Talking about Education

Posted: September 17, 2010 in News and politics






Education in America

The Extinction of Education in America

By John Love

The education process in America, for most, has come to resemble a stagnant pond. You can still call it a pond, but the water in it does not improve, but gradually decays until it is no more than a swamp.

Our politicians do not get it, could not care less is what I believe. If you have money, and plenty of it, you can still buy your children a decent education. It is all, the public system even more so, bogged down by tests that are supposed to prove that the teachers are doing their job and have been able to convince the students to do theirs. They do not, I repeat, in no way do any of the tests now required by our governing entities accurately provide them with any information that actually depicts what is going on in most classrooms. The only thing it does do is take away almost half a day, every day, from studies that would advance a child’s education. Instead, teachers are forced to concentrate on studies that are only aimed at passing these government mandated tests. Otherwise, the teachers themselves are deemed inferior and the children substandard. The classroom time that teachers used to use to excite the imagination or to teach them to think for themselves is gone! They barely have enough time to teach the basics alongside the extravagant amount of time they must spend making sure test scores are as high as possible on the mandated material. The students are not well rounded educationally as a result. If you have been enrolled in a public school, in California for example, you are in deep, well let just say you have fallen in what us country folk call a two holer. I will explain.

I live in Garden Grove California, a suburb of Disneyland for those of us who are geographically challenged. The population living here who speak English, as their first language, is a minority. There are huge populations who were not raised in America and English is their second language, if they speak it at all. A prime example locally is we have a huge population from Mexico, and still arriving in droves. I am making no statement about illegal’s here. I am pointing out that a large portion of these people are here to climb out of poverty, save all the money they can, then move back to Mexico with enough money to open a business and thrive. I am sure I would do the same for my family if need be. For this reason, unfortunately, a lot them do not bother to learn any more English than is necessary, and here in this area they can get along just fine speaking Spanish. However their children are in our classrooms, along with a huge population of other newcomers to our land. They can be extremely intelligent, and most are, but they are not equipped to pass the afore mentioned tests.

Now, at least locally, and I imagine most likely everywhere, school districts tend to have the children who do not read and speak the language well, in classes with teachers who are trained to help them accelerate the learning curve. I am acquainted with teachers who have a Masters in reading and teach English to classes of students comprised of just such individuals. Do you begin to see a problem? They also tend to get the student who has a learning disability, or just does not want to be in school! If you are this teacher, and he or she is going to be evaluated based on how well their students do based on the mandated testing, you can see that the evaluation for this particular group of teachers is not going to be accurate. They need to test these children at the beginning of the school year, and then retest at the end so an accurate evaluation can be ascertained. In addition, the children with documented learning disabilities should not be included in any data used to evaluate the learning curve or value of a teacher, but that is not being done. Just something else that seems anyone with any common sense would see, but alas, the way is naught.

Now for a problem at the state and local level, a problem that directly reflects on the quality of education at a public school, if it was not bad enough already. Most states are in financial difficulty, California is one of the worst hit by the recession. One of the first things they did was to cut education. They laid off thousands of teachers with they already had crowded classroom conditions. Not long after that, they implemented a furlough program where the state rank and file employee was told not to come to work for so many days a month with no pay to cut down on expenses. A lot of them are losing their homes, or are having to leave jobs and go to the private sector if they are able. Of course, they lose health insurance and their retirement plans are in that two holer I keep talking about. It is either that or lose their homes and hang in there hoping for a miracle. The state politicians could care less. They voted themselves a raise just recently, and you do not want to get me started on state or federal congressional retirement plans, I would blow a gasket and use language my Bible Belt readers would not appreciate. Getting back to the furlough issue, they included teachers! Now how ignorant do you possibly have to be to not understand that classroom instruction must be congruent. In the case of the teacher who has a Masters degree that qualifies them to be of help to a classroom of people who have a second language or other disability, just who is teaching them when this teacher is off on furlough days. No one is, the children are also furloughed, which means they are not going to school for even the minimum amount of required days. These are already at risk children, and now they go to school with reduced attendance?  I happen to know for a fact that the teacher I know personally in this situation was hired specifically because of her training and experience in this area. I also know she is the only teacher with these credentials at that school. So what happens to these children who now have no continuity of instruction, who are already at risk, and now have to try and remember what, when, and what was said, how many days ago? I would really like to throw in a swear word here, but I will just refer to the afore mentioned two holer. The teachers at this particular school were told by the new principle that they are not allowed on campus on furlough days. Now everyone knows teaching is not a nine to five job. Every teacher I know, and there are many, come in on weekends, stay late during the week, come in on holidays to catch up on research, grade papers, anything to get a jump on the next week and be better prepared for the students. This particular teacher was not even going to see her students for three days after school starts up. This rule was brought up when she volunteered to show up with no pay on a furlough day so the students would not suffer. None of this would be an issue if the idiots who included teachers in the furlough program actually had a brain and knew how to use it. Politicians for the most part are not in sync with the people they represent. They will not cut any program that effects them or those that pay to keep them in power, so the rank and file suffer.  Do I have a remedy, sorry, no! I can offer a suggestion, I believe the teachers should have to be tested not the kids if the government wants proof that they are qualified. This would leave out the second language problem, the learning disability problem, and the gangbanger who just does not care, out of the equation.  Surprisingly, the teachers I polled were almost unanimous in their agreement. I could also say to vote the idiots out of office, but whenever I try, I just manage to vote for another idiot. Just keep this in mind; education is the spring that keeps this country ticking. Without it, we fall by the wayside. If you check, in the developed countries, we are way down the list when it comes to education. If we do not start paying attention, and demanding our government representatives do the same, we will pay for it dearly, and not all that far in the future!

Any comments, please feel free to include them, I will include my email in case you want to make a more personal comment.

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