Teach Your Children Well

September 27th, 2010

A line from a song by Crosby, Stills, and Nash that speaks volumes to the report that is out this week on the worsening state of science education in America.

Why is it that we can argue about immigration, health care, the Tea Partiers and whether or not President Obama is a citizen, but stand by idly while the public school system deteriorates?

Is that where the voting public really wants this country to go? Is ‘Idiocracy‘ the future of our country?

I hate to even entertain such thoughts. Thankfully, I know many, many hard working people who care deeply about the education of our country’s children, and who will keep working to see that improvements to the educational system are made, with or without such a report.

Is the situation really as dire as the report makes it out to be? Maybe, maybe not.

In a USA Today article discussing responses to the report, there is a quote from one B. Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown:

“It’s easy to understand with the America COMPETES Act up for renewal why advocates would frame the situation this way. But it seems less helpful to frame things in a voice of crisis rather than a more reasoned response. Things aren’t as bad as this report paints them.”

Mr. Lowell issued a study in 2007 that concluded there were more than enough science and engineering graduates for the jobs that were available. So, ok, there are lots of graduates, but are they qualified, Mr. Lowell? That could be part of the problem. Just because people are graduating does not automatically make them able to perform a job.

Also, why are there fewer jobs than graduates? Why isn’t our country exploding with technological industry? Wouldn’t funding R&D through the America COMPETES Act lead to more jobs in that sector?

In this issue, as in all others, it does help to try to see as many sides of the issue as possible. But, the side I keep coming back to is the side with the children who are going to be our future. If the children are not educated well, there is not much hope for the future of this country. Shouldn’t protecting the future be something of a priority?

So, Mr. Lowell, I do think that framing this issue as a crisis is necessary. How else will it get the attention it deserves when there are so many loud mouths clogging up the media?

Since when has a reasoned political debate worked to fire up the public (and thus the politicians) in recent history?

Where is Whitney Houston when we need her most!?! (And, I mean pre-crackhead Whitney who sang with such conviction, I almost believed she believed what she was singing)

6 Responses to “Teach Your Children Well”

  1. Jeny on September 27, 2010 4:31 pm

    Just the reason why my Children were pulled out of the public school system and are now homeschooled!

  2. Jeremy Faulkner on September 27, 2010 4:46 pm

    Graduates aren’t qualified, they don’t have experience.
    Graduates can’t get experience because they can’t get hired.

  3. Corey Feldman on September 28, 2010 8:31 am

    Well said Kiki. It is sad that in our society it is still the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Unfortunately the loudest of us, aren’t always the most rational.

  4. David on September 29, 2010 3:44 am

    I am a middle school drop out and recovering alcoholic drug addict who although white w/ blue eyes grew up attending school in an 80% black school district. Although we were poor we lived in a wealthy white area but were bused to this school district (because my family was poor). Due to reverse racial tension that caused fights, I spent most of the 6th grade cutting class and by the 7th grade no longer attended school. Instead I became a thief to obtain money for drugs nice cloths and other things my poor parents could afford that I wanted. I used the drugs to help me numb away what was my life.
    In laters years of therapy it was asked where my drive came from because I have always wanted more despite the drug use. I never liked being high, it was a behavior learned from my father who used alcohol as a coping mechanism/escape from his life (whenever there was a problem he’d drink it away). I choose marijuana as my principle escape. I am the only person I know out of all my friends who dropped out of H.S. before even starting and went back to obtain a Master’s degree (Social Work).

    I made this statement to demonstrate how difficult it is for a person without money to obtain any part of an education. From experience I know it took an unimaginable amount of will power (I don’t know were it came from nor have I seen any others in my life time with it) to overcome such hurdles.

    The other part of the issue for me comes from my time at the College of Staten Island (the only school that would have me) where met no-one like me. One majority were kids collecting a free ride via FASA who maintained the minimum GPA to collect their funding. These kids choose the easy classes with no potential past a Bachelors (never thinking of the future) the other kids were wealthy kids who’s parents threw money at them as long as they were in school. These kids didn’t want to work so, they attended school to ride the parent funding train as long as possible. None of these kids really tried to learn and for me especially in my first year of non-matriculated classes (Those I had to take and pass just to take a real college class) this was disheartening to see people wasting something I had to fight so hard for.
    Here I was working as a carpenter busting my butt to pay for classes I didn’t get credit for just to earn the right to take a credited class and all these kids around me just waisting what was given to them (I didn’t qualify for any aid).

    In the 8 years it took me to get my Bachelors this never changed. For the first few semesters with the matriculated classes that have to be taken it was difficult for teachers to teach and those who wanted to learn like me do so. Even at the master’s level, to be at such a level and here future social workers say well if a girl who’s pregnant comes to me “I won’t tell them of the abortion option because I don’t believe in it” or call a drug addict unworthy of help; was truly disturbing especially when the teachers didn’t address it and when I mentioned it to them, they said that was my job (with no support from the teacher what was the point). It was at this point I realized that I am one person and will be the best I can, and there is not much, I can do about the others (I did make these issues known then and still to this day).

    Currently, I live in a college town with a State School built on it’s Teaching Degrees. Though the immediate town is littered with pubs and frat houses and a lot of what I see is partying and when I talk to or hear the students partying is their focus (it’s sad). I actually look for the serious kids those who have no -time to party because they have work to do but they are a true minority from what I can see. The thing is also that I am a trained observer it’s what I do listen and watch to see the intricacies of what’s going on around me. This is also were my wife graduated so, I have sat on campus, in the community and I have been to the graduation events always listening and watching the students with the hope of seeing and hearing well educated graduates who can hold an intelligent conversation with well articulated points though this has been a rare occurrence.

    I guess I am fortunate to know the lowest side of life being uneducated, ignorant and with no hope of escape other then that of altering my perception and the side of education with true knowledge & understanding of the world around me and my intricate connection to it and every person and thing in it as well as that’s reverse.
    As a social worker from my bachelor level on, one thing that resinated with me was to continue my reading and keep up with the field post graduation. I am diligent with that, though the more I am the larger the gap between my peers, previous friends and family (neither parent has a H.S. diploma) becomes and the less and less people I can relate to and can relate to me. Maybe this is why people do not mentally evolve because it is difficult to do so while the majority does not. This would make education even more important since in order for us to evolve as a whole we must first elevate those below us in the knowledge base. Then the conundrum that means we need more of us at this level and above to bring up others. I think this is the one place the trickle down aspect truly does come into affect.

    The last issue for me is because I take social work so serious as a discipline I have never been able to fit in with my peers. No mater how hard I try they either ridicule me for dumbing down or being arrogant. I think the issue is I hat being a leader though I cannot follow leaving me pretty much unemployable. Most social workers tend to forget the principle rule of social work once employed, and that’s not to become company people. We’re supposed to stay true to the profession and work outside the company while within as a means of working to create change and always ensure programs fit the people as opposed of fitting the people into the programs just to collect funds.

    Sad thing for my profession we have seen to have forgotten our roots which to me is important to the post at hand. It is hard enough for people to break through the boundaries/boarders erected by their families, friends, religious leaders and such that it is of the utmost of importance that as many of these influences as possible be open as opposed to closed. It is imperative that more open positive enablers be present to ensure that an unprecedented will power (although welcome) is not required to meet and obtain a basic education. I like what Bill Gates is doing and love make teachers more accountable, I can’t tell you how many derogatory teachers I have met who have belittled kids perhaps unknowingly but have don so and were unwilling to accept positive criticism on the incident rather taking it as an insult. This has been of the most heart-wrenching aspects of my work. Especially when they attempt to belittle me as a means to justify their actions this never bodes well for them.

    I want to thank you for this post it is great to know their are others out there wanting to move in a more fair and equal direction for our society. This can only happen through education. I love you on all the Twit shows in-fact some I can only watch when you are on. Keep on teaching and doing what makes you, you spreading the words and wisdom of science/knowledge.

  5. David on September 29, 2010 3:57 am

    Sorry for all the typos in that last post, not sounding my lack of pre-college education showing there. Should have proof read before posting instead of after. I guess for free writing it’s not bad.

  6. Daniël on February 13, 2011 5:59 am

    Just been watching the movie you mentioned (Idiocracy); friggin’awesome (still, the idea is so much more promising then the simpleton two sentence plot they made out of it), though also somewhat frightening… Thanx for the lead, it wasn’t in the cinema’s here in Holland, so I wouldn’t have eer known about it if not for you mentioning it.
    It is pretty disconcerting, the state of education these days; I see so much kids that are potentially smart but never get to know it by lack of stimulation in school, at home, media and most of all their peers. What is it that being smart and inquisitive is so much considered ‘uncool’ ?
    Why do people that seem interested in some subject get all wound up, defensive and downright insulting when I try to somehow add to the one-dimensional misunderstood uncomprehended information they got from some Discovery-channel program or a 10 line article in the papers ?
    Oh here’s mr smartass who always knows better, while I always take the most of care not to take on an attitude like that; They want to talk about some interesting scientific subject, well so do I ! But how can there ever be any communication and growth when people stick so frightenedly to the one-source superficial things they dó pick up, never being able to come up with other arguments then: “Well, it’s true, because National Geographic said so”. Well, I saw that show to, it was great, but actually that’s not what they said, it’s more like foo-foo, and I’ve read some articles since about the research, and so on and so on.
    That gets people so annoyed, as if they’re attacked in their safe world of sure things, within the perimeter of science-paranoia. Try to explain the scientific method, try to explain the difference betwee proven concepts and theories, etc etc, tell the anecdote of the great scientist working on a subject for 30 years, getting proven wrong by good research and being glad for it: they just don’t get it.
    How can I get through to people like that without rocking their boat so much that it ends up an argument ? It’s clear they’re interested in all the stuff, all the great new sciency media and their succes are proof of it. But somehow the simplest things don’t seem to get through to the masses. Is it because it gets to much dumbed down, maybe that’s the catch ? I wish I knew.
    I could write on and on about this subject, but you’ll probably catch my drift. One thing I’d like to say though: I think it’s great how you can go into complicated subjects without dumbing down, leaving out though all the stuff that a non-scientist couldn’t handle, though not backing away from complicated details that dó matter to understand the subject and cutting it to size.
    It’s a rare talent Kirsten, cherish and exploit it forever, you’ll make the World a slightly better place !

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