what if – education
In the first installment of the what if I were King? series [here] I listed areas I believe need drastic improvement.
I think, as King of the U.S., I’d need to focus on several areas of past greatness which are currently catastrophic failures:
- individual liberty
- public defense
Today’s focus will be public education. I know of no reason why our country cannot rank first on the planet in education. Is this my ultimate goal? No, I think we can improve until we are the best and then we can get better. So ranking first is merely a milestone.
Note that private education I consider to be a business and as such falls into a different category.
What is the purpose of public school?
inform and instruct.
- reinforce history, culture and society.
- teach how things work.
- develop thinking, logic and reasoning
We must understand that several generations of school children have now been wasted. Our schools, for whatever reason, have been teaching memorization rather than teaching understanding. Because of this we have graduates with poor, if any, reasoning skills. All they are capable of is regurgitating what they see or hear. Couple this with the fact that the things they listen to are themselves repetitions of things and we get a horrible mish-mash of non reasoning, non thinking people treating opinion as fact. These graduates are now in the work force, and many as teachers are repeating the mistakes of their predecessors by teaching the only thing they know: memorization.
We’ve been using schools to teach children WHAT to think rather than HOW to think. This stifles new ideas, creative thinking and independence.
The transition will not be easy. It will involve work and sacrifice. Some aspects of my plan will involve funding.
The Solution: k-12
Using public school is a privilege, not a right. Teachers are not police and school is not a detention facility. If a child can not sit in a classroom without disturbing the class, then that child will not be allowed in that class. The line between participating and disturbing the class is a fine one and I’m sure will be a case by case issue depending on subject matter and time allowed. Now, that being said, since we are encouraging thought, questions, reasoning, understanding, etc the teachers will need to be able to explain and reason themselves in order to interact with the students. No doubt we’ll have to have more teachers, better training and better tools for them to use.
No more multiple choice tests. Penmanship, grammar, spelling and expression of thought will be emphasized again. Every class is spelling class, not just for one period.
Classes will be taught in American English, not Spanish, Arabic, Ebonics or anything else ‘your culture’ demands. This is the USA and our culture as Americans, uses English. As citizens we should be concerned with the culture HERE. (We covered the non-citizens go home concept in a previous post.) Our culture is such that we pick and choose the usable parts of all the cultures and toss the garbage out. Obviously additional cultures, their history and languages will be offered as necessary parts of a well rounded education but as electives only.
Flags will be displayed and students will recite the Pledge of Allegiance (National and State). This allows them to take pride in their nation, and serves to reinforce unity as well as remind students of their culture, history and heritage.
Teachers will be paid better and will be held to higher standards. Placing oneself in a position of authority and providing an example for people, requires commitment and dedication. One’s salary should reflect this responsibility. However, the consequences of bad influences can take lifetimes to reverse and the potential damage is huge. Teachers (and all authority figures) should be held accountable. Abuse of authority should result in loss of authority.
Perhaps I should take a moment to define ‘Authority Figure’. In short, any public figure with disciplinary power over another, e.g. police, teachers, elected or appointed officials, clergy, etc. You’ll notice, I’ve excluded parents, doctors, and lawyers from this list as I consider this to be privately used authority. Abuse of public authority would preclude any future position of public authority, i.e. clergy convicted of child molestation would not be employable as a teacher.
Competition and achievement. There is no participation trophy for life. Learning to deal with adversity, failure, competition and other life lessons is part of growing up. Taking competition out of our children’s lives only sets unrealistic expectations for adulthood. No more of this no student left behind crap, you can move on when you’ve achieved what’s required for advancement. Lack of effort and failing grades will be cause for removal.
Life skills. Students need to graduate with various skills in order to function. Students will learn the constitution, governmental process and structure of our Republic. Students will learn how to deal with lawyers, doctors and bankers. They will learn how to read insurance, loan, mortgage, business and medical documents. In order to function in today’s society graduates must know how to deal with advertising, media and political propaganda and make informed decisions.
School funding. I am going to say that Government should get out of the school business. This is a bit of an over-simplification. Public School implies public money, public access and public responsibility. Each community would have control of the public schools, funding, staff and facilities. There would be some government oversight of teacher qualifications, in an effort to maintain high quality and consistency, but no federal tax or other involvement beyond training teachers in the necessary skills. Again, not what to teach but HOW to teach; different people learn in different ways and our schools need to be able to adapt. Bear in mind that Federal taxation will be cut and cut hard so there the members of each community will have more control over their spending. We’ll see more on this in other sections of my
giant rant instructional document.
The Solution: colleges and universities (again divided into public and private)
Each State will be in control of public colleges and universities. Federal involvement will be limited to maintaining instructor qualifications.
Citizen priority. No institution will enroll a foreign student before a U.S. student. All U.S. students are equal; no more minority quotas. Students will be prioritized and enrolled by entrance exam score.
Retention. Students unable to maintain passing grades will be dropped. Disruptive students will be dropped. Dropped students may then re-apply but priority will be given to new students. Someone is waiting for that spot, use it or lose it.
No more scholarships. Get a job. Save your money. Obviously if someone wants to donate to your college fund that’s fine. But no more so called ‘free rides’ for one trick ponies. A well rounded education is the goal. If you want to play football while you do that, go right ahead.
No more tenure. A probationary period is fine, rewarding seniority is fine, but experience is not a guarantee of employment. Keep up to date with training methods and keep your performance at acceptable levels or, like everyone else, you’ll be replaced by someone that will.
I think we’ve again reached the too long to read (TLTR) point .. and I’m hungry … so see you next time on what if I were King