Monday, April 25, 2011

Public Education in Indiana

Ahh...for those of you not interested in my state government political views, read no further. This is merely a futile attempt to give pause in the minds of my state legislature. I have even created a handy-dandy facebook group in order to further my efforts. I don't suppose it will get as much coverage as the "I like dill pickles more than Justin Bieber" group. So here comes the spiel (which is german for game/play, funny huh?):

All of us have heard plenty about education reform, and we each would like to paint our demons varying shades of red. Is it the cash strapped school system, teachers who sit back like tics and suck in the rich public dollars, or is it a failure of our society to emphasize education in the home AND at school. I will seek to address these issues as I make my claim (contrary to a politician who merely points out glaring flaws without any suggestion for change, watch carefully, they do it all of the time) that public schools can not be fixed simply by changing out the staff every two years (no war is won if your commanders are rotated out every six months).

Do I think that our public schools are desperate for funds? Yes I do. Why is it that many schools can no longer afford to operate a budget that would allow a similar curicullum as to that I experienced as a child growing up in three states? This not only applies to art, gym, woodworking, etc., but also to the aides and teachers who facilitate those students who struggle with basic academic requirements. Some might say, “throwing money at a problem doesn’t fix it”, well as a working-class individual, I know that if someone threw a bunch of money my way, I could find good use for it. Ok, no one wants to pay more taxes, fine. How about we allocate one-quarter of the amount that we paid to develop a war chopper that will not perform in the sand? Just asking. You can do your own research.

Are teachers fat tics sucking the lifeblood out of our economy? Hmmm… only an idiot would make the assertion that teachers are over-paid. Let’s just take an aerial survey of a government employee's (i.e. governor) home versus the housing of the average fourth-grade teacher (google earth should do it if you’re curious). I know I have seen my children’s teachers shell out bucks from their personal accounts to fund a child’s education, not to mention the "donations" (donation is sly for, "I felt so horrible, his socks were soaked because his shoes had holes in them. Besides I got them on sale") of shoes, clothes, and warm blankets that these teachers quietly pass on to students in need without comment. Does that mean that all teachers are the cat’s meow? No, not every contractor is the best, nor every surgeon (though when I finally save up for that lobotomy, I hope I get the top dog, at least a C average or better in Med School), nor every truck driver, but does that mean we condemn the entire profession? .

Let us presume that you are a teacher of any class, any grade. You have multiple students who come to school without clean clothes, solid meals, support, or affection. How do you motivate these students to succeed? Suppose you have a student born of a foreign language (before all you naysayers on the immigration front can say boo, let me remind you that if you are white, this isn’t your native land, it is only slavery, disease, and progressive violence that has cleared the way for you, so let’s not begrudge another the bounty of which we have taken advantage of for so many centuries [anyone remember those “No Irish Allowed” signs of the 1890’s]), where is your supporting linguist (probably working for the U.S. Military, they get all of the good linguists)? Second language students (regardless of reading proficiency) take the same ISTEP, so watch those numbers. Haha, before you go blaming those ESL (English as a Second Language) kids, check your statistics: The higher the percentage of students in a district receiving free lunch, the lower the tests scores, regardless of race, color, or creed. So now that we have found a direct correlation between objective data and low test scores, perhaps we should address that issue. Which is, of course, low income. Can we make everyone rich so that we are all smarter, cooler, and better-dressed? Nope, but indiscriminate teacher lay-offs aren’t the solution either. If you doubt my facts, look them up (poverty levels vs. standardized test scores). You also might want to look in on U.S. scores versus those of so-called competitor nations. We might do well to do a little emulating.

Mitch, old buddy, old pal, I challenge you to one month as a substitute teacher. You merely need the first of your two expensive degrees to pull it off. You work it, and then I might consider your stuff worth reading. You have an Ivy League education; it bewilders me that it never occurred to you to obtain first -hand data. Perhaps you are busy. Just let me know what issues take precedence over education and I will cut you some slack.

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