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Opinion Letters Changes have made negative impact on education

With the clear understanding that I am not a fan of Jim Davis, a letter to Macon County News June 30th was a bit disingenuous of the good senator. In referencing the “disintegration” of the American family over the past several decades as an “impediment to public education,” Davis was quite correct. Many changes have taken place in America the past four or five decades, numerous ones have had a negative and profound impact on education.

I was a child of the generation which survived the depression years and World Wars I and II. My parents’ generation was one that had learned to make do with what they had and what they didn't have was not necessarily considered poverty and most certainly not a reason to shirk parental responsibilities.

Teachers too, of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s were far different than today’s educators. They didn’t earn very much money nor did they have (or need) the extraordinary support staff teachers enjoy today. It is notable that bureaucracy in public schools in America consumes approximately 50% of education funds whereas other industrialized countries spend 20% or less.

But the biggest change has been the mutation (and yes, the disintegration) of the American family. Educators today like to point to socioeconomic status as a major hindrance to academic achievement. That’s not it at all.

The greatest impediment to academic success is that many parents have stopped parenting and their children therefore, begin school unprepared to learn, undisciplined, and to a large extent, unmanageable.

The consequences have been severe. Once upon a time children began school with the ability to read, write, talk, pay attention and behave themselves because they had (we had) parents and families who taught us how. One dedicated teacher (with 40-50 children in her class) was all that was necessary to create and maintain a first rate education system.

Today, with an army of principals, assistant principals, aides, psychiatrists, psychologists, speech therapists, mental health counselors, sometimes a police officer, and a myriad of programs to help children get through their day, American education is a borderline basket case.

Our nation is falling behind much of the free world academically and the cause can be traced right back to the collapse of the American family and the value system and the work ethic that at one time were nurtured there.

David L. Snell — Dillsboro, N.C.


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