Sunday, February 7, 2010


I'm so tired of people who don't have children, or who have children but haven't set foot into a classroom since they were a kid ripping into the public education system.

I recently read a Facebook post where someone said she doesn't want kids because society has never accepted her and the school system is bad. Since she doesn't have money to send her kids to private school, she just won't have kids. (Let me state for the record that this is not a particularly close friend of mine, so I'm not familiar with her reasoning for the statement. She is the girlfriend of someone I am close to.)

I certainly won't state that the school system is the answer to everything. Naturally, there are problems. There are problems with any system set up to support a large number of people who have varying needs. And, there are bad teachers. There's an irony that we're so conditioned to never say we have a "bad kid" because of the label, yet we will say there are bad teachers. But, there are also bad taxi drivers, bad grocery baggers, bad accountants, bad doctors and bad police officers. The nature of doing a job doesn't necessarily make you good at it or ensure that you enjoy doing it. And, let us not forget, "good" and "bad" are judgement values assigned by individual people. The words don't represent a quantitative measure.

The larger problem in all of this is the fact that politicians running for office need an issue that nobody can argue. "Fixing the schools" is always one that is sure to appeal to a large base of voters. Parent or not, who in their right mind would publicly disagree with something that helped children? So, the politicians get up on their stage and shout out that they're going to fix what is broken and make broad and scary claims and the people believe it. Because, most of us do not do our own investigations. We'll take his word for it, and boy, does that sound like something needing fixing! If we were to believe all of the screaming claims about awful teachers who refuse to do their jobs and bad systems, we would certainly fear for the future!

Strangely, we live in a world full of competent doctors, scientists, architects, police officers, teachers, and even politicians who are all products of the public school systems in America. And all of them can point to their own very dedicated and caring teachers who helped them along the way.

Where I will freely admit that we have failed is in the area of teaching people to think instead of just believing what is put in front of them. Ask yourself why the politicians are making such claims. Why is the press harping on these claims? Where are they getting their evidence? What factors may be at play? Once you understand underlying reasons for what you hear, you may see it in a different light.

Read between the lines, criticize the words they're selling. Think for yourself and feel the walls become sand beneath your feet. ~ Geoff Tate

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