What the hell is wrong with public education today? Why is private school becoming a more and more desirable option for parents? Who is to blame for the fact that everyone seems to have less and less faith in our public schools to get our kids ready for life after graduation?
We could blame the government for not allocating enough money to our schools. We’ve all heard the horror stories of kids being taught out of textbooks that are decades old. I personally don’t remember anything like that growing up but I went to school in a pretty small town. There were only 97 of us in my graduating class. Our high school was fairly old but we always had pretty new books and materials. They put in a computer lab while I was there and even started having college-credit classes over a network connection the year or two after I graduated. That was back in Illinois about 20 years ago (20 YEARS!?! Where the hell did all of that time go?)
Now my daughter is in Kindergarten here in Kentucky. We’ve been to her school. They don’t seem to be lacking much in the way of up-to-date materials. Their books seem fairly new, they’ve got a couple of PCs in every room (not counting the computer lab) and everything in the school has that “new car” smell. Well, it should since they just rebuilt the whole thing a couple of years ago. Speaking of that, this area seems hell-bent on building new schools lately. I don’t know where the money is coming from but it seems like every time a dog farts there’s a new school building going up. Obviously our school district isn’t hurting for money.
If the schools have enough money to function then the problem must be somewhere else. Is it the teachers? I’ll tell you this: I can’t speak for every teacher out there but my daughter’s teacher is nothing short of AWESOME! Beyond the fact that she really seems like she gives a crap (she still has years of dealing with relentless, stupid little bastards before they beat the caring right out of her). I’d say the odds are pretty good that the rest of the teachers in our area are pretty good, too. Yeah, if you shake the tree hard enough, you’ll find a few bad apples dropping down on your head. But it’s like that everywhere.
Okay. If there seems to be enough money to run the schools and the teachers are doing their job (and much more in some cases) where is the problem? I’ll tell you where: it’s the parents.
My daughter is in a class with kids whose parents don’t seem to give a damn about their education. Obviously this isn’t true for all of the children or their parents but I’m focusing on the ones who didn’t seem to do jack squat about teaching their kids anything before they got to Kindergarten.
A couple of months into her Kindergarten year we were still getting the impression that some of the kids in my daughter’s class still did not have a complete grasp of the alphabet, colors, shapes or what have you. Seriously. What the hell are their parents doing? My daughter was reading well before she got to Kindergarten. Yeah, she’s pretty damn smart but it shouldn’t be that big of a stretch for a kid to know the alphabet before they get to school. For God’s sake! All you have to do is sit your little bastard in front of Nick Jr. or PBS for a couple of hours a day and they’ll learn the alphabet and more!! Turn on the freakin’ TV and let Dora do the rest.
These are the same parents who will NEVER talk to their kids’ teacher, won’t help them with their homework or will (and did) complain that their stupid little offspring can’t cope with the amount of homework they have been given. What can we do to counteract this brand of idiotic parenting?
One thing I can think of is to levy fines against parents whose children don’t meet the minimum requirements. If your kid doesn’t know his alphabet when he starts Kindergarten you have to pay the school a fine every month until the kid learns to count higher than the number of fingers & toes he has and knows all of the letters – even the vowels. Maybe even separate the kids who don’t know their stuff from the ones who do. Make the less advanced (read: idiots) kids stay in some sort of Pre-K until they get up to speed. And if they don’t happen to get up to speed until the end of the year they just have to wait until the next year to make it into Kindergarten. Failing all of that maybe we should just use a healthy dose of shame to whip the little morons into shape. Better yet – let’s shame the inattentive, idiotic parents. Something akin to a public flogging except maybe just with their pictures in the Sunday paper under a heading of “STUPID PARENTS BREED STUPID CHILDREN”.
Yeah, yeah. I know. I’m generalizing and it’s not always the parents’ faults. Sure, there are some kids out there who have reading disorders or other, valid reasons why they don’t know what they should when they get into Kindergarten. But that can’t possibly explain what I have been experiencing over the past 8 months. I’m not perfect but at least I paid enough attention to my kids to plop their little asses in front of some semi-educational programming once in a while.