Monday, April 27, 2015

End Free Guaranteed Public Education

I am becoming a serious advocate for ending a guaranteed public education.  The teacher "reforms", the new standards, the insane standardized testing; none of this has worked.  And for good reason; all these "solutions" aim to put more pressure on the teachers, and this doesn't solve anything.  Stressing teachers will not fix our schools.  Those who claim that quality teachers can turn around students are quoting two studies from hundreds of thousands of educational studies. Yes, a quality teacher can improve students' test scores, but so can smaller class sizes, homeschooling, enrichment programs, increased funding, mentoring, tutoring, good nutrition, quality parenting, yoga and meditation, self-motivation; the list goes on and on.  Most of these thing require money, and some, such as quality parenting, are beyond the control of school staff and the government.  Or, are they?

I had a student admit last week, in front of his snickering parents and all of his teachers, that he did not read the passages for the ELA test, and simply guessed on all the questions on the high-stakes, standardized test.  When I informed the testing coordinator of this, she told me there was nothing that could be done, and that it happens all the time.  Remember, this child's "performance" will be used to determine if his teachers are effective.  In other words, teachers' careers depend on a children's poor judgement.  This child has done nothing in any class all year, to the point where he does not even produce a pencil or a notebook on a daily basis. His parents are guilty of educational neglect, and it's currently the teacher's fault.  It's as if I ate candy and drank soda every day, never brushed my teeth, and my dentist could lose his practice because of my poor oral hygiene.  On what planet is this fair?

Does this child deserve a free education?  Perhaps, but only if he is going to avail himself of it.  If he wants to make poor decisions, the patsy should no longer be the teacher.  If there were consequences for the student and the parents for continually coming to school unprepared, disrupting instruction, and generally not taking advantage of one of the things that makes our country great, maybe this child would get his act together, and maybe not.  But, it is time to tighten the screws on the students and find out which choice he will make.  The current system is not working.

I'm going to propose new legislation that will put the consequences of poor behavior where it belongs: on the child and his or her parents.  All citizens of the United States, and, yes, even non-citizens, are entitled to free, public education.  But, if a student is not engaged in his own betterment, we should be able to rescind his right.  This doesn't mean that every child must perform well on standardized tests, because not everyone can, but only that they come to school prepared and participate in their own learning.  I am certain that this will lead to better education for all, because most students will toe the line, and those who don't, won't be around long.  The bad influences will disappear.  The insubordination will vanish.  It is a workable solution to what some see as an intractable problem.

What will happen the children who are found non-participatory or disruptive?  I feel the parents should have a choice: they could either enroll their children in a private school, at their cost, or, the child could continue to come to the public schools and receive character education.  The latter option would mean the child would need to repeat the grade the following year.  Character education could include community service, improving the physical state of the school they attend, or helping teachers with administrative tasks, as well as study skills, behavior modification, self-esteem and the like.

I will be looking into Citizen Cosponsor in order to get some groundswell behind this idea.  It will takes years and a lot of support, but stressing out and threatening teachers will not increase learning standards; only the students and the parents can control that, and it's time to hold them to their end of the bargain.

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