©01 The Media Desk
Most people, including the Desk, say with feeling and conviction that the public schools are failing.
The Desk has decided to take issue with a couple of facets of that statement. In fact, the Desk is now contending that the schools are working as designed. So, in no particular order, we'll go through some of the issues as we examine that statement.
First. The Teacher's Unions are not the basis of all the evil of the schools. Oh, now don't get me wrong, at least HALF of what is wrong with the schools can be laid squarely at the door of the National Union's Headquarters. Whatever the political agenda of the Union... If it had not been for the local and state school boards willingness to either lay down with the Union, or to bow to political pressure, and in some cases large contributions to campaign or special interest accounts, the Union wouldn't have reached first base. With the collusion of the boards, the Unions have adopted the schools as their own private turf to spout whatever nonsense they wish the Future of America to believe. Of course the political influence extends far beyond the school boards to the state and national legislatures and the halls of the offices of the Governors and even the President.
Since the School Authorities have allowed, with the blessing of the voters that elect them either directly or indirectly, the Unions to spout Save The Rainforest nonsense instead of teaching the kids to read, the schools are Working in their eyes.
Second. Since Parents have repeatedly voted for the same Authorities described above, and not screamed and yelled at board meetings and voted the rascals out next election day. They must like what's going on in the schools. Parents must also like the spying their children do for the teachers and the Unions and the School boards. Kids come home and inquire of their parents if they own a firearm, if they drink or smoke, if they wear their seat belts, then carry this information back to the schools. Why? To feed the agenda of the political arm of the Union. Don't be surprised when the Morality Police come beating on your door wanting to confiscate your guns and cigarettes based on a third grade informant's word. Don't worry about the invasion of privacy on the WEB, your kids are taking notes and telling tales for the PAC's based in the Teacher's Unions. With the blessing and maybe the encouragement of your School Board. If there was a one term turnover until somebody with some backbone stood up to the unions and got the schools back on track, the Powers would figure it out eventually, and then things would change.
As this is not happening, the schools are working the way the parents want them.
Third. Since you do not have High School Graduates filing Class Action Lawsuits for Breach of Contract/ Trust when they are handed their diploma and cannot read and write well enough to fill out the job application at the 'you want fries with that?' place. They must be happy with the outcome. It is a well known fact that kids in the eleventh grade read and comprehend at about the same level as a fifth grader did fifty years ago. Since the parents aren't dancing on the Superintendent's desk over it, they must like it. Whole Language, New Math, Socially Conscious Social Studies (no dead white men need apply), Earth Friendly Science, etc, have all proven more or less useless in teaching basic skills and the methodology to thinking critically or creatively. Since the Teachers aren't walking off the job and demanding that course materials and curriculum be worthwhile. They must like it.
Everybody is Complaining about it, but nobody does anything. They must think its working.
Fourth. Do WE as a NATION even WANT the generation born during the Reign of Bill the Lecher to become more educated, intelligent, creative, critical, and able than say, those born in the Carter/Reagan era? We are all about Equality these days. Everybody is equal. Nobody must be less than everybody else. The hew and cry used to be that the public schools were very good at turning out factory workers, but now they aren't even doing that. We need more Stephen Hawkings, maybe a few Bill Gates', but we discourage individual creativity and critical thinking in favor of polishing self-esteem and 'fitting in'. So three quarters of the kids can't do long division, but they feel good about it. This is why we now force grade-schoolers to take the equivalent of the College Boards. But do we want them doing better? Do we feel that threatened by bright people that we have turned our schools into production houses for people that think the prime time sit-coms are actually funny. There are people out there that believe 'TV Guide' and 'USA TODAY' are challenging reading material. Do we want to tell them differently?
While a few wring their hands in disgust and bemoan the last of Shakespeare clubs in the high schools today, nobody gets on 'Oprah' and 'Good Day America' to offer to start them. They must like the Status Quo.
Lastly. The Desk is TRYING to do something about it. But this is an uphill battle against an entrenched enemy. It has tried to read classic literature with its children, but has been fought to a standstill by the Powers of The World Today. It has actively discouraged watching sit-com grade TV in favor of anything even remotely educational, and leads by example as much as possible. And this has been somewhat successful. The kids do not scream too loudly about sitting, listening to music, and READING. The Desk has encouraged creative and critical thinking. Why does something work or not work. How can you find needed information in books and on the Net. What is the difference between nonsense and common sense. Think a decision through. Actions do have repercussions, as does inaction. It has pointed out that Thurgood Marshall is as much a Black American Hero as Malcolm X or Dr. King (note, in a local middle school that statement got a very nasty look and a muttered comment from an female African- American teacher). The Desk has commented that the majority of the founding fathers were religious, that the majority of the Great American Speeches contained references to God, and that both Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis were born in Kentucky, except Davis was a Democrat. Which also raised some eyebrows with the very left leaning teachers. No the Desk is not a Republican, either.
We each fight in our own way. What counts is that you are at least working to set it right in your own circle. With your own kids.
If you just happen to mention Mark Twain in conversation. Have your kids heard of him? Yes he is out of favor with the 'Never say the N-word crowd'. But he is still arguably the greatest American Writer ever.
Who was Henry Clay, Oliver Cromwell, and Marshal Tito? Maybe they have heard of Davy Crockett, but did YOU know that before he went west to fight with the Texicans at the Alamo that he had served in the US Congress as a Rep from Tennessee?
Besides the Dead White Men. How many people know what was so important about French Indo-China? Who was the woman that declared herself a man to become Pharaoh? How was South America divided under the Colonial Powers? Even closer to home, what did Sally Ride do?
Maybe they still can't do the long division, but they can't read the instructions on the calculator well enough to figure out how to use it. Why can't they set the time on the VCR? They can't READ the booklet that came with it. Reading with comprehension is essential for everything from baking a cake to rebuilding a carburetor to filing your taxes.
There is no excuse for willful ignorance of the level demonstrated nightly on the popular TV shows. One lady the Desk knows got very upset when it informed her that the 'deserted island' of the first 'survivor' type show was part of a Malaysian National Park that included a 'Club Med' style resort hotel. She expected the network producers and TV crew to have been living in tents with the contestants.
Reading is the single most important life skill there is. And, appropriately, one of the main ones the school do-gooder crowd have been railing against, 'the pressure to excel damages the child's self esteem'.
Not exactly. The stress of failure as an adult does far more damage.
Somebody once said, and the Desk has to do some RESEARCH to find out who it was, that:
The Desk Agrees.