Friday, July 14, 2006

Talking Bout Our Education

Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It's like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won't fatten the dog.
Samuel Clemens, 1900

There is a lot of talk and lip service these days about education. These avenues of discourse range from "No Child Left Behind" to the debate over whether we should be teaching Spanish in our schools. My thought is that it's is all a load of bull. Most of these debates are about politicians using our children's futures for a brief influx of political currency. In my humble opinion there are a few pressing problems with education today (take these with a grain of salt):
  • Parents checked out of their children's day to day lives a long time ago.
  • The system is based on a 100+ year old system designed to create clones suited to factory work.
  • Rich neighborhoods beget rich property taxes beget rich school systems
  • Poor neighborhoods beget no property taxes beget bad school systems
Some of you are gasping in indignation at the first point. "We have not abandoned our children!" is your refrain. I hope those gasping are the ones that this point does not apply to.
When I was a child I truly won the family lottery. My parents were (and still are) married and in a stable relationship, my mother was able to stay at home and they took the time to sit with me every night and help me with my homework. As I said, I was extremely lucky because at the time many of my friends had single parents or were children of divorce. These children's mothers had to work and by the time they got home they were too exhausted to be truly interested.
I'm actually not blaming their parents, it's just a reality of working overtime or two jobs in some cases. When life is a matter of day to day survival, your children's education will suffer. Our children are becoming an unfortunate side effect of the break up of the nuclear family. Some of you are probably scoffing at me. You're saying to yourself, "I don't need no man/woman to help me raise my children." I only have one thing to say to you, unless you're that special .0001% of people with unlimited energy, you're wrong.
There is a reason why the nuclear family worked for so long, it is necessary. It takes two people, to raise children with the attention that they deserve (especially if you are both working). One person simply does not have the energy.
My second point was that the current system was instituted to give people the skills they needed to work in a factory. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with working in a factory. I come from a blue collar background and I'm proud of it. Increasingly factory jobs are become non-existent in America and Europe. We simply can't afford to pay the salaries and benefits for something we can get cheaper overseas. This leaves us stuck with an education system that was designed to make us capable of excelling in an environment that no longer exists.
Our education today should be tooled to making us knowledge workers, engineers and scientists. Instead it is tooled to stamp out cookie cutter people who cannot see the point of original thinking. If you doubt my point just look at "No Child Left Behind". What is its main premise? I'll whisper it in your ear "standardized testing". Now their is some original thinking for you.
The other two main problems are the ones we have had since the beginning of time, the disparity between the haves and have nots. Rich people's property taxes afford their children a quality (by the standards of our educational system) education. Poor people don't pay any or very little property taxes. This means their children have fewer opportunities.
Well, there is my opinion (whether you like it, want it or care). No amount of standardized testing will fix what ails us. In order to reverse this trend we will have to renew our commitment to each other (husbands, wives, etc.), retooling a broken system and spreading the money around. Unfortunately, that will not happen because we are all to human.

No comments: