I may someday (probably after I'm retired from teaching) write a nonfiction book about what I feel is the sad state of the future of American education. It wouldn't be research-based, because I've grown sick to my stomach during a career of three-plus decades hearing "Studies show that..." Most of these "studies" about what's best for students are conducted by people who have little to zero experience in the classroom. No, my book will be based on my gut feelings built up from over thirty years with direct experience in the actual classroom. It won't be pretty, which is why I'll wait until after retirement.
One of the problems with American education, as I see it, is athletics. We taxpayers spend lots of state money to send hundreds, if not thousands, of athletes per school to college at our expense (in the major Division I colleges of the NCAA). Now, that is room, board, books, and course tuition. In my humble opinion, these athletes should all be obligated to graduate in four years with a real degree in a real program of study. The reality is that an enormous majority not only do not graduate, but they also are not attending real classes that the rest of us must if we attend these institutions.
I think the rest of the world has it right. If a soccer player in Germany, for example, wants to pursue soccer as a career, he or she will belong to a local club to hone his or her skills while attending a regular proper-tiered school (another topic altogether) for the academic and trade skill purposes. School is for school, and athletics is for athletics.
In the U.S., if a boy is gifted at stuffing a round ball into a hoop or running fast with an oblong ball, he is treated as a demigod while being allowed to treat his teachers and fellow classmates like shit. He is rewarded for being an asshole because he scores points in the name of the dear ol' alma mater, and he doesn't even know--nor ever will--the meaning of those Latin words. He can't name a novel he enjoyed reading, he was no sense of wonder about the workings of the universe or the biodiversity of his own planet. None of that shit matters, " 'cause I got game!"
I bring this up because today my Facebook newsfeed is full of postings by fellow "educators" who are proud of Alabama ("Roll Tide!") for its accomplishment in the Orange Bowl while I'm wondering how many novels or scientific discoveries will come from those who revel in that accomplishment. On the other hand, there are those "educators" who are so obsessed with the "undeserving" place that Notre Dame was given in the college football playoff game. Does it matter? Fuck no.
If America took sports out of the schools, the schools would improve eventually. And don't even tell me that doing so would take the incentive away from the impoverished (mostly minorities) for attending school. If school is so damned important to them, they should pay attention in classes, find books that they can cherish for life, and become productive citizens who will pass on their love for learning to their children. Instead, they dream of becoming stars on the court and field who influence other young people to be assholes in the classroom while starring on the court and field.