Sunday, February 12, 2006

Education in REAL Life

A few days ago, our friend Laura at wrote a brilliant post on the Function of Education. I suggest that you all read it, before trying to decipher my twisted comments on the subject.

Laura states that: "..our system of education is not set up to create whole generations of highly educated professionals. Our system is set up to reproduce the status quo social order."
According to former Sec'y of Labor, Robert Reich, the status quo is 20% of the WORLD'S jobs are high paying jobs. Apparantly, the other 80% are blue-collar and lower jobs.

At first, I was dismayed by these statistics. Then I started thinking...
We can only support a limited number of stock brokers, advertising executives, bankers, politicians, CEOs, etc. The rest of us need to keep our society running. Where would ANY of us be without teachers, truckers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, sanitation workers, mass transit workers, postal workers, retail workers, janitors, road crews, police, firemen, military, farmers, factory workers, and on and on and on....

Laura goes on to say: "Also, when the market is saturated with too many people who have degrees and not enough jobs requiring degrees, the value of the degrees themselves is decreased." BINGO!! I remember watching one of Clinton's State of the Union Addresses, where he said that his goal was to give EVERYONE a college education. At the time, I thought this was ridiculous and a huge waste of money. I still do. Not everyone is college material. We need college grants to be based on need AND performance, not just need alone. We NEED 80% of us to feed, clothe, educate, protect, and entertain our society. Who says blue-collar workers aren't intelligent? Let's remove the stigma associated with this term.

Does this mean that we should continue to "dumb down" our educational systems? Absolutely not! We need to teach our future voters world history, so they understand what's happening in the world TODAY. We need to teach biology. A working knowledge of ecosystems is necessary to protect the world's resources. We need to teach the appreciation of art, music, and literature. We need beauty to calm the frazzled nerves of the masses. A calm mind thinks more clearly. AND, trust me on this folks, we ALL need a working knowledge of algebra. I don't know anyone who wouldn't use algebra almost every day, if they understood it.

We also need to reinstate guidance counselors in our schools. Our school system eliminated this position several years ago. We should be educating each according to his/her talents. Instead of wasting time and money tutoring our kids to take the NCLB tests, let's develop aptitude tests that reflect the job market of TODAY. With the knowledge gleaned from aptitude tests, guidance counselors could develop a curriculum that suits the student.

We need to take back our power in the voting booth. C'mon people, we're the majority! We're the ones who pay the taxes, which keep our country running. Let's elect people who will spend them wisely.

As parents and mentors, we need to instill self-esteem in our children. We need to teach them to question authority. Our kids need to know that their opinion DOES matter! This is not a topic to be learned in school. This is our responsibility!

Reading Laura's post strengthened my resolve to homeschool. I now understand why Z's needs weren't being served in Special Ed; they didn't think he was worth the bother.


At 2/12/2006 10:49 AM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Your last statement really hit me. Maybe it was that way for Z in the special education program he was in, but not all special educators think that way about the children we serve. I've had to be a part of mediation for a student I worked with and that was THE issue - that he hadn't made progress because we didn't believe he could. That couldn't have been further from the truth. I can speak for our whole team when I say that we busted our asses for that student, and he worked very hard too. I'm very sensitive about this issue because broad statements like that are unfair to those of us who work in special education who DO care and do take it personally when our students don't succeed, for whatever reason. I hate to say this, but there are some children out there who I cannot help. It's not for their lack of effort or mine - it simply doesn't click. Maybe the way I explain something doesn't make sense to them. Sometimes it's maturity - that they aren't ready to handle the instruction I give them.

I am not "slamming" you - I fully understand why you choose to homeschool Z. And it works for you, which is exactly as it should be. I just feel very strongly about furthering the public's idea that special educators, in general, don't think their students can learn.

At 2/12/2006 11:30 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Some special ed programs are dynamite. But the sad truth is that the resources are distributed per capita rather than to those with the most need.

" Who says blue-collar workers aren't intelligent? Let's remove the stigma associated with this term."

Absolutely. There's a term in educational research called "Equality of Being" that argues we should end our evaluation of people's value based strictly on economic terms. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table. If we truly value each person, then that is true diversity.

Well said.

At 2/12/2006 12:36 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

Unfortunately, education has become a special interest of its own, which is why it is so hard to reform it. In this case, there are actually a number of special interests who benefit from the current arrangement.

Big business complains that we don't have enough mathematicians and scientists, and that our workers aren't educated well enough to compete. so high schools start pushing math and science on every poor slob that is unfortunate to come through the door. And because business says we need more educated workers, these students are then pressured to go on to college.

This is great for the colleges, because more students=more money= more jobs for their cronies.

It's great for big business too. The banks make money loaning all these poor slobs money. The interest paid means there is more money available to loan to business. Because we train more people to do specialized jobs than there are jobs for them to do, the value of that job is held down, meaning business doesn't have to shell out as much money in salaries for those positions. Then of course, they'll find it even cheaper to send many of these jobs over seas, further devaluing the positions left.

The government benefits too, because it takes a lot of people to oversee all this mess, and to insure nobody actually attempts to kill the golden goose.

The losers are of course, the poor slobs who lost not only the chance to learn about music, art, and the things that help make us productive citizens of a democracy (social studies, government, etc.), but are in debt up to their keisters having paid for their own straight jacket.

If this sounds incredibly cynical, well maybe. but I don't think It is far from the truth either.

At 2/12/2006 1:07 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

I'm so sorry Notta! I always put my foot in my mouth when I try to be succinct.
It's not the teachers I have an issue with, it's the system. You have stated yourself that the system is screwed up and you want out of it.
Our school houses grades 7-12(600-700 kids) in one building. We have 1 SPED classroom(a former storage room), ONE SPED teacher, and 2 part-time aides for this building.
This teacher has the tough task of dividing limited man hours between 60 kids with widely varying problems.
We live in a small town. The SPED teacher is the brother-in-law of Z's godfather. He KNOWS our income bracket and where we fit in our town's social cliques. He knows that Z requires a lot of one-on-one time that will eat into his limited man hours. Why waste those hours on a kid whose parents can't afford to send him to college, even though that kid has a 131+ IQ? None of these issues fully sunk in, until I read Laura's post!
In all honesty, Z probably won't go to college. He's more of a "hands on" guy that would enjoy the benefits of trade school. He still requires a high school diploma or GED to accomplish this.
I'm thankful that L and I are capable of giving Z a fighting chance at having a career. In addition, we are exposing him to the extras that will enhance his adult life.

Thanks Laura!! You inspired me.

At 2/12/2006 1:21 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

You were posting at the same time I was GWB.
You speak the truth, not cynicism! I'm positive that if we revamped our school systems to what they SHOULD be, we'd actually SAVE money.
It's the same with our welfare system. Keeping people IN the system, keeps the workers in the system employed.
We're paying for "our own straightjackets" in sooo many ways!

At 2/12/2006 1:58 PM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Don't be sorry - I'm just very sensitive about this issue. I agree - the system is messed up (some states are worse than others). I choose to work in the system for the time being. Partly because I think that schools still need quality educators and also because it's "safe". The second reason is not a good reason to stay. However, as much as I disagree with the system, I just want people to realize that there are plenty of people like me who still try and who still believe in our kids. You're in a difficult situation, as are many small towns. Smaller towns that are not wealthy have less money going into public schools, which is a shame. I'm not sure who devised the system whereby school funding is based largely on property taxes.

Like you, I also agree that not everyone is meant for formal college. That's why there are trade schools and other programs out there. Also, maybe this his naive of me, but every job has a value in society because they make things run. I just don't like how people are defined, largely in part, based on the job they do.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, even though I'm somewhat disenchanted with the system, I believe that there still are good teachers and good school programs out there. It's just a shame that all students aren't going to schools where those are available. :-/

At 2/12/2006 4:10 PM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

You said: "We need to take back our power in the voting booth. C'mon people, we're the majority! We're the ones who pay the taxes, which keep our country running. Let's elect people who will spend them wisely."
It's always amazed me how people can vote for politicians who really don't represent their interests. Also, I believe the Germans have an educational system that identifies the child's aptitude and then educates them towards careers that utilize that aptitude. No education system is perfect, but I thought this was interesting.

At 2/12/2006 4:24 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Who says blue-collar workers aren't intelligent? Let's remove the stigma associated with this term.

Agreed. Some of the smartest people I know are blue collar. In fact, one of the biggest intellectual influences on my life is currently a DJ at a strip club.

Plus, there are other types of intelligence. The mechanic I used to carpool with when I lived in Seattle one day blurted out that he wasn't smart.

I said, "you're not smart? You're a heck of a lot smarter than the computer nerds I work with. You can fix a motorcycle and make a headshot at 200 meters. That's smart." Definitely anti-zombie compound material. Plus he plays bass (I was his roadie).

Does this mean that we should continue to "dumb down" our educational systems? Absolutely not!

Totally agreed. My son's school is more about control than education. By the time I was his age, I knew way more than he did from school. I think the thing they try to do now is train kids to pass those stupid competancy tests and nothing else (besides trying to control them and suck any individuality out of them).

At 2/12/2006 5:02 PM, Blogger European said...

I had a professor who once told me: "When in doubt, follow the money."
It won't be a surprise to any of us that for my work as a p/t SPED aide, I make roughly $12/hr. I am pretty much solely responsible for two third-graders who differ so much in their abilities that I have to give them very different spins on their "same" assignments to make it work. I work hard for those kids.
For my work in the afterschool homework program (which is schoolwide, not just SPED), I get $35/hr.
Interesting, isn't it?

At 2/12/2006 5:03 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

VV, I can understand voting the wrong person in ONCE, but to keep re-electing crooked incumbents blows my mind.
You're right, no system is perfect. There will always be kids that fall through the cracks. :(

ZS, blue-collar workers also have a better sense of humor. Most rich people are too full of themselves to laugh. No thanks!

I'm always amazed when L and I play Trivial Pursuit with teenagers. They SHOULD be right on top of all the science and history questions, but they're not.

When are they going to figure out that NCLB is NOT working?

At 2/12/2006 5:44 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

That IS interesting Euro!
In other words, you're getting more money to be a glorified babysitter, than you're getting to be a specialized teacher.
Like I said, the system definitely has priority problems.

At 2/12/2006 6:35 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

tshsmom the last line hit me hard too. Did I ever mention that my grandmother taught shop to special ed kids in the Bronx around the turn of the century?

Like you, have a strong passion re teaching. OK maybe that 20% stat is correct. Regardless, you are right, we need the professions and the professions each have their own set of qualifications. Come to think of it, the 20% set are probably family positions in the first place (think 'Bush', Vanderbilt, etc.).

Education in the GWN is very well paid, which attracts the wrong people into it. It should be a profession but isn't here. We've gone backwards at least in Ontario. It is not at all uncommon to combine two different grades with one poor teacher in one room (the one room schoolhouse returns). Plus in the school down the street from me there are 40 (yes 4-0) portables. No bathrooms of course inside them. In this climate? Doesn't that endanger kids (neighborhood pervs)? Of course.

I could go on and on ...oops sorry already have.

YOu're right, stop the nonsense while you can.


At 2/12/2006 6:36 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

p.s. my little bro was doing math 2 grades beyond the one he was supposed to be in until we moved to Canada.

They wouldn't let him do that here.
He got bored.
He got into drugs.
His life went to hell.

Thanks, Government of ONtario, for your role in the ruin of a once-promising (he had been called a 'future rocket scientist' in the USA) life.

At 2/12/2006 7:07 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Wow, Bridge, your Grandma was a trailblazer! How cool!
I think you're right about the "family positions". Unfortunately, they're the ones calling the shots.
The only way either of our countries can change anything is by electing people who work for US, not themselves!

At 2/13/2006 4:31 AM, Blogger Faltenin said...

Thanks for the link! I'll comment once I've gone through it all + the other comments...

At 2/13/2006 11:29 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Absolutely we need to remove the stigma from blue collar workers, but you know what? I think the thing that a university education should do IF IT DOES ITS JOB (and I know it often does not), is provide critical thinking skills which everyone living in this day and age totally needs. I have retrained since university in a trade, and in my case the lack of critical thinking skills my fellow trainees had was disconcerting. I'm not implying that they were stupid at all because they weren't, but but they had a fairly limited world view. I think I've had the best of both worlds, because we desperately need skilled trades people (and pastry chefs, we NEED pastry chefs, people!) in this world but I've also learned how to think critically, which is something I wouldn't trade for anything.

At 2/13/2006 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey..wandering coyote...we also need short-order cooks, let's not forget short-order cooks for us so-love-pastry-but-I-gain-200 pounds people! That wouldn't be me, but hey, there are cooks and people that cook. BIG difference.

At 2/13/2006 2:44 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Scrunch: Sorry! I was being very selfish, there! Yes - we need cooks, too! Lots and lots of cooks. LOL.

At 2/13/2006 2:51 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

You're right, WC. This is something that should be taught from birth. By the time a person reaches college, it should be second nature. Unfortunately, our public schools DISCOURAGE this.

No conceit in your family, Scrunch; you've got it ALL!
Yes dear, you're the fastest short order cook I've known. ;)

At 2/13/2006 4:24 PM, Blogger FunkyB said...

The state of public education frequently leaves me feeling dismayed. I admire so much your decision and committment to homeschooling Z.

At 2/13/2006 5:44 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks Robin!
I hope your daughter isn't having all the problems Z did with public school.

At 2/13/2006 8:46 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

This is a good post, but I haven't had time to digest it yet. I will be back with a more thought-out comment.

At 2/13/2006 9:51 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

You know, you folks are right (WC in particular), it shouldn't be necessary to go to University/College to first run into critical thinking/logic. Or even developing imaginative/creative thought. They definitely kill it in Ontario. If I'd grown up here I"d be working in MacDonalds, no exaggeration. Went to some fabulous schools (public ones) in Boston & Philly areas that were fabulous at this kind of stuff. Grateful for that too.

At 2/13/2006 11:06 PM, Blogger SME said...

If the weird smells coming from some of the restaurants around here are any indication, we do indeed need LOTS and LOTS of cooks and pastry chefs...

At 2/14/2006 10:26 AM, Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Public school is working for us right now but I think when Junior high rolls around, we'll be exploring our options. That's when kids are defining their careers as students and forming opinions about themselves and the direction their lives are taking as far as college and whatnot. It's also when they start socializing more. I think it would be a great time to start homeschooling or do a charter school or private school.
Our local highschool is overcrowded and under-staffed.

At 2/14/2006 10:46 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

SME: I'll not move to AB.

At 2/14/2006 5:31 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Definitely check your options Sadie. High school SHOULD be a time of questioning and discovery.

SME, hopefully the smells aren't as bad as the ones from your former neighbor's apartment. ;)

Bridg, I believe that critical thinking is something parents need to teach their kids from birth.
I guess I'm so passionate about this because my parents are such black and white thinkers. They REFUSE to see the shades of gray. I, on the other hand, can argue both sides of ANY issue. ;)

At 2/14/2006 5:43 PM, Blogger Davey said...

Just a quick comment. Because as a former Educator for high needs kids I could go on all day. The system is rotten from the top down!! Anyway for my comment. As I was going into grade 1 (6 yrs. old) My Father found out I would be in Mrs. Browns class. Mrs Brown was severly hearing inpared, wore two hearing aids and had the sterotypical speach inpediment. My Father would not have it. He attened more than one meeting to defend his stance. He never questioned Mrs. Brown's skill or ability. Just the fact he did not wish his son to learn pronunciation and language from someone who had issues herself. He won. But only after reminding them who's tax dollars were paying thier morgages. So my point i guess is that your voice can be heard if you wnat it to be bad enough.

At 2/14/2006 6:01 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Davey, it NEVER ceases to amaze me the teachers that are placed in the lower grades. Mrs. Brown would have fit in much better in a higher grade.
Our local school administration gets quite nasty when we point out who's paying their wages. I really think they believe that their wages are coming straight from God. ;)

At 2/14/2006 8:33 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

Happy VD! :-)

At 2/14/2006 9:23 PM, Blogger Davey said...

Might intrest you to know that up here the teachers union owns both the sky dome (Home of the Blue Jays) and all the rights to the Toronto Maple Leafs!!!!! Can you say retirement fund?

At 2/15/2006 1:55 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks Squirly!

That IS interesting Davey. They should do that in MN. The Vikings and the Twins want us taxpayers to build them new stadiums. With all the unions in MN, I'm sure one of them would be interested.

At 2/15/2006 4:30 PM, Blogger Davey said...

I've never heard of a happy VD. Most of them, to my knowlage are very embarassing.

At 2/15/2006 5:02 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Valentine's Day, goofball. ;)
Speaking of DOCTORS, Davey....

At 2/15/2006 7:27 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

Davey - It won't be much of a retirement fund if the Maple Loafs don't start playing better!

wow, never thought I'd get a hockey comment in on THIS blog!

At 2/15/2006 7:47 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

LOL! OK, are you guys in this together?
Don't wrench your shoulder high-fiving yourself GWB! ;)

At 2/16/2006 4:43 PM, Blogger Davey said...

Doctor....wha...Sorry whitebear too busy watching the Canadians (man's and Ladies) lay waste to the rest of the world in Torino. As for money ALL Leaf tickets are sold out through 2010!!!!!(like that smooth change of subject?

At 2/16/2006 5:52 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Go to the doctor Davey!!
Don't make me come over there!
I've been a Mom too long to let a little "smooth" distract me. ;)


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