HUNTSVILLE — Somewhere along the way, schools developed a world not of our making. This is sad and there are no plans to remedy a terrible situation. Worse yet, the common approach is to throw more Federal money and add controls without accountability.
From a distance, we know the educational environment has changed. Today’s shifting atmosphere bears little relationship to schools of a few decades ago.
I believe the decline and fall of public education is directly and inversely proportional to vast amounts of federal money and control imposed on local schools. I am no rocket scientist but what we have is a rapid rate of change that bears no relationship to educational progress on school campuses.
In olden times, students dressed appropriately as they migrated from runny-nosed kids to young men and women growing into mature young people. Today, what was once a dress code amounts to little more than a paper document. Texas in the 40s, had state laws prohibiting any piece of clothing associated with high school fraternities or sororities. These were not the same as gangs.
Today, we have variations of what purports to be appropriate clothing but includes short-shorts, flip-flops, sneakers with laces trailing in the dust, heavy backpacks to conceal weapons anything, and enough electronics to run the Queen Mary. This glosses over armed security guards, magnetic detectors, and teachers unsupported by parents or administrators.
Amendments to the learning process include a shortened school day, week, and term. In-service days allow learning days to be dropped from the agenda. Cafeteria food was never appealing but the poor substitution of fast foods and vending machines contributes mightily to obesity and diabetes.
This may be harsh but overwhelming facts indicate that school systems function something like exercise yards in a prison. Those toughing it out in a restrictive environment head for community colleges and universities.
Since the el-hi process was less than a roaring success, a long period of remedial education is required to achieve minimum levels of basic knowledge. Without this additional education, long-term career prospects for high school graduates indicate a career of dead-end jobs. Drop outs do not have this luxury.
The media highlights stabbings, killings, and rapes as part of normal school life. Parents avoid corrective remedies by sending their children to charter schools, private institutions, and even home schooling.
Electronic gadgets have shown great promise but little progress. Standardized tests can only be marginally effective as they establish bare minimums for self-defined accomplishments. Distance or on-line learning in an uncontrolled environment leaves the system wide-open to kids and teachers willing to game the system to move forward. The honor system means the university has the honor and students have the system.
Our education process produces skilled computer operators lacking knowledge and have little understanding. Knowing how to surf or browse the net does not create or convey skills for writing a resume, read a newspaper or book, or how to succeed in the world of commerce and industry.
The guy who wants nothing more than being a carpenter can do quite well until aging causes the deterioration of muscle. The young lady who wants to be a mother would do well to think of her future when kids have left home for a better world.
Over the years, money has made schools comfortable without impacting learning. Teacher certification conveys a knowledge of teaching techniques but may be sadly lacking in subject knowledge. Administrators have encountered or faced problems of disinterested students and absentee parents. In addition, schools avoid making waves that could reflect negatively on schools, administrators, and school boards or create PR fiascoes.
Reading this with a critical eye, it becomes apparent the problems are not money, not qualified teachers, not used textbooks, not bus rides, not school security problems, not the absence of electronics, and not enough time. The problem lies with students poorly qualified to participate in learning.
Parents would do well to explain the system to their kids. Parents go to work to provide for the family. The children’s job is to attend school and learn. This should be fairly simple.
Parents must create an environment to encourage learning; not an overabundance of after-school entertainment. Kids should understand their job is school and gathering knowledge. The schools cannot, should not, take kids to raise. Learning and education is for schools. Manners, behavior, ethics, and morals are for parents.
If parents took their job of child-rearing seriously, there would be less need for gadgets and processes that entertain children while teaching nothing.
You may believe I am a voice crying out in the wilderness. Please browse COMMON CORE CURRICULUM on the ‘net. A well-funded and powerful group is creating a national plan to bring all public schools down to the lowest common denominator. Public schools and local education are local options; not to be forced under a Federal umbrella. This is another example of the Federal government interfering and ignoring state’s rights.
Grady Easley is retired from gainful employment. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.