This is part one in a six-part series on the state of education in America.
It is my belief, and I am not alone in this, that we face a major crisis in education in America today. One has only to watch TV for awhile to eventually see one of a couple of commercials produced by ExxonMobil or by the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization calling attention to the problem. It is my desire to present facts to you on our present dilemma, along with comment, for your consideration. Additionally, both of the commercials mentioned will be discussed.
Some, of course, will denigrate all that I say, as has happened in the past, and I will be attacked. We will not really discuss the facts at that point; instead we will resort to stone-throwing and name-calling. Those who participate in such behavior either don’t like me or have a stake in the status quo, and thus have no desire for any change; therefore, I become the face of the enemy. Did we not just witness such a struggle unfold in Wisconsin?
I will first put my cards out on the table so that everyone can see my hand.
(Disclosure: I am not a professional educator. I did, however, actively participate in the lion’s share of the education of my six children through home-schooling. Due to some grade skipping, my six children’s education tenure is represented by 69 school years—43 of those school years were spent in home-schooling, five were spent in private schools, and the remaining 21 were spent in the state-funded government school system.
As for my own education, 1st through 8th grade of my education was spent in a private school and I believe honestly that, other than a public school 9th grade algebra class, most of whatever real education I acquired after my private school stint was acquired through books rather than actual classroom learning. Additionally, I have received two technical certificates from time spent in technical school and community college and eventually earned a bachelor's of science degree from a four-year institution.)
In my own studies I have come across the following important philosophy: “You can’t fight something with nothing.” I have attempted to adhere to this philosophy in my own criticism of those things that I consider in error. I have criticized the public education system on Patch before, but I am not suggesting the dismantling of the state-run government school system without realizing that I have at least some responsibility to outline a better idea. In fact, I am not a professional educator or legislator, so I have no ability to form policy but I do have ideas, some of which I have hinted at, and I believe they have been successfully implemented in other places, so, while I call for the dismantling of our current system, it is not without proven, working alternatives in mind. It is not my intent to provide those alternatives here at this time. Rather, this is a consideration of whether it’s finally time to actively seek out alternatives to our current system.
Having provided my intent and a full disclosure, I will begin in Part II to discuss the current situation, because I believe we are in crisis and the beginning of a fix is to understand and accept the fact that we have a problem.