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Posts: 122
Reply with quote  #1 


After reading the first two chapters, do you feel like American public schools are failing?Did your opinion change one way or the other about the American public school system? Please explain.

Post your response to these questions below.

(FYI: I will post each discussion question by the end of the designated day noted in the syllabus).

Thank you for your thoughtful response!!!

Maggie Susong
ATPE Member Engagement Coordinator

Posts: 67
Reply with quote  #2 

I do not feel like American public schools are failing.   Struggling, yes.  Failing, no.   DuFour writes that “students of all racial and ethnic groups are reading better today than in 1992” (page 16).  Students are also steadily improving in math (pg17).  Parents are pleased with school quality (pg18).  Students tend to get along with their teachers and believe they are treated fairly (pg19).   Not only are improvements being made, they’re being made against all odds.  Conditions for learning are not improving, statistically.  Conditions are getting worse.  DuFour points out that “this record of extraordinary accomplishments from the current generation of American educators comes at a time when they are educating larger numbers of students who traditionally have little success in school: minority students, English learners, students living in poverty, and students with disabilities” (pg19).   Schools face more challenges than ever and receive very little support.  They have a right to be struggling, and yet, they are succeeding anyway. 

I did change my opinion after reading the first two chapters.  I never thought the school I worked at was failing.  It was a great school.  However, from the way schools are portrayed in the media, I thought schools in general were failing.  Like the parents who rated “the nation’s schools” as failing, but adored their local school and thought it did a great job (pg18).  We can easily evaluate those things that we know personally.  But for those things that are too far away or too large (like the educational system as a whole), we tend to rely on what little we are fed from the media, which is all bad news.   I appreciated being shown information that the media and the politicians don’t publicize.  It was a happy thing to read.  


Posts: 42
Reply with quote  #3 
After reading the first two chapters, do you feel like American public schools are failing?Did your opinion change one way or the other about the American public school system? Please explain.

Yes, in a way, I do believe the American public schools are failing.  But only due to the pressure the state and national legislature puts on the educational system.  We are regulated by an elite group.  Almost all of them are college educated (at least I hope).  But, this reflects a small percentage of our society.  The last time I checked only 26% of our nation has graduated from college.  There are many fields of work that do not require a college degree.  So, expecting all of our students to be college bound is unrealistic, and in some ways it can set the students up for failure.  I remember that I had a student that all she wanted to do was join the cosmetology program at the high school.  It was what she wanted to do when she "grew up".  She was low-socio, so doing it through the school program would have been a beneficial thing for her.  She was never able to enter the program because it took her so long to pass Geometry.  She had passed, Algebra 1 and MMA - but couldn't get the second math requirement until her senior year.  I think this is tragic.  I understand the need for us to have an accountability with state testing, but if it were up to me, the students would take the GRE each year.  I wouldn't expect them to pass it, but we could gauge their improvement each year.  It could also prepare students (and give them a better idea of what it would be like) if they end up dropping out.  I've been a public educator now for 18 years (today!)  So I definitely believe in the educational system - I just believe it can get better.

Jennifer Goedken

Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #4 
I don't think American public schools are failing. I think they are striving to become something better than they once were and are today, not only for the good of the students, but also for the good of our future. As an educator, our actions revolve around (should revolve around) what is best for the students and how to improve to provide them a better education. I think American public schools are fighting to make a change in education. We are up against a tough crowd of people who, a lot of those people, think our job is merely babysitting, but yet we are given all these standards and have many expectations some of those people couldn't even handle. DaFour states, on page 26, "Of all the nations participating in the PISA assessment, the United States has by far the largest number of students living in poverty." Living in south Texas, I see this first hand. The majority of the coastal bend region is poverty stricken, and that is just a small percentage of the country. On page 27, DaFour also says, "Educators cannot passively wait for the challenges of poverty to be resolved by others but must instead play a major role in addressing those challenges by becoming much more effective in educating children of poverty." There are way too many people in this country who live in poverty, and that is not going to change any time soon. For this reason, we need to be proactive educators and leaders for our students. Before reading these chapters, I believed the American public school system is a good thing, but there is always room for improvement. My opinion stayed the same.  

Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #5 
Do you feel like American public schools are failing? As an educator, I do not feel that American public schools are failing because I see each day teachers working incredibly for what is best for kids. I do think there needs to be changes and that we still need to improve. Education and trends are forever changing and we need the right people making desicions that are not in the interest of politics, yet what what kids needs. The standards are ridiculously high and a lot is at stake...our future. But many other factors come into play. I don't want to play the blame game, but why is it that the teachers are the only one underfire? American is a melting pot of races, religions, and cultures and the American public school systems are carrying through policies that are made by people that are not in schools day in and day out. My opinion stays, we are not failing. We are continously evolving, learning, and dedicating a life of sevice to our future. If this next generation is suppose to run the country and take care of us, do you really think educator are purposefully trying to destroy that? I can't and won't believe that. We have to strive for better and invest in the kids.

Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #6 
Even before reading the first two chapters, I never thought that the majority of schools in America were failing.  I do believe that many inner city schools and schools in areas that have a high percentage of the population in poverty or english-as-second language have not fully met the needs of their students.  This is the fault of our legislatures, not our teachers, or even administrators.  It is expensive to meet the needs of a more difficult segment of our society, where basic needs have to be met by the school.  This is not the priority that it should be as many legislators are more concerned with their "voting" constituents.  Case in point, mid-afternoon snacks have been removed from the school's budget in my district.  These kids are often going home hungry, when they used to "save" their snack so that they had something to eat at home.  Our administrators and legislators need to be alerted that if we do not help these kids out of poverty through education, they will continue to follow in the footsteps of the generation before them.  This continues to drag on our society as a whole.

After reading the first two chapters, I am more aware of the biased reporting of our media and it's effect on the education system.  Absolutely, the media reports with a negative focus; it simply sells more news.  Teachers are easy scapegoats.  To blame the true culprits, uninvolved parents and legislators, would not be a popular stance to take.  The media, as always, takes the easy way out by blaming the teachers.  I am so uplifted to see the numbers validate that as a whole we educators are doing a much better job that we are given credit for.  In my heart I always felt that was true.  It's good to see it in print.

Rita Wilcox

Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #7 
I don't feel like American public schools are failing. It's evident that they do face struggles though. The harsh negativity of the media portrays them as such in many ways. I wish the media would focus on the positives and provide full and correct information about what's really going on. Our legislation hinders more often than helps. There are constant laws and changes that are implemented with unrealistic or unattainable goals. Public schools are constantly under attack and are facing battles on so many fronts. Yet they remain. I will continue to have the highest regard for public schools. They have some of the hardest working people. They have some of the best administrators and teachers fighting and giving all they have everyday to educate successful students. Instead of being praised for educating our future leaders, they are frowned upon and labeled as "failures."

Posts: 83
Reply with quote  #8 
(After reading the first two chapters, do you feel like American public schools are failing?Did your opinion change one way or the other about the American public school system? Please explain.)

I never believed that American schools, as a whole, were failing. The first two chapters reinforced my opinion. Statistics can always be reported to the favor of the person reporting, so it's not surprising that media reports them negatively (and selectively) to sell more news. However, I also agree with the author that our schools can still be improved, and I wholeheartedly agree with his statement (p 27):  "Educators cannot passively wait for the challenges of poverty to be resolved by others but must instead play a major role in addressing those challenges by becoming much more effective in educating children of poverty."  

Posts: 37
Reply with quote  #9 
I'm disappointed to admit that I did feel like public schools were failing. I don't know if it was teaching at a Title 1 school, teaching middle school math, or allowing what I've heard from the media, other people, or even administration telling us what we are doing is still not good enough, but I felt so discouraged teaching, feeling like I was failing students along with the system. Then I had kids and worried about my kids going through the public school system. My daughter just finished kindergarten and I have no doubt that she is getting an excellent education at her public elementary school. After reading the first two chapters as well as some pexperiences I had while reading, I feel that the public school system is not really as bad as it's made out to be though there is much room for improvement.

Posts: 98
Reply with quote  #10 
I don't think schools are failing. However, I do think they have room for improvement. My thoughts did change after reading the first two chapters. I guess I was believing what the media had been telling us, not taking into account their biased views...I really should know better. Also, I didn't realize the role the government was playing in the setting such unrealistic goals for schools.

Posts: 61
Reply with quote  #11 


I didn't think the schools were failing, so my opinion didn't change.  However, now I have a better understanding of why the public feels that way.  My children received a great education that prepared them for successful careers that they enjoy.  We did have to intervene at times, but it was mostly with the regulations and not the instructors.  

I think that teachers are better trained than ever before.  We don't just have to know our certification subject, we also have to understand the psychology of learning and of student behavior (remember the PPR exam).  We learned different learning styles of our students, and were taught to understand our own teaching styles.  We were taught how to deal with the diversity of our students.  We are required to obtain CPE credits to ensure continued training and staying updated on resources and best practices. We are dealing with much larger numbers of ELL students which takes our attention and resources away from the majority of students.  And we have larger numbers of students with accommodations (both perceived and actual) than ever before.  In the end, more students are graduating, more students are passing AP tests and improving their test scores on multiple national and international tests.  How do you call that failing?

We just need governing bodies to stop setting us up for failure and devote their attention to providing us with guidelines and resources.  We’ll take it from there.  We are capable of doing the rest!


Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #12 

I’ve never thought that American public schools were failing. Maybe I am biased because I am a product of the public school system. Maybe I’m naive because I haven’t quite set food in a classroom yet (the 2016-17 school year will be my first as a teacher). I believe that the majority of American public schools are doing the best with what they have been given. So, no, my opinion has not changed as to whether the schools are failing, but my interest has surely been peaked.

Since I am freshly out of an educator prep program, I have seen how much education has changed, and how these professors want to make sure that future teachers understand what it takes to be an effective teacher. If anything, the American public school system is trying to get better. “Polls consistently show teachers are more passionate and mission driven than any other American profession” (pg 21). If a teacher lacks passion for their content and/or their students, then how can they be an effective teacher?

It’s one thing to aim high, but aiming for the impossible is another thing altogether. The educational reform of the past couple of decades has both improved and harmed education.This book leans more heavily on the harm.  As Chapter 1 states “While NCLB allowed for punishing schools, Race to the Top provided the tool to punish individual teachers and principals” (pg 8).

Comparing the American education system to that of other countries is unrealistic, as pointed out initially in Chapter 2 and possibly more outlined in Chapter 3.

“Of all the nations participating in the PISA assessment, the United

States has by far the largest number of students living in poverty. Finland
has approximately a 3 percent poverty rate. If PISA scores just from
American schools with up to 10 percent of their students living in poverty
are compared to Finland’s, American student achievement far exceeds
Finland's” (pg 26).

The data is skewed for the American education system. If this is the case, how are we to know for certain that American public schools are failing? Hopefully the next reading will answer some of these questions.



Posts: 63
Reply with quote  #13 

My opinion has not wavered after reading the first two chapters. Do I believe American public schools are failing? No, but I do believe they are struggling and there can be room for improvement, but out of the unrealistic goals the government is setting, I believe they are trying to be the best they can be with what they are given. The media, as the book pointed out in the first two chapters, has not had many positive things to say about the public school system. There are concerns of course, but negative reporting trumps the good and statistics.  


Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #14 
Before reading the first 2 chapters, I fell under the category of people that love their local school, but thought the rest of the schools in the country were failing - especially schools not in Texas.  I'm encouraged to read data that proves this is not the case.  It is encouraging to hear positive news about public schools.

Public education is ever-changing and teachers must keep up with new trends and new curriculum.  The rigor has changed and students are challenged like never before.  Teachers must rise to this challenge to prepare their students for the future.  This is not an easy task.  Negative reports from the media and constantly changing standards can make it seem like we are not keeping up, but every educator I know is passionate about teaching their students and making sure they are successful.

Chellie Nelson

Posts: 26
Reply with quote  #15 
No, I don't believe the public schools are failing. Otherwise I would being doing my job for nothing. I think the media has a huge roll to play in the myth of the public school failings. I hear it at family gatherings when I am asked just how bad is it in my class. It isn't bad. I went through a range of emotions while reading the first two chapters, Especially when the author talked about other countries. It was refreshing to read that he is truly trying to compare us to them on as equal of a playing ground as he can. We do educate everyone, we don't pick and choose. And it is in those young faces I do see hope, they are wanting something better, as well as their parents. My job is to help them achieve their goal. I think if the media were truly trying to give a fair view of what is going on in the schools they would spend a day with a teacher, see the kids problem solve, see them interact, then perhaps they would give educators an even break. I don't think teachers as a general rule get their certification and then stay stagnant. It is hard to do that in this day of technology. As a teacher I try to keep up with what the kids are doing, which means more professional development, books studies, and Google classrooms with other teachers sharing ideas. We are keeping eachother accountable and in the process becoming more highly certified in our profession. I liked the quote in chapter 2- "In a study asking why they become a teacher, 98 percent of teachers say that teaching gave them an opportunity to make a difference in the world-one child at a time (Scholastic 2014). I believe in that quote and each day the teachers that I work with do to.
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