Errata: Public Education

Pat brought up a good point to Jordan on the phone the other day. In my latest post, I went on a diatribe about a poor soul who didn’t know what Argentina was. My closing words were:

If there was ever a more profound sign that our nation’s public education system is in shambles, I couldn’t tell you.

Now, looking carefully at the situation here, I have to retract that statement. First, it is unfair to the public school system, and only really indicates my opinion without regard for any factual basis other than my experience with this one, uninformed kid. Second, I fail to clarify were my opinions originate from in the first place.

My opinion of the public education system in the United States is a double edged sword. First, as a product of PE, I guess I should be thankful and kiss my lucky stars I had the opportunity. PE, is a vital, and important service provided by the government. There are so many wonderful, life altering, role model teachers out there is it almost overwhelming. These teachers (of which in my past I can name several: Dr. Leahman, Dr. Jent, Mrs. Nero, Mrs. Buckles, and several more) are responsible for shaping our future. Without the great influence of these educators, I doubt we would see so many people go on to college and develop full careers later in life. I know in my life, these teachers truly have shaped what I believe, how I think, and where I am today.

My angst again the PE system is a function of our govt.’s recent (read last 8 years) de-emphasis on individual student welfare, and a focus on test scores and large generalizations of supposed student progress. In my opinion, this leads to more and more kids falling through the cracks, perhaps like the aforementioned non-geography grasping kid. Also, I have seen the higher education system suffer greatly at the hands of our govt. and policy changes responsible for huge spending cuts. This is making it more and more difficult for everybody to have a chance at a college education. Wrapped up in this is the deregulation of student loans. Now, more and more students (and their families), not being able to qualify for federal loans to pay for college, resort to private loans. These private loan companies are real monsters, who charge hefty interest rates, and worse yet, the students can easily get upside down on these private loans, which due to govt. deregulation are inescapable (they cannot be dismissed, and will follow you to your grave) To me this is a huge travesty.

So, when I made the remark about PE in shambles, I unfairly projected my anger and frustration at certain govt. policy choices onto PE. to my readers, especially Pat, I am sorry for that.


3 responses to “Errata: Public Education

  1. I think perhaps the more damning aspect to all of this is the incorrect use of the subjunctive in a sentence bemoaning education.

    I kid, I kid.

    Really, though, and even in an offhand (and clearly somewhat jokey) comment, it is important to not conflate strata. Individual kids don’t really reflect the quality of the system at large, and the quality of the system at large does not necessarily bear upon the qualities of individual teachers. Or individual subsets – saying “our nation’s public education system” is screwed is not necessarily a statement about the screwedness of the Texas public education system. Since individual states still run their own education systems (actually, don’t local school districts, nay schools, nay teachers do this in large part?), when you said “our national education system,” I thought it was pretty clear you were talking about federally instituted aspects of our public education. I could definitely be wrong, but it’s been my impression that the “No Child Left Behind” concept is the impetus behind a lot of the standardized testing which, obviously applicable in this case, does not include a standard for geographic knowledge.

  2. I want to comment here, but i don’t know where to start. Frank knows I disagree with him on a lot his thoughts in this area. Nyet, I think I agree with you on the “No child left behind” being the basis of a lot of problems that have developed as of late in the educations system.
    I think the fedeeral government should stay out of the education process. IF, and I say IF, they are going to get involved, it should be in a scholarship program for the top 10 percent of the high school seniors.
    This is just a side note; Frank and I were talking on the phone about the government and education, and he said that every other advanced nation has a government funded education program. I don’t know if it is the same now, as 30 years ago, but Germany had a program that was mandatory. At the age of 10 – that’s right, 10, every German student was tested. How the student did on this test determined whether he/she went on to a college preparation course, or a trade school. I will check on this tomorrow with a German friend I play chess with every morning.
    Be careful on what you are comparing us with!

  3. Well, I talked with my German friend, Udo, and this is what he said;

    Hallo Don,
    You enter the basic school if you are 6 years old. After 4 years you have the choice to finish the basic school for another five years, or to change to the secondary school for another 6 years, or to change to the gymnasium for another 9 years. After all this school types you can visit a trade school. You can only visit a college if you finished the gymnasium.

    All national schools in Germany are free (except of the books in some areas (Länder)). The college was free in the whole republic till 2006 (except of the books). Nowadays it`s still free in some areas (Länder), except of the books. But in some Länder you have to pay around 500.- EURO pro semester. We are living in Rheinland-Pfalz. We have to pay for schoolbooks if we are earning more than a earning-minimum for living. The college is free (Jan has not to pay), except of the books. In the Länder where you have to pay for college, they also give scholarship for students with really good grades if they have not enough money.
    The tax- and duties rate is in the average still around 50 %. Pension- and health insurance are in this percentage included.

    Hello my friend,
    I think you call the secondary school junior high. The gymnasium is another 9 years after the 4 years basic school.
    See you on Monday.Udo

    Gymnasium includes Junior high, and high, and it looks like it has another year.

    It has improved some in the last 30 years.

    All in all, I would have to agree with you, but the high taxes still scare me.

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