We have all heard the phase “the dumbing down of America”…well, it is alive and well in our school systems.  We have seen a steady downward slide of basic knowledge taught in our schools beginning in the early 1960’s, while the cost to “educate” our youth has skyrocketed during this same period.  The public school system’s response for cries for increased educational performance has always been to dump more money down their bottomless pits to fix the problem.  The glaring travesty is that most parents have gone along with that idea and not demanded a change.  Still today, the common response to continued low achievement in school is blamed on teacher salaries.

No improvement in performance has been noted since President Reagan introduced his report on “A Nation at Risk” 30 years ago, which was meant as a wake-up call for the country.  It spelled out where the United States was coming up short in education and what steps could be taken to avert a crisis.

But its warnings still reverberate today, with 1 in 4 Americans failing to earn a high school degree on time and the U.S. lagging other countries in the percentage of young people who complete college.

President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” has not faired any better and most school districts opted out of the program because they never could meet the minimal standards.

There are many reasons that our children are less educated or less prepared for college or careers and I will not begin to cover them all, but here are a few ideas that may make you think about it.

First, if our children are less educated and have been this way for the past 50 years than, just how smart is the teachers trying to educate them.  Maybe instead of better salaries, we need better teachers.

Second, parents are busy, but how many really take the time to find out how their child is doing in school.  You are not helping your child, if the only time you care is at Parent-Teachers conferences.  Also, I do not pay huge taxes to have my child tell me how they are doing in school, while the teacher sits there, with a smirk on her face.  So much for junior high conferences.

What about the majority of crap on television, including the news, it is all canned reality with no substance and little truth.  When was the last time that your child read a book…and I do not mean something from Comic-Con.  I mean a classic novel, instead of some video game.

Cellphones have been a great modern tool, but it is also one of the biggest distractions for our youth.  Kids can not even complete a school lesson without texting someone.  If your child is texting hundreds of time a day, just when are they studying?

Texting and social media have just created a generation of youth who do not speak and communicate in full sentences.  Also, what is the reason for every other word being the word “like.”  Example, “I went to the like store to buy like some jeans, but like I could not find like any that like I liked, so that like I left like the store.

Finally, isn’t it a bigger shame that 95% of the black children of America are not adequately prepared for life after high school, but your community and your President would rather speak out against implied “hate” crimes?

Here is the latest report on results of last year’s ACT testing.

Just a quarter of this year’s high school graduates who took the ACT tests have the reading, math, English and science skills they need to succeed in college or a career, according to data the testing company released Wednesday.

The numbers are even worse for black high school graduates: Only 5 percent are fully ready for life after high school.

The results, part of ACT’s annual report, indicates thousands of students graduate from high schools without the knowledge necessary for the next steps in life.  The data also show a downturn in overall student scores, although company officials attribute the slide to updated standards and more students taking the exams — including those with no intention of attending a two or four year college

The ACT report is based on the 54 percent of high school graduates this year who took the exams.  Roughly the same percentage took the SAT, the other major college entrance exam and many students took both tests.

Under ACT’s definition, a young adult is ready to start college or trade school if he or she has the knowledge to succeed without taking remedial courses.  Success is defined as the student’s having a 75 percent chance of earning a C grade and a 50 percent chance of earning a B, based on results on each of the four ACT subject areas, which are measured on a scale from 1 to 36 points.

Of all ACT-tested high school graduates this year, 64 percent met the English benchmark of 18 points.  In both reading and math, 44 percent of students met the readiness threshold of 22 points.  In science, 36 percent scored well enough to be considered ready for a college biology course, or 23 points.

Only 26 percent of students met the benchmarks for all four sections of the ACT test.

About 69 percent of test takers met at least one of the four subject-area standards.  That means 31 percent of all high school graduates who took the ACT were not ready for college coursework requiring English, reading, math or science skills.

Of the 1.7 million students who took the 215-question ACT exam, as many as 290,000 were within 2 points of meeting at least one of the four the readiness thresholds.

When the testing agency broke down the results by race, fault lines emerged. Just 5 percent of black students are ready for college work in all four areas.  Among American Indians, 10 percent are ready in all subjects, while 14 percent of Hispanics are ready. Pacific Islanders post a 19 percent readiness rate for all four subjects.  White students have a 33 percent rate, and 43 percent of Asian-American students are ready for studies in all four subjects.

Students from all racial backgrounds did best in English and worst in science.

Some states and school districts have begun requiring more students to take the tests. About 22 percent more students took the ACT test in 2013 than in 2009.  In the past four years, ACT has increased its share of the test market, climbing from 45 percent of high school graduates in 2009 to 54 percent this year.

ACT said it updated its benchmarks for success in reading and science this year to better reflect what students need to know.  The percentage of students with reading skills needed to succeed after graduation slid from 53 in 2009 to 44 last year, while science readiness scores climbed from 28 percent in 2009 to 36 percent last year.  Both differences may have been caused in part by changes in the benchmarks.

In other subjects without changes in the benchmarks, students’ readiness scores have declined.  In English, scores slid from 67 percent in 2009 to 64 percent last year.  And in math, scores increased slightly, from 42 percent in 2009 to 44 percent this year.

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