Seth Godin – without meaning to – has pointed at the root cause of the education slide in the US.
Many people in the United States purchase one or fewer books every year.
Many of those people have seen every single episode of American Idol. There is clearly a correlation here.
Access to knowledge, for the first time in history, is largely unimpeded for the middle class. Without effort or expense, it’s possible to become informed if you choose. For less than your cable TV bill, you can buy and read an important book every week. Share the buying with six friends and it costs far less than coffee.
Or you can watch TV.
Blaming teachers is lazy. Blaming politicians is just stupid.
Until we value intelligence as a society you can’t expect children actively seek it. When intelligent well educated people of all stripes (but most notably politicians) are branded elitist while those for whom complete sentences seems to be a significant struggle are lauded as “folksy” or “accessible” you see the heart of the problem.
Fixing education starts with how you regard the educated. It begins with what you demand in your entertainment, books, newspapers, politics and TV news. It begins when we seek knowledge and the knowledgable instead of the common and comfortable.