One of my passions has always been an education for children, especially underprivileged children or children with some sort of problem. It probably stems from my own love of reading and sheer joy and fascination with all things science. (Though I will admit to shortcomings in math. But I blame that on what I now know are TERRIBLE math textbooks and math teachers who really don’t know how to teach the subject because they were taught incorrectly.) Learning SHOULD BE INCREDIBLY FUN. So I tend to get really, excuse the term, pissed off when people tell me that certain groups of people are ‘incapable of learning’ because of where they live, the color of their skin, blah, blah, blah. Got news for them. They are the ones who are probably incapable of learning because THEY CHOOSE NOT TO LEARN.
My dad had a problem with that, too. He used to say, “Ignorance can be cured by education, but intentional stupidity is permanent and inexcusable.” I agree. (If you want an attribution, it’s E. A. “Tommy” Thompson.)
Brian “Brainless” Kemp keeps emphasizing that “Georgia’s schools are doing great.” Compared to what exactly? He refuses to say. If all you are doing is comparing Georgia schools’ records from one year back to previous years, then, yeah, there is some improvement. Not a tremendous amount, but there is some. But to get a reliable picture, you do not compare yourself with yourself. You compare yourself along with OTHERS to a standard. That’s where Brian Kemp’s little measurement scheme falls to tatters. Here’s one.
BEST Early Childhood Education:https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/slideshows/best-states-for-early-education?slide=3
- New Jersey – 64% of 3-4 year-olds enrolled, $14,103/annually per child, >40%proficient in reading by fourth grade
- Vermont – 68% enrolled, $7821/annually/child, 37.1% proficient reading 4th grade
- Rhode Island – 47.9% enrolled, $10,650/annually/child, 35.4%reading proficiency
- Delaware – 53% enrolled, $7,277/yr./child, 32.5% reading proficiency
- Connecticut-60.7% enrolled, $8,478/yr/child, 40.1% reading proficiency
Now this varies somewhat according to the source. My point here is not what state is on the list or how much they spend on the kids (although that’s interesting), but the fact that our state is NOT listed there. As a matter of fact, no matter which list you look at, Georgia is consistently ranking BELOW THE NUMBER 25 which means half the states or more do better than we do at educating children. Now Kemp might be trying to put a positive spin on the fact that the State has risen from being in the forties to being in the high thirties, but I’m not happy with that. It sounds rather like a kid you know is bright coming in the door and saying, “Hey, look, I raised my grade in History from a D minus to a D plus.” You don’t necessarily break out the brass bands and firecrackers for that, do you?
My view is that our children are simply being short-changed here. You CAN NOT get a good education K-12 and beyond if you don’t get a good foundation to start with. Furthermore, the kids K-12 are being ripped off because THEY are not getting the technology training, up-to-date textbooks, nutrition (they are not being fed breakfast at home and eat miserable lunches), and physical education time (the more they sit, the less they learn.) Why has this happened?
Remember a certain President saying “No more taxes.” Yeah, well, that goes right along with “trickle-down” economics, my friends. You get what you pay for. You are just not going to get a Mercedes Benz on a Fiat budget, now are you? Or Saks Fifth Avenue couture wardrobes when all you have to spend will take you to either the Dollar Store or maybe Walmart. The same goes for education. When all that started, governors across the country started slashing budgets and education took big hits. Class sizes got bigger, teachers left and were not replaced, salaries were frozen/cut, some departments were cut out completely, and the kids suffered as a result. We have an entire generation now who cannot read, write properly, or use critical thinking because of this. Want to blame somebody? I’ve got a boxcar load of Republicans for you. But at this point, let’s leave it at that and focus on how to fix it. Let the cats tend to the spilt milk. There is no use in pointing fingers now. Let’s fix this.
Suggestions for fixing our school system:
- Start at the 3-4-year-old level. The Head Start kids need to be fed, educated, and taught their basics thoroughly. Create standards and make sure providers are meeting those standards.
- Pre-k and K kids-continue the program with good nutrition, physical activity, and basics. Most kids should know the alphabet, colors, some sight words, be hygienic, and play peacefully with others. Identify those that will need IEPs.
- Grades 1-3-feed breakfasts and lunch, teach reading, computer skills, writing, math, and physical activities throughout the day (not just one 30-minute recess). If kids this age are allowed physical activity in addition to learning, they will learn much easier and faster. Example: Singing a song in a foreign language while marching around a room. Art, music, and language (either English as a second language or a foreign language such as Spanish, Japanese, or German) should be introduced.
- Math concepts such as Algebra, Trigonometry, and Calculus should be introduced by 5th grade while minds still have the flexibility to deal with these concepts. Physics depends on them. Chemistry is built on all of them. Then Biochemistry and Genetics pulls from those subjects. Biology pulls from the whole thing. We have to educate our children from the ground up on this architecture that science is built upon. Science always seeks to disprove itself in order to find facts. When something can no longer be disproven by any method available, it is said to be “fact”. All machines are built using math principles. All carpentry uses angles to build a house. It is impossible to get through life without using math. But math textbooks do not use REAL LIFE PROBLEMS to show this to students. We need better textbooks and teachers who can show this to the students to get them excited about these subjects.
- Critical thinking or the art of questioning ideas and suppositions is necessary for children to learn if they are to discern the sometimes hidden agendas that they will encounter in today’s world. Therefore the techniques and methods of philosophy and the humanities needs to be introduced and fostered in debate clubs and competitions at the 9th grade and above. This fosters leadership and personal growth and prepares them for roles outside of the academic setting.
This will take time, dedication, equipment, the hiring of COMPETENT personnel, and, of course, funding and lots of it. It will not be easy to do. But if handled in a stepwise fashion, with each step taking ~2-3 years to bring online, it is certainly something this great State of Georgia is capable of doing.
This fiasco wasn’t done overnight. Fixing cannot be done overnight either. I have outlined a five step plan that is most likely overly simplistic by half. But if you assume that it can be accomplished, it will take a minimum of 15 years. I am not asking for everything at once. I just want to get started.
Let’s reverse the trend to mediocrity that Kemp has been feeding us as being “great schools” that aren’t. We can do better. We must do better. Let’s elect Democrats so we can.
VOTE BLUE IN 2022. ROEVEMBER IS HERE. LET’S PROTECT OUR RIGHTS! VOTE BLUE FROM TOP TO BOTTOM!