aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

A word about education

About fifteen years ago, I said to a parishioner who taught Reading in Fifth Grade, that I had noticed something about the kids in my confirmation classes. I had been teaching kids in church for twenty-five years at that point, and they were all pretty much the same kinds of kids. Oh, I'd had country kids and city kids, affluent kids and poor kids, but overall, they came from the same kinds of families in the same kinds of church situations. They took the same classes, they participated in the same sports, they were the same personality types. Perhaps more critically, they had the same spread of grades.

There was only one major difference between the kids I was teaching at that time and those I had started out with: The kids in my classes fifteen years ago were a full grade level behind in Reading in comparison with the kids in my classes forty years ago. The same bright, funny, active, engaged kids in my most recent classes are two years behind in Reading in comparison with the first kids I taught, forty years ago. They all have smartphones and they can all do wonders with computers, but their basic Reading skills are way behind what they used to be.

All the angry exchanges over education, particularly in the battle to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, are ultimately about which group of adults will control the dollar-dispensing machine, and which group of adults will get the dollars dispensed. Meanwhile, none of the usual suspects promoting their favorite whizbangery has a clue how to help kids read better, nor are they terribly interested in it. They all want to fight about private schools vs. public schools vs. charter schools vs. vouchers vs. homeschooling. Meanwhile, our kids continue to be cheated of the skills they need and the heritage of thought they deserve.

I don't know that Betsy DeVos can do much about fixing the problems with our educational system. But she can't do any worse than has been done these past forty years.

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