Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I'm back, and I'm pissed off

So what does it take to get me to do a blog post? Apparently just an incredibly ignorant suggestion from a Republican (surprise!) that we discontinue compulsory education.

First of all, I don't usually go off on a tangent without at least trying to see both sides of the issue and really thinking my thoughts all the way through so that I can lay out a solid arguement. But this really has me pissed off. 

I don't think it's even partially correct to suggest that parents don't care about their child's education. I taught in a low SES school  (something like 98% free/reduced lunches) for two years. Racially it was primarily African-American (over 80% I'd say). I taught the toughest kids in that school my first year. (Self-contained ESE my first year and 1st grade my second year.) It was an "F" school (graded in Florida by the FCAT testing under NCLB). And every single one of my students' parents cared. Deeply. Some were working 3 jobs as a single parent to try and make ends meet, and so yes, they weren't able to help them with homework every day, but they all cared a great deal about their child's education. 

They knew very well that their children's only chance to lift themselves out of poverty was to do well in school. But getting them to and from school, outfitting them for school, trying to help with homework and projects, all while also trying to keep their family safe and provide food, clothing, shelter and if they're lucky, medical care, it is a hell of a lot to try and manage. I do not blame parents one bit for expecting schools and teachers to manage the education of their kids while they cover the kids' needs at home as best as they can. 

Passing poor families off as 'not caring about their children's education' is a low, innacurate blow and an attempt to blame the poor for their own plight. And trying to pull the rug out from inderneath them by taking away public education doesn't just hurt the kids who would not be attending, but also society as a whole. A democracy cannot exist without an educated populace. 

I can't even believe an American would suggest such a thing. I suppose the only explanation that makes sense is to ask yourself: who benefits by leaving poor and minority people uneducated? The wealthy and politically powerful. That's who.

Don't even try to put the blame on the failure of educational system on the parents. And placing blame on teachers is only marginally less abhorrent. Instead try placing the blame exactly where it lies: on the lack of funding and support from government. You wanted a strong military? You pumped trillions of dollars into it. You want a strong educational system? So you cut education spending, threaten teachers with unfunded mandates based on unreliable, unauthentic assessments, and cripple schools from every direction? Nope, not going to work.