Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


By Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D. Traditional Realist

There should not be anyone against the raising of standards especially educational standards. Usually when standards and expectations are more demanding, it motivates individuals to reach them. The person or organization is supposed to be energized.

However, the motivation turns into a disincentive when standards are so unreasonable that only the chosen few can possibly meet them. Resentment skyrockets when no matter how hard the person or group tries, the objective cannot be accomplished. The fundamentals of training the individual have to be examined before we expect the impossible.

Any leader or administrator should provide the training, skills and discipline needed to obtain the prescribed standards. Many of our schools do not have discipline but rather are in chaos. This and the lack of laying the necessary foundation before establishing high standards are foolhardy. It is as if asking youngsters to accomplish Olympic records in running speeds when they have not physically developed and have not been trained in running techniques.

Our ruling politicians and educational experts have arrived at a ridiculous consensus. They think by the magical act of proclaiming high educational standards our entire national educational system would become competitive with other nations. PISA (Programe Internationale Standard Assessment) has ranked the United States 24rd in science, 21st in reading and 31st in math compared to other developed countries. This is nothing to brag about.

“No Child Left Behind” under President Bush and “Common Core” under President Obama were federally directed attempts to raise student performance by establishing higher national education standards. They coordinated with individual states establishing their own unrealistic standards. The results of the state experiments have not and will not significantly increase the performance of the students.

The essential reason students’ academic performance varies from one country to another is their preparation. Students need a strong foundation in the lower grades to build upon. Individual students mature at different rates. They set their goals differently and may decide they want to finally excel academically. Unless they work hard in a safe environment to fill in the voids in their skills and overall knowledge they cannot be successful.

The earlier the filling in the gaps process takes place in the elementary grades the better the chances of their meeting their expectations of doing well. In the classroom the teacher must accurately evaluate the student’s ability in each area. The emphasis must be on reading, writing and arithmetic.
The 3Rs are necessary to move forward. Without the ability to read the child cannot do mathematical word problems or follow directions.  Basic calculation skills have to be mastered in order to be competent in more advanced math. A student has to learn how to express himself orally and on paper in all disciplines to obtain higher levels of academic performance.

Developing the motivation to do something without these necessary skills is foolhardy. It sets the child up for failure. Young children think they can do almost anything until they try. Then and only then the reality check of not being able to do it helps them listen and follow the adult’s directions. This happens with a parent at home and a teacher at school.

Too many students and their parents have been duped by grade inflation. Both think high grades mean competency in the subject. This is not the case. It is a politically correct means of deceiving the parents of the poor quality of education. This ploy might temporarily satisfy most although it will not reverse the decline in education. Throwing more money at the problem has not worked. We are already spending more total money on education than any other nation.

The ruling class should not continue to put the cart before the horse.  Instead we need to encourage changes that have to start in the early years. First, grade integrity based on performance has to be reestablished. The mastery of the 3Rs should be the basis of the curriculum instead of social engineering programs that avoid the individual student needs. Schools have to be reduced in size to make them more manageable.

The federal government should stop kicking our dysfunctional education system down the road but allow local communities to regain their power to solve the low school performance in their unique circumstances. Local school boards should take the initiative to bring back the common sense changes that were in place when we were at the top of the education pyramid. Our constitution left education to the states through the local government for well thought out reasons. 

Citizens should start by electing levelheaded, concerned people of character not people who want to begin their political careers. Changes in our educational approach need to emanate from the classroom not the bureaucracy in Washington,

Domenick J. Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


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