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Defending Public Schools

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Renee Moore of TeachMoore responds to a Los Angeles Times editorial by Jonah Goldberg titled “Do Away With Public Schools.” She says Goldberg’s article—which proposes that the government simply require kids to go to school, provide tuition subsidies to families in need, and then get "out of the way"—implies America cannot educate its children. Moore begs to differ.

Neither past nor present failings (some of which, by the way are greatly exaggerated) of public education are sufficient cause to throw up our hands as a nation and leave education at the mercy of the market economy. Even with subsidies from the government (where have we heard this before), there would be greater chance of more children not getting an education at all.
President Bush says to pull our troops out of Iraq would be a signal of weakness to our enemies. Closing our public schools would be an admission of a much greater moral failing. America is more than capable of providing quality education to every one of our children. It's a matter of the heart. America is more than capable of providing quality education to every one of our children. It's a matter of the heart.
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I can already see the buzzards circling waiting for the public school system to be privatized so that another small group of people can come in and make unthinkable profit off the backs of our children, just as they do with student loans, and so many other areas of our lives. I'm a parent, and I'm not a fan of the public school system; I think there are several things wrong with it, like irrelevant curricula, inadequate teacher pay, over-emphasis on testing, inadequate school facilities, not to mention not doing what's necesary to improve the conditions in the communities the children come from. I think the reason private or parochial schools seem to work better is that the children going to those schools normally come from households of higher financial means, plus you have smaller class sizes, better paid teachers, better class materials, etc. I fault the government for not doing enough to address the social issues that very often distract our children and make it more difficult for teachers to teach, and I fault the government for not putting the highest priority on public school education, considering that most children in this country go through the public system. People like Mr. Goldgerg and those who adhere to his way of thinking (onfurtunately for us they are the people who have been running our government for the last 12 years), do everything they can to destroy the government agencies they are entrusted with, then turn around and say: "see, government doesn't work". Unfortunately the Department of Education is one of those government agencies that have been highly politicised, and our children are paying a heavy price for it. Don't get rid of the institution, get rid of the current administration and fix the problems.

OK...I agree to a point here but what I'm not seeing anywhere is addressing the issue of what's *really* failing our school system: ineffective parenting. Let's call it what it is, folks: the breakdown of society's famlies.

I'm a brand-new teacher, special education at that. The state and federal government officials can throw a gazillion dollars at our public school districts coffers; set up all kinds of standards teachers and schools should meet in order to get at this money, but unless we come to grips with the underlying problem with parenting and families outside the school system we're throwing good money with the bad.

I'm for thinking WAY out of the box here. So sit down and just listen for moment before you react with horror. Why can't public schools design programs that MANDATE parents attend classes to learn how to be effective and supportive parents? Why is this so hard to accept and understand?

As a teacher in a socio-economically disadvantaged school where the majority of my kids were on free and reduced lunch and whose parents were barely in their lives at night, much less during the day or on weekends (not to mention the negative influence of media and gangsta rappers as a surrogate "family") this seems like the most common sense approach. Here's why: if we can enforce parents to ACT and BE them, then the real social training these kids need will occur at home. At this point the child will be better prepared to BE inside a school room and more destined to learn when they're there. This applies to those who are learning disabled as well as the non-learning disabled.

Most kids are not as learning disabled as they are family and parent-disabled. That has been my experience. I can't see myself doing anything but teaching now; after having left the coffers of corporate America to do it. But...I come to this new career with a learned ability to problem solve. I can SEE where the underyling true problem is. Why is it the educrats in our state and federal governments can't?

I welcome your thoughts...

for sgthurley--forgive me, dear, but as a brand new special education teacher, perhaps your credentials for condemning all parents are a bit limited.

I can recall once interviewing with my son's new principal (he was being moved from one school to one that allegedly had a "program" better suited to his special needs). She wasn't happy to be getting him--the previous school had used up all his allotted suspension days in the process of "proving" that he "didn't belong" in their school (do you think that might have affected him, or his behavior at all?). The receiving principal (she had a doctorate--so I'll grant her a bit more credibility than I would a first year special ed teacher) asked if I would be willing to take some parenting classes. I shared my credentials with her (which includes a social work license, involvement in a number of services in support of my home/family life/son's behavioral needs), and told her I was open to any suggestions that she might have that would go beyond what I already knew/was learning.

The topic was never raised again.

The same good doctor (principal) did share with me later in the year that she got "no points" for saving a child like my son (this was pre NCLB and AYP), and that she had all these other kids who did count that she had to make proficient. She also confided, when my son's "unit" (that would be a special ed classroom) was becoming "cross categorical" (meaning that the range of disabilities got wider and more severe), that it was a political move. "I had to dump a unit," she said, "and that was my bargaining chip, that I would let them do cross-categorical."

The strength of public schools in the past has been that teachers and parents came together to support the system and the students. They realized that it takes both to make it work and educational goals reached. The insurgency on the schools by think tanks in Washington has the potential to
destroy that system completely, and that is the goal now by 2014 if the NCLB Act is not changed. Our schools have become a battleground, and educators know that privitization is coming, because with the sale of technology as the 21st Century Global model so much money will be made. Education should be none profit. For profit, education will never close the gaps between the economically disadvantaged and others.
School boards were local methods of having input and controling money. When have you heard anyone speak about the school board?
Go to your local school and check that out? We all need to insure that there is some local control and that they are not just an arm of the government. These are our children and what is put into their brains is our responsibility.

Compulsory Education is nothing more than welfare. I say chunk it and be responsible for your own childrens education instead of feeding off the government. Get off the sinking ship. It's got so many patches that it will never float properly again. Public school is like a bloated pig that can barely walk because of the glut of FAT hanging around its belly. With all of its many arms the "octopus" is the largest employer in the U.S. And soon it will be the largest mental health institution in the world! It is a breeding ground for a new breed of pill popping humanity! Is there any good? There used to be before the secular progressives took over, but no more. And universal pre-school will nail the lid on the coffin. Get out while the gettin is still okay!

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  • kaysandee: Compulsory Education is nothing more than welfare. I say chunk read more
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