U.S. science and math education among the world's worst

We Can’t Wait for Superman
Posted September 28, 2010
As seen in the September 28, 2010 Examiner: San Francisco and Washington, D.C. editions.

The 2010–11 school year is well underway and with it, a season of new beginnings. We send our children into the classroom with an expectation that they will learn and succeed in core academic subjects, be given opportunities to explore their interests, and be prepared to enter college or a career upon graduation. For students who are lucky enough to attend good schools and receive instruction from good teachers, this is the case. But far too many young Americans are not so fortunate. These students are trapped in low performing schools, often with no way out. While school reform has been debated for years, there’s been too little action.

A groundbreaking new film, "Waiting for ‘Superman’,” may permanently change that dynamic. This movie tells the story of five children as they try to make their way out of failing public schools and into charter schools. Along the way, viewers are exposed to the low expectations and poor results that exist in our public school system. The statistics are alarming. Among developed countries, the United States ranks 21st out of 30 in science literacy and 25th out of 30 in mathematics literacy. Perhaps our greatest shortcoming is the 1.2 million students who fail to graduate from high school each year.

But the movie is at its most powerful when it goes beyond facts and figures to show the human impact of a failing education system. Take, for example, Anthony, a fifth-grader living in Washington, D.C., who wants a different life than the one that caused his father to die from drug addiction. But Anthony’s path to a brighter future—acceptance into a high performing public charter school—will be determined by a lottery. The school to which he is applying has only 24 slots for 61 applicants. This is tragic—and maddening.

Because a superhero isn’t coming to save our schools, it’s up to every American to demand more from the educational establishment. A good K–12 education isn’t just for the privileged few; it’s the birthright of every American child.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been at the forefront of efforts to shake up K-12 education so that every child is prepared for higher education or productive careers. We continue to advocate for commonsense reforms including greater accountability in schools, merit pay for high-performing teachers, fair removal of ineffective teachers, and expanded access to charter schools.

The Chamber is proud to promote Waiting for “Superman.” For more information about the film and campaign, visit www.waitingforsuperman.com/action . For more about the Chamber’s education activities, visit www.uschamber.com/icw.

  • Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Download the original article here.


Many parents are turning to homeschooling groups. Smaller class sizes, parents can teach whatever subject is their best, and instead of giving money for their child to schools, the parents can receive money directly for the school supplies such as books and other learning materials. Private schools are expensive and exclusive in that there aren’t that many spots available.

In public schools, there isn’t enough attention given to kids, and many students keep getting held back or are allowed to advance to the next grade level when they just aren’t ready.

On the other side, we have kids who are advanced but not able to advance because the classroom is too slow of a pace for them. You don’t even get to Pre-Algebra until 6th or 7th grade here, and if math was sped up they could start doing it in probably 4th or 5th grade.

Re: science, most elementary schools don’t cover much science. My school focused on reading, writing, and arithmetic, so science and social studies were only short units. It would be better if kids had every subject every day, and things like art and music could be once a week for enrichment.

I also think it would be nice if kids started taking Spanish in elementary school instead of waiting until 9th grade for a foreign language. We are world citizens and it would be better for trade if Americans knew more languages. I think Mandarin would also be really useful. China is a growing economy and has over 1.3 billion people.

What else? I like the way other countries do it: you get off school at the end of the day, around 5pm, and don’t have homework unless you didn’t finish your classwork or have to study for a test or something. Kids could get study breaks throughout the day so teachers can do planning and things for the next day, also grade papers, etc. That way, when you get home you can relax and spend time with your family (kids and teens today BADLY need more parental influence) instead of rushing to get all your work done before bed.

This sure is something to read. It’s quite unfortunate that my generation got stuck in middle of such a mess. It also appears that the younger generation may go through the same thing unless sonething is done quick. Education reform is a must!!

Unless something is done quick, I would have to agree that homeschooling would be the best way to go!

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