The federal government on Wednesday released results showing that fourth- and eighth-graders in Indiana in 2005 fared worse than their counterparts five years earlier. Indiana was one of four states (along with Alabama, Arizona and Nevada) that recorded a significant decline in eighth-grade scores.

Three out of 10 fourth-graders in Indiana do not have even a basic understanding of age-appropriate scientific concepts. Only 27 percent of fourth-graders were graded as proficient in science. Indiana’s eighth-graders scored worse than younger students. A mere 62 percent have a basic grasp of science; 29 percent were judged as proficient.

So you know what it’s time to do? Start casting blame.

ISTEP misses the point of the true tragedy: the inability of teachers to teach the test, because that’s what we’ve reduced the job of teachers to. Teachers teach for the ISTEP and serve as (under) paid child/teen daycare. Without parental support (unrealistic expectations and scape-goating, yes; support, no), without administrative support (top heavy management bureaucracy who have teachers’ back … way, way back, yes; support, no), and without government support (dictates and strings, yes; support, no). No wonder so many young teachers burnout within three years.

We might want to rethink how we go about teaching, transmitting knowledge. It’s hard to be teachers and fill roles as parents. It’s a lot to ask, though so many do it and do it well. Sometimes, if little Johnny’s not succeeding at school, little Johnny may be an a-hole whose parents need to step up. News of declining test scores will most likely lead to more parents considering home-schooling.

Schooling is underappreciated. You know what? I’m done with everyone has to go through twelve years of school. Education should be there for those who want it, but if you’re determined to screw up your life because you know everything already, good luck to you. Quit taxing our limited resources by being disruptive. Unfair? Black folks used to be lynched if some people found out we could read. Now, to paraphrase Chris Rock, a book is like kryptonite to some folks.

-I have no problem weeding out those who don’t want to be there and sending them to a different program that emphasizes structure and discipline.

-I have no problem de-emphasizing sports in favor of a greater arts and science program.

-I’m good with mandatory school uniforms. If my boss wants professional dress because it leads to more professional behavior, school can prepare kids for this.

-I’m good with richer schools “adopting” poorer ones by sharing their resources.

-I’ve been a long supporter of vouchers, if we could figure out an efficient way to do it.

I’ve started telling my boys, though they are only 4 and 5, that, no matter their other grades in other classes, they must master English and math. If you ace those, you can do just about anything you want in life.

However, you couldn’t pay me enough to be a public school teacher.

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