I’ll have to save my “price of gas” rant for another day. And this rant actually ties in well with my previous rant about kids. 🙂
So I’m driving along, listening to NPR’s “Fresh Air” and I hear two discussions about public education. The first from Diane Ravitch whose stance was that standardized testing sucks and charter schools are mostly in it for the money. Here’s a bit from her (link to entire interview):
“I came to the conclusion … that No Child Left Behind has turned into a timetable for the destruction of American public education,” she tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “I had never imagined that the test would someday be turned into a blunt instrument to close schools — or to say whether teachers are good teachers or not — because I always knew children’s test scores are far more complicated than the way they’re being received today.”
“What has happened … is that [charter schools have] become an enormous entrepreneurial activity and the private sector has moved in,” she says. “So there are now charter chains where the heads are paying themselves $300,000, $400,000, $500,000 a year. They compete with regular public schools. They do not see themselves as collaborators with public schools but business competitors and in some cases, they actually want to take away the public school space and take away the public school business.”
The second from Andrew Rotherham whose stance was that the best schools have goals, track data and improve on that and… well here, you can read straight from him (link to entire interview):
The best schools — whether they’re charter schools, public schools or private schools — are intentional about everything they do, says educational analyst Andrew Rotherham.
“They are intentional about who is in the building, who is teaching, how they use data, what’s happening for students, the support for students, the curriculum, how progress is assessed,” he says. “Everything is intentional and nothing is left to chance.”
The public school system worked for him, he says, but only because he grew up in a nice suburb outside Washington, D.C.
“If I had been born just a few miles away, I would have had a very different public education experience,” he tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “So that’s the challenge. It’s not about giving up on public schools but it is about acknowledging that right now, when you step back, [only] 8 percent of low-income kids can expect to get a bachelor’s degree by the time they’re 24. … [And] when you have a system that produces 8 percent of the low-income kids getting out of college by the time they’re 24, something is wrong.”
The Experts Are Fucking Idiots
While I liked what Andrew had to say a lot more than Diane, it’s still off the mark. Why is it off the mark? Because there is no mark! What is everyone trying to accomplish when they’re making schools “better”? Better at what? Better at getting kids into college? Better at getting high grades on tests? Better at doing homework?
I’m going to tell you what the goal should be, but first I’m going to tell you what it shouldn’t be. Fuck math, fuck science, fuck music, fuck art, fuck high test scores, fuck getting into college, fuck social studies, fuck gym, fuck all those things. Those are all AWESOME. I LOVE math and could do it all day long, but the goal of public education shouldn’t be teaching me math (not in this day in age in our country anyway).
We should have one and only one goal with public education:
Give them the knowledge and skills for self cultivation, dealing with real life and being excellent citizens.
Math? Fuck math. Tracking your income and expenses? YES! A thousand times yes! Why wasn’t I taught that in school? Does that take some math? Yes, but you’re teaching a useful skill now. Math by itself isn’t useful.
But kids don’t want to learn how to track their money (I think they would if it was presented properly). SO WHAT?! What do they want to learn how to do? Produce music? Do hair? Make money? Make videos to upload to YouTube? Make websites?
TEACH THEM THAT!
Instill in them a burning desire to accomplish their goals and dreams and any kid (or adult) anywhere will climb the highest mountain, swim the vastest seas, learn the most difficult math, read the most complicated books and do piles of homework to see their dreams come true.
School is a fucking dream killer when it should be a dream builder.