Friday, October 17, 2008


TITLE: How I spent the presidential campaign as a national security risk and educational scapegoat.

AUTHOR: Ruth the Teacher

SUMMARY: Political campaigns be damned.
It is beyond me how deeply all the topical layers become heaped together with candidate messages. The final presidential debate wasn’t the last straw for me by any means. It was merely one of the many straw pieces placed on the ever-growing haystack of postured comments critiquing teachers which has created, shall we call it, a topical rash.

It is never the firemen, policemen, accountants, bus drivers, engineers or dentists having our nation’s security at risk and the future of the country laid at their doorstep. Nope, No-sirreeee. That is the sole responsibility of us treacherous teachers, thank you very much. It is our stake to claim. Without it, we might not make many headlines. Do I hear a YOU BET'CHA?

After watching the debate, I really wanted to have a conference call with Barack and Joe (Biden the politician, not to be confused with anyone plumbing pipes) and give them the inside-scoop so they could adjust their outlook. Maybe I could give O’Bama an edge for an after-the-debates splashy news sound bite, if he would grasp a few educational insights. After all, I’d like to have his back in this process, especially now knowing he also celebrates March 17th much like I do. (Check out this link. It is classic. Thanks, Eileen.)

It is tiring listening to so many stump-jumpers wax on about how American students are never measuring up to their counter-parts from countries around the world. Our kids are always missing the mark according to them. Go ahead, compare our kids and our efforts to China, Japan, Germany, France. You can pick any country’s educational system and the good old USA will always be low on the totem pole.

Statistician: A man who believes figures don't lie, but admits that under analysis some of them won't stand up either. - Evan Esar

The slanted numbers make us look like serious losers. Considering the amount of money and quality facilities, coupled with the “over-paid” educators turning the ship's wheel, not to mention the wealth of helicopter parents being manufactured, we REALLY appear shabby. But there are related issues which are never mentioned and why they aren’t brought up fractures me since they underpin the entire situation.

Hey folks, how about this rarely stressed fact: we are the only country attempting to educate all students, all the time. We don't specialized in just those young ones endowed with substantial IQs. We have always been in the “no child left behind” business. In other countries, there are testing gates sifting the “qualified” and selecting them for the next tier of formal education. Meanwhile, the “chaff” is redirected, perhaps rightfully so, to a trade school or occupational training. Not a bad idea, if you ask me, because every student isn’t geared for college.

My grandmother was never schooled beyond eighth grade and that fact rocked my world when I heard it as a kid. She was one of the smartest people I've ever known. Of course I had no appreciation for the world in which she grew and lived when I was young either. What she did attend, following eighth grade, was a technical-vocational school.

She learned how to style hair and owned her own salon. She cut my bangs with absolute German precision. (Just check the narrow trench in my forehead next time you see me.) Marie Sollinger Gorden could sew and tailor clothing like a fashion designer. Every time I had a special occasion, she fashioned an original for me. Embroidery, beading, purse and hat making were all high skills for her. She was a wizard with a scrap of fabric and a few buttons. This was all because she would have failed in regular high school as she wasn’t a reader.

Overall, when candidates compare our students with those in another country, it would be far more equitable if we took into account the actual detailed demographics being examined. Are we really comparing like items? I would be seriously interested in seeing how our kids fare when compared to an accurate equivalent instead of the straw-man we’re placed against.

We can extract data to prove anything. Just give it as an assignment in a math class somewhere. When we do them the favor of comparing them against their own equivalent, perhaps then we can "spread the wealth" in this department and adjust our collective self image. Once we allow our kids to view themselves in a balanced mirror, I think we will be pleased with the reflection they see.

No comments:

Post a Comment