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Put concept teaching back in school curriculum

Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 11:07 a.m. CDT

To the editor:

The U.S. middle class is shrinking and has been for decades. A recent New York Times survey showed Canada surpassing the U.S. with higher middle class incomes, and Europe’s poor earn more than the U.S. poor. These countries also out rank the U.S. in student achievement. According to several surveys (Georgetown University being one of them), over one million middle class jobs (not requiring a four-year degree) are unfilled because applicants lack the skills.  

When U.S. public schools made the decision to drop concept-based education (used for thousands of years and still used to out-educate us today), an assessment after a few years showed it was not working, but U.S. public schools did something the rest of the world has not done: they blamed students for making them look bad.

Using a methodology similar to the VA system of hidden lists, public schools labeled students not achieving well and stopped counting their test scores in the calculation of average, cheating to make it appear schools were doing a good job. Pointing fingers at poor, defenseless, students through profiling and stereotyping amounts to psychological and emotional child abuse, which continues to this day as the excuse for 82 percent of public school students in this country being behind grade level.

When No Child Left Behind was enacted in 2001, states had to choose a starting point of proficiency and then work their way up to grade level at the 65th NPR. Iowa’s director of education, Judy Jeffrey, wanted to use the 25th NPR as Iowa’s starting point (indicating she had an idea of what the picture would be like when all test scores had to be counted); the feds wanted to use the 65th NPR (since Iowa was supposed to be a good education state), and they negotiated to the 41th NPR (where Iowa sits today, in the bottom one-third of the country). Iowa has so far been unable to rise above the 41st NPR because it has been too slow to even recognize the need to put concepts back into the curriculum and train teachers to teach concepts (since the teacher training programs — still graded “D” by the National Council for Teacher Quality — fail to do this), and the reason this has failed to occur faster is because of the systemic child abuse of blame.

Contact school board members to stop the systemic child abuse and focus on teaching concepts.

Sue Atkinson, PhD


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