Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

November 2, 2007 at 5:35 PM | Posted in Notes on Society | 1 Comment
  The public school system, by and large, in this country is a disaster.
  Teachers’ unions protect lazy, inept, and basically dangerous teachers while asking for more money that will be ultimately squandered before it reaches the level it needs to be helpful.  And how much do they really need?  It’s like throwing money down a well.  Meanwhile lawsuits, ill-suited programs, unrealistic guidelines, and not using success as a measure to grade teachers perpetuates the problems while they blame the government for not giving them more money to waste.
  Well, in a sense, it is the government’s fault for being in the education business in the first place.  But no, let’s continue down this path, and let them run our health care as well, because it makes sense.  It makes the same kind of sense as leaning in to a right cross to the chin.  What else does the government do better than the private sector?
  Is that crickets I hear chirping?
  Private schools have larger class sizes, and less money per student, and yet they have a higher graduation rate, higher test scores, and just overall higher success rate than public schools.  Why is that?
  There is an upswing in businesses that do tutoring and teach reading to school-age kids that are in public school and NOT LEARNING.  Now, why is that?
  More and more parents are home-schooling.  Hmmm.  Why is that, I wonder…..?
  This one teaching concept is a mere microcosm of the problems.  This has been repeated over and over again with other teaching tools, but this is one with the most telling statistics to prove it was the wrong move:
  Phonics.
  The English language is a mutt, a bastard hybrid of other languages.  It is not easy to learn all the varied nuances.  Or peeves.  Whoever thought of phonics as a teaching tool was a genius.  It was English. . .with training wheels.  It allowed a way to teach the language at one level, and then gradually integrate the real language into it.  The desired effect–learning to read–is achieved.
  Because someone comes up with a different idea doesn’t mean it’s better.  In fact, it’s worse.  Whole word learning, repetition and memorization works–but not as effectively, not as early, and not with the statistically provable evidence of test scores.  And certainly not for everyone.  Since phonics was removed from the curriculum, literacy rates have steadily declined.  This is a fact, and all the wishing in the world won’t change it.
  Similar paradigms emerge with other teaching methods.  New math–Christ in a sidecar, don’t get me started.  Don’t get me started!
  Given all the ineffectiveness of public schools, why in God’s name would we allow them to dispense birth control to our children?  In terms of education, they couldn’t find their ass if their head was shoved up inside it, and we want to give them more control over our children’s lives?
  We allow them to teach morals (or a complete disregard thereof) to our children when they can’t even teach them to read?  Is everyone in this country insane?
  School vouchers–school choice–is the biggest nightmare for the government and the teacher’s unions, and the best hope for our children and our future.  If the schools–oh, Heaven forbid!–have to *compete* for students, that means they have to IMPROVE.  They certainly don’t want that.
But the status quo is sooooo comfortable.  It makes them feel all warm and fuzzy, like navel lint.
A low level sort of competition takes place already, in terms of real estate.  A house right across the street from an identical one may be twenty or thirty grand more, simply because of the line between them:  the school district line.  Which means only the richest among us can afford good schools.  Of course, it’s no coincidence most of the wealthy choose private schools, because they are measurably better in all categories.
  Why are places like Sylvan learning center thriving?  Well, for one, they’re successful.  Because, like any business, they have to be successful to stay in business.
  If you were a doctor and 40% of your patients died, how long would you stay in business, keep your license?
  If you owned a restaurant, and 2 out of 5 customers walked out with out paying, how long could you keep your doors open?
  If you were a mechanical engineer who designed bridges, and had a staggering 60% of your bridges still standing after 4 years. . .is that something to underline on your resume?
  We’re talking about a 40% dropout rate nationwide?  Is that right?  Nationwide, 70% graduate.  For that to be the average, some schools are higher, and some are much, much lower.  Dropout factories?  How about poverty factories?  Because that is what that creates.
  The overbearing teacher’s union, whose only real purpose is to act as a PAC for liberal candidates, has no interest in improving teaching methods, improving the quality of teachers, or anything else that might betray their corruption over the last many decades.   Corruption?  Too harsh?  How else would you explain their completely stubborn refusal to enact any *real* improvement, and instead pass the buck and blame the government?  Is it ineptitude?
Well, that’s where the government comes into play.  Bumbling ineptitude and an overbearing, inefficient bureaucracy that ignores the real problems while enacting ankle-biting rules and regulations that don’t solve anything and tie the hands of the very few good educators that are left.
  I mean, I’m not a conspiracy guy, but if I was, it would seem like there is some sort of . . . conspiracy. . .to dumb down the kids, and then our nation. . .to make us easier to control. . .and then make us part of a world government, the New World Order.  Sound crazy?  Maybe.  For all of the goals they *say* they have, that seems to be the only one they are actually moving towards accomplishing.
  Okay, did some of that piss you off?  Maybe I have to have a disclaimer here.  I’m sure there are many excellent teachers out there.  You, reading this, may be one of them.  Statistically speaking, however, you aren’t.  Or maybe you know one.  There are good teachers out there, but they are powerless against the system.
  And even if you are one of the good ones, chances are you know at least two teachers that should be fired . . . or shot out of a cannon.  So ask yourself this:  what about the students of *those* teachers?  What about their futures?
  Even if you are a good teacher, you can’t say anything about bad ones.  You can’t go against the machine.  Do you understand my point now?

  And this–all of this–arose because I handed out Halloween candy the other night.  The younger kids had to tell a joke or do a trick–it is "Trick or Treat" after all.  I had fun with them.
  But we were getting some older kids, like middle school, maybe even freshman or sophomores in high school.  An alarming number of them couldn’t answer this question:
  "What’s 8 times 7?"
  I’m going to make up some quiz questions for next year.  Swear to God I am.
  I’ll have them read a paragraph out loud, and then tell me the theme of it?  Tell me what year the Civil War was?  How about the war of 1812?
  How long was the 100 years’ war?  116 years.
  Or maybe bring out a white board, and have them graph an equation, or identify the parts of a sentence.
  Name the planets, maybe.
  Maybe my house will get egged or TP’d.  Maybe.  Or maybe they will look back later in life at the life changing moment they had trick or treating, when a middle aged bald guy quizzed them about their school lessons, and they realized then, that there was a need to know that stuff after all.
  Because knowing stuff…….uhm…..knowing stuff–gets you candy.  Positive reinforcement; it works.  If you get the question wrong, I’ll also have cattle prod.

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1 Comment »

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  1. you have a good point here…
    *~* :o) if you don\’t have a smile to give… :o) I will give you one of mine… :o) *~*
     


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