Note for Non-Americans: I don’t know about your country’s educational system and, don’t take this the wrong way but, frankly I don’t care. No matter how perfect your country and your country’s school system are, it’s not doing me much good to rub my nose in it. So for today we’re going to talk about the United States school system.
Note for Uptight People with No Senses of Humor: I’m just having fun here. No one would ever actually implement my ideas in a million years so unpucker your assholes and stop fretting about it. I just thought this would be some fun hypotheticals to play with. Relax and enjoy or just roll your eyes and go read dooce or something.
I know everyone is mad at me for not posting much the last few months. I’ve been preoccupied with real-life hassles, novel projects and watching too much (American) political news that is, for the most part, frustrating as hell. I apologize for being neglectful and rather cranky lately.
Without getting too political, I want to talk about my ideas of how to solve the school budget problems. Listen up, these are good!
Idea #1: Governors, don’t cut your school budget by a billion dollars so you can give that money to your cronies! Voters, don’t vote for governors who cut the school budget so they can give kickbacks to their wealthy, corporate friends!
Idea #2: No more public schools. None. I figure in the scheme of things, we should have free universal health care before free public schools. Take money from school budgets and put it into a new, public health care system. After all, clearly people CAN homeschool (I’m not saying they do it well, but they CAN do it) yet few people can give their child or spouse an appendectomy from home. I could try, but I think my husband might not be too pleased with the results.
I know, I know! You’re all crying, “But we don’t want an uneducated populace!” I have news for you. We DO have an uneducated populace. The only difference is: we’re payingfor them to be uneducated. Today’s high school graduates are functionally illiterate! We’re paying for a ridiculously overpriced pizza that never gets delivered!!
But fine: Have a whiney-ass tantrum and say we can’t do away with schools because not all parents want to homeschool; it might cut into their time club hopping. Okay, fine. I have a backup plan that is even more genius.
Idea #3: Get rid of public schools. Not public education, just the school buildings. Or at least most of them. Think about how much could be saved every year if we shut down the majority of the school buildings! We could save all the maintenance, landscaping and janitorial costs, the electricity, water, heat, and air conditioning costs, and think of all the savings on the bus program, especially now that gas is so damned expensive! Yes, I do feel bad for the people who lose their jobs (such as janitors and bus drivers), but think of how much money is wasted in those areas alone?
My alternative to school buildings is distance learning like they do in many colleges. Have the kids log in and do their coursework online. They can log in to chat for tutoring. They can have instructional videos to teach them and maybe even video conferencing on certain dates and times. True, the school system might have to provide all students with laptops or iPads/tablets (and the data plan) for this to work. While I’m no economist, I’m fairly certain that is still cheaper than what we’re doing now.
Yes, we’d still need a few buildings for various things, such as administration and testing (the way I figure it, students might have to come in one or two half-days a month for testing, and they could stagger the blocks of students that come in so they wouldn’t all come in on the same day), but we’d need far fewer school buildings, thus saving us a lot of money.
(Locally they want to build yet another new school and can you tell I’m bitter about having to pay for it? I’m not the one irresponsibly breeding, creating the over-crowding problem in schools! I’m actually SAVING them money by NOT putting more kids into the system – I deserve a refund!! But that’s a rant for another day.)
This plan would put more of the burden on parents for their children’s education, which is where it belongs anyway. The single biggest problem (outside of budgets) facing schools is parents. Either parents who don’t want to be involved and don’t give a shit if their kid is failing OR the parents who think their child is super-special and should automatically be given As for everything (even if the A is terribly undeserved), they think their kid shouldn’t be given too much homework, they don’t like what is being taught or try to dictate what is being taught, or any other ridiculous complaints that hinder the educational process.
With my plan, parents wouldn’t exactly have to teach the kids (that’s what the online courses would be for), but they would have to monitor the children to see if they are doing their homework and keeping up, they would be responsible for focusing on any areas their children might be having problems with and bring it to the teacher’s attention or arrange for enrollment in a tutoring program. But from now on, if their child “fell through the cracks” it would be because they weren’t paying enough attention. No more blaming everyone else for that.
Yes, I know some parents have jobs and think they are too busy to do this, but how many hours a day would it take to review their children’s homework progress? It’s not an eight-hour job and it’s something they should be doing anyway!
Bonuses of this idea: no more complaining the school cafeterias serving crappy lunches, complaining about the cost of school clothes or supplies, no more demanding prayer and the ten commandments be in the schools, etc.
Even better bonus: There would be a wider range of elective courses for kids to take, since they wouldn’t necessarily be limited to just the classes offered at the local high school. Maybe a student wants to learn Russian — I’m sure we could find a Russian class being taught somewhere in the U.S. for them to enroll in.
There are three valid drawbacks I see to this plan:
Drawback 1: What are we going to do about kids who constantly break, lose, sell, etc. their free laptops/iPads? Many kids today are just plain irresponsible and destroy everything you hand them because they just don’t give a shit. It could get horribly expensive if the school needs to continually replace these items. I suppose we could say each kid is allowed one replacement item every two or three years, and if they continue to destroy/lose the equipment, they will just have to start handwriting all their assignments and mail them in like Netflix. How does that sound?
(If the item was defective or needing routine repairs, that wouldn’t count against their one replacement item.)
Drawback 2: A bigger problem I see with this option is that there would be a socialization problem. I know lots of people hated everyone they ever went to school with would think that never having to go to school and interact with anyone else is grand, but it really IS a problem. As much as pro-homeschoolers try to claim their kids are perfect geniuses who have perfect social skills… I’ve never met those kids. The homeschooled kids I’ve met were socially awkward or absolute narcissists who believed the world revolved around them. If we don’t send kids to school, they will miss out on a lot of social lessons. Here is an abbreviated list of things kids learn from school socialization:
- that the world doesn’t entirely revolve around them
- that not everyone they meet is going to be someone they like or who likes them, and that’s okay
- socially acceptable behavior (bathe occasionally, chew with your mouth closed, etc)
- a sense of humor (one homeschool kid I met seriously had no sense of humor, didn’t understand sarcasm, etc. It was painful to have a conversation with her because she took everything oh-so-seriously)
- how to interact with their peers, to overcome shyness and fear of rejection
- being exposed to other ideas than the ones their learn at home (especially a problem for religiously homeschooled kids who often don’t meet anyone outside their church group)
- tolerance for groups other than their own.
This lack of socialization problem a big drawback. Sure, if we went to distance-learning for children, they might still socialize with other kids in their church group, ballet class, soccer practice, etc. but not all of them will, and even the ones who do might be missing a lot of that “being exposed to other ideas” part.
Drawback 2: Some kids come from bad home environments, and they really need to go to school to get away from that. However, maybe these children just need to be removed from those environments altogether.
Other criticisms I’ll hear, but might not be as valid:
Criticism 1 – Kids will no longer get free meals! The free meal program has always pissed me off because it’s unduly punishing the taxpayer and responsible parents and gives a benefits to irresponsible parents who would rather spend their money on booze and cigarettes than feed their children. Yes, I understand that the kids get punished if the rest of us refuse to cough up the dough to feed them, but isn’t there a better solution? Why is it that the parents of these kids with free lunches always have fancier cell phones than I do? And every video gaming system known to man? How do those kids survive to even be school aged if their parents never feed them?
I’m just rather tired of society constantly giving parents a free pass on everything. No one can criticize them for having children they can’t afford. No one can criticize parents who don’t feed their kids. No one can criticize parents who refuse to discipline their children. It’s got to stop. Maybe if we held parents to a higher standard, future generations would be far better off.
Criticism 2 – No more free daycare. Most parents today use schools as glorified day care centers. Well, too bad! Society does not owe them free day care. Taxpayers should not pay higher taxes for the sole reason that parents want their kids to be someone else’s problem eight hours a day.
It’s not that I don’t feel for working parents, but we still shouldn’t have to pay for their (very expensive) daycare. I have no sympathy for the unemployed mothers who look forward to the end of summer vacation so they don’t have to watch their own kids all day.
There are several solutions to this problem, but we’ll leave that to the parents to figure out. One idea off the top of my head is churches. Obviously this wouldn’t work so well for atheist kids, but most religious people have some sort of church building. These buildings sit around empty most of the week. Why don’t the churches sponsor school-aged day care for their parishioners? Yes, one could argue that those kids will be getting brainwashed while being educated, but if the parents already attend that church, apparently they are fine with the brainwashing. They wouldn’t need to employ teachers, just someone to supervise the kids, make sure they are doing their work and keep them from burning down the joint.
Another idea: It takes a village, right? So reach out to the village: friends, neighbors and relatives could watch your kids while they sit around doing their homework. There are plenty of unemployed mothers today. Of course, they generally don’t want to watch their own kids, let alone others, but maybe they need to grow up. It’s not like these are infants who need to be fed, burped, and diapered all day long. You just have to sit the kid down to do his lessons and make sure he doesn’t Darwinize himself for a few hours.
Mostly this no-free-daycare problem shouldn’t be a problem for long. I probably wouldn’t leave five, six or seven-year-olds alone all day, but once a kid gets to be about eight or nine, they should be able to stay home alone without burning down the joint or letting a child molester in. In my day, by third grade kids could stay home alone if they were sick. Of course, in my day, children might have been more mature and responsible, too. If kids turn out to be too immature and irresponsible to leave at home, it’s the parent’s fault for raising them that way. Anyway, eventually, when the older kids are old enough, they can at least supervise the younger siblings and keep them from burning down the joint and letting molesters in.
Criticism 3 – Kids not doing homework while home alone, but rather playing games and/or watching TV all day. Well, it’s good training to be an unemployed parent some day! Seriously, though, parents CAN set parental controls on the TV/DVR, they can lock up the video game systems or not have them at all, or whatever else needs to be done to keep the kids from being too distracted. Or they can arrange for someone else to watch the kids during the day if they really think the kids need supervision. As long as tax payers don’t have to pay for it.
Criticism 4 – Some parents will complain that they don’t want the responsibility of making sure their kids are doing well in school. Too bad! Don’t have kids if you don’t want responsibility!
Criticism 5 I realize a lot of people are going to complain about child welfare and how a system like this is ripe for parents to abuse their kids by neglecting their education, not feeding them, and no teacher involved to witness signs of physical abuse, among other things. That’s a good point. Although, it’s not that much different from a homeschool child now. No one knows if children who are getting homeschooled are getting fed, if they are being physically abused or even if they are getting a decent education, either. (I know homeschooling advocates love to claim homeschooled kids are 900x smarter and better educated than public school kids, but you have not heard the horror stories I’ve heard! One whack job relative told me their “homeschooling curriculum” for that semester was history (only history, nothing else) and that their text books were (I shit you not) Janette Oke books. There is no way those kids got a real education! Since those kids only got into non-accredited bible colleges, I’m going to assume that is true.)
Fine, this might be a valid point, but perhaps the money we are saving from paying for all the school buildings and buses, we could pour into improving and possibly expanding the Child Protective Services program to monitor such issues.
While this plan has absolutely ZERO or close chance of being implemented, why don’t we discuss it just for fun. What else should we consider. Go ahead and disagree and propose alternatives; I expect you to comment with all the holes in my theory or come up with better ideas! After all, I’m not too bright and I’ve only spent one day working on this theory. Argue amongst yourselves what may or may not work. But again, it’s NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, so just playwith the idea. Might be fun.
BONUS IDEA: How about we implement a new system that says parents only get the child-tax credit on their tax refunds if their kids get good grades in school (B average or higher). No reason to reward them for not doing their job!