Thank you again for your numerous comments on my last post “A Great Change is Needed”. True, as some of you mentioned quite wisely, this little phrase has been used on various occasions in the past; nothing new under the sun except change, the only constant. But if we stop asking for it, if we stop signalling the faults and vices of the present educational system, if we pretend that everything is just fine and keep our head in the sand, sooner or later the edifice will come tumbling down and hurt our society, our nation. The very foundations of science, of literature, of our culture, of our technology, and, most important, of our democracy, depend in large part on the type of education we provide to our kids, our future doctors, engineers, politicians (gasp!), civic leaders, philosophers and artists, soldiers and citizens in general.
The Best Immigrants
It is also true that millions of recent immigrants, even the illegal ones, have provided our country with much needed energy and hard work. Yet we continue to attack minorities, especially Hispanics who now constitute about 18% of the vote. As I have said in this blog, politics and education are the two pillars of our power and influence in the world. We form leaders in schools, educated ones, and we exhibit false democracies like Russia and China for what they are: disguised dictatorships. Let us remember that we still have the best universities for one simple reason: Students who do not perform or attend classes are booted out. K-12, on the other hand, has the difficult task of teaching even those who refuse to learn or attend school regularly. County judges are unable to keep up with truancy cases, especially in the poorest regions. If these parents are fined, they simply shrug their shoulders and show their empty pockets. We can change that if we offer these kids a reason to stay in school.
The Best Soldiers
Why do you think American soldiers are the best in the world? Because of hi-tech weapons or superior leadership? No, the answer lies in our education system. For generations, we have taught our young ones to think for themselves, to be innovative, to be team players. They don’t blindly obey orders: During the Vietnam war, the My Lai massacre ordered by Lt. Calley was halted by an American helicopter pilot who threatened to fire on them if they didn’t stop. Yes, we have always had a few sick minds in our military and police force who are attracted by the opportunity to maim and kill. But these are a small minority as compared to the extraordinary heroism and valor of so many. They all emerged from our public school system where they were imbued by love of country. Evolution Is Needed Still, the education system must evolve with the times, just like everything else. In many cases, to keep the analogy with the military, we are still fighting with weapons from the Vietnam era. Bloated classes, overstressed teachers, lack of modern technology, dirty restrooms, invasive paperwork, rigid union rules which prevent firing inept teachers, cutting of school budgets, and, the most serious problem, lack of time to give individual attention to struggling students. One of my colleagues has already decided to seek another job after only three months on the job; her reason: Ridiculous amount of paperwork which prevents her from focusing on her students. The Patient Is Bleeding We are losing good people, great professional people who drift to the private sector due to low pay in the education system and excessive regulations. When are we going to learn that educating our kids properly is much more important than giving billions in foreign aid to countries lie Pakistan and Egypt? They don’t like us anyway..