Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thoughts on education (that deteriorate into a rant)

I’ve been reading and thinking about education a bit today.  My sister (my little baby sister sniffle) is graduating from high school this month!  She goes to a public high school in rural Georgia, which is the same school system I was in from first grade on. 

For those of you that aren’t aware, public education in Georgia is, well, a disaster.  It was okay when I was in school, and obviously varied greatly by school system.  However, things have gone downhill superfast.  Scary super fast. 

A number of issues have plagued public education in Georgia:

  • That whole evolution thing (for my most recent amusement, see here)
  • Curriculum issues—implementation of a new math system that seems to be dicey at best, instituting new standards at the middle school level before the elementary level, etc.  My favorite, however, is requiring four years of high school science for all students.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for awesome science education.  However, it appears that no one took into consideration the number of new teachers this would require or where the money for those new hires is coming from.  It’s going to be very, very, very ugly in a few years. 
  • Leadership issues—in particular, the Clayton County school system is going to lose their accreditation in the fall.  (Check out articles here and here for more information.)  The decision hasn’t been finalized, but I don’t see it turning out any other way.  (The really sad part is, this is an entirely administrative and non-academic issue.  Morons!!!)  This whole thing really makes me sick.

All of this just makes me very sad.  Younger BIL will graduate next year, and we will be out of the Georgia public school system for good, other than my MIL, who teaches 5th grade.  I really wish there was something I could do to at least help a little, but I’m all out of ideas. 

The other thing I was thinking about today was this article from The Juggle on WSJ.  The question it posed was “College: Time to Accept it’s Not for Everyone?”  I can’t even express how much I agree with that.  Some students are not good at academics.  Period.  Which makes me extra angry that Georgia now only offers a high school college preparatory track.  Some people are not good at “book learnin”.  GET OVER IT!!!  The thing is, those people are typically good at something, sometimes really, really good at something non-academic. 

Why do we punish those students???

Why should we discourage some students from becoming skilled laborers?  Why do we deny them the opportunity to learn a trade in high school?  Why do we expect all students to excel at academics? 

I can think of kids I went to high school with that were damn good mechanics, electricians, etc.  Those people didn’t need to take four years of science.  They don’t need to take Math 4, whatever that entails.  I don’t care if my mechanic knows trig, heck, algebra.  I want him/her to FIX MY CAR!!! 

I believe education is important, and the everyone should have the opportunity to follow whatever path it is that they choose.  I just don’t have a problem with a kid working really hard at learning to be an electrician rather than studying chemistry. 

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