Stupid in America is a 20/20 investigation into the failures of K-12 schooling in the US. John Stossel interviews a variety of teachers, students, parents and administrators in the US and in Belgium. It’s particularly interesting for me because I’ve experienced it from so many sides. I’ve been at all kinds of schools, from public to Catholic, to one that had merit-based admissions. As a teacher, I’ve taught calculus and freshman physics in the US and more recently EFL here in Taiwan. It certainly doesn’t pay as well as my previous programming work, but it is interesting, and I enjoy it enough that I’ve thought about working as a public school teacher in the US after retiring.

I’ve seen some of the policy debates as well. In my high school district, a group of parents actually sued the school system and made them abandon a program called Direction 2000, that many considered an ill-advised attempt at political indoctrination rather than true education. It also turned out that the father of one of my good friends in middle school was the senator who proposed our voucher system. Anyway, it’s an interesting video… despite the Europeans claiming we’re stupid.

One final thought I’d like to share is that I see the school system in Taiwan as one of the biggest reasons to stay here long enough to have my own kids. Despite the complaints I hear from parents about the public schools here, the achievements I see in my nine and ten year-old students are so far ahead of what my peers in the US were doing at that age that it’s almost shocking. Especially in math, art and languages, the difference is stark.

Update: Michael Turton has written a response to this post.

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