Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Education, Time to Take It Back

In previous posts (here and here) I mentioned that it is time to take back our schools. It is because of events like this one here that we really need to get the politics out of our schools and go back to teaching our kids how to read, write, and add. Our progressive school curriculum has turned what was once one of the best school systems in the world into a shell of its former self. Instead of giving our children the solid foundation they need to become computer programmers, engineers, entrepreneurs, and even teachers, we teach them mindless drivel about their self-esteem and how the planet is going to end and that high achievers are really bad people. It is time we stopped allowing schools to teach morals, usurping the family. And it is time we met our on obligations as parents to be there for our children.

Currently, our nation ranks second is per pupil spending, yet test scores on three main subject areas (Math, Reading, Science) we rank in the middle to the bottom of the top 30. We are not getting a return on our investment. When education money goes towards things like sex education or “how to be greener” or that being a business leader is not a good thing, then we, as parents, need to look again at what we are allowing school districts to do with our children.

We need to stop trying to grab for the brass ring at the expense of our children. I know that times are tough out there and folks feel that both parents have to work to make ends meet, but they haven’t always been tough and more than likely our economy will once again be moving along at a decent clip. Do we really need to have both parents work outside the home, especially when our children are younger and more impressionable?

And what are the ends we are trying to meet? Are we trying to meet the basic necessities like food on the table, and roof over our heads, and other things that ensure survival? And have we replaced necessities with “must-wants”?  Nowadays we stick them in day care and pre-school so both parents can work so we can afford the big house on the hill and two $35K cars/SUVs. We try to earn enough money so we can go on cruises to the Caribbean or ski trips to Colorado. We need to have a High-Def TV in each room with a thousand channels. We have to buy the latest in cell phone technology, even spending the money to give these $300.00 phones to our pre-teens so they can be cool.  BTW: If you want your kids to think you are cool, try spend time with them at their games or helping them with homework, your coolness factor will skyrocket.  We spend all of our time earning money so we can beat the Jones’. 

What is wrong with ensuring our kids grow up properly with strong guidance from mom and dad? What is wrong with one parent being there when the kids get home from school? What is wrong with getting together with other like minded families for play dates at the park instead of sticking them in daycare? Why can’t we take on the most important role in our life with as much vigor as we put into chasing the all mighty dollar and that McMansion?  All of the things mentioned in the previous paragraph are great stuff to own.  But when you boil it down, that is all it is: STUFF. All that “stuff” is not our kids and is not the future of this nation.

While we go off and chase the supposed “American Dream”, we allow progressives to fill the minds of our young children with ideas we may or may not support. Regardless of our political persuasion, why would we let what are essentially strangers teach our kids about how to live while we are off supposedly earning a living? Let’s think about that for a second. How many of us really know our children’s teachers? How many of you could recognize your kids’ teacher if you saw them at the mall or met them at a stop sign? Most of us talk to them two or three times a school year when getting progress reports. Is that really enough time to get to know someone well enough to completely entrust with teaching them morals?  Would you let the lady down the street you’ve talked to twice for 20 minutes over the past at the mailboxes have your kids for six hours a day, teaching them about a greener planet or sex education? I don’t think I would. Yet that is exactly what we do.

Several years ago my wife got her Bachelors degree and then went to work full time. Both of our boys were in daycare most days of the week for as long as nine hours each day.  This was unsatisfactory to both of us. When the time came for our tour of duty in Japan, we made the decision that she was not going to work full time. Instead, she found part time work that ensured that at least one of us was home when the boys came home from school.  Occasionally we had to rely on friends to watch them if I had a late day and she needed to depart, but it was with people we trusted and knew more than just at the mailbox. During the summer and deployments, we’d switch around who watched the kids, but again, it was with someone we knew and trusted. When we came back to the states, we did the same thing. The boys were a little older, so the time without mom and dad was a bit longer, but more often than not mom was home when they walked through the door.

Since that decision was made we have done without a lot of things that some of our more well-healed friends insisted that had to have. I am still driving around in a 1987 Toyota pickup with 230K miles on it that burns though the oil, doesn’t have a stereo, and is held together with bailing wire and chewing gum. We do have a cell phone plan but it is pretty basic. Some of our friends are paying up to three times as much for all that access to the internet and sending pictures and videos to family. We just do text and phone calls. Our main TV is 15 years old and takes up half the living room. We did splurge on a house, but we also had saved and put a big enough down payment that we are still right-side up (barely). Most of the folks we know are upside down in a big way and some have sold at big loses.

I’m not going to say that the children of our friends are more screwed up than our boys because that is not necessarily my place to pass that judgment and I honestly just don’t know. But I do know that my boys, especially when they were younger, were glad to have mom at home when they walked through the door at the end of their school day. Mom was available to pick them up after practices (occasionally dad was there too), or bring them home when it was pouring rain (It is Washington, after all).  I just think our kids felt safer and more secure knowing that someone was going to be there when they arrived home.

A couple more questions for you and then I’ll end this post. How many of you really know what your kids are doing during that three hours between the end of their school day and the time you walk in the door from work? How many of you really know what is being taught to your children each day?

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