Saturday, January 14, 2006

Stupid America II

Last evening three of my children (18, 15, 13) and I watched John Stossel's "Stupid in America". Since most of what Mr. Stossel shared I already knew I could watch the reaction of my homeschooled children to this report and try to answer their questions about the absurdity of it all. All in all they were aghast. No, seriously. Their jaws dropped open, they protested what they considered injustice and idiocy and they expressed, again, their thankfulness that they weren't in that situation.

They couldn't believe that a 17 year old was reading at a 4th grade level. In their experience reading isn't hard and the thought that someone had spent so much time in school and wasn't an excellent reader was astounding to them. To them, reading is easy and fun.

They couldn't believe that "Monopoly" was considered an appropriate for a geography class. They immediately suggested "Risk" as a much better alternative.

One daughter, with a very strong sense of justice, interjected several times "That's not fair!" and "This is a capitalistic society--it's what we do!" They found it astonishing that it was so difficult to remove bad teachers. They nodded in agreement when the report featured a private school that was the best in it's district with less money and was still paying teachers more than the public school's were paying their teachers. My children know that it doesn't take thousands of dollars a year to learn and the thought that a classroom could have $250,000 a year and the students be failing was nearly impossible for them to believe.

They supported the private school principal that made the students clean up the campus and set up the lunch room. It's something they do here and so they know it won't kill any students to clean up their own messes.

They were very impressed with the Belgian students' mastery of the English language. They were sure that the New Jersey students wouldn't have been able to speak to a Belgian audience with such fluency and clarity.

They felt like it was a big mistake for that one school district to disallow Mr. Stossel's cameras but allow student film of their school. They knew that what the students filmed would show the school in a worse light than ABC's staff could have. And it most certainly did.

Above all they cannot understand why families don't have options. They used the words insane and oblivious to describe the situation. One asked: "Why don't parents do something!?"

I did learn something new though. I learned that people will actually allow a public school system representative into their homes and the bedrooms (and drawers!) of their children to verify that the child is actually living in the home and therefore attending their zoned school.

Here's Stossel's comment board.

Other blog comments:

Glen Dean: One legislator in that state [South Caroline] said that vouchers would destroy the public school system. I thought to myself, "and that is a bad thing?". We need to destroy and dismantle the public school system. Just like anything else, education needs competition.

Spunky Homeschool: Favorite quote came from Kevin Chavous of the Center for Education Reform. He said, "America doesn't know what it doesn't know." And that's exactly the way many in our government want it to stay. The perfect dependency class.

1 comment:

Henry Cate said...

Realistically I don't know that we'll ever dismantle the public school system. I would be happy if we got the federal government out of education. Then parents would feel like they had more of a chance to be involved. Right now so many parents don't even try to fix the problem, because they have so little influence.

A next good step would be to have some kind of voucher system. Then parents would be greatly empowered and public schools would have to perform or be closed.

The problem is so many politicians see the goal as keeping the public schools around. The real goal should be that children get an education. If they keep focusing on protecting public schools, then they'll never be willing to take the steps necessary to make sure our children get an education.