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Commentator Mildred Antenor has concerns about the future of education in America

A modern school classroom
Mildred Antenor
A modern school classroom

This past semester it happened again. During a class session, I asked a student to read a paragraph from the textbook and as the student began to read, I turned around to write something on the board. I had just started to write a few seconds when this particular student began struggling with a word. I put the chalk down to help the student get through the paragraph. --- And it was a moment that made me wonder --- what is happening to the education of our kids? Not because of this one incident, but, because I’ve experienced this in the classroom on numerous occasions. And it seems that within the past 5 years, this is happening more and more frequently.

A growing number of our kids can’t read. They can’t write or think critically. And the high schools, for the most part, are not preparing them for a college education. I talked to some of my colleagues who have the same concern and I also decided to do some investigating. And this is what I found out:

First of all, No Child Left Behind has been one of the biggest frauds created in our education system. School districts have sacrificed teaching our kids to focus on standardized tests. Because the higher the test scores, the more money a school district gets. Focusing on reading, writing, science and history has taken a back seat to getting more money into the school districts---putting our kids at a deficit.

Another issue is that reading skills are not sustained. And this was a total shock to me when I found out but, teachers are told by administrators that they are to make learning fun at ALL costs. Now I was raised with the understanding that learning was its own reward. Some classes were in fact fun but a great majority of them were not. And the responsibility was on me to study and get the extra help that I needed in order to pass the course. But apparently, this paradigm has changed. There is now an obsession with making everything fun in the classroom. If a student who is in 4th grade is reading at the 3rd grade level, administrators will generally tell the teacher to not challenge the student to try harder and reach the 4th grade reading level because according to administrators--- it will make the student uncomfortable and anxious. Amazing isn’t it? --- I was also told by some of these instructors that parents don’t put any responsibility on their children either ---- it all falls on the teacher. The teachers also complain that too many students feel that they are on the same level as their instructors. Disrespect is rampant. They feel that they know more than the teachers and that the classroom is a place for students and teachers to hang out together --- with no emphasis on learning. Where is this mess headed? It’s a scary thought. But I’m prone to believe that It’ll get worse before it gets better.

I’m Mildred Antenor

Mildred Antenor is a professor and the author of the Gladioli Are Invisible: A Memoir