WASHINGTON (TND) — Recent national test scores show more students are falling behind in school — and for parents, that is putting a renewed focus on their child’s education.
Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and the former secretary for Housing and Urban Development, joined The National Desk Wednesday for an exclusive interview with Cayle Thompson.
Carson just released a new book, “Crisis in the Classroom,” co-written by renowned attorney Benjamin Crump and political commentator Armstrong Williams.
The book's description reads: Crisis in the Classroom presents the unvarnished realities of poor educational outcomes, a topic that is frequently missing from the headlines, and how these have led communities and generations of future leaders to descend into poverty and devastation. Crisis in the Classroom demonstrates that when the education of our children is jeopardized, so are our families, communities, and nation.
In the book, the three discuss the effects of poor educational outcomes, both in communities and on future leaders.
"Well, first of all, it's important to recognize that this is a problem that affects our entire society. It doesn't matter what your political persuasion is. And what we've found is that there is little or no accountability, particularly in the public school systems in our large inner cities," Carson said. "By that I mean the schools get the same funding per student, and it doesn't matter whether the students pass or fail. And that's not the way the real world works."
Carson said this system provides "no real incentive to do anything." The doctor said the obvious fix is to raise the standards for graduating.
" ... we have people graduating from high school in this country who are functionally illiterate. They can't fill out an application, they can't read simple instructions and understand them. And what is left for people like that? Frequently, it's a life of crime and debauchery and we don't need that," Carson told Thompson.
Armstrong Williams also joined The National Desk Wednesday to discuss their new book. He said the inspiration for the book came after taking a long, hard look at the education system.
Education may work for the administrators, it may work for the school system and the superintendent, but it doesn't work for students anymore. Parents are really being robbed," Armstrong said.
"These kids have this false self-esteem. You have these ghost students. They're being passed on without any skills. They find themselves in a life of drugs, sexual trafficking, prostitution and homicide in the prison system. And at some point, you got to forget about your politics ..."
Americans have to look at the national and international implications, according to Carson. The U.S. population hovers around 3.33 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That may sound like a lot but it's a fourth of what China has; a quarter of what India has.
"We have to compete with them [China and India] in the future. We will not be able to do that with a workforce that is not up to par," Carson warned Wednesday.
Carson, a pioneer in the field of neurosurgery, referenced data showing the U.S. almost always ranks near the bottom in terms of developed nations, particularly in STEM areas, that will "come back to haunt us if we don't do something about it."
The warning has been sent out. It's time to act right now," Carson said.
The National Education Association tweeted Nov. 12, "Educators love their students and know better than anyone what they need to learn and to thrive."
"Now, I don't think anybody doubts that there are countless teachers out there who care deeply for the success of their students. But any parent will also tell you that they know what their child needs. So how can parents and teachers work together better for their kids and to achieve some of the results that you're talking about here?" Thompson asked.
"What we have seen in the last year, year and a half, is a lot of parents suddenly getting involved, running for the school board, going through the school board meetings, demanding answers about what is being taught and what is being accomplished," Carson said. "Because you see huge amounts of money being spent, per student, with little in the way of results."
And this is the key. It's going to take the people and the people's oversight to make sure that standards are upheld and that we're not just going through the motions."
Carson said the American people are key to making sure this is a success. But Carson said it goes beyond human oversight. Values and morals, seen early on in our nation, were important parts of the educational process but "we don't seem to be very much engaged in that anymore." Carson said now it's more about ideology and the idea that "my opinion is more important than your opinion." When this happens, Carson said seeds of discord are sown in the nation and it "will come back to haunt us"