children to love learning in spite of all the humanistic garbage they get in the schools. Of course, in order to accomplish this, the adults must wake up, be the examples and love t An expose of the demise of our public school system. I was especially struck by the continuance of Progressive ideologies from the late 19th-century that still pervade our schools. I am also peeved by the political clout of the NEA and other bureaucratic bigwig organizations. I guess the only solution is to teach our children to love learning in spite of all the humanistic garbage they get in the schools. Of course, in order to accomplish this, the adults must wake up, be the examples and love to learn...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ginna

    I'm pretty sure this book will make me pretty angry, based on the reviews of those who have read it. But I'm hoping there will also be some good points that I can incorporate into my ever-changing, vague fixit scheme for the US education system. There are definitely plenty of kids out there who have been taught that their mediocrity is great - how can we encourage students to strive for academic achievement and find something to love about learning? Maybe I just want to create a modern tribe of I'm pretty sure this book will make me pretty angry, based on the reviews of those who have read it. But I'm hoping there will also be some good points that I can incorporate into my ever-changing, vague fixit scheme for the US education system. There are definitely plenty of kids out there who have been taught that their mediocrity is great - how can we encourage students to strive for academic achievement and find something to love about learning? Maybe I just want to create a modern tribe of philologists...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    I have worked in higher education and secondary education for a combined 27 years and agree with many of the author's criticisms. This book was slammed when it came out but now with other reports and other educators 'blowing the whistle', this assertions are more concrete. This is not just an expose of what is still wrong with the American educational system but a call to arms to educators, parents and leaders. I encourage all to read this book. I have worked in higher education and secondary education for a combined 27 years and agree with many of the author's criticisms. This book was slammed when it came out but now with other reports and other educators 'blowing the whistle', this assertions are more concrete. This is not just an expose of what is still wrong with the American educational system but a call to arms to educators, parents and leaders. I encourage all to read this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Yian

    While I think his views on the problems certain interest groups cause the American education system are spot-on, I didn't like his dogmatism in choosing what to teach in schools. As someone said earlier, certainly PE shouldn't be the most important part of the school day, but that doesn't mean it doesn't promote some exercise. While I think his views on the problems certain interest groups cause the American education system are spot-on, I didn't like his dogmatism in choosing what to teach in schools. As someone said earlier, certainly PE shouldn't be the most important part of the school day, but that doesn't mean it doesn't promote some exercise.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Holly Jorgenson

    Written awhile ago, but still full of interesting points. Actually, pretty true.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    So this is a little old but I picked it up hoping for insight on OBE. It was very abrasive in tone and I skimmed/jumped through reading it. Very few insights found.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nate Jordon

    Though this book presents slightly outdated stats and figures, the education philosophy and social criticism remains poignant and profound.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Scathing it it's criticism of how our public schools are not educating our kids. Even offers some solutions. Is anybody listening? Scathing it it's criticism of how our public schools are not educating our kids. Even offers some solutions. Is anybody listening?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mandi

    Absolutely outstanding.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zalee Harris

    I purchased this book in 1997. There are 5 Sections. Section 2 and Section 5 did it for me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jaymi Boswell

    I love reading books that make me feel guilty for doing ALL THINGS wrong with my children.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    ehhh...It was ok but fairly repetitive. Long story short...we're all screwed ehhh...It was ok but fairly repetitive. Long story short...we're all screwed

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