Although I served as a pastor for thirty years, during the COVID shutdown I had been teaching at an alternative school for juvenile offenders: Whites Junior/Senior High School. All of the classes were online. The teacher’s primary responsibility was to help and motivate the students to make as much progress as possible, both in terms of grades and courses completed. When the COVID shutdown occurred, students had as much access to their online school, but we ceased to meet as a class. It is difficult to overstate the drop in student participation. Of all my students, a couple were close to graduating and completed their studies. All the other students did very little work.
I can’t help but believe that almost all of the other teachers across the country must have had similar experiences, but the story is rarely covered. One news report I came across is this: “23 Baltimore schools with 0 students proficient in math yet Md. ranks top 2 in new study” (https://foxbaltimore.com/news/local/23-baltimore-schools-with-0-students-proficient-in-math-yet-md-ranks-top-2-in-new-study). The article states, “Maryland was ranked the second most educated state in the country, according to a new WalletHub study”. Could that possibly be true?
According to Nicholas Giordano, professor of political science at Suffolk Community College and Campus Reform Higher Education Fellow, “You’re seeing a coverup within the education system itself…Proficiency levels on average are about 25% of the subject material when [students] graduate high school. Now what they don’t say is that those numbers have been flat for about 30 years, yet we’ve been dropping standards at the same time.” In that same news story, Dr. Phil stated, “There is a sellout going on… instead of figuring out innovative ways to teach our kids and close the gap; it’s like the system is caving to the least and meeting these kids where they are instead of bringing it up to standard” (https://www.foxnews.com/media/dr-phil-guest-shocked-dumbing-down-americas-children-coverup). This should be a huge story, but like so many other crises, such as the southern border, crime rates, and our mounting national debt, it appears the approach is to cover up and ignore the problem.
Universities across our country have not been unaffected. Giordano writes, “When it comes to higher education, there is no shortage of scandals, but perhaps the biggest scandal is how colleges and universities drop academic standards to match the proficiency levels of today’s student population… According to the U.S. Department of Education’s own assessment, only 37 percent of graduating high school seniors are academically prepared for college. Rather than focus on improving and meeting basic proficiency levels, K-12 and higher education institutions appear to have given up and dropped standards (https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/biggest-scandal-higher-education-lowering-bar).
One way that Rock Solid Teen Center can address this enormous need is to offer tutoring services. Anyone with a quality academic background can serve as a tutor in their field of study. Retired teachers are a great asset. And if there is a nearby college that requires student service hours, students usually make very capable tutors. If the local school is open to online (e.g., Zoom) tutoring, it should be considered as an option.
Yet the challenges are daunting. Despite the crisis in education, it’s very difficult to find adults willing to give up their time to tutor. And students that need the most help are often the most difficult to recruit to be tutored. Lack of parental support is a major obstacle. Having one person assigned specifically to run the program who has an appreciation for the need for a quality education will help go a long way toward its success.
Our motto states, “Building foundations for a lifetime.” One of the most important building blocks is an education that prepares a young person for a lifetime of productive and profitable work.
In service to Christ,
President, Rock Solid Teen Center Board