Sunday, November 25, 2012

Where did we go so wrong?

     It became clear to me by the time I had spent three years on the inside of public education that the big picture of why we send children to school in the first place had been lost somewhere in the midst of focusing on outcomes, standards and proving we are as good as Japan.
     While doing some research on my home state, I came across "A Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of North Carolina for the year 1869." That's a mouthful, I know, but it begins with a plan that sounds reasonable and straightforward, without the complications of today's political buzzwords.
    How did we stray so far from this plan and what can we do to get back on track?
 A good first step would be to stop finger-pointing. That's what this whole accountability movement" is about, you know. The people who designed No Child Left Behind came up with a devious way to shift the blame onto a workforce primarily made up of women who are praised for their ability to conform and follow rules. How likely are they to rebel?
Can we clone Chicago's Karen Lewis?
        Problems are not solved by bringing in outsiders, who stand to make a profit from the supposed failure of public schools. They have teams of experts who charge lots of money to "fix" things, but they are on the same level as war profiteers -- in it for the cash and not the cause.
     Teachers and parents have the most to lose by the current massacre of our public education system because they actually care about the children in our elementary, middle and high schools.
      In the end, we all lose, even the owners of testing companies and charter schools, because the promise of every child having the opportunity to become a productive citizen and participate in our democracy will be exposed as a lie.
     Only the royals of society will receive a decent education, and they will be the future kings of America.

Here it is:

School authorities are receiving all necessary instructions and information.

They can proceed forthwith to establish as many schools as their funds will permit.

It is suggested, however, that the funds for this year be expended on a few good, rather than on many poor or indifferent schools. It is far better, and more economical, to employ a few able, well qualified teachers at good, living wages, than many poor teachers at small wages. It is infinitely wiser, more for the public good, that a few children should be correctly, successfully instructed than that many should be erroneously and viciously taught. It is better for the system of public instruction now organizing, that there should be a few good, rather than many poor schools. To give it a successful course the system must have a good beginning.
Probably, many citizens entertain erroneous views with regard to money expended for public instruction. Money thus disbursed is not capital sunk, lost; but is an investment. Taxes for the support of schools are provisions for the most permanent, valuable and profitable of "internal improvements." An intelligent people constitute a powerful State.

An educated people bear public burdens with equanimity, cheerfulness and liberality.

It is earnestly recommended that the General Assembly so increase the appropriation for Public Schools that the wants of every Township shall be so met that no portion of the population shall be long destitute of the privileges of education.

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