Thursday, December 20, 2007

Education in America Today

Part of a rant to a long, long, long time friend. . .

"Some major school shit is about to go down around here.
Thank the shrubbery for leaving no child behind. I guess one reader in the
family is enough.

I just don't understand why they want to slap ineffective bandaids on
things. Children learn critical thinking skills from fine arts education.
If children can't read, they can't solve math problems. Music teaches math.
Art teaches thinking. Reading makes the brain grow exponentially.
The masks are wonderful and amazing. Any school should be proud to
produce such artwork. Funding helps.

I got supplies this week. Construction paper and pencils and glue and
erasers and markers and drawing paper. Really basic stuff. I've done
without until this week. We are expected to produce museum quality
work on a bucket of broken crayon budget. It's fucking sick. Pardon my
perfectly fine anglo saxon.

(You gotta love those anglo saxons for so many meaty BAD words)
I'm on a committee to restructure the largest high school
in Texas. The THEORY is good. Let me tell you a joke about
that. . .
A young boy went to his father and asked, "Dad, what's the
difference between theory and reality?"

"Well, son, the best way to explain this is a practical exercise.
Go ask your Mom if she'd sleep with a stranger a million dollars
and come tell me her answer.

The boy returned and said, " She said she would, Dad." "OK,"
replied the father, "Go ask your sister the same question."

The boy returned and said that his sister also answered yes to the
question and then asked his Dad, "What's this got to do with theory
and reality?"

"It's simple, son. In theory, we live with millionaires.
In reality, we live with a couple of sluts."

In theory, we have really good schools that produce exemplary students
ready to graduate and attend college. In reality, we uns is in the
hood getting jiggy on the low down. I fin da do dat, crunk.
Educating in America today is more challenging than it has ever been.

We're supposed to work miracles with damaged goods. You and I were lucky
to grow up
in an environment that valued education. Jayzus, you had valedictory trophys
sitting on your TV from older sisters. My mother was salutatorian. You and
I did really well in an intensely intellectually gifted crowd. We had
parents who did not see college as an option, but as a requirement. We
feel that way for our own children.
The urban education system today provides us with 3rd generation welfare
mentality. I have students who are parents who have grandmothers who are
younger than I am. I heard a child say "My momma don't care if I have a
baby because we get a check."
We have children who are or have parents who are not in this country legally.
These parents are terrified to come to school and deal with any kind of
authority. Often these parents are tremendously undereducated. It's kind
of hard to justify the purchase of textbooks for seventh grade if there are
ten kids in the family and food is scarce.
We have students whose parents have learned to make money on the "dark side."
I have barrio princesses who have lots of gold jewelry and spend thirty bucks
every two weeks to have their nails done. Do their school work? What a silly
thought. They are killing time because the law says they have to be in school
until they are 18. They're going to get married to some other high dollar drug
dealing vato and have lots of pretty babies whenever babydaddy is not in lockup.
I have gangland "princes" wearing their gold and diamond encrusted "grills" who
cannot bring a pencil to art class.
Values are skewed.

Education is going to breed different classes. We are going to have folks that
value education and we are going to have a vast undereducated
class that doesn't care less about school and the value of a free and public
I'm still tripping about the lady at 7-11 the other day. She saw my teacher ID
on my lanyard and said "I HATE teachers, they make me sick."
I wanted to say something pithy like "I hope you want your children to be gangstas"

I ask my students, the girls especially about what kind of man they want to marry.
I ask them if they want a gangsta or a man with a briefcase. They tell me that they
want to marry doctors and lawyers. I ask them where they are going to meet doctors
and lawyers apart from the free clinic and legal aid. They somehow think that
there are fairy godmothers out there that will turn them into Jennifer Lopez and
put them in the pathway of Matthew Mcconaughey. Somehow they think lightning will
strike them because they KNOW they are all so special because we've told them for
years that they are all so special (because we didn't want to damage their fragile
little psyches)
I have faith that a few will move on.  One girl that I questioned so asked me what
job she could do that would put her around lots of lawyers. I told her she could
be a court reporter. That's a nice income and it certainly comes in contact with
lots of legal eagle types. She did the research and came back to me and said that
she thought that was a really nice career and that her mother was real excited
about it. She's lovely and pretty darn smart. She's in court reporter school and
in a year and a half she will be the cutest court reporter in Dallas County. At
least her mother had a vision of something beyond "do you want fries with that?"
Kelly, I think I need to put this rant on my blog. I love you for provoking me to
write. Come to think of it, you did often give me inspiration. I'm looking forward
to our pub crawl."