Education…Is There A Problem | educaton.


Education in America…is there a problem?

Is the system working now?

Here’s a current example of the lack of common sense in today’s educational system, and communities. And this is from the uber-liberal Huffington Post:

ATHERTON, Calif. — A California school teacher was placed on paid administrative leave after he rattled a table to get the attention of his math students, startling an eighth-grade girl who used her cell phone to call police.

Atherton police Sgt. Tim Lynch tells the Palo Alto Daily News that officers went to Selby Lane School Tuesday afternoon because of reports a teacher was causing a disturbance.

Officers found a calm teacher with class in session.

The sergeant says the teacher’s table-rattling startled a student and she used her cell phone to call 911. He says other students in the class weren’t bothered by the teacher’s actions.

Redwood City School District deputy superintendent John Baker says the teacher was placed on leave because there was a police response.

End of quote.

Ludicrous.  It would be funny were it not so sad, and so typical.  I’m sure both the teacher and the student’s parents will sue for some perceived and misguided belief they were wronged.  And that’s the basic problem in America, but here we’re only dealing with education.

Why is this important?  Because teachers and schools have 5 times as much time, or more, with today’s youth as do parents.  Most of a child’s non-sleeping hours are spent with teachers and schools.

I think our ranking in the world in terms of education (14th) is proof that something’s gone astray.  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranks us 33 in reading, 27 in math, and 22 in science.  The fact that 41% of all births in the U.S. are out of wedlock is proof that something’s gone astray.  The population of our jails and prisons is proof that something’s gone astray.  The fact our school boards, our teachers and administrators are willing, seemingly eager, to drug our youth with Ritalin and other drugs to keep student’s so called ADD in check, is proof that something has gone astray.  I seem to recall that what is commonly perceived as our “greatest generation,” the baby boomers, were raised without the benefit of Ritalin and with the benefit of discipline.  How could it be that, in the middle of the last century, this country came to be the go-to country in the world, if discipline didn’t work in our homes and schools?  Ritalin is a symptom of laziness, ineffective, and yes, frustrated, teachers, not a necessity to maintain a learning environment, as is claimed by so many lazy teachers and administrators.

And what makes lazy teachers and administrators?  Tenure and job security, that’s what.  Were they in the private sector, were they judged by job performance, it would be another story.  The day of firing teachers for their religious or political beliefs is long gone, and tenure should be long gone with it.  Education starts with teachers.

And unions are a great part of the problem.  This from a 1945 ruling by the Supreme Court:

To tolerate or recognize any combination of civil service employees of the government as a labor organization or union is not only incompatible with the spirit of democracy, but inconsistent with every principle upon which our government is founded. Nothing is more dangerous to public welfare than to admit that hired servants of the State can dictate to the government the hours, the wages and conditions under which they will carry on essential services vital to the welfare, safety, and security of the citizen. To admit as true that government employees have power to halt or check the functions of government unless their demands are satisfied, is to transfer to them all legislative, executive and judicial power. Nothing would be more ridiculous.

End of quote.

In 1945 we led the world in education.  Which about says it all.  Unions have no place in education.

When you speak of discipline in the home and schools, corporal punishment is the first thought that comes to mind.  Does in work?  Many say that you can’t teach non-violence with violence.  Probably true, however, you can get a child’s attention, a students attention with forms of corporal punishment that don’t cause injury, including much psychological injury.  And for education, you need attention.  And a swat on the butt, 999 times out of a thousand doesn’t even cause a bruise.  What hurts your well padded ass doesn’t necessarily hurt your psyche.  I don’t think it’s effective to corporally punish a young person in front of his peers.  Number one, he’ll tell them it was much worse than it actually was.  A 24” ½” thick paddle will always become a 3’ inch thick paddle.  And one swat will become ten in the retelling.  However a swat or three in private will definitely get his or her attention and no matter what the psychologist says, the kid won’t look forward to coming back for more.  That’s just good old human nature.  And the retelling has its effects on those in the audience…they’ll have no interest in facing that now 4’ 2×6 with holes and nails in it.

But corporal punishment is only one area of discipline.  Detention, study hall, changed lunch periods so a student doesn’t eat with his peers, suspension from participation in electives such as sports and glee club and Spanish club, all are effective methods of discipline.  Those are the rewards for being undisciplined.  Education requires discipline.

But no matter the method, it has to be applied in an evenhanded manner: rich and poor, black, brown, red, yellow, white, male or female, or those in between.

Statistics say that schools that use corporal punishment invariably have students with lower academic achievement.  With higher drop out rates.  And on and on.

Well, what a surprise.  I’ll bet you’ll find there are many other mitigating factors.  Schools in lower social economic areas have less discipline at home, many are latchkey kids, with no discipline for a good part of the non-school day.  Many are from broken homes, and only have one parent to carry the load of discipline.  Many of those kids will drop out no matter the discipline or lack thereof.  And how about those in upper income who know mama and papa will run to the private school to enroll them when the are “mistreated” in the public school?  The spoiled brat, spoiled and coddled at home as well as in school. Statistics are always skewed and twisted and angled by the statistician, and in this case the statisticians are administrators or district employees, and teachers, all from colleges and universities with extreme, in most cases, liberal leanings.  We are the world, tat a, da da…well, we aren’t the world, we are individuals and individuals will learn soon enough that they have to stand on their own two feet, and in the final analysis, have to do for themselves if they want to be a productive part of society.  The world is a competitive place, and to compete, you have to have discipline.  And education should teach you that early on.

The current hue and cry about “bullying” is a good example of the overreaction of teachers, administrators, and parents who are far too overprotective.  Of course there are instances, rare, but there, of bullying taken to injurious levels, but generally peer discipline is a fact and will happen in kindergarten, grammar school, high school, college, and in the work place.  You can ignore a child’s stinginess at home, but he’ll soon learn in the sand box to share, and that is a good thing.  And discipline will take many forms, and any human being who expects to get along in any society in the world had better get used to it.  It, too, is human nature.  Right, of course not, factual, of course.

And any well adjusted human being will face and overcome it, and recognize it for what it is.  Bullies generally lack self-confidence and self-assurance, and when pushed back most often show that they are in fact 90% bluster. That, too, is learned in the sand box and in the high school hallway, and it’s a lesson teachers can’t very well teach.  A busted lip is often the best cure for an overactive mouth.

So what is discipline?  You can say it has no place in the school system, however what are grades?  Aren’t they a form of discipline?  What’s being third string on the football team, or a bench warmer on the Basketball or soccer team?  What’s being picked as a stage hand rather than Peter Pan? What’s not raising enough money to go on the field trip?  All of life is discipline, including not getting the raise you hoped for an expected…of course that’s only in the private sector, the real world.

And, mom and dad, and teacher, if you don’t allow discipline in the sandbox, in the playground, in the home and in the school, it’ll probably come much more expensively, for the individual who’s in need—and we all are at one time or another—in the work place, or the armed service, or on the battlefield, or in the prison yard.  It’s part of life, and you can say it’s not necessary, but life will prove you wrong.  The real world is probably a harder place to get your education.

And discipline is only one small aspect of what’s wrong with education in America today.  The attitude of teachers and administrators is best exemplified by what’s happening in Wisconsin.  There is no question that American is in trouble, that there have been far too many hogs at the trough of Federal, state, county, and city spending.  They’ve been like a cancer, creeping into the very bone marrow of America while the rest of us were busy working and raising our families.  Yes, all of us are created equal, but somehow teachers and other public employees now think they are “more equal,” and entitled to not only their three month vacation, and sabbaticals, and fat pensions…and now salaries and pensions far in excess of the public sector.  I wonder if teachers should be allowed to try and teach in a free enterprise system without having to enjoy its rigors with three or four years of working therein, or maybe trying to run a hot dog stand before they try to teach the running of a hot dog stand and the country.  Maybe three years in the real world should be a criteria.  Of course today’s youth would elect to live at home during that period, and today’s parents would allow it.  But that’s another problem.  Education begins at home, but you know that a 25 year old knows it all, and probably his continuing education has to take place outside the home.

The best, by far, college instructor I enjoyed was a retired advertising executive who taught advertising and marketing.  He’d lived it; you could believe what he said.  The best math teacher I ever had would not only rattle the table, but he would rattle your bones if you weren’t paying attention.  Mr. Coombs, my high school geometry teacher, and one of the very few whose name I recall.  The only A I ever got in a math class.  He knew something about education.

The worst I had, who asked my opinion then threw me out of class, and refused to follow when I offered to whip his dumb ass, was an econ professor who was trained at Cal Berkeley and had never held a job in the private sector, and never would have to do so because practical education is not considered necessary to teach the future leaders of this country…and our current economic situation is the result of that theory.  And of course he couldn’t be fired for anything less than baby rape.  That’s education today.

All of that said, I have high hopes for education in America, and I realize many, most, of the problems stem from what we’ve allowed to become a litigious society.  Change the propensity of American’s to rely on the courts for what discipline once cured, and educators will follow suit.  I know many of them are equally frustrated as are you and I.

It’s time to take a hard look at our educational system.

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