Welcome to this SBG Cast on the Intellectual Path. You know, I have so many discussions with people about the sad situation in our public schools. Children are performing below accepted standards, SAT scores are declining, moral values are all but non-existent, and the optimism that once ruled America is being replaced with a deep pessimism and worry about the future. What is the cause of the problems in our schools today?

The most often thought of problem is money. The notion being that schools performance is directly related to the money spent per child. If this was true, then how does that correlate with the national average of over $17,000 per child, K-12 for public schools versus around $9,000 per child, K-12, for private schools. Now, I’m sure this number varies as I got this data from a study done by The Cato Institute, but regardless of whose numbers you use the relative nature of expenditures remains about the same.

Now, granted the public schools face costs not carried by private schools, including special needs kids, security and that. But that cost doesn’t begin to explain the serious difference in results found in these different schools. And unlike what one person told, I don’t believe that public school teachers are simply less effective than private school teachers. I’m going to try in this SBG Cast to offer a different perspective on the CAUSE of the problem. Within the context of this SBG Cast, I don’t have the time to outline a solution, but if we can begin a dialogue around the true cause, perhaps a solution can be found.

There is a very special demarcation point in history where it’s almost as if a light switch were turned off. A year that marks the beginning of decline in SAT scores, an increase in teen pregnancy, an increase in divorce, an increase in violent crime. This year is so directly reflective of these changes that it truly as if there was a world before it and a totally different world after it. That year is 1963.

What happened in 1963 was a Supreme Court decision that took prayer out of public schools for the first time. In Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203 (1963) – the Court found that forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer was unconstitutional. So although that wasn’t the first challenge to a generally accepted Judeo-Christian value set, it was the icing on the cake and for the first time, rather than the nations children having a shared moral compass provided in their homes and at their schools and looking UPWARD to solve issues, we began instead to look inward. We transitioned to an open and subjective moral compass. Now, I’m not going to suggest that the single problem underlying this spiraling out of control was that Supreme Court decision. But, I do believe you can correlate it directly when it is also tied to the enormous social changes that were forthcoming. The first true generation that went away to college, the first true generation that didn’t have the financial worries that had been the reality in prior generations, and a generation that faced aggressively all forms of discrimination that had been rampant, most notably that against African-Americans. And we saw the beginning of general turmoil in the U.S. following John Kenney’s assassination. When all of this is taken together, the changes occurring all throughout that decade and with the enormous growth in social welfare programs that over time have affected people’s hopes and dreams and institutionalized poverty, we began to see the degeneration of our shared moral fiber, which in turn has directly led to the degeneration in performance in our schools.

What all this means is that the problems facing our public schools I believe can be directly tied back to the breakdown of the family, the breakdown in parental involvement to some extent driven by economic circumstances that force many couples to be two income, and to a breakdown in our shared moral values, notably affected by that Supreme Court decision in 1963. The data is unquestionable. Something happened in 1963, and that Court decision is the most likely change that began in schools.

As we’re all about solutions, and not just stating the problem as so many politicians and radio hosts do, we’re looking to write an E-Book on public education, and what it will really take to get it performing up to the standards we all desire for our nations children.

I’m Steve Beaman, thanks for listening!

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Author's Bio: 

Steve Beaman is the Author of "Happiness & Prosperity in the 21st Century: The Five Paths To a Transformed Life". He has authored over 100 articles relating to the Five Paths including articles on Financial Prosperity, Emotional Wellness, Physical Health, Intellectual fulfillment, and Spiritual Security. He enjoyed a highly successful career in Economics and Finance prior to establishing The Steve Beaman Group. The "SBG" is an organization dedicated to helping people on their journey of life.