Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Foundation

To Schulder...

After watching Obama's speech last night, and his reasoning for the allocation of more money and troops to fight a foreign war (which didn't seem all to outlandish), it made me think about what money we might need here in America. Which wars in our own country, that go unspoken, that need to be fought. There are plenty of necessities that we have here; equality of marriage, crumbling infrastructure and immigration. However, none of which pose the threat that my blog tonight is about. I feel that the largest issue in our country today, is that of our schools.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't a blog trashing where I work... in fact, there are plenty of times I enjoy where I'm at. I have issues though with the system in general; and the obvious yet ignored failures of it.

Coincidentally, I had some issues falling asleep last night. I happened to turn on Comedy Central, where Stephen Colbert was interviewing Cevin Soling. He has a book out called "The War on Kids," where he discusses how our school system is a complete mess. After hearing what he had to say, and just from my own anecdotes, I had to agree.

Going back to Obama... wouldn't it be interesting if instead of allocating hundreds of billions towards war efforts and towards wall street... how about a politician... any politician, giving that money to school districts? Especially districts in crisis?

I remember doing research while completing my Masters. One thing we looked up was the allocation of tax payer money towards the children. In more affluent Westchester districts, near $20,000 per child was paid. In others, like in the south Bronx... near $800 was ponied up. What a fucking disgrace.

The first politian to decree something along the lines of "each school district must give (for example) $15,000 per child in their schools. If they do not, the federal government will bring you up to that beginning level. Any other state, city and county tax can be used to further the educational standards at the choice of the board..." automatically has my vote. How difficult or insane is that?

I will never forget the Republican pundits like Sean Hannity chastising Bill Clinton for "gutting" the military because he somewhat cut their budget. Would Hannity, or anyone else for that matter, rip apart politicians today for sabotaging our schools by giving that money elsewhere?

On top of being underfunded... let's take a look at how our school system works. Per Mr. Soling, he stated that our current incarnation of schools is based on a factory system, created at the start of the Industrial Revolution. We have bells to tell you when to move, and repetitive days full of repetitive activity... just like if you were to work long hours on an assembly line. Is that truly how to reach our children today... from ANY socioeconomic background? Maybe from the 1920's!

Looking at many of the students growing up today, I can say, with full honesty, that many are frighteningly intelligent. I say that based on a short anecdote. It revolves around Madden on Playstation. A few years back, I sat and watched a few people play. They asked me to join, and I said sure. I was blown away. A million fucking buttons, each with its own specific action, having to be memorized at rapid speeds. Needless to say, I got schooled. I couldn't keep up. As simple as that sounds... if you just walked into that situation, as I did, with no prior experience with the game.... the complexity is astouding. And that's an easier type game...

I propose the concept of students not being dumb whatsoever... but being taught in a way that doesn't match up in any way with their current skill set. Kids today can sit at a computer and multitask like a pro. But they can't sit still at a desk for 40 minutes. That brings the obvious question... why do we then make all of them sit at a desk quietly for 40 minutes?

I once did a paper on educational systems in foreign countries. The one I did was South Korea. What I found fascinating was that instead of taking the SAT's at the end of high school, they took a similar type of exam at around the age of 12. Based on that exam, and teacher recommendations, the students were then put into one of 2 types of schools: an academic one, or a vocational one.

How DOESN'T that make perfect sense? Any teacher will tell you that there are students that, albeit smart, DO NOT belong in a classroom setting; it's just not right for them. I can agree with that, working with students all throughout Westchester! A system, similar to that, where the outcomes of a test, recommendations of the parent and of teachers can be used to determine the future schooling of a child can only be an improvement over our current system, where ALL STUDENTS are forced to try and be academics in the most tradional sense... when few are.

Recent history backs me up... Americans are falling further and further behind other countries in the world in terms of their academics. Forcing it further down their throats doesn't seem to be working. If students are meant to drive a truck, or work with their hands, or fix cars... then so be it. There is absolutely no shame in it. Not everyone is meant to be force fed Biology.

Again... Obama's speech. The need to fix issues abroad. I felt at the time of 9/11, that we weren't attacked by monsters, or by even by trained soldiers. I felt we were attacked by uneducated peasants brainwashed... by monsters. Education is the foundation of ANY strong culture. Our educational system, not abroad, but here at home, is in shambles. I do truly enjoy helping the young to improve. I know there are millions more like me. I just wish that Obama, instead of fixing issues abroad... fixed issues here at home. Starting with our foundation.