Monday, March 29, 2010
And it’s true.
Students in well-to-do areas typically receive newer materials, better programs, and even better learning environments. Why? Because their parents are financially able to give to booster clubs, fundraisers, and other causes that families in poorer areas may not have the extra funds to donate to. Schools in wealthier areas typically have more advanced playing fields, gyms, libraries, and computer labs. The extra funds that allow for these amenities are often donated by parents who want their children to have the best facilities and opportunities possible. But what about parents who want the same things for their children but are unable afford it or simply live in an area where the acquisition of those types of amenities is seemingly impossible? Should that mean that those children can not receive the same level of education of children in wealthier families? It should not.
But it does.
Reality strikes again. Life is not fair. In this nation people are expected to work for what they receive and if more is desired then more work is required. But should this capitalistic mindset determine the fates of thousands of school children who live in districts where the government’s cuts of school funding could be almost fatal to their already precarious school system? Theoretically no, but the only current solution to the problem would be outside donors giving to the underfunded school systems. There may be people who already do this, but in reality people are more likely to give to their own family’s school system than some other system in rural Georgia.
But aside from government funding, or the lack there-of, the Georgia public school system is floundering. With consistently low test scores and graduation rates Georgia is securing itself a position of inadequacy. There are horror stories of grade school children who do not know how to read and of children who simply can not seem to pass even the basic math classes. Is this the child’s fault? The parents? The schools? It is most likely a combination of all three. Without the child’s effort, the parents’ support, and the school’s ability to educate it is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for the child to succeed. In this time of recession and drastically reduced funding for public schools Georgia needs to focus not on new facilities or better technology but on the improvement of the quality of the teachers and on the quest for a higher standard for public education.
“In teaching there should be no distinction of classes.” – Confucius
There is a political and social system that focuses on one’s talent and abilities: meritocracy. In a meritocracy, a form of examination of candidates is needed. This examination often manifests itself as education. Confucius was one of the earliest proponents of meritocracy and allowed any kind of individual to be his disciple. Yet, what he taught was meant for future rulers of the land. Confucius believed that the hierarchy should be set so that those that have the greatest talent can rise to the top. Later, China became one of the nations with the greatest examination systems, allowing the poor to become rulers.
Likewise, Genghis Khan chose his chiefs out of merit and not out of social connections. Napoleon handpicked his generals by looking at their courage, their fighting ability, and their intellect. Thomas Jefferson advocated the “natural aristocracy,” who would look at the public’s needs before their own.
Today, we have a somewhat meritocratic system in America. Those that work hard in school and move on to greater colleges and grad schools have a much greater chance at becoming someone powerful, whether it is in government or in the private sector.
Yet, there are many opposing forces to this meritocratic system. One of the major ones is the denial of opposing forces. Another is the socio-economic status of many. Although some (mostly the rich) argue that a rags to riches story is possible with enough effort, that is not the case with many of the poor. Public schools, which are designed to ensure that everyone has a fair chance, have not been doing their part. Many schools that are located near those with little socio-economic status not only lack many basic things like new textbooks and quality teachers, but also lack the ability to foster a “can do” attitude.
Many find it difficult to not acknowledge this truth, so they hide behind sayings like “Life is not fair”. Clearly, life is not fair, but that does not mean we should shrink from trying to make it as fair as possible.
Others say that the parents worked hard to allow their children to have a good education. Parents that did not work as hard should not have the satisfaction of watching their children go to a good school. I think this makes zero sense. I am not too sure about the others, but I do not want to be thought of as my parents’ property. My education is not something that my parents should decide; it should be something that I receive through my own hard work. Is that not the point of meritocracy? Second, the parents of those who are in the lesser schools could have easily been in the same situation as their children. This demonstrates a cycle of incompetency. Some might argue that this circle must have a beginning. Even if this circle did have some sort of beginning, there certainly does not seem to be an end. Also, retracing the circle back to the beginning would only to a conclusion like “it’s the black kids’ fault that their ancestors were slaves”. That’s not a smart thing to say.
In the end, I have not covered fully the merits of a meritocracy and its downfalls. Yet, there seems to be sufficient evidence that public education needs a boost, especially in the lower socio-economic areas, for there to be a true meritocracy in the United States.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
With the new healthcare bill coming out, this is no time for the government to slack on education. However, despite the bad timing, thousands of teachers are predicted to be laid off by the end of this year and huge budget cuts are eliminating the arts in schools. This is simply depressing. To know a government could care less about the very generations that will one day be in the positions they are is disheartening.
Not only is the system suffering but the students are as well. Tax payers are paying teachers who don’t deserve to teach. This is not saying that all teachers do not deserve to teach but there are certainly those out there that should never be given the power of education. Due to the union virtually protecting every teacher from getting fired, and the outrageous number of restrictions placed on teachers, their jobs are challenging, underpaid, and restricting.
To top off the education dumpster, government is trying to shut down the drop out machines. They are trying to shut down the schools with high drop out rates. Yes, this is good in theory but, where are the children supposed to go if they were not planning on dropping out? They are expected to wake up extra early and shuttle their way to a higher ranking school. Higher ranking school almost always translates as a school with wealthier parents feeding all of the booster clubs with endless amounts of cash. Fair? I think not.
It would be awesome if the government could actually go back to being democratic. Loosen up the rules, let teachers teach, and do not excused those who are not striving to help out future generations gain the most knowledge they can in one hour. Standards for students should be increased and the school should have a support system to encourage students in life.
The staff’s attitude is directly a resultant of the administration. That, I think, is half the battle. If you get a positive, nurturing environment, the school will be more likely to thrive educationally because the students will be happier and more willing to work for people that believe in them. Speaking of happiness, Music and arts is a major factor of happiness and cutting that out of elementary schools will only hinder the talent of students. Music helps to release the frustration students feel on a daily basis in schools and resultantly, students end up with higher test scores.
You talk about the "job" of public education. What is this job becuase I think many times it is not defined. They say in business that the first thing you must do is define success yet I think many school systems have not done this.
The last thing I have to say is that the last parragraph is confusing. A "mediocre private school" would be mediocre on the private school deffinition of success. A mediocre public school would also then only be mediocre on the public school spectrum. Therefore, since the top level public schools will never compete with top level private schools such as McCallie in TN, any mediocre public school will also never compete with its private conterpart. In a private school all the classes are mor rigorous than the public school of equal standing. That is how they earn such a high reputation. The only thing that a private school may lack is diversity, where it happens that the same type of kids aspire for the same things. In a public school there is a more diverse student body with more interests that need to be accomidated. That is all.
In recent years, as our debt grows and our economy fall into chaos, we found ourselves in a very incontinent position faced with an incontinent truth: the finitude of our budget. While Obama is pushing for education reforms (ESEA), the jurisdiction of public education ultimately lies with the states. Limited budget means that money for education is a zero-sum game. Fortunately for some, many states recognize the importance of education and decided to increase taxes in order to sustain funding for education. Unfortunately for the rest, other states are turning their backs on education and making cuts to public schools in order to sustain their budgets.
Unfortunately for us, Georgia is one of those latter states. The budget as of now is looking at more than 2 billion dollars cut from education. As a result, Fulton County has to cut out school sponsored activities and teachers. Things such as after school activities, music programs, clubs, sports are all at risk. More importantly is the latter: cutting out teachers. This would mean that the student teacher ratio would increase, which would means that the quality of education that each student gets would decrease. This also means that there will be less subject areas that would be taught in the schools; Fulton County Board of Education is specifically looking at subject areas that are not part of the core (required) education. This would mean that the flexibility of choosing high school courses is jeopardized.
This cut, for me, is ridiculously stupid for many reasons. First reason is that there are states that we can model after to prevent these cuts. Other states increased tobacco taxes; I do not see why Georgia could not (unless Georgia is just afraid that people would stop smoking and become healthier if they did that, which is actually a possibility because according to PRNewswire, Georgia ranked dead last among the states in the area of smoking prevention). Second reason is that I can’t see why Georgia would put education so low on the priority list. Surely there are some other spending cuts that could be made. Third reason is that, well, the short term solution is sitting right in front of us; something like, I don’t know, 90 million dollars of stimulus fund. Fourth is that I do not understand why Georgia is so scare of raising taxes. First of all, raising certain taxes (such as tobacco taxes) is popular for the public, which means that, you know, they would pay and not complain.
As you can see, I am not amused by this decision by Georgia. Let’s just hope we could have something done to somehow change the government’s mind. We should also hope for the passage of the ESEA amendment.
PRNewswire thing just in case you thought I was kidding http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-report-ranks-georgia-50th-in-protecting-kids-from-tobacco-78861412.html
Also tobacco taxes are popular
In the inner city it may be in the hope that the students will graduate and make better choices in order that they may put themselves in a better situation than they were born into. But, for the other schools in and around this area the answer should be much different. It is assumed by the faculty that about 96% of all graduates will attend a four year institution after graduation. With so many students moving on to higher education, there is still a blanket of knowledge that is completely unnecessary.
High school tries to be a time where students can take control of their schedules but only in the electives. In "core" classes (core as in least useful in the professional world) the system has a standard hierarchy of classes that must be checked off the list. Teachers complain when students ask " When will I ever have to use this?", but it indeed is a relevant question that has been swept under the rug for far too long. In today's world we live in a world where information easily flows. Any questions can be found within the arm's reach of an iPhone. Some private prep schools have begun to embrace technology but the public system has yet to test such learning techniques as simple as putting all school necessities on a laptop. People are afraid of change but sometimes change is a good thing. If we can't retool the entire system yet then fine. But the one area that should gain more attention is the area of business and finance. Just try to name a job that does not involve business at some point or another! Although there are a few profession that do not require business skills but marketing, accounting, finance, and business administration will continue to dominate all other majors in sheer numbers. But if not everyone is involved in business everyone has money. The sad truth is that today the only person who is teaching kids how to manage money is their parents. Ask a bunch of high school students about the stock market and how to set up a diverse and safe retirement portfolio and they will give you blank stares. Because this crucial skill is not taught it is taking heavy tolls on our citizens and the economy. Out of college young people know very little about their money. They do not save it but start getting into debt. Finally in their thirties they might wake up, call to Clark Howard to save them, and start to save for retirement. But they have lost valuable time. There close to a million dollar difference from the person who starts to save when they are 20 and the person who starts at 30( Rich Dad and Poor Dad Kiyosaki).
If financial literacy was taught in schools the growth seen across the nation would be extraordinary! Why do you think that the rich stay rich? It's because they are learning from people that are financially literate and know what to do with their money. Although the current high school educational system is frankly mostly a waste of time, people are not ready for a total gutting of the system. But if can't reinvent the whole system then there must be a strong influence on finance. It's the one skill everyone needs but somehow gets neglected over "core" classes such as calculus. 'nough said.
The truth is, either way; I don’t really care what they decide to do with it. In my opinion, public education is entirely obsolete and bears no importance or significance later on in life. What I mean by this is, the stuff I’m learning today in high school (perhaps about 80% of it), I will never have to know as an adult. This is ultimately the downfall of all types of public education. It’s structured, boring, repetitive, and annoying and let’s be honest, no one likes it at all. In fact if you do like it, then there is probably something wrong with you.
Well now you may be asking if public education is so completely meaningless then why do we have it in the first place? The main reason is that society resists change. This is a fact that has been demonstrated throughout human history. This is the reason why for example, religion ( A.K.A myths from the Bronze Age) is still upheld in our society even though much of its doctrine flies contrary to common sense and has been disproved time and time again by renowned scientists across the world. Likewise, public education has existed in the United States since its very inception. And because it has existed for so long, no one in society questions why it’s even there, or whether its even beneficial to society anymore (much like religion). There are of course, some people out there who wish to “reform” it but let’s be serious –all they really want to do is eliminate our half-days and add more full days to the school year. That’s not change...that’s just some overpaid dim-wit out their wondering what to do with their free time. To be perfectly honest with you though, the only reason I’m even in school is because its mandatory and because I need a diploma to get into college. And im not crazy because this is not just my view but the view of many other people like me. Personally, I view public education as a time barrier between me and a college a degree and perhaps an overall successful career.
Seriously though, this may seem really radical (and it is) but in my opinion public education should be done away with entirely or at least shortened. This is the way I think it should be structured.
For one, why on Earth do we have to start school when we are four.. We don’t even really learn anything (besides our colors) and instead of being allowed to roam free and enjoy our childhood, we have to be trapped in a building for seven hours straight. Instead, kids should just be allowed to do whatever they want and enjoy their childhood until about the age of 7. Then they can be placed in a primary school of sorts which would last approximately 5 years or so. Here kids would learn what they really NEED to learn in order to become functional or semi-functional members of society. From there, students could choose to receive a real education by pursuing some sort of career field in college (or just flip burgers at BK). This would shorten up the whole system and allow people to become fully functional adults much sooner.
Public Education Entry
28 March 2010
Our Hope for the Future: Public Education
I believe in public education. I think it is a good idea to make education available to all students, and I agree with using tax dollars to fund education. Education is the way, in my opinion, to give people the opportunity to rise out of lower social classes and truly make the most of their abilities. Public education provides access for students who are at an economic disadvantage to a clear college and career path. I am aware, however, of the argument that areas with less money receive a poorer pubic education. I do not agree with that argument because of my experience at Johns Creek High School.
At our own Johns Creek High School, and at my sister’s Autrey Mill Middle School, there are children that take a bus from areas outside our school district to attend schools in our district. These students, who were not being offered a thriving school in their own district, were not only allowed to switch to a different public school, but they were also provided with public transport to attend this different public school. In my opinion, this is the way that public education should be handled. Schools should have an incentive to strive to be the very best they can be, and, if they are not supplying their students with the best education possible, the students should be able to transfer to a different public school.
I also recently read an article on CNN about President Obama’s new proposed No Child Left Behind policies. I agree completely with Obama’s planned overhaul of this policy. Essentially he plans to create a free-market-styled system in which schools are rewarded for achievements and excellent education. This, in my opinion, sets up a system in which school are, in so many words, forced to care even more about their students and their students’ achievements. Schools that are not providing our nation’s posterity with the best possible education are, in Obama’s plan, punished. I believe that, harsh as that plan may sound, it is the plan with the students’ best interest in mind. This plan will prevent schools that are in economically disadvantaged areas from falling behind. If the schools do fall behind, actions will be taken to keep the students’ education strong.
Obama’s overhaul plan also includes a $3 billion, and possibly $1 billion more, increase in federal funds for education. This proposal highlights another important opinion of mine regarding public education: more federal and state money should be put towards public education. I believe that public education should be the top of the federal and state budgets with even roads and sewers second. The reason that I am so adamant about that is that, more than any other public works projects or other financial help, education is the best way to bring people out of undesirable situations. Public education is one of the things that makes America the land of the free and the home of the brave; it allows people of all financial and ethnic backgrounds to succeed. Such an economically, and even culturally, significant portion of the American life should be funded to the fullest ability of the American government!
I remember my fist day of public school. I walked into Northview High School on my first day of freshman year freaking out about the “druggies” and hoodlums that supposedly infected all public schools. I was expecting to get mugged on the bus, offered weed at my locker, and find couples “doing-it” in the bathroom. None of which happened, thank god. But, that is what being in private school my whole life did to me. Though not purposefully, it made me believe that public school is the equivalent to hell. But, little to their knowledge, the education and experiences I have had in public school has been just as good if not better than the so-called prestigious private education. Though I have been witness to great amounts of cheating, drugs, etc. in public school, I think that me being witness to these things has prepared me for the reality check that would be waiting for me in college had I stayed in private school.
I don’t really understand why parents wish to spend large amounts of money to send their child to a private school because the education received in public schools is just as good. Many times the opportunities available to students in private schools are limited whereas in the opportunities seem to be endless in public schools because there seems to be something of enjoyment for everyone. Public schools not only offer more diversity educationally they also offer more diverse extra-curriculars. The only extra-curricular activities available to me in private school were sports and though I love being athletic, it is not everyone’s passion. At public schools such as Johns Creek there exists a wide variety of clubs and programs for every type of student. Public schools encourage diversity while most private schools seem to encourage normality and uniformity.
Public schools due unfortunately differ between schools ranging from up-scale schools to run-down schools in poorer areas. These schools that are located in poor areas get the same amount of money from the state governments as schools in richer areas. So why are certain schools in richer areas more successful in graduating more students and having higher-grade averages? The reason they are different is that schools in richer areas get more funds from parents who’s kids attend the school. This allows more funds to be spent on upgrades in the school. The schools in poor areas have parents who would love to help make their child’s school better but can afford to donate much money. Some member’s of poor societies kick and scream that the schools are unequal and more funds should be sent to the poorer schools. Is this right? Should more tax money be sent to schools that do not get as much parent donations as others? If one is not satisfied with the local school board, he or she can simply move to an area they can afford with better schools. The simple differences between regional schools can not really be stopped. The only real thing someone can do is live some where their child can have a successful chance in education. One county over from your county could have a better school system compared to your own but still have the same standard of living that you live in.
Which are really better, public or private schools? Going to private schools can help a parent’s child get a rigorous but rewarding education but there are public schools that have curriculums that require the same amount and type of work. Certain school systems have been rewarded for high testing scores and being very accomplished in making their students educationally successful such as Fulton County Schools. This school system provides their students a very excellent school curriculum with amazing teachers free of charge. Private schools provide excellent curriculums but parents have to pay for their child to attend it. Some private schools can actually be worse academically then certain public schools in certain counties. When a person needs to decide if they should attend private or public school, he or she can not simply say that one is better than the other. He or she needs to study the local reports for the public schools and private schools.
Having grown up going to a private school, when I switched to the public school system, I was surprised how similar both were. The main differences were the uniforms and the class sizes. Other than that, public school was almost identical. I was then confused as to why parents would spend so much money a year when they can get the same education for their child for free. Plus, if a child is sent private school, they parents still have to pay the taxes for the public school system; the extra tax just adds on to the yearly payments the parents have to make.
Public education sometimes gives off the vibe that it is not the best education. This is not always the case. In the area where we all live, Johns Creek, the public education system is top notch. The schools have all the things that parents look for when trying to decide on a private school. The only difference is the price between the types of schools. Some parents will pick the private school because they believe that their child will get the best education possible, as well as being as safe as possible. But honestly, we live in Johns Creek, nothing too terrible will happen.
While researching some differences between private and public schools, I found out some very interesting facts. While public schools have to admit a student, regardless of the student’s sex, race, economic situation, religious affiliation, or physical or mental impairment, private schools have the option to allow whomever they want into the school. I do not believe that private schools should base their opinions on whether to admit the student or not because of those reasons. I believe that it should be based solely on grades and effort, and not on the family’s wealth.
With Johns Creek High School open for a year, the teacher to student ratio is smaller, like it would be in a private school. This is good because it gives the student more individual attention. The problem is though, that if the public school is too big, then the student will be more likely to just sit and listen, rather than ask individual questions. Having a high student to teacher ratio is not ideal, but can get a student prepared for how it will be like in most college classes. Also, the classes will have a greater variety of students so a student would not be stuck in the same classes with the same people.
One thing that public schools has that a lot of people, including myself, like is the ability to have options in what classes to take. I like knowing that I can take any class I want, even if there are prerequisites. Since private schools are generally much smaller, the list of classes offered is much narrower. The classes in a public school can be more out there and different. I like having the ability to study different, more interesting things. Honestly, public schools are so much better than private schools.
Public education is very different from private education. Some students perform better in a quiet, more private atmosphere while other students perform better in a larger, more diverse atmosphere. The important thing for me is that a student is receiving the best education possible. Many public schools are unable to offer a first-class education, so in this case, it might be best to attend a private school if that is available. Private education offers a more one-on-one setting with a smaller student-to-teacher ratio. For the areas that offer a good public education, attending a public school could be just as good as a private school.
I have two little brothers and one of them attends a public school and the other attends a private school. They were both in the same public elementary school before my parents decided to switch my youngest brother to a private school. Their decision was not based on the education that my brother was receiving, but on the atmosphere that he was in at his public school. He was put in a bad learning environment because his class was a complete madhouse and the teacher was unable to control it. He learning was impacted by this and he started hating school. Once they made the switch, he began to like school again and he was able to be in a much better learning environment. The private school was not better because it offered a better education than the public school; it was better because it offered a better environment for my little brother.
Johns Creek High School and other schools in Fulton County are a prime example of what great things a public education can offer. Schools in Fulton County feature some of the brightest students and greatest teachers. Our schools are able to run smoothly because administrations, teachers, and students work hard to make it the best it can be. If people are willing to put in the effort, public schools and a public education can be as good, if not better, than a private.
On a different note, I believe in an area like the one we currently live in, it is unnecessary to send your children to a private school, unless they need individual help or something of the sort. With outstanding teachers and all the best technology, a private school has a lot of competition in this area. However, the one thing that public schools do not offer that a private school may is religion. As Sarah discussed in her opinion editorial last week, religion is still evident in most public schools. Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) is one club that is present in almost every public school and is advertised widely through posters and flyers. I am fairly certain, however, at Johns Creek there is no Jewish Student Union (JSU) or atheist organization.
Next year, the number of kids attending private school in the Johns Creek area may actually increase. With the rise in class size scheduled for next year, more parents may want their children in a school with more individual attention.
I can’t say that I’ve had a lot of experience with public education but I know enough to know that there are things I think should be done differently. Like I think public schools that are in low income areas should be given more funding than high income area schools, I think that multiple foreign languages should be taught at an early age, and finally I think that the performing arts programs should be viewed with the same importance as the athletic programs.
I know that giving more money to low income area schools is a sensitive topic but I think that it’s important that people know that in low income areas the schools really are as bad as we’ve read in AP Lang before. In Cobb County at Pebblebrook High School two of the six buildings on campus have dead rats that are decaying in the walls as I write this. Yet, because of a lack of money the school can’t afford to tear apart the buildings and renovate. Also earlier this year when a teacher at Pebblebrook was stabbed to death the school couldn’t afford to find a replacement and as a result has had to take the now deceased teacher’s classes and reschedule them into other classes. The students most likely won’t pass the course due to the amount of chaos the situation has caused and the teachers have to work twice as hard to even attempt to teach them what they need to learn. The giving of more funds to low income schools who can’t afford to fundraise would help prevent situations like that.
Another idea that I have is that all students should be taught multiple foreign languages at an early age. Mostly because every where else in the world kids have learned seven languages by the time their thirteen! I am seventeen and I still only know one. Even kids who have parents from a different culture at the most know like two or three languages over all. That’s still really pathetic compared to the seven other people in the world are learning. Also I am so sick of this supercilious American attitude already. For the love of everything ever, as people we cannot continue to demand that other people speak our language and not even attempt the same courtesy. I don’t care who you are demanding something of one person and not expecting the same of yourself is lame and it’s embarrassing. So for this nation, that is so well loved, we need to teach people other languages so that America can stop being associated with pompous jerks who think that their language, which is a combination of other languages, is better than everyone else’s! If we don’t have the decency to teach our people foreign languages then we shouldn’t expect foreign countries to teach their students English.
The most important to me of these ideas, to me, is the equal viewing of the performing arts and the athletic programs. For whatever reason it seems like the athletic programs hold more importance for schools. This year the drama program became an Award Winning program. I don’t remember football or basketball winning any awards. It’s nothing personal to the players, it’s just they don’t deserve the recognition if they can’t earn it. It’s not just this school that should give more respect to the performing arts, either, but all schools. If kids aren’t given the opportunity to try everything and find something that matters to them then they could be denied of a well lived life. The performing arts have been entertaining people for centuries and the fact that it’s still not important enough to be treated as an equal to athletics is sad and pathetic.
Public education in Johns Creek is a good, helpful, and effective. These aspects cannot be said of public education in other cities or counties- I know, I’ve grew up in a different county. We are so blessed in Johns Creek and we completely take it for granted. Public education where I grew up was horrible. I remember my sisters coming home everyday complaining about the school day, and not just because their teachers were bad at teaching, but some did not even speak English and it was not because they were foreign language teachers. Their teachers did not care, the students did not care, the facilities were (and still are) absolutely disgusting. The state of the school affects the students whether you wanna admit it or not. To be encouraged to learn you need an environment that encourages you. Johns Creek is a beautiful school, clean, inviting and it really makes an impact on how the students feel about coming to school. Where my sisters went to school you were lucky if there was a door to the bathroom stall. Who wants to go to a school like that? The track had grass growing out of it, the tennis courts were no longer tennis courts, but the designated area for the trailers. That being said public education has its weak points, and I went to private school and then moved before I ever had to endure this building they called a school. Public education depends on the people. Out here in Johns Creek people have so much and so it’s automatically going to be an area that reflects that. Where I come from things are just simpler, the school system does not have money constantly coming in, and therefore they have to get by on what they have. In the end no matter what your building looks like the teachers and the students are what is going to make the biggest difference to how a school functions. Having caring teachers makes a big impact because then students are encouraged and want to excel, and then that attitude is spread throughout the student body. Yes people could always go to private schools to have caring teachers, but a lot of people cannot afford that, and most people are just trying to make it through school not really spend that much effort on it. I enjoy public schools though after going to private schools all the way up until 9th grade, I do not know there is just something freeing about them, and it gives kids room to grow. Parents are so annoying when they put their children in private schools because they don’t want them exposed to all the dangers of public school and the “real world”, get over yourselves. I felt trapped in private schools, there was no diversity and everyone was always in all of your business, but in public schools people do not care that much. And yes I know I just said that that was a downfall to public education, but that was more in terms of teachers.
Public Education always gets a bad reputation. Those who do not or did not attend public schools think that it consists of a bunch of hoodlums who do not attend class and instead they just stay in the hallways and make out with their girlfriends. This is how Hollywood portrays public schools, so it must be true. I beg to differ.
Public education is not for just the rejects or the poor families who can’t afford private education. In fact, public schools are often more prestigious in the advanced placement classes offered as well as the quality of teachers. Johns Creek High School is a rare, yet prime example. Johns Creek is home to many of the finest teachers in Georgia, and has some of the nicest facilities and technology in the nation. How many schools, public and private alike, have advanced Promethean boards in every classroom? The stereotypes for public school systems are not always true. Granted, Fulton County Schools are a rare exception from the norm. Yet, I’m sure that there are other counties in America with similar advancements. My point is that public education is not always as bad as people make it out to be.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are the schools in rural towns and inner cities that do not have a five thousand dollar touch-screen, computer, television, freakin’ awesome machine in every room. Many times, these schools coincide directly with the bum reputation of public schools. But often times, the faculty and students are very dedicated to learning; they just simply don’t have the money and resources that Johns Creek has. In either case, public education is doing its job.
Private education has its benefits as well. Public school is most definitely inconsistent in its quality; so many times families do choose the private route. If there is one problem with public education in America, it is consistency. Some public schools, such as Johns Creek, are exceptional. Yet, on the other side of Atlanta there are schools that aren’t as fortunate when it comes to resources. It depends on location and the where the tax dollars are distributed. In terms of where the majority of money should be sent, there is no kid or school that deserves it more than another. Every single kid’s learning process is as important as another’s. That is why I wonder why Johns Creek got so lucky. But hey, I’m not complaining.
When discussing the rigor offered at public schools versus private schools, public schools are usually superior. When comparing similar level public and private schools (for example, a mediocre private school with a mediocre public school), the public school will usually be able to offer a more rigorous schedule. Of course, a prestigious private school will be better than a mediocre public school. The bottom line is, a prestigious public school such as Johns Creek may have more to offer than a similarly prestigious private school such as Marist, because the individual has more freedom to personalize his learning process in deciding his class schedule where at a private school, the individual may simply follow the archetype for the private school education.
Many problems surround the multiple issues associated with our country's public education system. Ever since President Bush passed the No Child Left Behind act, it seems as if public education reform has been becoming more and more of a recognizable issue. Kids all over the U.S. go to school in order to become "literate, critical minded individuals who understand the lessons of the past and the tools of the present" (online source). I believe the biggest issue with public education is the way that the system places labels on everyone and catagorizes students according to how intelligent he or she is. When someone recieves the label of a "gifted student," he or she may try to live up to the standard they are expected to achieve, however, unfortunately the same remains true on the opposite end of the spectrum. If someone is labeled as "special education" or "IRR," those students may live down to their lowest potential due to all that isn't expected of them. These labels now are serving as self-fulfilling prophecies, or in other words, kids may only become as smart as you label them or as they believe they should be. This is a terrible thing for the public education system to do, and when the system becomes inflated with all this categorizing and distinguishing between students, the result can only be negative. Instead of this labeling non-sense, it would be much more effective to help students learn in a way which meets their demands instead of a strict, rigid teaching system that is static for all students. Also, another tactic that I believe would make a world of difference in the public education system is the to remove the word "smart." This may sound confusing at first, but when pondered, it makes total sense. When a student does really well on a quiz or test, a teacher or parent or whoever may say, "Gee Billy, you sure are smart." This leads to Billy thinking that he naturally has what it takes to make good grades, and contains this one special ability of being "smart." Now, Billy doesn't work as hard because he thinks he should make good grades on everything because he is smart. This is when I believe we, as a society, should avoid telling kids at a young age that they are smart, and instead say, "Gee Billy, you sure did work hard for that grade." This would influence Billy in a more positive way and get him to continue to work hard. If all kids had a pre-conceived notion that they were just smart, none of them would work hard because they would think they can already do anything. If genuinely smart kids were continually reinforced to work hard, who knows how many Einsteins we could create. The public school system is in desperate need to illiminate labels and categories and teach students in a more creative way without providing these detrimental self-fullfilling prophecies. This is my opinion on what is wrong with public schools today and how it should be fixed.
However, I do believe that the US government is fair in regulating some aspects of the public school system: evolution, nationwide performance tests, fundamental required subjects, and the length of a school day. Personally, it seems reasonable for school days to be about seven hours and for there to be two days of no school every week. Unlike other countries overseas where children must attend school six out of seven days a week and extensively study after school, children should be allowed to enjoy their youth. Fundamental subjects that are required, certain levels of math, reading, writing, are also a necessity in public education. The only issue I have with some of these required material is too easy. For example, the Georgia Graduation Test was just a joke. Not only was the test itself really effortless, the percent required to pass is only forty percent. Honestly, there almost seems no difference between the GHST and the CRCTs that were required in elementary school. If anything, we should expect a little more out of the American youth.
The poor don’t have it, the rich want more of it, and it’s one of the biggest issues in public education: money. Obviously as a resident of Johns Creek, I am going to be in favor schools being funded by county as opposed to schools being funded federally. Before you call me selfish and unfair, just think about what would happen if schools were equally funded. That is correct: people will still complain and our problems will linger. To clarify, imagine that Johns Creek High School traded its students for students attending a ghetto high school. Most likely, the ghetto students will not take advantage of their resources. In addition, underprivileged teenagers tend to vandalize and not put too much emphasis on school, and not to mention that the JCHS students will not benefit from this scenario. Perhaps, I am being unfair in assuming this, but a change in scenery and resources most likely will not change much, because I believe what really drives a student to become studious is the expectations of their parents and peers.
There are some portions of people who believe that the public education is not equal for all the students depending on where they live. But I believe that is caused because of the students’ attitude. Each school tend to have a characteristics based on what the majority of the students are like. If the neighborhood around the school is filled with parents who care so much about education and grades, it is most likely that the school will have students who are willing to learn and to earn good grades. If the school has students who are only willing to enjoy their life and have fun, the school will have lower overall grade average. It is not the public education that is unfair; it is the mood of the school the students create that differs.
One issue that is also frequently discussed is the usefulness of the materials. Most stuff we learn in high school (or even in elementary school) does not seem very useful. But I believe that what we learn isn’t the point of the education; in process of learning random subjects that we might never use, we learn how to study. The studying skills we earn are the whole point of learning. The students will also learn the atmosphere of what studying would be like in college. But I can not disagree with the fact that some subjects are so frustrating and seem very unnecessary. I know it is for a good purpose, but I can’t stop disliking them.
Public education doesn’t exactly let everyone learn the same materials, since the amount of study they do is the students’ choice, but gives equal opportunity of education to every student. Without it, this country would have been filled with illiterate people and would have been left with illiterate culture. Over all my opinion on the public education is that it is fine. It has been well and it will continue to be fine if people understand and follow the purpose and goal of it.
First off I would like to state that because of the area we live in it’s hard for us to understand how large the disparity is between public and private schools. In Johns Creek being a student at one of the public schools will guarantee you an equal, if not better, education in comparison to the private schools. Families move to our area solely to attend our schools and many kids switch from public to private schools when they reach high school because they can’t handle the competition and high standards. Everywhere else, however, the situation is terribly different. In many cities to get a good education you have to attend a private school. Many class sizes go from 500 kids freshman year to 400 senior year due to all of the dropouts. Many class sizes have an even larger drop than that. Public education has a reputation as having corrupted administration and teachers, low safety and meager methods of teaching. Regardless of these downfalls, it is absolutely necessary to keep public education in place and keep improving on it.
One of the things I find unfair about public education is the fact that if you go to a private school you still have to pay the same amount of taxes as the public school families. Private schools often cost up to $30,000 a year, which is ridiculous to begin with, and then to have to pay taxes to the public schools on top of that? Unfortunately, this is completely necessary seeing as the kids going to the private schools are often the wealthiest and therefore pay the most taxes whereas the kids actually going to the public schools make and pay less. Public schools are also run by the state, which I feel is better than the federal government controlling them because, hopefully, the Georgia officials are able to handle all of the however many schools in Georgia and maybe find a sense of pride in their state from improving them? Probably not the second one, but for the federal government to control all of the schools would be a terrible idea because there are just so many schools in the country and each state(maybe each city, I’m not sure) has their own standards for graduation, and it would be to much effort with not enough return to switch everything around now.If I did not live in Johns Creek I would most likely go to a private school. Most other schools don’t offer the same number of AP or Honors courses and have less qualified teachers. Many have gangs, constant drug busts, and even metal detectors in a vain attempt to increase school safety. Johns Creek has such great schools because so much tax money is kept in the city and we have such motivated students. I think it’s safe to say that you’d be hard pressed to find another city where the public schools are considered more beneficial than most of the private schools.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Since I’ve run out of ideas to express, I looked up the issues people have with the public school system. One problem was the funding and how the state controls it and not the federal government. I think that that’s okay. I’m not sure what effect it would have if we did have the federal government running the funding. I assume that if this happened, then every school system/ area would have equal amount of funding. This could eliminate the diversity of schools and their locations. Our schools would then equate with the monetary value of downtown Atlanta schools, correct? I suppose our schools would get worse and theirs would become better. I’ve decided that federal control of all schools is a bad idea. Secondly, another issue was that each system gets to choose the curriculum. I do see an issue with this since I think everyone should be getting the same fundamental classes. As for AP’s and electives, they should all be available; prerequisites should still apply, however.
I see nothing wrong with public education in general. If the quality of all schools were to improve, then nobody would be harmed by it. However, education should be carefully handled; bad decisions could have a great effect.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Today public education is very widespread. Some may say that it is second rate education or that it should be discontinued. This would be a fatal mistake for anyone to make. Public education ensures that there are opportunities presented to those that otherwise would not receive any education. It provides our society with equal chances for everyone, no mater what their background maybe. This directly corresponds to the American Dream that so many have. With free education, every student has the opportunity to rise to the occasion and make something of them.
Public education was established in the 18th century to provide equality among the classes in our nation. This act even helped prevent the continuation of separation of the classes. With out a nationally controlled system in place, there would be no way to ensure that the future of the country is learning all that would be required for good decisions to be made. We cannot let our nation slip up simply because kids don’t know what they are talking about.
An age old debate rages on between private and public education. Some say private is better. I don’t really understand the difference because it seems to be only different and has to be paid for. The students have to follow strict uniform rules and receive slightly more work. In the public school system, it may be true there is less work. However, there are no major visible differences. Public education is free and provides transportation for each student. This is actually better because along with this, there are numerous opportunities for colleges to look at the students and provide scholarships for those that need it. In private schools, there are still similar prospects but it seems to be more prevalent within the public school systems.
Having been in a private school for a majority of my school life, I understand the system and how it works. Entering public school for high school led me to believe that there are very few differences in the two. I can honestly say that the students appear happier within the public school system. I personally enjoy public schools more than their counterpart.
Public schooling is just as good as the private education, but with out the personal costs and uniforms. These systems of education have led to many benefits with in the nation and have improved conditions in countless lives. No one can doubt the change and affect schools have had in almost everyone’s’ life. These establishments should never be taken down. The only thing they need is a constant evolvement of the curriculum taught. Public schools are one of the greatest things our nation could do for its people.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Chase’s (I don’t remember his last name) blog entry had two different arguments. The first thing he talked about was how women were better than men with money. The second thing he talked about was how the problem was so large and too intimidating that he didn’t want to bother with it. I disagree with his stance on both issues.
In the beginning of the first paragraph, he mentioned an article pertaining to women that “give you more bang for your buck”. At first, I was incredibly disappointed in Chase. He shouldn’t be reading these types of articles. Later in the paragraph, Chase explained that the article stated that women should be in charge of fixing the world. I was even more disappointed. He really should not be reading this type of thing. Really. While women might be more motherly than men (possibly because men can’t be moms), that does not justify giving them the keys to the world. Everyone knows that the last time women dominated men, we were hunters and gatherers. Do you want to be a hunter/gatherer? Apart from reverting back to caveman-ism, focusing on allowing women to just fix our problems will just cause create problems. We should not focus on putting men and women into their little sections. Think about it. Why were women only supposed to be teachers before the Rosie the Riveter craze? It’s because that was what women did best: torturing little children. It is the same with the women’s role at home. They were supposed to fill the role of the caring mother. While women might be better than men in some activities (doubts), sectioning them off might lead back to the idea of separate spheres, discrimination, and the whole shebang (no pun intended).
The second thing that Chase talked about was how the task of cleaning up the world seemed just too daunting. This thought process is as elementary as it gets. It is like a little kid that made a mess in his room, and there just seems to be too many toys and snack crumbs to clean up. The little idiot then climbs onto his bed and just sits there acting like his room isn’t messy. He keeps staying on his bed, only moving off of it sometimes, to pick off crumbs on the floor when he’s hungry (his mom isn’t home to clean this up for him). Sooner or later, a small army of cockroaches will gather (you decide what the cockroaches stand for), and they will attack the bed. What is the moral of the story? Clean your room, or it’ll bite you in the back. Some unconvinced children might argue that his younger sibling, Natural disasters/dictators/un-Americanism, made the mess. The younger child should clean up the mess. That might be true; however, he made a mess in your room. Also, you really can’t depend on little boy Natural Disaster to clean up his own mess. Please be a responsible older brother and just deal with it.
Monday, March 22, 2010
I would also like to address the fact that uprooting millions of people into other environments a. is not smart and b. has proved to be more costly to Americans trying to help then it actually helped. During the Vietnamese war American soldiers moved whole villages to new facilities with the intentions of providing a better way of living, instead the villagers were outraged and ultimately revolted against the Americans. The reason why students are enrolled in history classes is to educate future generations on mistakes in the past. This was a huge mistake made once by the USA military, let us not make it again.
As I read the summary of his plan for poverty, I felt like hugging Robert. He put into words all of the frustration many families and teenagers are feeling today with all the reforms. Overholt lay’s out the fact that people will not want to work hard to become wealthy if they are forced to automatically split their earnings in half for the average Joe next door that has done nothing to further himself economically. The situation will become increasingly sticky because who is to say what is too rich and what is living comfortably? Personally, if I am going to get slammed with taxes at eighteen and the tuition for college is going to sky rocket to the point where there is no hope of me going, I have little faith that working hard in high school or at a job will help that situation. I would wait for the government to take care of me because they have stifled my ability to take care of myself. And so the frustration of politics and humanity begin. Thanks Rob.
22 March 2010
Response to Miss Julia Wayne's "Poverty.. America... Welfare"
I agree with Miss Julia Wayne's assertions that capitalism in America fuels people to succeed, and that lack of success in our great nation leads to a degraded, looked-down-upon feeling. I can personally vouch for this. I always strive to push myself to be as close to perfect as I possibly can, and when I come up short of excellence, I often feel depressed and worthless.
Miss Wayne's description of the exceptions to common stereotypes are also very true. The idea that high achieving people are not necessarily the most hardworking and that hardworking people are not necessarily high achieving is her exception that I find to be most personally true. This example everyone can relate to; there is always that one test, project, competition, or any other evaluation that you work yourself to the bone over only to receive essentially a punishment while that kid next to you scrapes up something in ten minutes and winds up with a perfect score and the praise to wear with it. This ties in quite nicely with a true lesson of life stated in its own beautiful little paragraph: "The problem is, how is it possible to tell the difference between who deserves to be successful and who doesn’t? It’s not."
The part of Miss Wayne's post that I agree with the most is the section on welfare. She essentially states that welfare is not a good idea because it degrades peoples' worth. She also does not agree with simply throwing money at a problem; Miss Wayne believes that real volunteer work is the real way to help poverty. I could not agree more with these opinions. Supplying the money to do things means nothing unless you can supply people to carry out the benefits the money can provide, just as Miss Wayne explains having a school with no teachers does not do any good. Also, only donating money distances the donors from the actual problem and places them on a pedestal above the poorer masses. This leads to the creation of a judgmental upper class that provides money to the poorer people that have been inhumanely stripped of their human value. These people then walk down the street judging people left and right as, Miss Wayne puts cleverly, a "heroin junkie" or a "prostitute."
There’s a major piece of legislation that has been pushing through Congress for about 14 months. It has to do with many things, but one of those things is the role of the federal government. The bill would increase the role of the federal government in helping out the disadvantaged. The opponents of the bill do not like that and believe that the federal government is forcing people to pay more taxes to help others. This bill passed last night. Does anyone want to take a stab at what it is? That’s right, it’s healthcare.
First, there should be a little description about healthcare. This bill does not force people to use government healthcare. It does not shut down every private industry. However, this bill does have some faults. Obama tells us that this bill will pay for itself by reducing fraud and using money that’s actually trapped in the system. While that may seem awesome, it’s probably not going to happen. While the healthcare bill did get CBO (Congressional Budget Office) approval, there are sure to be some kinks, and it is very unlikely that it will completely pay for itself. Most likely, some Americans are going to see an increase in their taxes. Now here’s the question: should the federal government force these Americans to use their money to help others in need. The answer is, in my opinion, a no, usually.
The idea of government taking from the rich and giving it to the poor is definitely not new. Yet, it is still hotly debated today. My Republican friends are very adamant about this. They believe that everyone has a fair shot in this country. “No one should take my money. It’s mine. I earned it.” They believe that it is possible to pull yourself up by the bootstraps (I think it’s physically impossible by the way). To an extent, they’re right. Why should you someone take what you earned. After all, it’s yours, and American capitalism has taught us that there’s not a more pleasant sounding word than “mine”.
Some people disagree. They keep yapping about how you should think about others, should be a kind neighbor, should remember the golden rule, and so on and so forth. While the things they say sound lovely, we really can’t force people to do anything. After all, we need more time to focus on ourselves. Who cares about the others? My ancestors fought for my freedom and no one else’s and I should enjoy it. Go America.
But wait, since the role of the government isn’t to help out people, do we just let them die? Of course not. After all, what are charities and non-governmental organizations for (don’t you just love it when donations are tax-deductable?)? If these charities and NGOs fail at what they do and a couple people starve (or can’t pay their medical fees), well it’s not my fault. I gave what I feel like is enough to clear my conscience. And if I didn’t, it doesn’t matter because it’s just one less person that’s donating. Everyone else will donate. Those fools.
It seems like we established the fact that we should use charities and NGOs. Then what is the government for? Is it for making sure that we start off at an equal foot? Nope, we can just figure that out on our own. And if we get stuck in some school that we don’t like, well, we can all just transfer to Westminster, right? Looks like the government isn’t good for anything. Down with Big Brother. The Tea Party rocks.
Oh, and lastly, this healthcare bill. I think that it’s a good piece of legislation. Simply because it will collapse the government’s budget (what does the CBO know?), and bring down the government.
Only if people have a genuine concern for the poor and give their time or money with no ulterior motives can their actions be labeled as philanthropic. I do believe that there are people in the world who legitimately care about those less fortunate than themselves and seek to aid them, not simply because it is the right thing to do but because they have a personal conviction that leads them to aid their less fortunate brothers and sisters. Only then, when there is a true lack of self concern can donations and efforts be classified as acts of philanthropy.
I, similar to Nancy Mairs’ in her work “On Being a Cripple”, believe that the time has come to abandon old euphemisms designed to be soft on the ears of the rich and refer to the people who live in poverty in terms that truly described who they are. But what should that word be? In this blog I have used the euphemisms such as “the less fortunate”, “the lower class”, and “the impoverished” but these words do not express the human-hood of the men and women living in those conditions. They do not create the mental image of a woman sleeping on a grate above the subway or a man walking the streets in desperation as though guided by the hope that if he walks far enough he will find what he has always been searching for. These people are not simply “the poor” they are men and women, boys and girls, who have little or nothing to call their own. They need our help, not simply the help of the rich who feel better about themselves when they give but the help of people who see beneath the title and into the eyes of their fellow human beings.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
In my opinion, I don’t think that those who have homes care at all about those that don’t. I feel as if every person out there, regardless of class, realizes that they reside in a dog eat dog world where, oftentimes, selfishness is more highly rewarded than loyalty and compassion. I feel as if people realize that they need to do what is best for themselves first, before they do anything else.
Philanthropy is merely a concept invented by the fortunate and used as a tool to boost self-image. You will, most likely, never see a homeless person give to another homeless person. This is because (like I said earlier) everyone cares about themselves more than they care about others. The homeless person cannot afford to give to the other homeless person so he doesn’t. And yet those that can afford to give do so only as a means of giving themselves the illusion that they care for others. Often times, it seems as if they give only to somehow make up for their past wrongs. The bottom line is no one likes to see their money go. No matter how sincere they may seem when they tell you they actually like to give- they don’t. And in the end by giving they are really only seeking to boost their own image, and it works. That is largely why society upholds philanthropists. But they are no different from the greedy who, at least, are up front and honest about their intentions.
There will of course always be exceptions. Even I will concede that there are definitely people out their who genuinely like to give to others. They really do want to help make the world a better place for those who are less fortunate. Unfortunately though I can’t say I believe this group makes up the majority, for if they did then I doubt there would be as much pain and suffering as there is in our society today.
Ultimately, two wrongs don’t make a right. If one try to make amends for past mistakes by creating the illusion of selflessness only adds to the problem. The bottom line is however, that philanthropists give money to the poor which in turn makes the lives of the poor easier. This, regardless of their intentions, is a commendable feat in itself. Unfortunately however, in the end, it is all futile. The greedy far outnumber those who are wiling to give and in the end they will thwart any effort to make the world a better place and use it to better themselves. This is how the world works and it would take a truly massive feat to change it.
There are a few things that have already been done by the government and service corporations to try to accommodate these “working poor”. The first is that most government social services are inclusive of more than the poverty line; most offer assistance to people who make 150%-200% of the poverty line. This strategy, however, again trips over the same problem of using economics to define those who are and who are not in poverty. John Edwards in his book Ending poverty in America: how to restore the American dream states that the underlying reason that our poverty reduction programs are so ineffective is that the government relies too much on an economic scale to determine those who live in poverty. He states that in order to truly root out the problem the government has to move to a more subjective definition of poverty; a definition that could accommodate living conditions, working conditions, non-income-related economic situations (such as overloaded taxes etc). The second way that the government is trying to resolve the issue of the working poor is that it is trying to adopt a new definition of poverty. Though this definition would not be set into action yet, it would include an escalator clause, which is basically another value that goes up and down with the American living standards. This, although a step toward the right direction for the working poor, does not solve many of the problems that are inherent to the current poverty definition.
Accommodating those who need help into our economy is one problem; however, the effectiveness of programs is the main issue. Do US anti-poverty programs, such as food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, etc, work? Evidentially, considering that the last Census Bureau (which is 2008) reports about 13% (about 39million people) of American live in poverty (by definition, which Edwards indicates that is a lacking indicator and that the true figures are about ¼ of America is in poverty), there is obviously room for improvement. How to improve is a very difficult question to answer. No one program could relieve all of the causes of poverty. In Michael Schiffer’s Connecting the Dots, poverty is described as a phenomenon that is caused by multiple events (be it education, bad luck, structural reasons, vicious circle, etc) and that just taking out one of those reasons is like pulling off one leg off of a centipede.
Though it seems like the problem of poverty seems to be inevitable, that is no reason to not act. Problems such as neglecting a certain population and ineffective programs might be bad, but the real problem lies in inaction and ignorance. Improvements should be made and problems should be addressed from their roots. If not, then the problem of poverty would truly be “the shame of our nation”.