Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Education Ruminations IV
Where Can We Go From Here?
For me, the big problem is simply what we can do to clean up our education system. The entrenched powers of the rulers of this domain are truly frightening. We have on the opposing side: HEW/federal government/ education faction; the State Departments of Education; the School Boards; NEA/AFL/CIO and AFT unions with tremendous vested interests in keeping the power and money flow going (never mind the kiddies, they can fend for themselves!); the current Administrators of School systems; and the elected School Boards that have significant money power.
Then too, we have the ACLU lurking everywhere ready to sue anyone that violates their sense of right or wrong. Teachers and Students are the last to be heard, and even if heard, they are mostly ignored, because it isn’t about them at all; it is about keeping the power and money in the “right” hands, namely the current power-brokers in education.
The solution most reasonably well-off parents take is to place their children into public schools that do not have the problems we bemoan if they can, even if they must move away to do so. Or, they put their kids into private or parochial schools that ensure a good education. Some have resorted to home teaching, with good result for the most part. (However, their kids may be denied the social and sports activities that school kids have.)
Thus they sidestep the issue, and go on their way. They too, are aware of the foreboding power structures of education and the veiled problems of race and deprived backgrounds. Obviously, parents prefer to duck the fight, so long as their children are experiencing a reasonably healthy schooling.
What can the others do that cannot find a good school and cannot move to a good district? They tough it out where they are, of course, and have hopes of getting vouchers to allow their children to go elsewhere to get the education their current school is not giving the students. Vouchers may be a good thing, but they do not address the real problems directly. It is yet another form of avoidance of conflict, even as it solves the problems of a few. The families that must remain in a given school are truly out of luck, unless by some magic their school changes for the better.
It is heartening that many teachers stay on and try to make the best of it because of their love of the students and their dedication to their profession. Theirs is an often thankless task, and their inner dissatisfactions hidden from public view. We should all be thankful for them and support them where possible.
(to be continued: the education power structure.)