Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Two Views on Why Public Schools Suck

Apparently my blog is a feast or famine thing. Currently we are in feast mode (a terrific way to avoid grading papers I desperately do not want to grade, while still feeling productive).

I have a bunch of subscriptions to science blogs. Why? I just do. Seems like I can always find something interesting in one of them. Well, as I was going through some back entries today a couple caught my eye and I thought I'd share them. Feel free to chime in with your comments. I know our schools have some troubles--exaggerated in some cases, underreported in others--but it just always pisses me off to hear the entire US school system constantly trashed.

Here's the first one--feminists beware! Women's Liberation Movement and Public Schools.

And here's one on our national disorganization: Nationalize Public Schools. Sorry. I am not currently in the mood to nationalize very much. At least not until we are under new management. And probably not then, either. Who knows what the next management shift might bring.

1 comment:

Amy Charles said...

That's absolutely correct. Feminism did kill the public schools. Now I'm not only a feminist, but a tremendous Marlo-Thomas-era beneficiary of second-wave feminism. I just lurve it. Career, child at 35, have dispensed with the man, wonderful.


The schools sucked 30 years ago, and they suck appallingly today, for exactly the reasons described on the blog. My kid's about to go to one of the nicest public schools in the country, and it looks like I'll have to homeschool her for math; we'll see how long she manages for the rest. Used to be you could work around the system, but they're all so freaked about tests now that the only real avenue I see now is to use their alarming respect for the label "gifted" to shoehorn some actual education in there. They won't notice, and I'll come up with some asinine ed label for the stuff that they'll like.

At least with real academics, they recognize the bullshit and are willing to be co-conspirators as long as it's not going to get them in trouble. These guys appear to be sincere, unfortunately.

How do I know so much about what goes on now? I write K12 texts for a living. Until I find a way to make a living freelancing more honestly, which means by, maybe, July. This stuff is like living in a bus station of the mind, and now the stuff I'm working on has wandered into the realm of intellectual dishonesty, which is my exit cue. Yes, I can write intellectually honest stuff. The editors will duly rewrite it so that the districts will buy. It makes writing software instructions look very attractive.

Which reminds me, that stuff about how the teachers are lousy because they're underpaid is the worst, smelliest bullshit I hear in these debates. The trump in this ought to be community college adjuncts, who make somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-18K, no benefits, if they work crazy hours and drive hundreds of miles a week. Obviously they're not afraid of kids and parents, so that argument goes out the window. Why do these painfully overeducated people keep going with the masochism? Because they're ALLOWED TO TEACH LIKE THEY CARE ABOUT THE STUFF AND KNOW A THING OR TWO ABOUT IT. No bright person in his right mind -- no one with any real facility in the subject itself -- would subject themselves to the mental gulag that is public school. They ain't enough money in the world.

Many of us, by the way, would be very happy to teach kids for little pay, and are good at it. (This is another abiding bit of bullshit, the idea that only Trained School of Ed Educators can teach kids.) It's the adults who're the problem. And, several generations on from Betty Friedan, they're the ones running the show. The rest of us know when a fight's over before it starts, and that's why so many of us homeschool and/or support voucher programs. The only way to kill off this particular tumor is at the blood supply.