Public Education in America…
One of my former professors, a professor of educational ethics, posed this question on our first day of class: “What is the goal of public education in this country?” It’s really an interesting question that one simply can’t look at on the surface. You can’t answer the question with, “To educate children.” That answer does not hold any water or substance of any kind. Formal education without purpose is, quite frankly, a massive waste of both time and money.
The teacher’s strike in Chicago raises some very relevant points when it comes to the issue of public education. Among many contentious points, teacher evaluation is one that has been vocalized often by the players in this labor battle. This point may be the single biggest issue of the entire strike. It truly defines the spectrum of our educational goals in the United States. If you are going to link student performance on standardized tests to teaching performance you will only obtain one outcome. That outcome, undoubtedly, will be a teacher-driven curriculum geared to capture the best possible scores on standardized testing. This means facts, dates, and anything that can memorized, not necessarily internalized. It dissolves the concept of critical thought and questioning. Students aren’t encouraged to question, but rather, they are encouraged to regurgitate facts and figures that one can find anywhere on-line or in a public library. Sadly, this is road we are moving down at present.
So whether you are for the teachers or against them is irrelevant in the big scheme of things. What you are seeing in the dismal and dying arena of public education is the systematic removal of critical thought and creativity. Education is truly the last hope for democracy. Most teachers care deeply about their students and want to promote a positive learning environment that fosters creative thought and the free flow of ideas. Ideally, we all want that. People need to demand for educational reform in the United States before it completely collapses. Instead of grossly overfunding the military, we need to spend a good portion of that money on the infrastructure of the country, starting with education. Yes, the United States knows how to build bombs, but does it know when to use them? We know we can bomb, but we usually don’t know if we should.
Our children are what we hold most dear and precious. We need to stand up for them and stand up for what is right. Decide for yourself what the goal of public education truly is. Is it to produce mindless robots at the lowest possible price? Or, is it to promote creative thought and the free flow of ideas and concepts?