Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – December 29, 2018 – My mother was one of eight children.  Her parents and grandparents came to this country (legally) from Russia and Poland.  They, like many other immigrants coming to America, had to learn the language and become citizens.  Assimilation was very important to them. They worked and eked out a living, but calling them dirt poor is a kind way to put it.

Education was important.  They wanted their children to do better.  From the time my mother and her siblings were five years old,  they would go out into the strawberry fields or do other menial jobs to earn a few cents to help the family. When she got to attend public school, she was in her element.  She loved school.  She did well in school.  Her father was autocratic. Her mother was a great cook and always traveled with her pots and pans. Their household, poor as they were, was always clean.  Today, my grandma would probably be labeled obsessive-compulsive.  When I was five years old, I remember her washing our dog every day.

Recently, I started a thread on Facebook about the dismal test scores by students being educated in Del Norte County public schools.  For those that don’t relish having children labeled as dumb or stupid because they can’t adequately read, write or compute math, we’re now face-to-face with the EXCUSES or reasons as to why the children are failing in our public schools.







Rather than go into detail on the excuses, let’s look at the top 10 countries for education with brief explanations concerning the first five countries:

  1. South Korea – Credit to Pasuaha Yang, Dec. 21, ’16 :  “In South Korea the culture believes in hard work and diligence, there is no excuse for failure in their culture because the culture traditionally celebrates conformity pressure on students which can also have high expectations toward their families members. The reality is, in the modern world their kid is going to have to know how to learn, how to work hard and how to persist after failure. The Korean model teaches them not to give up, Some parents drop about 25% of their income on education, tutoring and educational materials for their children’s and most parents send their kids to extra private school after their regular school day. The parents want their child to be so successful so it goes without saying that parents and students are highly motivated when it comes to school.”
  2. Japan –  In their schools, the first 3 years are spent in developing good manners and character. They are taught to respect other people. They also learn how to be generous, compassionate, and empathetic. Besides this, the kids are taught qualities like grit, self-control, and justice. Most Japanese schools do not employ janitors or custodians.  The student clean their schools themselves.
  3. Singapore – Education in Singapore is superior because the classes are focused on teaching the students specific problem solving skills and subjects. The classroom is highly scripted and the curriculum is focused on teaching students practical skills that will help them solve problems in the real world. Exams are extremely important and classes are tightly oriented around them. The country has also incorporated a strategy called Teach Less, Learn More, which encourages teachers to focus on the quality of education, not the quantity. Parents play a crucial role in their child’s education. The “talent myth,” which states that some kids are naturally smarter than others, is non-existent in Singapore. A local newspaper, The Straits, reported that 70 percent of parents sign their children up for extra classes outside of their regular school hours. In local bookstores, over half of the store is dedicated to educational material.
  4. Hong Kong – Schools have an average class, in both primary and secondary school, could have over 35 students and it can be as many as 45.
  5. Finland – Finland has vastly improved in reading, math and science literacy over the past decade in large part because its teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to turn young lives around. “Whatever it takes” is an attitude that drives most of Finland’s educators. The transformation of the Finns’ education system began some 40 years ago as the key propellent of the country’s economic recovery plan. 
  6. The United Kingdom
  7. Canada
  8. The Netherlands
  9. Ireland
  10. Poland

California used to be number one for public education in the 1950’s.  These day’s it’s in the 40’s out of 50 states.  Taxpayers footing the bill should start wondering about how their tax dollars are being spent. We’re not doing anybody a favor by allowing this to continue.

Many of the folks of Del Norte County currently fail to see the need to change the direction of our public education. They fail to see the adventure or challenge in creating solutions to the problems. Their failure reflects the failure of this community, which directly affects the economics of this community.

You want jobs, you want to reduce poverty, then we need to bring in or create business or industries.  What companies would want to come to our community when faced with a substandard, poorly educated work force? Stop with all the “entitlements.” Recently over 80 bicycles were handed out.  Only three parents said “Thank you.” Welfare is not a job.  Homelessness should no longer be tolerated particularly when it involves children.

To sum up simplistically:

It’s the children’s job is to go to school and get an education.

It’s the parents job is to teach their children discipline, respect and importance of an education.

It’s the teacher’s job is to instruct students in getting an education

It’s the administrations job is to remember that their primary goal is to see that our children are educated by the time they graduate.  The “school to prison pipeline” mentality has to stop because if you think spending $11,000 per pupil/per year is hard to swallow for churning out undereducated children, think about spending $81,000/per inmate/per year for Gov. Brown’s 2018-2019 budget.


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