Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Education in America: Jumped the Shark?

Over the weekend, my father, who works for the mayor of a Cleveland suburb, was explaining that next year in the high school system everything but the state mandated minimum was going to be cut. That means that all the high school kids in the district will go to school for under 5 hours a day, cutting everything except English, Math, Social Studies, and Science. That means no music, art, or theatre.

This, of course, stems from the way schools in Ohio are funded: primarily by property taxes. The state lottery also funnels money into the schools, but as soon as that was instituted the crooked politicians channeled most of the non-lottery money into other projects. And despite a 1997 Ohio Supreme Court ruling that property tax funding of the schools was unconstitutional, in 12 years nothing has changed. Except the installation of No Child Left Behind which provides regulations but no money for implementation, further crippling struggling schools.

This is happening all over Ohio, all over the country. Schools are being stripped of enrichment as budgets fall off from a mix of shitty management and shitty economy. As of right now many children are being pushed through high school without some of the things we considered basics: writing a five paragraph essay, understanding of grammar, basic knowledge of science, history, government.

And then what do they do? They try to get into a college having had a year or two or three of 5 hour days, no extracurricular offered. And if they can get into college, they're looking at $30,000 for an inexpensive state college 4-year degree.

This weekend, as I was soaking in the collapse of the educational system that provided me with quality schooling, I came across this article (or one like it) about how colleges are entertaining the idea of a three-year degree to make college "more affordable." So don't knock down absurd spending levels or sick tuition hikes, but slim down your requirements and push the student through ASAP. That is if it's not a bait-n-switch: "Ooh, sorry, you missed the 3-year degree by 2 credits. Not going to give up now, are you?"

So we're pushing the high school students through at absolute minimum so they can barely get into a college that is too expensive so they can chug through that at the minimum 3 years so they can end up in a work force that - if they can get a job - will devalue their education, paying them much less whilst they sit atop some $20K+ in loans. And that's just the undergrad.

And we're spending trillions on banks and car companies? Where's the education reform? Where's the NCLB repeal? Where's the money for the important things?

Needless to say, it makes me mad. And as the father of a 13-year old, it scares the shit out of me.


Dr. Monkey said...

This country is going to be sooooo screwed in a few years when the kids who all this is going to hurt become working adults.

Ricky Shambles said...

Parents can push as hard as they can to supplement, but the growing apathy of government (and parents) has bled into the veins of their children and they don't give a shit either. The saddest day will be when they realize how they've been treated. And maybe it'll take that realization to truly get a rise out of a generation and effect change.

Naomi said...

Yikes! No Child Left Behind! Xians demanding "equal time for unproven science"! Decreased school days! Three-year undergraduate degree programs!

And I thought "Idiocracy" was a joke -- leave it to Hollywood to be prescient. Watching Luke Wilson be the only "genius" in 2550AD was too cringingly awful to finish...

Quote: Ow! My balls!

And to think I've parlayed a 1964 high school diploma into several careers.

Ricky Shambles said...

Naomi, thanks for bringing up Idiocracy. Great movie, and what is increasingly appearing to be a credible end point to our current predicament.

"There was a time when reading wasn't just for fags. And neither was writing. People wrote books and movies. Movies with stories, that made you care about whose ass it was and why it was farting. And I believe that time can come again! "

Naomi said...

Ricky, excellent quote! Source? Wilson? The director? Or maybe a critic...