Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Swat a Day, Keeps the Gum Away

Last week my wife and I had a discussion that was quite heated and passionate. Because it originated with a statement she had made, she asked that I would let her blog about it first, and wait to write my own take on it. I agreed. Last week I posted a poem, whereas she posted "I'm So Tired". Today I'm giving you my take (and please, read hers first).

From what I can tell, the desire of public education today is purely nostalgic. By that I mean we want "the good old days", when kids behaved in schools, and results were good. (By "we", I mean the folks in Washington, D.C., who I will lambast later). Today's public schools are overwrought with disciplinary problems, and lowered results. Back in the good old days, we produced children of such intellect, that they helped beat the Russians to the moon. And the worst thing you had to deal with were kids chewing gum and talking in class.

Okay, you want the schools of the 1950s? I'll give you the schools of the 1950s. You ready to make some changes? Then, in order to have those schools, and their educational results: Segregate the blacks, keep non-English speaking children out, bring back the paddle, and take all Learning Disabled (LD) students and put them in the mental wards or special schools (remember the "short bus"?) where they belonged (or counseled to drop out and focus on getting a job).

Of COURSE today's schools have lower results than back then. For one thing, there is more to learn today. We are more technologically advanced, more "one world", than ever before. Two plus two will only get you so far. In today's world of computers, you need so much more to succeed.

Did you know that today, public schools are unable to refuse accepting ANY students? That war over in the Middle East? Produced a bunch of immigrants. You know, a bunch of kids whose primary language is NOT English? Guess where the kids go to school? They go to the public schools. You know what? That is a good thing! I love the idea of different cultures coming to America and merging together. Remember the whole "melting pot" concept? I live on the west side of Cleveland. One of the things I LOVE about here is that there is so much diversity when it comes to FOOD!! You can keep your Applebee's (no offense: I love Applebee's). Give me mom-n-pop places with names I can't pronounce.

Today's public schools have LD students. And today, more kids are diagnosed LD than ever before. What do you think happens to all of those test scores when you add in the LD students? Should we get rid of them? As the husband of a public school teacher (which I am telling you, if you didn't happen to read her blog article - shame on you!), I have had the opportunity to attend some school functions over the years, and have met some of her LD students. They are the most delightful kids I've ever met. Genuine, honest, and tend to "suck the marrow" out of life. By the way, LD also includes those with physical challenges. To watch the other students treat them as any other student, is a sight most bigoted adults NEED to see.

Who do we turn to then? Who will fix our problems with public schools? We need people with the wisdom, the experience, and the passion to reach into our educational system and provide solid, forward-thinking solutions. Unfortunately, I give you our political leadership in Washington (time for some good, old-fashioned, lambasting!)

(The below needs to be read out loud. Preferably while standing on a chair.)

Our benevolent leaders in Washington have made the issue of public education a(nother) top priority. So, what do these folks, who have never worked an honest day in their lives, who have never stepped foot in a public school (you know, private schools for them and their children), and who, as a bunch of failed lawyers (which is why they are in politics in the first place), who have no concept on how the education system works, do? They take money from lobbyists who represent companies that SELL tests and curriculum and force it upon the schools. They keep finding ways to punish teachers, the very people who you entrust with the education of your children, so that they will spend more time getting your kids to memorize the answers to tests, than actually educate them. Because, after all, they need to get good test results, and then PAY additional fees to access the data of the results. All so some lobbyist can have money to spend on politicians so that the politicians can sell out their responsibilities to the highest bidders.

Yeah, they suck.

(I told you there would be some lambasting!)

So, how DO we fix the education system? As I said above, we need people with the wisdom, experience, and passion to provide the solutions. I am NOT that people. I have the passion, but lack the wisdom and experience. Who then? How about those who have been IN the education system, for starters? How about letting them come up with ideas and ALLOW them to implement them? How about getting the damn lawyers off their backs, so that when a child DRAWS a picture of a gun, or (oh my God) makes a gun shape out of his fingers, teachers don't have to go off all half-cocked (pun intended) and make a bid deal out of it, for the fear of getting sued! Allow them to focus on YOUR kids and teaching them.

And another thing: you parents need to get more involved too. A teacher spends maybe 40 minutes with your kid. You have FAR more impact on their lives than any teacher will ever have. I challenge you: when a person reflects on who their biggest, positive influencers are, don't let it be a teacher they mention. Not that teachers shouldn't be honored, but a parent who works with (and not against) a teacher, will go a long way to influencing their child to succeed in their education and other pursuits far more.

I guess I am saying that yes, it's broke and it's time to fix it. It is up to us to make sure that it is fixed right. Punishing teachers is not the solution. Sure, there are some bad teachers. But the majority of them are not. They didn't take the job for the summers off. Hell, as a husband of a public school teacher I can honestly say, you couldn't PAY me enough to do her job.

And neither could they you.

© Emittravel 2014

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