The Army Occupying America’s Public Schools

michelle rheeWhen a nation is invaded by an occupying army, there are multiple responses from those whose communities have been occupied. Some resist openly, at great risk; some decide to collaborate; others grimly go about their business in sullen compliance; still others decide to feign compliance, but take their resistance underground.

Such would be a good description of the varied resistance to the corporate takeover of American schools, which has many of the elements of a foreign invasion. Those who have coordinated the campaign of privatization, testing. and union busting that has swept through America’s public schools — Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Arne Duncan, Michael Bloomberg, and the like, none of whom have a background in teaching — have used the shock and awe tactics employed by invading armies to overwhelm opposition.

They have crushed or bought off opponents, controlled public media, and found an eager army of mercenaries — Teach for America corps members — to implement their policies, which undermine the best practices of those who have spent their lives working in the nation’s schools.

If you could freeze this corporate takeover in time, it would look like a resounding success. Not only has the federal education bureaucracy been taken over by the invading group, one state and locality after another has adopted the policies they have proposed. Charter schools have been replacing public schools with breakneck speed; teacher evaluations based on student test scores have become the norm throughout the nation; and in-school testing is multiplying while other pathways to learning are being crowded out.

But one should not underestimate the extent, or the complexity, of the opposition to these policies that is arising. When rules are imposed by an invading army using overwhelming force, compliance doesn’t necessarily mean consent. And this is true of the testing regime the corporate reformers are introducing,

Many teachers, parents, union leaders, and school administrators secretly despise the policies being imposed on them; but see no way off opposing them with sacrificing their careers or children’s welfare. But little by little, voices of resistance are appearing, some public, some private, which are not only raising doubts about the wisdom of the policies, but also building hope that some day they can be reversed.

What we now have is a non-violent army of resistance to corporate education reform, small in number, but high in courage, morale, and vision, which is exposing the flaws of these policies on every front.

And as the policies themselves become more invasive, demoralizing, and counterproductive, more people are joining the opposition, some clandestinely, others publicly. The Chicago Teachers Strike mobilization,, the New York Principals and Professors petitions against high-stakes testing, the national movement to have parents opt out of high-stakes testing, the student and neighborhood protests against school transformation policies, all show that the corporate invaders have not been able to effectively pacify the territories they have occupied.

mark naisonAnd as their policies become more brutal — as poverty proliferates and the middle class shrinks, as class size mounts, and as K through 12 testing becomes the norm while all activities which foster creativity and critical thinking are discarded — resistance will grow.

Few battles have more significance for the future of democracy in the United States than this one. Who knows, even some member of the mercenary armies recruited to implement these policies may decide to rebel.

Mark Naison
With a Brooklyn Accent

Posted: Monday, 16 July 2012

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Comments

  1. Terri says

    Education cannot follow a business model to be successful. And teaching is an art which does not fit a standard evaluation process for business. We must not see children as widgets, correctly conforming to a list of standard abilities and nothing else, unless we want a grim and rigid future. Educators know this, but have not chosen to spend their lives amassing money, and therefore, lack both power and respect. I have taught in public school for 23 years, and I see the US heading down a dangerous path.

    Free and compulsory education made this country the envy of the world. Our universities produced so many contributions to society that it is silly to list them. We must fight back and restore what once was. I hope more will join us.

  2. Rene Diedrich says

    I am part of that resistance and our numbers have grown rapidly . LA schools are in a state of unbelievable crisis. Teachers are maligned, defamed and denied due process. Students and teachers have no civil rights. We are at the mercy of those who do not have any. Every time a teacher says or does something he or she shouldn’t it is a screaming headline. If you read the time or weekly , there is a negative spin on teachers Our union has betrayed us. The defer to Deasy as the boss. This makes perfect sense since they signed away the right to strike.
    It is ad to read comments citizens write on news stories, some so misinformed it scares me
    Teachers do not make too much money, tenure is a concession to due proces because if a teacher is fired, it will likely mean their career is over,
    People assume you have done something beastly. Even at Starbucks where your Masters degree does little good.
    We know thongs. Our stories are pieces of s puzzle. There is hope we know when others get the picture. The last few months we have had more teachers than ever but they do not realize what we are up against until they are caught up in the witch hunts themselves. They are afraid. I get it. But what they do not realize is we will never be going back to what was. That was not so great , but nothing is so awful as this . And it is only going to get much worse. No one will be soared unless he or she surrenders to corruption. If you know a child is being harmed , endangered or deprived of human rights, you took an oath to protect him or her. There is no choice. Furthermore, you will probably be removed from your school possibly handcuffed ( the LAUSD PD (now recruiting) , the suits will lie and the suits above them will tell you that you are guilty. You will be rubber roomed. That is not a place so much as it is a process. The board will not read your file, much less consider it objectively. They will send your case to an Office od Administrative Hearings. The judges will let LAUSD (or your district in many cases,) forge, perjure ,delay indefinitely, and they will win,
    They have not lost since 2009.
    If something doesn’t give soon, we clearly are a country beyond redemption. That corruption is so entrenched we will have to concede, our product, this culture, is evidence that public education is.a colossal failure.

  3. CogitoErgoSum says

    The reader comments are clear evidence how well the right-wing’s campaign of anti-teacher propaganda/brainwashing is working.

    • Hwood007 says

      There are real issues with the school systemS.  Everyone has a part in making it work and also the very same have a part in the failure. Parents, students, teachers, admin types, social organizations (the church) and state politians,

  4. says

    Your analogy to the invading [barbarian] army is very apt.  History tells us that eventually the invaded people decide “enough is enough.” and begin to resist.  The problem that we face, however, is that in this Citizens United world, the money carries a preponderant
    political weight, and the hare-brained ed reform ideas of the monied are unquestioningly
    accepted as truth.  

    As any teacher knows, these ed reform ideas are without any support in peer-reviewed research, and are based upon assumptions that the Gates-Broad-Rhee et al. clan assert are true simply because they say so.  They ignore both the real-world context in which real teachers teach, and the social and economic realities, quite apart from school, that
    affect many students’ ability to succeed in their studies.  

    The testing fixation has caused subjects such as social studies, science and music and art to be pushed aside because, in many states, they are not tested.  Success on non-tested subjects does not bring in federal education dollars tied to test results.  Outcome?  Our children are learning far less about social sciences and natural and physical sciences, they are missing out on opportunities to explore the world of the arts.  As important as reading and math are, they are merely tools that we use to understand the world.  If all our children do is learn the tools, but do not use them to understand the world, what are they prepared to do when they leave school? 

    These policies are hurting our children. The injury is not merely in the here and now while they are in school; it continues and will grow once they finish their formal education.  Our
    children today are the human capital pool of the not too distant tomorrow.  If they have not learned to think critically, if they do not know their history, or how their society works, they will be unable to step into their roles as productive adult members of society.  Our polity and our economy will suffer.  We will be less free and we will be poorer.

    We (teachers, administrators, parents – all of us) need to resist these wrong-headed policies if we wish to leave our society in the hands of a thoughtful, educated next generation prepared to function in a free society.  Resistance is not futile.

    • Lornastremcha says

      I feel Gates-Broad-Rhee should invite Leonard Isenberg, Karen Horwitz,Rene Diedich, Betsy Combier, myself, and many others….. to a big boy and girl conversation about the real issues of public education. Change can only happen when “we” as a nation get to the real issues and stop living in denial.

  5. Hwood007 says

    When I was in college, I read a social study of twins who the Engiish State gave to forster parents.  In England, you can follow the lives of these children but not so in America.  The study seem to prove that if the twin children of “Bonnie & Clide” were given to two different families a large percent of the adult traits of each child would be based on DNA and a small percent on who and how they were raised.  It seemed that both twins had a great chance of being just like their parents in spite of being raised by a non criminal faiily.  My professor was so sure that who raised you was 100% of what you became and DNA was 0% of what you became.  Me, I have no clue, the question is do children become criminals by being raised as such or does DNA have anything to do with it?  I do not think it is the education systems or teachers.
    In new york city, there are teachers who have gotten in trouble in the classroom for all kinds of reasons and now are waiting for their day in court.  They are required to report to a school building where they can do what ever they want for 8 hours.  No contact with students but they can not stay at home.  So they become well read or do book research for year after year.  I am told by a school teacher friend in NYC that some teachers have been in this limbo for years and they are receiving full  pay and benfits.  What say you?

    • Rene Diedrich says

      Nature or Nurture? Fate vs. Free Will. I suspect we are both but free will can rise above, unfortunately, manifest destiny delivers a bunch of greedy despots to kick in free will’s teeth. Fate is much less demanding and this is why Democracy is failing, no one wants to work for the greater good it is too risky. Unfortunately the alternative is much worse. Not easy being a visionary, is it?

      It makees me crazy that these people got waea,thy because of the options Democracy offered. But they will not pay a decent wage or taxes. The last thing they want is to have someone rise up as they have this is why they need to be incarcerarted. Money is not divine . These are mortals and when they take a crap on the rest of us they have to face justice loke everybody else

  6. OC says

    It all just quiets down when people realize they have to actually pay taxes to make public schools work the way they are suppose to.  We had industrial shop classes back in the 80’s. If you want these back, you need to find the money.  Taking it away from teacher’s pensions and giving it to the military and the 1% in tax breaks is not going to inspire teachers to keep giving.  (Most spend $500-$1000 out of their own pocket without tax write offs in their own classroom.  We keep half our paycheck.  The rest goes towards our pensions.) 

    We do what we do because we want our nation to have a brighter future.  It’s a bit demoralizing hearing people blame teachers for a lack of programs or increased standardized testing.  Most teachers are apolitical (sadly) and just work their asses off to present creative and inspiring lessons.  (Please don’t base your views of teachers on your childhood experiences. These are colored by childhood insecurities and faulty memories.  Volunteer in your community’s schools and see how rigorous much of the curriculum has become.  Every parent bemoans how much more difficult math problem solving is now compared to the rote memorization and simple calculations we had as children in the past.)

    Knee-jerk reactions based on political affiliations do nothing to advance the discussion of what ails our schools.  Most teachers are upset with both major parties’ educational policies.  Education associations are at wit’s end with Obama, Oprah, Duncan, and Democrats in general.  We gave up on Republicans long ago.  The first politician that stands up and supports trade education as a second option in public schools will get a big thumbs up from most teachers (and most voters), regardless of party. The last twelve years of Bush and Obama have been miserable trends for our educational system. 

  7. RonF says

    “K through 12 testing becomes the norm while all activities which foster creativity and critical thinking are discarded”

    Children are in school to be taught skills, facts, etc.  History.  Math.  Science.  English.  Foreign languages.  Art.  Music.  The teaching of these should include building creative and critical thinking and also include a solid grounding in the facts and skills they are based on.  But what we see are that our current educational system fails IN ALL OF THESE.  Evaluation of incoming Freshmen into colleges show repeatedly that they score poorly in this.

    And that’s because schools are NOT fighting to teach creative and critical thinking.  Public schools by and large want to HAMMER OUT actual creative thinking and force the children to hew the politically correct from the leftist viewpoint.  If some kid dares come up with anything else he or she is made to suffer.

    • says

      How do you expect principals and teachers to “fight for creative and critical thinking” when our jobs and lives depend on testing data for AYP and VAM outcomes? We are worried about what’s on the test, not critical thinking.

  8. RonF says

    I will respect teachers as professionals when they act like professionals.  Professionals do not belong to unions.  Professionals do not get automatic raises for tenure or for earning degrees.  Professionals are evaluated and compensated as a function of their individual performance.  Professionals do not get guaranteed jobs after having stayed in them for a few years.

    Get rid of automatic raises and tenure and start evaluating teachers individually and I’ll consider them professionals and treat them as such.

    • Chamorro78 says

      You’re an idiot who has never taught in a public school where there isn’t any money for books and teachers are expected to meet high expectations. The problem is far more complex: poverty, parents, and society. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t spent a day in a classroom and doesn’t have a background in education should be making policy.

    • Rene Diedrich says

      You should not let yourself be manipulated by propaganda. Research is so easy these days
      If you don’t your ignorance is wanton and you prove our points or worse yet you spread more misinformation.

    • PSJ says

      Please don’t confuse legitimate criticism with sour grapes. With continual inflation in our economy, why the hell don’t YOU get automatic raises? Otherwise your boss is effectively cutting your salary every year.

    • says

      Great example of why it is important not to allow non-educators the right to effect education policy. Such a piss poor evaluation of what professionalism is in education. Professionalism in the business world involves making your boss lots of money and getting paid far greater compared to educators with similar or even greater educational attainment than yourself. Treating educators with professionalism involves understanding the complexity of their jobs, and the plethora of variables out of their control (child poverty) and supporting them as long as they are attempting to facilitate learning for their students to the best of their ability. Evaluating the performance of a teacher is not as simple as looking at easy to observe factors like profit, but you wouldn’t know that because you wouldn’t have the guts to take on a teaching position, especially given the low wages and sometimes hostile conditions.

  9. RonF says

    The teachers’ unions ARE the army that has been occupying America’s schools.  Make no mistake – unions are organized to benefit union members, and that’s all.  As they should be.  The teachers’ unions’ answer to dissatisfaction with compensation and benefiits?  Withhold from the public essential services and cause unbelievable upheaval in their lives.  After all, a strike doesn’t directly affect the actual management (i.e.,. the politicians).  Most of them send their kids to private schools.  None of them will get docked pay if the schools don’t open on time.  The teachers get back pay for the time they  are off on strike after the strike is settled.  The only people who really suffer are the only people who aren’t sitting at the table when strikes are called and settled.

    Here’s my solution to the problems in the public schools.  Close them.  Give 2 years notice and close them.  Two years is long enough for not-for-profit and other groups to get curriculum set up, teachers and admin and maintenance staff hired and to buy the school buildings up.  The School boards and State Departments of Education would have the mission of quality assurance, accreditation, etc.  They would also oversee the distribution of vouchers to parents, equal to current per-pupil spending, that schools would by law be required to accept to defray educational expenses.  Support for public education means that the public should fund education.  There’s no requirement that the public OPERATE it.  This system would give parents DIRECT control over the schools.

    • Rene Diedrich says

      They benefit the careerists who work there and the suits in districts. Teachers pay dues and get stabbed in the back by unions. You will see thos soon as coass action law suits against unions are stirring. The 1% owns the union too. You would be stunned bybhow many teachers have opposed unions for reasons much like yours. But now die gphard pro union folks have had it too. This is not teachers , this. Corruption. Some teachers are corrupt, . I think you are right. The union was and is a political creaturE, illegally wooing the left with our dues, FOR r the reCord, LA schools are being commandeered by neo liberals. They call themselves a lot of things words are loaded. And so are these men, but we can say leave our schools alone,. We can boycott them. But we willnget nowhere unless we hear each other out and decide our interests are mutual.

    • Terri says

      My union was unable to help me, and tenure is a myth. I lost my job after 23 years, with excellent evaluations. I made too much money(!), so the school could not afford me. No other schools want me, because I am at the top of the pay scale (75K). Don’t believe everything the media tells you.

      • Rene Diedrich says

        It is awful and while they will not honor your experience or your outstanding service they will pay some idiot administraor 160k with 2years in the classroom and no clue how to do his job . I dunno eho you work for .Sunds like NYC , which is crying poor to justify these things. But they are hiding billions and tecruitibg TFA. The coed will be eaten alive in class. The ones left from cleansing woll be indufferent to their plight. It oughta be funny because studebts are our best form ofquality control. The highly qualified interns will not endureunless they are from a hood and care about more than loan forgivenes,Terri, would you consider working on a plan for schools ? You know how would we configure them if we decentralized and put students. Parents and teachers in charge ? And how can we test in a way that is accurate and fair. I say formatve assessments . That way we candetermine where a kid stands insted oc being accountable for evey frade he is behind. The kids need to care about the score and dustricr should analyse datato inform our practice, maybe you coul write this formative test with other teachers, and we can say this better, and we do not need 16 million every year for bubble sheets and packets,

    • PSJ says

      Your plan would hand control over the schools to landlords, bureaucrats, and corporate investors, all the while ensuring that the poorest students fall through the cracks at a much faster pace. Vouchers have been tried, and have failed (spectacularly — and with enough fraud and corruption to make Boss Tweed blush).

      If you want to see true, genuine parent involvement and investment in schools, look at the Community Learning Center model, particularly in the Cincinnati Public Schools system. Or look to radically democratic models like the Albany Free School or Sudbury Valley.

    • Rene Diedrich says

      Are you smoking crack? Because you are losing your bearings.The kids are not pawns. You can not hand over to these people for two years with a complict agreement to exploit them ,and besides we cannot afford to make deal,w devils . They do not keep their. End of the bargain, cheese and rice! These people are raping and pilaging our future and youre bartering like it is the swap meet. Why not look at school districts that worlk and unload the corpulent fat of LAUSd It has bloated 25 –% in a decade — that is unaccetabke, they need to be accountable for their waste, incomptetence and corruption. We need to model social justice for these kids . And for own sakes.

  10. Bishop Hamilton says

    The school system is being destroyed by any one nationality or group ! 
    It’s being destroyed by lack of comittment by both parents and teachers.
     
    Even in hay days of the 50’s & 60’s there were teachers that cared and some that didn’t, but their positions of power at that time allowed them to proceed without question..

    As strict as things were then, we had students that came to school only because they had too or otherwise their parents would be charged.

    We have somewhat allowed our schools to be disrupted by cell-phones,cars and anything else that has nothing to do with education.  
    The only way to protect education and the child that really wants to learn is to have charter schools with dress codes and any parent that doesn’t want to obey by the rules their child / children should not be allowed to enter this school ( let them sue ) .

    That’s what has us in the situation we’re in !  If i don’t like the rules i’ll just sue them…

    When it comes to education the courts should never entertain any group,parent or child that wants there own way and threaten to sue the school system.

    Since they have enough money to hire a lawyer !  They should have enough to start their own schools,businesses and not use the taxpayers money to fund rebellions..

    There’s nothing wrong with the school system !  The problem is having teachers that really don’t want to be teachers..  They just want a future !   In order to have a future you must give a hoot about what you’re doing.  (  The Children )  A teacher must be willing to take that extra step that maybe the parents have over looked in their child..

    Every teacher should be trained prior to entering the classroom on what to look for in a child with out running them to the principal or counselors office.

    Most ministers can look at their congregation and tell which members are in need spiritual or physically !   Even many of us look the other way… 

    Don’t change the system !  We need a change of heart…

    • Hwood007 says

      Why is it then that the school system in my county is far and away better than the school system in the county north of mine??  They hired a high quality new head of their school system but are still building more jail space to take care of what happens when teenage boys leave school without a degree. .  I had a unique job when I was young. I worked in the occupied zone of Berlin. It was to get people to tell me their most enter secrets. I used a carrot and stick (no force, just mental) methods.  Trained people should be able to talk to these young boys and keep them in school.  They will need support outside of school, from folks like you. 

      You or the police can not force these young children to stay in school.  We need to use the carrot and stick method improve this, no force but show them the things that are wanted while showing them what is not wanted. The law allows students of a certain age to leave school no matter what parents say or do.  I left school myself.  The difference was I began a life on my own and it was a slow trip and hard work to reach the point I have now.  I feel the church is important in saving these young men. Can you have after school programs for them to keep them off the streets and improve their educational skills?  I hope someone can.

      • Rene Diedrich says

        The only reason the suits force truants baco to school is $$$. There would be far fewer drop outs if we still offered vocational studies . Instead we use conformity . Every kid is not college bound — thats just convenient forsEducRAT$ , I live in Long Beach which is one tough hood on the east side. It servesthe same inner city Demographics as LAUSD, but the schools are distinguished. The students are served. Here is what i noted different
        LB has a small administration,
        Those people listen to parents
        No frills.The schools are old but well cared for and clean
        They have a modified schedule to accomadate remediation 3 times a year
        The teach parents how to help w HW, learn English
        LB serves the community , schools for one on one, artists, gifted are made from store fronts, churches
        There few if ant campus cops. Security. And LbPDWork to secure safety not ticketing students.
        Teachers are seen a most vital resource
        No. News. No strikes, no media . No layoffs. No drama.
        Less is more
        It os not perfect . But my kid will never attend LAUSD or a fly by night charter.

        • Hwood007 says

          sounds like you have a plan, write a complete article and then press the post botton, maybe some good will come from that.

    • Rene Diedrich says

      Yes and no There is a group who is sabotaging public education, they are not identified by ethnicity per say although they tend to be rich white men that attract every color and creed.Imperialists. Oligarchs, despots, gazillionaires, 1% . They came bearing gifts and the educRAT$ sold it all out,to Big brother business , who w to take over and earn profit worthy of them they have done what capitalistS do . They stuck it to workers . Remember these guys outsource to China . They are happy to have so many cheap slaves it is hard to comprehend how they have any credibility at all. But teachers, parents and taxpayers own the blame too. They should pay attention to what the public servants are up to. The elitist divide and conquer.

  11. JoeWeinstein says

    The inadequacy of what in the USA passes for ‘education’ long precedes this latest wave of ‘reform’ and the specifically corporate influences that drive this wave.   It goes back to the tacit assumptions behind almost all schools:  that kids can be treated and developed not asindividuals but rather as school-class members; that it is adequate and cheaper to treat child development as a matter of developing groups (classes) of children; that education needs teachers in the sense not of tutors and exemplars but of class managers. From these assumptions it follows naturaly that – rather than promote individual development and achievement – the mission of ‘education’  is to promote class development and indeed school development and school achievement.  Accordingly, it’s perfectly natural to focus on tests which are intended not to help an individual child but rather to evaluate her school. 

  12. Hwood007 says

    Usually a small BIO is
    provided, so I provide some background;  America
    needs a successful school system;

     

    I am an old white person, beyond three score and ten years of age.  I am a high school drop out, but graduated
    magna cum lade from a Black University
    with a BS CIS degree. Black students elected me president of the college
    computer club.  I entered the US Army as
    a private and retired as an officer.  In
    1960, I drove across Texas and
    was only arrested once for transporting a black across the state line.  Three soldiers, two white and one black slept
    that night in my Quaker uncle’s home, in Longview
    TX. 
    I have lived and worked in many places in Europe,
    including behind the Iron Curtain in Berlin.  I have lived in Korea,
    and Vietnam.  I studied four other languages; Spanish,
    Russian, German, and Vietnamese. I was the first foreigner to sleep in a
    Japanese village.  It had no TV so the
    pre-school children had never seen any foreigner, what a circus.  I received my best father’s day card from my
    black daughter-in-law.  I am a complex
    human being, from a multifaceted family, as are many of you.  After retirement, I went back to school and
    became a Master Gardner and served the citizens of my county.

     

    I will suggest how you can increase your life span and wealth.  Our education system has changed over the
    years.  I was young when FDR was
    President.  In those years, most people
    did not finish high school, ninth grade being the level most reached.  At the end of WWII, the working women
    “Rosie the Riveter” reverted to being wives and mothers.  The returning vets, my aunts and uncles, went
    to school and learned new skills. The US
    began a period of great industrial growth. We were the only country without
    major war damage.  Twenty years later,
    most people passed high school and many attended college.  But in the seventies, our education curve
    began to reverse, instead of producing more college educated young people, we
    began to have fewer young people passing high school, not a good sign.  A little research will disclose the bell
    curve of our education system.  We are
    still in the down curve and need to do something before more people are
    dropping out of high school than are completing high school.  College students are graduating in fields
    that are not in high demand.  In order to
    get jobs, students should pursue a degree in subjects employers need.

     

    I lived in Germany,
    where the school programs had a two tier system.  After completing the elementary school
    program you entered one of two systems. 
    One was very academic and only the brightest were allowed to
    enroll.  The second system was similar to
    a trade education with some academic work. 
    I do not think these countries give the same tests to all students as we
    do.   If we used an education system with
    two tracks perhaps we could score better on international tests and also give
    those not ready for the academic world a better chance in life at a trade
    school.  This might help the less academic
    children find a vocation.  All students
    in America take
    the same tests in each grade.  My
    youngest grand-son is a high school honors student and all the students take
    the same placement tests.  Even the
    autistic students take the tests.  Surely
    such conditions reduce our overall scores.

     

    Not everyone is college material.  Why not have two systems here, one for
    college bound academic minded people and a trade school for mechanically
    minded, with the option of entering either. 
    The first group goes to college and grows up to invent new
    products.  The others go to a trade
    school and learn how to install and fix the things the college people
    created.  We will always need mechanics
    to fix our cars, our plumbing, appliances, and air conditioners, things we use
    every day.  Many products require
    technical training to fix them. Those good with their hands could build homes
    and factories while the academic group create plans for homes and
    factories.  Some would create things to
    put in homes and factories while others fix those things.  These could be well paying jobs.  Shop classes are gone and perhaps we need to
    replace them.

     

    In the 1930s, my semi-retired grandfather taught young men
    how to work with their hands.  He taught
    at what he called a trade school for wayward boys and what we might call a
    reform school.  It was a school for unwanted
    boys/young men, a place where they could learn a trade to use to support
    themselves and a family.  They lived
    there year round until they were 18 years of age.  My grandfather was the son of a well known Winchester
    tailor and he taught that trade at the Washington
    D.C. school for many years.  Other trades were also taught. These days,
    most suits are ready made.  Years ago,
    ready made suits were called rack suits. 
    Now, it is hard to find a tailor who makes custom made suits for the
    average guy.  My last custom made suit
    was 44 years ago.

     

    The county north of mine uses high school drop out rates to
    determine the need for future jail cells. 
    We should use it as an index of how many new seats we will need in trade
    schools. Those children need to be given some self-respect.  People who graduate from jail pay very little
    back to society or pay taxes.  Working
    people with jobs pay taxes and are not on benefit rolls.  If these young boys get into trade schools
    soon enough, it may keep them off the path to crime.  The guard to prisoner ratio in jails would be
    higher than a teacher to student ratio in schools.  The cost of a 24 hour trade school should be
    less than the cost of a 24 hour jail and offer both short and long term benefits
    and give self respect to the boys.  Girls
    will even do better in high school.

     

    Today we send young boys to a different school.  They get in trouble and we send them to
    jail.  The bad thing about sending young
    boys to jail is that a jail is also a school. 
    The older males teach the younger males how to be better criminals.  I am sure they tell them there is no future
    hope for them and that seems to be true. 
    If I could use tax money to build something, it would be a school for
    troubled children.  Get them off the
    streets and teach them how to fix things, how to be a chef, an electrician, an
    auto mechanic, a plumber, or a carpenter. Teach them something useful and let
    them grow up to be tax payers.  Perhaps
    such trade schools would be a cheaper solution than the new jails and may have
    better long term results.

     

    I know a retired Air Force officer from Detroit,
    he is black, who claims to be the only college graduate from his neighborhood
    other than his son, who went to the University
    of Michigan.  He says most of the children there are third
    or fourth generation benefit families. 
    His description of the homes, schools, apartments, and shops in his old
    neighborhood sounded like a war zone. 
    Few had any job other than sitting on the couch waiting for a
    check.  It was a sad place, no one had
    any hope of bettering themselves. Everyone needs to be employed in order to
    have some respect of self.  If a youth
    has no hope for the future, how well will he/she do in school?

     

    I know a RN who gave free medical checkups to children in a
    summer camp for low income parents.  When
    she would ask what they wanted to do when they grew up, several replied that
    they wanted to get a government check like their mother.  When visiting young mothers soon after giving
    birth, she found that the new mothers were not taking the provided free birth
    control pills.  Reasons ranged from
    “my boy friend does not want me to” or “my sister took them for
    her use”.  The mothers claimed a boy
    child was a good way to hold onto their man. 
    They did not understand the medical danger of becoming pregnant again
    too soon nor the cost of another child.

     

    After reading much written on various educational systems of
    countries and years gone bye, I note that public education systems can have a
    nefarious motive, an example the “Prussian System”, which was an
    early guide in America.  Public education was first used to
    indoctrinate the youth to think as their leaders wanted.  What we need is an education system that
    educates our youth so they can think for themselves, be self-sustaining, build
    their dreams, so they are neither slaves nor wards of the state.  A study by Lawrence Katz of Harvard states
    that if all the monetary gains made by the 1% were given to the 99%, it would
    increase their wealth by only half the amount that a college degree would.  Education is the key to wealth, prosperity,
    and also long life. Your standard of living predicts your life span.  Wages of non-college grads have dropped 33%
    over the past 30 years.  To increase your
    life span, increase your education and thus your income.  To decrease you life span, engage in illegal
    activities.

     

    The US
    economy is now a “mature” economy. 
    We have used most of our resources, land and such, in some way to
    increase our GDP.  This does not include all the land the
    government owns, oil leases on federal land have dropped.  Such leases provided money to our federal
    budget which are now less.  Oil
    production on private land is up during the time that federal leases have
    dropped.  We are using our technology to
    the max and new technical process are harder to image.  WWII destroyed much of the industrial assets
    of Europe and Asia.  After years of cities being bombed from the
    air, America
    was the only place such actions did not happen, so between 1945 and 1965, we
    were the primary industrial location on the planet.  As other countries recovered, they built
    factories, and they were able to make the same products as we (albeit less
    quality) at a cheaper labor price.

     

     

    If we do not solve these education problems, we will ALL
    face a dim future.  Some of our educational
    problems are with governments, some with school systems, some with parents, and
    some with students.  We need to improve
    all four.  Statistically, children raised
    in two parent homes do better in life, education, and jobs, than those raised
    by only one parent.  This seems true no
    matter the ethnicity.  We need to
    increase the education level of all of our citizens or face decline.  I do not recall how long great civilizations
    lasted in the past but we need to work hard to beat any odds.  Each community must find a way to help educate
    the children in every level of the general public.  Churches, PTA
    groups, boys/girls clubs, schools, and other social groups need to take up this
    challenge for if the children fail, we all fail.

     

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