Friday, June 19, 2009

Schools, Dropouts, Crime and Failure

Schools, Dropouts, Crime and Failure

Chicago, IL—This story begins and ends here for me because the Windy City is Where I went to school.

I was raised by a single mother who had little interest in being a mother. My mother was trying to make it in a world that stole her sprit and dreams with government handouts.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s women were poorly paid, subjected to unchecked sexual harassment and were barred from many jobs that were male dominated. A single woman with a child was target ripe for exploitation.

My mother quickly learned that a Catholic education was superior for three reasons; they kept children for more hours, had a longer school year and a Catholic education was superior to the public system.

I was the original home alone kid making my own meals while being babysat for by a television set. I rarely saw my mother for more than a few minutes before I’d go to school. My mother never once helped me with my homework.

There was another problem and that was catholic schools required tuition. My mother figured out how to time our evictions from various apartments with the school payment due dates. Mom figured out how to beat the Catholic schools. I’d simply transfer to another wherever we wound up, usually on Chicago’s North side.

That all ended when I was expelled from St. Michael’s High School over non-payment. Then it was off to public high school and a full-time clandestine job (I was too young by law) at a hot dog stand in Uptown. .

I went to 13 different schools not including Loop Junior College and University of Illinois.

I feel that I’m qualified to rate teachers since I’ve seen far more than most. There is a saying that’s all too relevant, “Those who can’t, teach.” I believe too often it’s really true. Teaching seems to be easier for too many than competing in the real world.

Okay, here is my beef: We all can count the teachers who inspired us on our fingers. Only ten percent of the teachers in our schools are worthy of that important job. Just showing up for work does not end a teacher’s sacred responsibilities. There is so much more required than dryly going through lesson plans.

Children’s attention spans are quite limited. The same is true of adults so a teacher has to learn how to be a performance artist, showman and an educator. Most shun this concept. Is it a lack of talent or do they simply not care? I believe it’s a combination of both failings.

If a teacher is not excited and inspired about what they’re teaching how can they possibly inspire or excite our children? That is after all their job. All educational subjects are exciting as are the prospects of wealth through education. That wealth word was never used by any of my teachers.

If there was a single failure by every one of my teachers it was their failure or refusal to teach us that academic excellence leads to wealth in this land of opportunity.

Too much emphasis is placed on cultural diversity. No effort is made to shed light on the failure of some cultures that enable, crime, dependence and poor communication skills.

America’s Teachers unions have celebrated mediocrity and Socialism. Too many teachers seem to strive for a world where everyone is equal despite a refusal or inability to learn. How the Hell can we repair this problem with that kind of mindset?

Home schooling is an answer if parents can achieve this and have sufficient talent to do that job themselves. Our public schools have been a scandal for decades. As a society we will never have an educated electorate until we repair our educational system.

Here is a cute commercial for a school that shows exactly what I have been talking about. Again, thank you, Ben Stein…


Best Job in the World said...

Dear Crimefile,
I too went to Catholic school until eighth grade, where I had on average 54 students in a class. It all starts at home. If the family doesn't value education, look out because more often that not, it's going to be an uphill battle. Sometimes we win the battle and sometimes we lose. Unfortunately we don't see our results until years later when our former students come to visit or if we're lucky come back and teach at their alma mater. So if you think teaching is so easy, why don't you try it sometime? Enjoy the passage.

Those who can teach, those who can't go into some less significant line of work.

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."
To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"
Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began...)
"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.
You want to know what I make?" (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)
I make kids wonder.
I make them question
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them to write and then I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
I make my students stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, because we live in the United States of America.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life. (Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.) "Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant.
You want to know what I make?
I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make?"

"Teachers make every other profession."

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to have to tell you Crimefile – THAT NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN AMERICA IN THE LAST FIFTY YEARS –
REGARDLESS of whether a single woman has a child or not – she is still ripe and a target for exploitation in Southern California School systems.

Certain people in the school system and local government will revictimize a sexually abused woman so as to obtain a job or a promotion.

It’s a dog eat dog in Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

You are correct about most teachers these days. How hard is it to sit in front of a class and read from a text book in a monotone voice? Other than putting the class to sleep they are not accomplishing much. As you said, we need teachers who make learning fun and students to feel challenged and stimulated. I know a chemistry professor who has a way about him where he could teach chemistry to anyone.

Anonymous said...

You're spot on in your criticism of our nations public school system.It is both antiquated and apathetic in its approach to educating the youth of America.My experience was quite the opposite of yours in many ways.I'm African American,the product of a two parent home and a alumni of the Chicago Public Schools.In the 60's and 70's most schools were for the most part segregated.Many of the teachers I had didn't expect much from black students and many of their lesson plans were "dumbed down"accordingly.Even when we were told we were achieving academic excellence we weren't.It became real for me when I realized how far behind I was in certain subjects in comparison with my catholic school freinds.It wasn't that they were smarter, (although I knew a few who were truly gifted.)It was because these schools basically had a stronger curriculum than what was spoon fed to me at my neighborhood public school.Over the last thirty years,I have watched what was a bad situation turn to almost near anarchy.Needless to say,when it came time to educate my son,public school was NOT an option.His elementary,high school and college education were achieved at private institutions.He is now a comissioned officer in the Marine Corps.It's not the career I had in mind for him,but I'm proud nonetheless.What I'm trying to say is with the state of public education in this city,most of these kids don't stand a chance even if they graduate from a CPS school.Competition is now global and these children are not equipped to compete on that scale.

Anonymous said...

Crimefile, I too am a catholic school alumni. While I'd like to say you and me have a lot in common, I think your mother and I would've been best friends.

Anonymous said...

To: Best Job in the World. I have a few comments. First, if you teach in the Chicago Public schools, yes, you have your work cut out for you. With Chicago being a sanctuary city for illegals, and mass low income housing, children start out at a disadvantage. Parents don't give a damn. The Mexicans are notorious for taking their kids out for months to vacation back in Mexico. Then they want to have them promoted when they haven't been in class for 3 months. Schools infested with gangs, are worse. However, in most of the burbs, that's another situation.

Here is were I believe people have a problem.

What used to be a noble profession (and still is)that most people who entered it realized that the pay wasn't great, but you were a civil servant, worked an average of 180 days, had summers off, and received a pension when you retired at 63. Not bad.

Now though, you can retire at in your early 50's at 70 percent of you salary. Here lies the rub. This taxes the pension plans hard. Salaries for teachers have skyrocketed in the last 15 years to compete with people in the market place. Not to mention most teachers seem to get a bump in pay right before the retire in order to pad their retirement. But most of the people who work in the market place, work a minimum of 50 hours a week, have to contribute to a 401K plan, and social security, and usually have to work holidays, weekends, etc. On average, receive 3% raises. And only receive an average of 2 to 3 weeks vacation. I'll trade you.

Education is bankrupting most governments. When Gov. Quinn suggested reducing pensions to 50 percent, and paying out later, teachers went crazy. Understandable. No one likes to loose anything.

However, taxpayers are tired of constantly being hit up for more money for education.

My friends wife who is a teacher, was on a rant, and made the point she doesn't pay Social Security. I told her I would take her pension at 50% and she could have my Social Security. When I showed her the form I received from the government of my expected monthly payment, she shut up fast.

For more info:

P.S. I have a degree in engineering and have taught at the junior college level.