Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Very Short Rant About Education.

Disclaimer: I have three college degrees, and worked in college admissions for seven years and in a public middle school for 16. I am not a disinterested party.

Every kid has a right to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

I don't know how we are going to pay for that if the voucher system happens.

In my home town, lots and lots of people abandoned the public school system after grade school (those were neighborhood schools) and enrolled their kids in private schools. Then, when time came to approve a special purpose local option sales tax to rebuild/maintain the existing public schools, they voted NO NO NO NO NO!!!! and the public schools got worse and worse, increasing the flight of people who could afford it. And those kids LEFT in the public schools, getting a marginal education, went on to become the cops, firemen, plumbers, electricians, and all the other jobs holding civilization together that don't require college. Some DID go to college, anyway, but mostly the public school education they received didn't prepare them to do college-level work.

I have this information directly from the lips of a college instructor and long-time resident and fellow graduate of the public school system.

When I was working in the middle school, I saw a few particularly alarming and perhaps relevant actions by parents.

Action 1: The kid gets in trouble in school, with behavior and academic issues. The parental reaction, which took a long time to build, was to pull the child out of public school, and enroll them in a mediocre-at-best private school. While there may have been some benefits, such as smaller class size, too often the school they picked was HEAVILY tuition-driven, and they would go to almost any length to keep the tuition payments coming in. That included not enforcing standards on the child.

Action 2: (This one is far worse) In some cases, the parent would withdraw the problem child from school, and 'home-school' them. Now, home-schooling is TOUGH if you do it right. But a certain percentage of parents weren't doing it right; they weren't doing it at all. We'd hear about the kid running around the neighborhood, getting into trouble, during hours they were supposed to be in school. All the parent had done was get the school off their back. This isn't a theory I read about in a magazine; this is something I saw with my own eyes. And it happened when there was NO financial incentive for the parents.

What is going to happen if a nationwide voucher system gets put into place? I don 't know. But I would bet (if I were a betting man) that you'd find a lot of crappy parents salivating at the idea of having more disposable income. They'll pull their kids out of school to 'home-school' them, and use the money to buy a freaken parrot. Yes, I have seen a REALLY expensive parrot squawking and crapping in a dirty trailer, disgusting details I choose not to share.

And that money is no longer available to the public school system, and that means that the water main break doesn't get repaired, the AC doesn't get fixed (Georgia in August is HOT and you HAVE to have AC unless you have lots of windows, and moderns schools don't), the para-pro for the kindergarten class doesn't get hired (hey, guess what? not all kindergarten students can tie their shoes or zip up after a bathroom trip), and forget about modern technology.

Oh, yeah: what about transportation? Most parents have to work, and so the kids ride the bus to public school. Mine do, at any rate. Private school? Nah, they don't have a bus that circulates the neighborhood, picking up the kiddies and dropping them off in the evening. I guess rich parents can afford a solution to that. Middle class & lower income? What do YOU think?

Regardless, of what happens, schools will make sure the kids that show up get fed. For too many kids, that's the only meal they get all day. If they have chicken for lunch, they eat the gristle off the end of the drumstick; it's nourishment. Teachers will take whatever cut in pay they need to to make sure the kids get fed; wanna hear stories about teachers (and counselors) paying for the kid's lunch out of their own pocket? I could...never mind.

Don't let it bring you down. Just don't pretend it can't happen.

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