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The following lauds the finest tome yet produced on the dreary subject of the state of American education...wish my father, who started his career as a teacher in Idaho, were alive to applaud...

Oregon Teacher Reveals
Flaws in Our Education

by Fred Delkin

   "I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense."  This quote by Thomas Paine is author Tam Newby's choice for an introduction to her brilliant expose' of the flaws in the American education system and this former teacher's recommendations for its repair.  "G.P.S.~G.A.T.E. way ... Charting the Course for 21st Century Public School Reform" is simply the finest treatise on the subject we've ever read and a must read for every parent and grandparent.  It has just been published by the Langdon Street Press of Minneapolis, copyright 2011.

(Left: cover of the paperback)

Newby is a native Montanan, and has spent "24 years of learning, living and working in Oregon," and has a son, Jesse, who she "found our public school system incapable of teaching the 3 R's."  That caused her to earn a teaching certificate and "join the ranks."  She has worked as both a teacher and an administrator in both public and private schools.  She declares that "I have written this book because of a deep concern for the future of our public education system."

She writes that "Americans over 40 are better educated than youger generations.  Our students are not 21st century workforce ready."  As illustrative of that fact, in the past five decades, the United States has spent more per student on K-12 education than any other 'developed' nation except Switzerland.  Yet, our students rank far behind the achievement levels of many other nations.  For example, Finnish K-12 students placed 3rd in a global ranking of reading, 2nd in science and 6th in math.as compared to USA placements of 17th in reading, 22nd in science and 31st in math.

It's not the lack of money     

'It's the fact that so much of the money allocated to public schools is wasted.

For every three teachers, Newby points out that we need two bureaucrats to do ihepaperwork to access the available government funds.  She makes a case for private schools, who "have less of a budget than public schools yet higher achievment levels and better communication with parents."

Parental communication, the involvement of parents in the education process, is a vital ingredient in any school system, Newby declares.  She points out that Asian students in the U.S. tend to be exlempary achievers because they benefit from a cultural ethos that places vital importance upon a good education.

'Occupiers' take note

Our cities are being roiled by the 'Occupy' movement, largely made up of youth who seem to feel that society owes them a living.  Newby addressess this situation: "If we as a nation, but foremost as parents, do not take immediate steps to prepare ourselves and our youth for the future, we are at certain risk of finding this nation in the midst of a violent civil rebellion."  She is a staunch supporter of globalization, which she sees as inevitable and a true expression of the capitalism we should all support..."a free market, economic expression and competition are at the heart of the original American dream of our forefathers.  If we hope to compete successfully in a highly advanced technological society, we need to prepare ourselves and our children...now!" 

Whining on street corners and in public parks won't get that job done.

Newby's book is salted throughout with quote boxes from social leaders that fortify her points. We take particular note of "Isn't our choice really one of left or right, but of up or down?  Down through the welfare state to Statism...to more government largesse, accompanied always by more government authority, less individual liberty and ultimately totalitarianism always advanced as our own good.  Up is the alternative conceived by our Founding Fathers as the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with an orderly society. 

"We don't celebrate Dependence Day on the Fourth of July.  We celebrate Independence Day."-- Ronald Reagan

This learned dissertation on education is very current.  It references our current federal administration's actions.  It thoroughly and objectively holds forth on public, private and charter schools.  It contains numerous charts and lists on domestic and foreign expenditures on education andthe results.  It is based upon an admirable body of both research and personal experience.  The title is a code for 'G' as in Great citizen advocates, 'P' for parents, 'S' for students and 'G' for federal, state, county, city government, 'A' for administration, 'T' for teachers, 'E' for employees.

We will bring more gems to light from this book in subsequent issues of Oregon magazine.


© 2011 Oregon Magazine