Wayward Wind Of Education
The sea of change is upon us. The gentle summer winds have now disappeared. Shorter days, darker nights where autumn winds howl through leafless trees brings a foreboding premonition of turbulent times ahead. It is never more apparent than with our youth today. Turbulent times yes indeed. Why we might ask? In reality the United States continues to loose ground in academics in relation to the other industrialized nations. If standardize tests are any indication of this downward trend we are in for some real sobering news. The fact of the matter is that United States secondary and elementary students tests scores have continued to fall and unless some drastic measures take hold the prognosis is they will only continue to fall even further.
We have to remember that in the early sixties America was the pinnacle of education standards through-out the world. Ever since 1970 the United States has been sliding down that academic ladder to where today this nation can't even reach the top ten in academic standards. I can't help think of that opening to the Tale Of Two Cities: " It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." A story of the French Revolution. How apropos for today! This, considering all that is happening now through-out the world. And yet strange as it may seem the complexity of living now compared to back then. Who would have thought we'd come this far. Or did we? In some aspects like technology, have brought unparalleled advances toward a better quality of life. You would think that along with technology education in our society would also. But, it has not.
In all the news of today a sense of unrelenting tension, a silent force that is ripping across our moral fiber, a sagging truth of unprecedented demise of morality, liberty, justice and education. A world we once new, is really no more. We must face the consequences of our actions and of our inactions. What we have done in the name of social liberalization is directly affecting our society and education along with it. This is a direct cause of why the United States is so far behind other nations in academics.
Today, leaders of industry and educators all across the country are discussing how to revert the trend of educational demise that is ripping our society apart. But, in order to rectify the educational systems that are currently inept there are other factors that must be put into any equation to the solutions that are needed.
It starts with the Constitution. The United States Constitution guarantees Freedom of Speech. This right comes with a responsibility. What we say does have a direct affect on the actions of others. A case in point; The Federal Communications Standard for appropriate expression on TV, radio, recordings, Magazines etc. Now studies and statistics show that there is a direct correlation with the escalation of youth violence and sagging academics with the relaxing of acceptable standards by public forms of communication.
Our youth are very impressionable. This holds true for any generation. Most are not fully mentally, or emotionally capable of handling the responsibility of today's freedom of expression. A good example is noted in the book " Lord of the Flies." Education is the best approach but along with education has to come with it's own natural maturity that comes through the aging process from infancy through young adult. Each phase of aging comes with it's own physical, mental, and emotional progressions. If we skip from adolescence to young adult with-out going through the natural aging progressions these individuals will not be equipped in all aspects to handle the responsibilities that are imposed on the life cycle they are thrust into.
The youth of today are continually being exposed to ideas, situations, and material items they are not yet equipped mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially to effectively use. This causes great harm not only to themselves but to society as well. When any one talks of how to improve this nations educational systems has to understand that our morality in this nation has succumbed to the external pressure to reduce the personal responsibility in evoking the first amendment. What needs to be done is to reestablish the standards of conduct and speech that were enforced back in the middle of the 20th century. The rebuilding of ethical standards is essential for the continuation of our society. What happens when a society reverts to rampant disregard for themselves and others is a destruction of freedom everywhere. We have to remember this and incorporate these into any educational reform.
Next, when including any solutions to remedy our ailing school systems we also have to remember that when a child is born the parent has a major responsibility in nurturing their newborn towards creating a lifelong thirst for knowledge. Young minds and especially infant ones are like sponges. They absorb everything. The best way to start to create that life long pursuit begins the sooner the parent gets involved.
Their are many of factors that have placed major obstacles in infants and preschool age children's way to acquire the attitude, ability, and attributes in creating that life long desire for education. The United States educational systems have failed the youth of this country. Through supreme court decisions, the relaxing of standards in school systems, and the general Dr. Spock attitude that prevailed from the late 1960's to today have under minded the educational process from what we were at the beginning of the 1960's to our failure to even attain to be in the top 10% educational systems of all the industrial countries. Compound now the employment opportunities have begun a major shift to a more technology savvy workforce. The major question now is; How to prepare our youth for the jobs of the 21st century and regain our prominence in the world today in all educational standards?
In order to answer that question we have to start at what worked from the end of World War II to 1970. From that period the United States was a pillar for educational standards. Our High Schools were creating students that excelled to the top of the world in math and science. Today our students are not even in the top 15% What has happened?
First: The disintegration of the family unit. The majority of youth today are being raised by a single parent. Studies have now proven that when children are raised by a single parent compared to children raised by both mother and father the majority of youth who are raised by both parents performed better in school.
Second: Back in the 1950's and 1960's the United States was economically sound with a stable and growing middle class. Their was more deposable income for family's to use. The tax base was sufficient to provide all the services that promoted well rounded educational systems. The youth of that generation were provided with every available opportunity to participate in all manner of extra- curricular activities whether it was Athletics, Arts, or Music. Not only that; the education they received actually prepared the students with the ability to succeed in what ever employment opportunities they got.
Third: Students form elementary through high school have basically the morality of their parents. When compared with what was deemed appropriate behavior, dress and speech to today says allot about the basic decline of proper etiquette, manners, and our youth's ability to comprehend values that were instilled in the youth of the 1950's and the early 1960's. Not to say the majority of youth of that generation behaved like angles but they were better prepared for life outside of school than today.
Fourth: When drugs are administered to our youth like Retalin do they really help our children succeed in school or are they just a passive way to shed responsibility? What is an alternative to drugs in helping our youth succeed in school and in life? I can think of my own childhood. It was in the mid 1950's. I was kinda of a rebellious hyper active kid, always getting into trouble. Sometimes I get caught but most of the time I managed to flee so quickly I avoided capture. My parents knew I was the fastest kid around. It was one afternoon that my farther came home and pulled me aside and said "I have a present for us" He then proceeded to unwrap a small box and pulled out a stop watch. From that afternoon on my father and I went to the old high school track field where I was coached in running. Repetitive 440's, half miles and the mile. At fist I didn't like it but the gradual success at track and cross-country I not only succeeded in school but got into a major university. A life long pursuit of fitness and a desire to succeed resulted because of my father's influence and help. Today most children aren't as fortunate as I was. The majority of elementary age children come from single parent homes. A whole spectrum of factors are involved now that weren't back in the 1950's. So the question is: What can and should be done so that the children of today be able to lead a long successful and productive life?
Fifth: When we look a reforming education today to answer that question has to start with the curriculum that puts major emphasis on health, physical education and conditioning so that every child learns a life long activity that is directed toward disease prevention and healthy living. In this way they are more equipped to absorb the academics that are also being taught. All across this country budget constraints play a vital role in not securing proper public education. Just look at what happened in Chicago during the recent teachers strike. It is worth mentioning that any time budget cuts target education those cuts ultimately do much more harm. This is reason enough to implement National Economic Reform so that the availability of a sufficient tax base will cover the expenditures that are needed to provide the funding for all school academics, athletics and activities to be available for students to receive a well rounded education. Today, so many children can not take part in athletics, art or music just because their families can't afford the now high cost involved. Compounding the continuing educational crisis this country is in is the fact the our governmental policies from local through Federal levels have only exasperated the ongoing catastrophe that has befallen the public school systems. We know the many reasons why our youth are continuing to be denied the educational experiences like that of their grandfathers; but do we have a collective resolve to restore the public school system to the point that will enable every child in America a safe, academically sound and healthy school environment?
Sixth:To ensure that our public school systems all across America the policies of government starting with the Federal level have to include the many programs that will enable the American public to reduce the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression of the 1930's. It has been done before. Lessons of history still prove invaluable to overcome the many obstacles and crisis of today. To attain a 4% or less national unemployment rate with those employed earning real living wages is paramount in securing the funding that is so crucial for every city and towns public school system. It can and must be accomplished. Our future depends on the actions undertaken now.
Seventh: Curriculums must now conform to the technology of today with the increased emphasis of health and healthy lifestyles that promote illness prevention. There again using lessons of history will reshape the culture of our youth. Once incorporated into each school system the structure, the discipline, and a curriculum relevant to today's challenges will enable every child from elementary through high school be able to achieve the ability and have the availability to succeed in whatever profession they choose.
Eighth: Specifically our society must come to understand that all children are unique, learn at different rates, and all have different capabilities. What has transpired in the last 30 years or so is that our public schools have lumped practically every child into the same category or classroom. Which is not fair to say the least. What worked for generations prior to the so call education revolution that started in 1970 threw away the structure that prevailed that enabled our public schools to excel. What has happened as a direct result of the new policies from 1970 through today is an exact opposite of the results that were originally intended.
Ninth: Re-establish the President's Health and Fitness program that was started and so successful under President John F. Kennedy. Every school whether they are private, public, or charter has to be involved, with mandatory physical educational classes from kinder-garden through 12th grade for both boys and girls at least one hour per day every day.
Tenth: If a child is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or any other emotional and physical issues must be reassessed. In the reassessing, that child now will be able to find out what he or she excels at. Dormant hidden talents are now brought to the surface by reassessing each child. In this way each child develops a talent that otherwise would lay hidden while the only people who would benefit would be the drug manufactures and our society would ultimately loose. When drugs are prescribed and administered such as Ritalin instead of taking the time in reassessing does the child and our whole society more harm. The most expedient way today, has been the administering of drugs instead of channeling a child in constructive endeavors has only contributed to the educational debacle that has been unfolding all across this country for decades. If we continue to rely on drugs in dealing with the many problems of our youth today our society and the future of the United States is in serious jeopardy. Only through intervention and a willingness to be more involved with our youth will America regain a more secure and healthy future.
What is needed now is complete Educational Reform. Charter schools, home schools, private and public school systems must aline themselves with the sole purpose of preparing the youth of today and the youth of the future for success in life. To be a contributor to society, the economy, to their country and to the world. Education Reform with that purpose will ensure the future of not only for generations to come but for the continuing growth and prosperity of the United States.
It is up to the leaders of industry, our educators and our elected officials that have to understand the sociological changes that have occurred within the past 45 years. These changes have had an unpresented influence in the way the United States has fallen down in educational standards and undermined our whole educational structure. It is imperative that these ten proponents be included in the educational reform that must take place if America is expected to survive.