Thursday, December 1, 2016

Let's Talk Education

If you know me then you probably know I consider myself an educator. I am not a public school teacher, but I have spent a lot of time inside the classroom. I have taught (substitute, but I had to prepare lesson plans often) public school, taught one class in a Christian school. It was amazing. I have taught a whole lot in churches from babies to senior adults. I have taught in conferences and in large group settings, down to 1 on 1 classes with people. Teaching is my passion.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the education system of the United States needs some help. I want to address today what I think the issues are, how we begin to fix things and then encourage you to get involved. So let's start with what I see the three biggest issues are in public education as it exists today.

First, teachers are no longer in control of teaching, administrators are losing the ability to administrate, districts have lost control, the state DOE is losing the ability to make decisions because they all have to cater to the Federal Government. What is messed up is that the Federal Government has no real power over state Departments of Education, so instead of saying "you have to do this", they control them by the purse strings. States that play by the rules get Federal funds. If you don't play by the Fed's rules, you don't get the money. The money drives the agenda, not the educational needs of the students. I don't blame the States, the Districts, the Administrators and definitely not the teachers. I blame the legislators at both the state and federal level.

Legislators want to make the best education system possible, but they are not educators and they make bad decisions based on ignorance. Over testing and using material that is not using developmentally accurate methods in teaching and testing. They need to give control back to educators and let them make decisions. They need to be able to make local decisions and not be bullied by budgets. Legislators need to be involved in making the ideal situations for educators to thrive but give the teacher control of the classroom, the principal control of the school, the superintendent control of his district. Give the school board a role of oversight, but let those who know teaching, teach.

Number two is that education is no place to pursue social agenda. The school is not the place to teach kids about homosexuality, transgenderism, religious teachings, Christian or Islamic expect for their place in the history of the nation. Kids in school need not be bogged down in being the social experiment for whichever political party is in the majority. The purpose of education is the create good citizens. We need to teach them to think critically, which means we can't tell them how to think. Moral and ethical issues are to be handled by parents, by religion and by philosophy, not by the public education system. The public school can not be the police force of society by making children of today conform to the idealistic norms of the controlling group. You can't make the kids of Atheists be Christian, you can't make the kids of Christians be Atheists. You shouldn't try to force sexual agendas on kids, and developmentally speaking, you should never try to tell a kid in elementary school what his or her sexual preference is. If a boy plays with barbies, it doesn't mean anything except he likes barbies. He doesn't have to be gay. He can play with the barbie or play house or whatever, let the kid be a kid. It's time to stop making the classroom the place for social experimentation.

Third, the way curriculum and especially textbooks are created. This overlaps some with point two, but let's be honest about textbooks. They are all written for Californa and New York. That is where most of the people are, so they write the textbooks with the largest markets in mind. They don't write textbooks thinking about rural Iowa or Alabama or Nevada. They think about LA and San Fran and New York. Much of what we find has been written to cater to the social agenda of those areas. It is also crazy to think that the student in Nebraska have the same educational needs a those in LA. While we all should be learning the same things, we don't learn them the same way. This is because of an educational principle called scaffolding. It's much like building a tower, you start with a foundation  and build upon that foundation and grow the structure. In math, you learn to count, then add, subtract, multiply then divide. You build on the previous skills. You don't just learn things inside the classroom, but in the community. The things you use in your community and your home impact your education. This is different in farming communities, mining communities, industrialized places, large business centers and travel hubs. Your environment makes a difference, so using textbooks with kids in large cities in mind is not the best for the majority of America.

Here is the question of the day, what do we do about it? First, call your local legislators, call your congressmen and senator and talk to them about your concerns. Talk to the teachers, the principals, and the local school board members about what the issues and needs are. Join a PTO/PTA. Volunteer, speak out and be informed. Learn the educational platform of candidates and vote. Lobby, donate, support the AEA (Area Education Association) your state Education Association the NEA. Speak up, make your voice heard. Write a letter to the editor, heck you can even write a blog. Find ways to speak up and share your concerns and we can solve some tough education issues in our country.

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