Friday, September 23, 2011

The Problem with American Education Today

For all the trash I talk about the American education system, I do know some very good teachers who care about their kids. They actually want to make a difference, which is part of why they chose the profession they did.

Unfortunately though, they really are the exception to the rule. I speak from experience, since I was an English Education major through most of my college experience.

As a student teacher, I was paired with Mrs. M., a cooperating teacher whose high school (12th grade) classes mainly consisted of watching movies or listening to audio versions of literary pieces. Homework was practically non-existent.

Critical thinking was clearly not encouraged in that classroom, though she was still a better teacher than one of her colleagues, a young woman who, let’s just say, liked showcasing her feminine side more than her professionalism.

Weed out the lazy and/or sexually inappropriate, and we still have the ideologically motivated educators, who put their politics before the wellbeing of their students. Into that category falls the Texas teacher, who punished a 14-year old for telling his friend that he believed homosexuality to be wrong.

An education system that promotes such immature behavior in its leaders naturally produces equally detrimental results. Hence the reason why we have absolutely ugly (personality-wise, at least) and stupid people like Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who just urged President Obama to get tough on Republicans who “eat his food and drink his beer and leave [and] then they go and try to kill him.”

It also fosters a larger population that just shrugs its shoulders when authoritarian institutions are foisted on it for little or no good purpose. That includes the FDA, which Reuters reports just banned “the only asthma inhaler sold over the counter in the united States… to prevent the use of products that harm the environment.”

How much ya wanna bet that decicion has little to do with the environment and a lot to do with political affiliations and business connections?

We’re not doing ourselves any favors encouraging and even mandating such docility, even if it might seem easier in the short-term to just shut up and take it. It is that very attitude that is killing us as a strong nation, little bit by little bit.

Yet President Obama is only encouraging this bad behavior by giving states the right to opt out of No Child Left Behind – an admittedly pain-in-the-neck law designed by Clinton and passed by Bush – because it puts schools at risk of failure. His actions aren’t necessarily a bad idea; his motivation, however, is.

We need to encourage accountability in the American education system, not relax it.

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