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Reform Education Reform | davelovell.net
Sep 262010

I was watch­ing Meet the Press this morn­ing, and aside from my Sun­day morn­ing polit­i­cal fix, I watched a seg­ment dis­cussing edu­ca­tional reform.  They had a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the teacher’s union, the DC schools super­in­ten­dent, the Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion and some­one else that didn’t make much of an impres­sion on me since I can’t remem­ber who they were.

The points that they argued where the same things that edu­ca­tional “reform­ers” have been toss­ing around for years — to no effect what­so­ever; bureau­crats want teacher account­abil­ity based on test scores — teacher unions don’t want teach­ers’ job’s tied to test scores.  And both sides com­plain about money, and that they don’t have enough, even though the nation spends gabil­lions on pub­lic education.

I kept watch­ing, hop­ing I might hear some­one bring up the real prob­lem — but no one did.  Whether it was igno­rance or cow­ardice, I don’t know, but no amount of money or the­ory will change any­thing about the pathetic edu­ca­tional sys­tem in this nation until the real prob­lem is faced.


I’ve been teach­ing for 22 years and I’ve learned that the one fac­tor that absolutely guar­an­tees suc­cess, every time, are par­ents that think edu­ca­tion is impor­tant.  Not the overly-involved, micro­manag­ing stage-like par­ents — but ones that sim­ply com­mu­ni­cate to their kids the impor­tance of school.  And not just for the end result of get­ting a job, or finan­cial secu­rity, but that there is an inher­ent impor­tance to learn­ing.  Par­ents that read, ask ques­tions and allow their chil­dren to see them as con­tin­u­ous learn­ers them­selves, end-up with kids that enjoy school and want to work at it.  Too many par­ents think that they should por­tray them­selves as ora­cles, dis­pensers of truth who know all answers (and that they learned the most impor­tant ones out­side of school).

If a child walks into my class­room, a class­room with every finan­cial advan­tage and a vet­eran teacher — if that child’s par­ents place no value on what takes place in that room; there really isn’t much I can do.  If a child walks into a ter­ri­ble room with a novice, maybe even apa­thetic teacher, but the par­ents are ded­i­cated to that child’s edu­ca­tion… they will learn.

In another post I wrote about the long curve of his­tory and the cur­rent place of our nation; I think some of those points are valid here as well.  Our schools worked best when they were seen as the play­ing field of oppor­tu­nity.  Every kid, regard­less of eco­nomic advan­tage, reli­gious affil­i­a­tion or eth­nic­ity could use school as a way out and up — if they worked very, very hard.  My Irish ances­tors used the edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties to move from rail­road labor to cor­po­rate lead­er­ship in a sin­gle gen­er­a­tion, largely due to the fact that as the father came home knock­ing the grime of a long day from his cover-alls, his first ques­tions were about the school day and whether or not home­work had been done — and done well.

Edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­nity back then was based on apti­tude and effort, today it seems to be based on finance or glandular-based athleticism.

If a par­ent val­ues edu­ca­tion, they ask ques­tions of the world around them, they allow their kids to see them “not know” things and watch them look them-up in a book.  That child sees the world as an immense and fas­ci­nat­ing place, wor­thy of a life of engaged thought.  A process that doesn’t end with the school years, and one that holds a life-time of interest.

btw — these fam­i­lies do not watch Fox News

  One Response to “Reform Education Reform”

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