“The No Child Left Behind Act will be one of President Bush’s enduring legacies. And it was engineered and inaugurated with a truly bipartisan coalition in Congress. Accountability, standards, and truly measuring student performance just makes sense. The only real debate about the law was and is whether or not it was adequately funded.”
Education: The Fix
About twenty years ago, our own President Bush asked the question, “Why has our education been on a decline for the past fifty years?”. He formed a Panel of Experts and asked them to look into fixing our education. They did their job and came back with two things:
- Pay teachers more.
- Reduce classroom size.
Our Commander in Chief decided not to do that. He decided to put all of the pressure on the teachers by creating No Child Left Behind. He began a new government bureaucracy in Student Testing with lots of people being paid lots of money. In that the first rule of a bureaucracy is to perpetuate itself, I think that this will be around for a long time. Especially because “its for the children” and who is going to complain about that? And, President Bush proudly capped the classroom size at thirty-five students.
What happened fifty (now seventy) years ago that began the gradual decline in our education? Why have literacy levels dropped and dropped to new lows when we have such amazing resources at our fingertips?
It is pretty obvious to all: television. These boxes popped up in every household and the newest technology was embraced and we whooshed on without really wondering if it was a good thing.
Before: Dad comes home from work and sits in his chair. He spies his child, playing the corner. “Kid! Go do your homework!”
After: Dad comes home from work and sits in his chair. He turns on the television and, if all is quiet, all is good.
The thing that was lost by embracing evening television was the parent preparing his child for school. Teaching manners and how to read and write and do basic numbers is the parent’s duty to his child. This parenting is not only preparation for first grade but for every grade and, since it is parenting, for life.
- Did you teach your kid to say “thank you” to the teacher after class?
- Do you think that this is important?
I would imagine that maybe thirty percent of parents prepare their kids for first grade today. When those kids get to school and are taught reading and writing, it is easy and school is fun. For those starting at zero, it is hard and difficult and no fun. Since a bunch of kids find it easy, those zero starters are feeling kind of dumb. And they will never catch up; while those zero starters are grasping the basics, the readers are forming more complex ideas. They can never catch up and that should be put on the shoulders of the parents.
Since about the same time as the television, we have both parents working in jobs and careers. Or, single mothers carrying all of the burden. This is a good thing for both Mom and Dad, increased income and a satisfying life.
I imagine that the solution to raise a kid while having a job is to use a Day Care center. Then for twelve years to attend public school and to fill in the gaps; soccer, piano, karate, ballet and extra classes. What I see is a child being raised by people who are paid. These people don’t want to lose a client and money and so will allow a wide range of behavior. This introduces the word “entitled” into the conversation.
Then, after a day of paid entertainment, the child comes home to exhausted parents who really only want to watch some television shows.
It has become the way of things to put all of that pressure on the teachers. From the education part but also to manners and behavior. Teachers today are much more advanced in their arena than ever before. There have been leaps forward in understanding how a student learns in the past sixty years. And, we keep asking more and more from the teachers after seeing our parents avoid any obligation at all.
We see it starkly when a child gets in trouble. The parent rushes to school and defends his child, “My kid would never do that! I know my child!”. This is the time when the parent should be standing shoulder to shoulder with the authority and facing the miscreant child. I think the parent is embarrassed for being so out of touch with his child and so tries to negotiate for a lesser punishment and, maybe, for the first time act like a parent but in totally the wrong way.
Things put on the education system that should be parented is increasing. Sex Education is a single afternoon with the School Nurse with the fourth graders. That can’t be nearly enough. And, if you don’t believe the severity, look over at your twelve year old daughter studying pornography to learn how to have sex. It is happening but without the buffer of wisdom and understanding that should be given by a caring parent.
Crossing the Politically Correct line (for only a moment) I wonder if we’ll look back over the past sixty years and decide if stopping spanking our kids; or the teachers spanking the kids; has had a positive outcome. I think that the parents love the idea of not punishing their kids, they don’t feel guilty for being a parent. Whether it is best for the kid has never been asked.
Turning off the television is the answer but it is impossible to do. I’ve tried it and sat facing a blank screen. I twitched, then jolted, then spasmed with a huge burst of energy. The transition was a blur, I don’t remember it. But, next thing that I knew, I was watching something and could finally zone out and relax.