Monday, February 28, 2011

For Teachers and Students, Against Greater Funding

I haven't really been ignoring my blog, I wrote a long entry....on my laptop...that doesn't have an Internet connection....and my usb card is lost...and my husband's is broken. Yeah, that makes 3 blog posts that are going to be woefully outdated by the time I get them transferred and posted. Oh well.
In the meantime I wanted to do a short post on this: it's a blog post about how teachers are getting their salaries and positions slashed all 'er the land. Which, ultimately is sad. Teachers, police, and military personnel are all abysmally underpaid. Yet Education, Law Enforcement, and Defense are all horrifically over funded. Why the paradox? One word: government. Now yes, the federal government is in fact supposed to be in the defense boat, and to a much lesser degree law enforcement (like Federal Marshalls), and the state government is supposed to be in the law enforcement business.
But neither one of them belong in our schools. It makes some sense for local government to be monitoring schools, and I suppose one could make a reasonable argument for some state monitoring (although I've never heard anything convincing in that matter), but, on the whole, education does not work when you make it a bureaucracy. Thus, public school teacher's salaries.
In the hugely bloated funding for education very little trickles down the the most important part of education...the actual teachers. Instead it gets eaten up by superintendents, principals, counselors, mandatory regulations, testing, sex education, pointless classes like 'dream interpretation', and the general bureaucratic nightmare that is public education. Our public school students sit in a classroom in 20 year old desks using 10 year old texts while they have a full contigency of physcological counseling availible, a sex ed program that will not only hand out free condoms and birth control but also arrange for clandestined (from the parents anway) trips to the local Planned Parenthood for abortions, a hundred thousand dollar projection/computer interface, a princi'pal' who earns 6 figures, and a teacher who only makes that if you count after the decimal point. To make matters worse they are bombarded by questionable and experimental teaching methods like 'whole language', 'new math', group learning, group therapy, and 'interpretive ethics'. The result? The last thing the students are doing is learning, at least not any of the '3 R's'. So the public school graduates a bunch of functional illiterates who have no knowledge of history, can't multiply without a calculator, but can darn well put a condom on a banana, and, as an added bonus knows condoms come in different flavors, textures, and glow-in-the-dark models!
The first 'public' school act in American history was the "Old Deluter Satan Act". But we would recognize it as a 'private' school today because the children's parents paid directly for the teacher and supplies. After all, you need very little to learn, a New England Primer, a math book, a decent history book, a desk, a notebook, a pencil or pen, (for those in algebra or higher a calculator), a room, and a teacher. It worked excellently for a couple hundred years. America was on the forfront of science and industry because our schools graduated students who ranked amongst the best educated in the world. Then the federal government got involved in the later half of the 20th century and we have seen a huge increase in the money we spend per student even while we have cascaded from top of the class to back of the pack in both math and language amongst 1st world nations.
Government would like us to think the way to make it better is more of what got us here to begin with. I have a radical alternate proposal: go back to what worked.
Kick the government out of the education system, and the Department of Education off the tax rolls and out of our pockets. Let parents pay directly to the schools that successfully teach what they want their kids to learn. Today both private and homeschool students outscore public school students on grade-level testing and college entrance exams, and have for years, every year. Yet private schools spend a fraction per student that public schools use, and homeschool spends a fraction of that! More money is NOT and has never been the answer.
I feel for teachers, many, although not all, try their best to teach their students despite the restrictions placed upon them by the government. While I was in school my teachers were really my only friends. I spent my spare time, before, during, and after the school day helping them grade papers, ready their lessons, and help tutor their high needs students. At the start or every school year from sophomore year (I was homeschooled freshman year and in a private school grades 6-8) I gave all my teachers gifts of school supplies, at Christmas it was more school supplies and a homemade card (candy for Valentine's Day), and a personal gift on the last day of school. Several of them told me the pens, pencils, etc I gave them kept them supplied with 'extras' for the students that had forgotten theirs so they didn't have to buy them out of pocket. I continued this tradition for many years past graduation until I moved. I scored in the 99th percentile in yearly exams, 'post high school' in placement exams starting in 4th grade (with reading) and in all subjects (please note, for those of you who don't know, yearly placement exams don't test all subjects you learn in school) starting in 5th grade. I graduated with honors, having earned all but 1 A since 2nd semester of 6th grade. I don't say this to brag, I say this so you may believe I am not anti-education nor anti-teacher. I've been in (multiple) public schools, a private school, and homeschooled (officially for one year but really more for two) I have personally experianced all the options, I have personally excelled in my education within (and sometimes despite) those options. I've had to get up in front of class and recite multiplication table, memorize classical poetry, finished a days classwork in a hospital while a parent was in surgery, graded my own tests (without cheating), confered with teachers on which books should be allowed in the class bookshelf, and which should be required verses optional reading in their classrooms (my fellow students were less than happy with that one as it added an additional book to their required reading list), and been the only one who worked on a 'group' project. I care about the education; I care about teachers and our students getting a full and rounded education. Which is why I strongly advise any parents reading this to NOT enroll a child in public education until the government gets its noses out of it.