Something’s seriously wrong with our schools. Contrary to what you’re told, it has got almost nothing to do with low test scores or funding amounts.

More and more good, capable kids — kids like yours, perhaps — hate going to school, and seriously underachieve. They’re capable of doing the work … they just don’t see any purpose for doing it.  And if you knew the real story of what goes on in our schools — as I do — you wouldn’t blame the kids at all. 

 
Here’s a partial list of what’s causing this situation. Schools refuse to address these issues, but the good news is that you (parents) can make these changes yourselves — with or without the schools’ support.  

High school lasts too long … two to four years too long.  

Much of the day in secondary schools amounts to little more than teenage daycare. By the time your children are 14 to 16, they need to have transitioned to a combination of college/tech classes and/or internships that are directly related to realistic careers. Their day also needs to include part-time paid employment, so they can learn how to develop a work ethic and manage their money. Teenagers remain immature, unmotivated and irresponsible when we give them daily schedules that treat them like children rather than young adults.

What can you do to fix this?
There are several options for helping your child finish high school two and four years early, and/or bypass it altogether and immediately start college/tech classes, internships, and jobs. In the 21st century, an 18 year-old with a high school diploma and no other experience is prepared to do nothing.    

Our schools are swimming in drugs, and the schools refuse to test for them.

On an average school day, one-third to one-half of the students are under the influence of illegal and/or prescription drugs. The resulting physical and psychological effects of this abuse ruin classroom and campus environments, and are a source of antisocial/abusive behavior. School leaders refuse to confront this controversial issue, even as it undermines our children’s health, learning ability and chances for future success.

What can you do to fix this?
Periodically drug test your children with inexpensive urine test kits, and tie the results to every privilege they have (including remaining in your homes). Your kids will complain at first, but they’ll ultimately respect you for standing up to them. Drug testing gives children what they desperately need:  a reason to stand up to peer pressure and stay clean and sober. Your stand will also encourage other parents to follow your lead.  

Our schools are allowing students to become morally illiterate.

We all agree that giving children a strong moral foundation should primarily be the parents’ responsibility. But if you’ve visited a secondary school recently, you’ve seen abundant proof that this isn’t happening to any significant degree. Maybe that’s why the California Education Code provided section 233.5. It’s a legal mandate that no school will ever tell you about … because they all ignore it. It requires schools to teach specific moral behaviors with as much accountability as they teach algebra or English.  The law was meant as a failsafe measure to ensure that students would be taught at school to be honest, truthful, respectful, law-abiding, hard-working, unselfish, etc., even if they had not been taught those values at home.

If this law were implemented in our schools, it would have a powerful effect on decreasing campus incidents involving cheating, gangs, race, drugs, violence, vandalism and disrespect. But it’s not.  As a result, all of these issues continue to increase.

What can you do to fix this?
Require your child to participate regularly in outside activities that promote moral/spiritual values.  Whatever your beliefs or interests are, there is an abundance of organizations you can involve your child in. 

 
The issues I’ve mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg regarding how inadequately our current method of education is preparing your child for a productive future. Don’t hold your breath and risk your child’s future waiting for our school system to change. Take advantage of the many excellent ways available to you — right now — for going outside of the system, going around it, and just leaving it behind.  

Paul D. White has been exporting education revolution as a teacher and administrator for many years.  The author of two books and dozens of articles on school reform, White is opening the Hold Fast Institute this September, a revolutionary re-creation of K-12 education.  He welcomes comments and questions at: white.paul@roadrunner.com