Sunday, June 26, 2011

Education in the United States

This is an issue that brings me right to the border of going linear! I have a lot at stake in this American educational system. Some is my own grandchildren ages 3 to 12. Some is my belief that our future as a nation is only assured through doing the best we can to get an educated populace.

Hey, I benefited from such a system. Today I hear many old folks who did also, but they don't give a damn about the kids of today. They blame the teachers. They blame the lefties. They blame taxes. In the end, they just don't want to pay for a good system and do like the idea of privatizing education for the kids they regard as the elites and to hell with the rest.

When I spend time with my daughter and daughter-in-law, two young women with three children currently in public schools (one in preschool), I hear their stories of what they are seeing in the public schools and feel as though I am hearing from those on the front lines of a battle for our nation's future. They both volunteer and put in long hours in the school systems to try and help more than their own children.

There is a lot of talk, mostly from righties, about how public education isn't worth it and how we should end it by effectively taking tax resources from it. The people who say that often don't work in the schools or even have kids there. They really don't give a damn about anything but themselves. Anyone who tells them they pay too much in taxes, that's their guy/gal.

Without public education, with vouchers where parents can send their children to any private school they choose, our public system is gone; and my tax dollars (yes I do pay taxes) will be going to teach religious concepts I find abominable. For the children who have parents who care, who are smart enough to get their kids into a school that works, it might look like it's a good idea. It leaves behind everybody else, but those who say that is just fine are also the very ones who wave flags about this nation and how great it is. Who do they think this nation is?

Most people who find fault with public education had the benefit of one. They received reasonable prices for college tuition but that's the problem. They got theirs and don't care about anybody else.

In 2001, when Bush began the No Child Left Behind, he had the support of Ted Kennedy; so bi-partisan, right? Well whatever was going through Kennedy's head, that program is a shaft to educating students for a future where they need to be able to use logic. If all they will need to keep jobs is to pass form tests, well maybe it'll be okay but does anybody believe that? This system is built around rote learning, standardized tests, requiring teachers to teach to the test, and then assessing results by a standard. It's just fine if all you want is a future of zombies. Which some do want.

All the teachers I know feel that their time now to really instruct has been reduced. This has worked well for those who hate public education, hate teachers and want to see the system fail. The question is how well does it work for the rest of us?

If we cannot educate future engineers, those who can invent products we can manufacture, if we ignore science as having no value, if we put down intellectuals, and think the only thing that determines someone's value is the size of their investment portfolio, I guess it's just fine.

If you think that, then you aren't thinking because our only hope for a democracy is educating a thinking populace. For some, a lack of educated people is not a bad idea. They just need serfs. You ready to be one or see your grandchild be one? Education used to be the way up for the lower and middle classes. No more?

As for me, I am really angry and hope that a lot of Americans will be also because it isn't about forgetting public education and letting it disappear. It's about making it work! Yes, not every kid can be a doctor, but they can all learn how to read, to understand history and what it takes to get along in our culture. Education is the base for that.


Kay Dennison said...

Education is crucial to our country and I've watched it deteriorate horribly over the years. I did most of my education in public schools and mostly it was a good thing. My own kids did the same.

I have some issues about how we educate our children but there are no easy answers and the bottom line is that public education is crucial our country.

You have -- as always -- said it well!

MaryContrary said...

Can't agree more!! I also have benefited from public education and have watched for the last 40 years as attitudes toward education and teachers have changed mostly for the worse. When I was in primary and secondary school all books were provided and were fairly up to date. The science texts covered science not religion masquerading as science. We actually had geography classes where we were expected to learn something about other countries and their peoples. We were expected to read and to write coherently in proper English about what we read. Now--everyone seems to worship at the alter of standardized tests and they seem determine to fit everyone with a one-size-fits-all straight jacket. Everyone who doesn't fit that size gets thrown under the bus. They talk about extending the school day and the school year but then moan about the cost.

Robert the Skeptic said...

But how are the wealthy classes going to maintain an ample labor force of cheap non-union labor if we educate the "masses"?