Monday, July 18, 2005

Home Schooling 4: Differences in Public Schools, 1955-2005

One thing that always bugs me when it comes to debates: When people make an effort to narrow the focus to the immediate question by forgetting important inforrmatoin. As I noted in one of my earliest blog entries, there was ten plus years of what was an occupation of Iraq without it being called as such, and in many ways what we're going through in that would have happened anyway.

Same with the Home-Schooling stuff. Everyone doing it seems to forget what has happened in the meantime -- both the home-schoolers who, having started on their home schooling odyssey, have come to believe that children would be better off totally uneducated than suffer through public schools, and the anti's who have come to believe that the 1964 Madalyn Murray O'Hair ruling is the only possible explanation for their flight from the world.

There's more to this than any of the above. There's also the mythology that our public schools have been in a decline since the mid fifties -- something which even those supporting our public schools believe in some form or fashion. And much of this is steeped in ignorance of (at least some part of) what has happened since:

  • Public schools used to be able to depend on a cheap, educated, settled sourse for their employees: College Graduated Wives, who had few options for jobs in the fifties. Since then, expanded opportunities for women have forced schools to spend more money on teachers and accept a lower quality of teacher. Now, many schools are hitting on a new angle: "People who've made some success in their lives, but want to serve the public good." A sure sign of desperation in this society, where anything outside of a strict devotion to the personal bottom line is by definition suspect.
  • There has developed a tradition of dissing schools in the United States. From rappers talking trash about school to MLM exploiters talking about how all the richest men in the world either dropped out (of Yale, Harvard or Stanford) or never attended school, America has learned the joys of dissing school. This when all the other industrialized and industrialized-wannabee nations of the world are pouring their love and money into all their school systems.
  • Social Promotion. When I went to school, a lot of my fellow students were held back -- and this was during the seventies and early eighties. Now these school districts are so worried about holding students back that they let kids who would benefit from an extra year of school go up with the rest. Stupidity grows.
  • Entitlement (interrelated with the point directly above). Nowadays students and their parents expect automatic promotions up grades. So much so that sometimes the parents will yell at, threaten and even assault a teacher who THREATENS to fail a student. That student should be ashamed, but here's the parents making him feel proud by their defense of him.
  • School buildings need so much more today.Used to be you built a cinder-blocked building with windows, blackboards, desks, some pipes for heating and a plaque stating the name of the school and when it was dedicated. Now you gotta have air conditioning, computers and the wiring for broadband, styling, enough parking space for the parents driving their SUVs to pick up the children, multiple gyms (so that you can give kids recess in the rain) and tin roofs.
  • Funding ChangesUsed to be schools were funded by local property taxes -- not a perfect form of funding, but enough for most districts at the time. Nowadays much of the funding comes from Sales Taxes and Lotteries. Sales taxes are a good idea as it gives a centralized point of equal funding for rich and poor districts; but the Lottery is a stain on School Funding by virtue of its being a Sin Tax. And any service which depends on another's sins is automatically sullied by this relation.

Understand this: I am a supporter of public schools. Fact is, the education of the children is something that everyone should be interested in, and it's amazing the jobs lost because of how uneducated Americans have become.

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