I’M A RETIRED TEACHER. If you’ve read many of my entries you know my purpose is to offer a defense of good public school teachers. And don’t get me wrong. There are bad ones. I know that.
Unfortunately, the idea that schools are failing—and that teachers are entirely to blame—now seems pundit gospel.
Yesterday, I mentioned that I hated Waiting for Superman. If you haven’t seen the documentary let me save you the time.
Davis Guggenheim, who attended an elite private school and sends his kids to an elite private school, styles himself an expert on public education. As a crusading film maker (though not so much of a crusader that he would actually allow his children to rub shoulders with the common folk) he is at pains to point out that in an international ranking in 2006 U. S. students finished 25th in math and 21st in science literacy out of 30 countries.
With all the criticism teachers are taking lately, you can expect to see a story soon that says our students rank 23rd in knitting.
It scares me how “terrible” our schools must be. So I’ve been looking for other signs of America’s impending demise. After all, if Japan beats us in life expectancy and education then our teachers and doctors must be abominable.
Well, here’s the next list to prove we’re screwed. It’s not just crappy teachers. It’s not just horrible doctors. Our police are miserable. I mean: it can’t be complex differences in society, right, dear pundits?
What do we discover if we study the chart below? This time we rate countries on the basis of murder? Here are results—lowest (best) to highest (worst)—for thirty-two member-countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development:
MURDERS PER 100,000 IN POPULATION
17. New Zealand
18. Northern Ireland
26. Czech Republic
29. South Korea
32. UNITED STATES
NOT ONLY DO U. S. law enforcement officers rank last in protecting the citizenry, they rank last by six feet and a mile. The Netherlands falls to tenth place with one murder per 100,000 in population. The Czech Republic and Ireland rank near the bottom with two murders. Finland may be strong in math and reading, but they need better cops, pronto. Or maybe help counting corpses. They land in 31st place with 2.5 murders.
We rank at the bottom with 5.2 murders for every 100,000 people.
Or, to put it another way, Davis Guggenheim’s next movie should probably be called Waiting for Dirty Harry.