RRR

Bill Neinast

neins1@aol.com

The suggestion here last week to return education to local control and get the central government out of the picture spurred some comments.  Here is one from an old Army buddy:


“I understand your view here, but I'm on the other side of the issue.  I believe in complete Federal control of the content of secondary education (common core), like France where from North to South all kids have the same curriculum.  When you have local control, science always takes a back seat.”


No one would guess from that quote that he is far left of the far left of center.  Typically, the answer in that camp is always for centralized control and the higher the locus of control, the better.


Again the question is why will having everyone read from the same books and take the same tests produce better results.


Our four children are Army Brats.  They attended schools in Texas, Kansas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Department of Defense schools in Germany.  The oldest of the four was in a different school jurisdiction for each of his four years of high school.  His siblings, of course, followed the same path.


Was that mishmash of curricula a disaster?  My Army buddy may think it was, but all four of those Brats are college graduates.  The one who slugged through four different high schools is now a Deputy General Counsel of Entergy Corp.  His wife, also an Army Brat with experience in a number of school systems, is also an attorney, and a member of Aiken Gump, one of the largest law firms in the country.


Son number Two is the National Sales Director for Summit Corporation. No. 3 is an Executive Vice President with Bank of America.  Their little sister is a CPA/CIA doing consulting work with several corporations and testifying as an expert witness in federal fraud cases.


None of them was ever taught under a standardized “to the test” curriculum or subjected to anything like TAKS or STARR.  They were, however, taught to read, write, analyze, and cipher (look that up in your Funk and Wangles).


Maybe a return to that simple system would prevent reports like this that just crossed my computer screen:


“My daughter and I went through the McDonald's take-out window and I gave the clerk a $5 bill.

“Our total was $4.25, so I also handed her a quarter.

“She said, 'You gave me too much money.' I said, 'Yes I know, but this way you can just give me a dollar bill back.’

“She sighed and went to get the manager, who asked me to repeat my request.

“I did so, and he handed me back the quarter, and said. ‘We're sorry but we could not do that kind of thing.'

“The clerk then proceeded to give me back $1 and 75 cents in change.  

“Do not confuse the clerks at McD's.”


I normally question things like this that look so far out.  Not this one, however, because I have personally experienced the same thing on a number of occasions.  If the cash register/computer is out of order at checkout counters or you make a simple offer like the above, expect long delays.


Does CORE and other standardized curricular overlook basic math?


Those instances may be laughable.  This one, however, is not. 


While teaching government at Blinn College, I required a research paper in each class. The assignment was given on the first day of class and the students were told that, although the course was government, I would count off for each grammatical and spelling error.  The students were urged to do their papers early, review them several times, and have a friend review them before the due date.


It appeared to me that most of the papers were researched and typed the night before they were due.  I copied and still maintain the copy of the worst.  There are eight sheets of paper with wide margins, with the bottom margins on four of the sheets totaling 18 inches.  There are 88 grammatical and typing errors on those six pages.  


I gave the student 50 on content, and that was a gift for “effort,” then subtracted 88 for the errors. The final grade on this important part of the course grade was -38.  When I returned the paper with that grade, its author almost yawned with no look of concern.


So here’s the perspective.


There is a crying need for educational reform.  There has to be a return to emphasizing the Three Rs without concern whether the students in poverty stricken school districts are being taught from the same curricular as in the richest districts.    

enough


 
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