We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
One of my kids attended a very demanding high school, a boarding school, actually. During senior or possibly junior year, this youth showed me his AP European History thesis. The master had written on top, in the usual red ink, "Best AP European History thesis I have read in ten years. Almost publishable. B+"
I believe he understood the compliment. The master believed that, however fine and well-researched the work was, he could have taken it even further.
“An A,” she said jubilantly, but with a strong undertone of derision. “And I didn’t even read the book!” As the paper thudded into the trash basket, her friends joined in the disdainful laughter.
That quote is about college, not the local high school. Another quote from the essay:
The person who is never challenged is also never refined, never learns to cope with the setbacks that come on the way to high endeavor. And it is not only in the academic realm, of course, that they may be hampered: a full life outside of university also requires the ability to confront one’s weaknesses and recover from defeat. Despite the admittedly important emphasis on character formation in our schools — on tolerance, anti-racism, refusal of bullying, and so on — it seems that we have failed to show students what real achievement looks like and what it will require of them.
Colleges have become high schools. As far as I have heard, only the elite boarding schools still maintain the highest expectations and standards, far higher than even the most elite colleges.
College faculty who teach have to deal with the tyranny of end-of-the-course student evaluations of the class and instructor, which are a strong incentive to hand out A grades like "walking around money" to Dem voters. Everyone knows that easy graders get better evaluations; hard graders get good evaluations from their best students, but vicious ones from their most vindictive and lazy faux-students. If you're an instructor who doesn't have tenure yet, bad class evaluations can seriously jeopardize your future.
The primary purpose of education is to impart the knowledge that one ultimately teaches oneself, and nothing can stop a determined person from achieving what they will.
Ultimately life is autodidactic.
I agree that good private schools have higher standards than elite colleges. We found this to be true in Virginia where one of our children went to William and Mary after a fairly rigorous private high school and graduated without ever taking a legitimate English, history, or math course. I believe she did take some science, but because she came in with AP biology, there wasn't much required. Discouraged by her job prospects after college, she went back to school and became a nurse. To get her BS and RN she had to take serious science courses.
One huge problem is the lack of serious advisors at the university level. These kids need guidance as to what they ought to study and they don't get it from lazy professors.
The problem is simply that we have freedoms and alternatives to failure. Your children are free to work hard or hardly work. Parents are free to make sure their kids study and perform well or let the schools and society parent for them. If you are a failure at 18 you can have a child and get welfare for years or even the rest of your life. Our willingness to not force our children to compete and possibly fail and have to face the consequences of failure only encourages these results.
GWTW ... I like that phrase, "Your children are free to work hard or hardly work." Neatly and effectively summed up. The problem is most of our grammar and secondary schools are taught by teachers whose private agendas interfere with the children's natural curiosity and discourage them from private learning, learning at home or in attempting their own research. These teachers teach the children that they should not exert themselves to judge others, to analyze situations in what may be an unfavorable way, a way which differs from the teachers' opinions. I'm thinking of the teacher mentioned on the 'Net yesterday who told a student that he could not express doubt or disapproval of the President, that he could and should be arrested for doing so. This is a disturbing direction for teachers to take, and she should be disciplined for it.
As far as the student's right to analyze and judge the public actions of others, that's the whole point of education; to equip us to make judgments. One may have been a darn cute baby when one was born, but you and I will have wasted our lives if we don't try to make mature judgments on the things which occur in our lives.