By David Anderson
A visit to the principle’s (purposeful) office is in order.
Add me to the list of the inane, the archaic, the stodgy – those who believe U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is mostly wrong with his list of “lessons of these international rankings” that show America’s educational lethargy if not demise.
On this 9th day of Christmas, Duncan wishes the following from Santa:
“We must invest in early education, raise academic standards, make college affordable and do more to recruit and retain top-notch educators.”
‘More money! Give us more money and we’ll do a better job!’
That mercenary (“motivated to take part in the hostilities by the desire for private gain”) motive is not, however, the mantra belonging to those the Tacoma News Tribune Editorial Board describes as ‘excuse-makers or the ensconced-in-Wonderland-happy-fairy-tale-ending opponents of educational reform’ but rather the educators themselves.
Just scroll through the banner on the WEA website:
“Washington now ranks 43rd in student spending! Only seven states invest less per child!”
“Educators have gone six years without a COLA!”
“Support full funding for schools!”
Meanwhile the Tacoma News Tribune opines (admits), “As it happens, some of the high-performing foreign kids are much poorer than their U.S. peers.”
These on-other-continents-poor that are outperforming their comparatively more prosperous counterparts here in our country are doing so because those charged with their proficiency are more-than-adequately compensated?
I think not.
Well how is it then that the “we-must-raise-academic-standards” flag is being run up the pole by Duncan when other countries have been flying it for years?
Here’s a hint:
A 2009 federal study showed that “nearly a third of the states lowered their academic proficiency standards in recent years, a step that helps schools stay ahead of sanctions under the No Child Left Behind law.”
That was the same year, 2009, that Duncan became U.S. Education Secretary so he can’t be charged with the country having gone the opposite direction under his watch.
However, it does sound like a visit to the principle’s (purposeful) office is in order.
The missing principle in successful education has far, far less – light-years-less – to do with salary as it has to do with sweat.
Especially not the money ostensibly to be generated from the play-to-win not work–to-win state lottery that is sold to the gullible public by the State Lottery Commission and legislators as benefiting education.
“Wonderland”? It’s no wonder in this land of educational opportunity why we’re receiving a failing grade, nor is it a mystery. The wheel has been invented.
Thirty-one years ago this past October 8th, the editorial board of the Tacoma News Tribune, under the headline “Schools, Parents Must Get Tougher,” wrote the following, quoting Mortimer Adler, Ed. Philosopher:
“If you expect high standards and hold to them, children will do better. If you let off on them, they’ll do worse. ‘Too much emphasis is placed on getting the marginal student through school as painlessly as possible.’ There is some question whether most parents want their children educated so much as they want them ‘turned out’. How many parents of today share the educational experience with their children? How many enforce homework discipline? How many visit the schools regularly, talk to the teachers, and know more about how their children do in class than what the report tells them?”
Along the same line, source unknown:
“You have to drill through mud and water to get oil, you have to sift through sand and silt to get gold, and you have to chop and hack through stone to get diamonds – so why do so many people feel that the treasure of ideas should come to them with little or no effort? We recognize that in the physical world you get nothing for nothing, no labor, no fruits; no sawing, no wood pile. Yet in the world of ideas, we expect it all to be laid out on a platter, cut up, pre-chewed, and even pre-digested if that were possible.”
And finally this, by Sydney Harris, reflecting a most appropriate New Year’s Resolution with regards education. It’s entitled “Learning Cannot Come Easy”, dated December 31, 1980:
“The common notion, particularly in our country, that education ought to be painless, does not apply to any other area. The athlete sweats and strains, exercises and conditions himself, to obtain mastery over his chosen field; the auto mechanic goes back to technical school to acquaint himself with the new electronic gadgetry. Whatever else educating ourselves may be, it cannot be easy. It cannot be painless. It cannot be spoon-fed. But it can be a delight, as any difficult challenge can be if we look upon it as an adventure. Why is education the only activity we are willing to spend so much on, and resigned to getting so little in return? No farmer would be stupid enough to make such a bad bargain.”
It’s time to go back to the drawing board, aka the old-fashioned basics of education, the school of hard knocks: hard work.