Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Resistant to Change

My children like to tell me that I am resistant to change. I think they are dead wrong. I am all for change, as long as it does not include something that has to be programmed and requires two or three different remote controls. They mistake my loathing of things technical as being eternally stuck in the rut of a past century. Change, I think, is a very good thing, with a few exceptions.

Several years ago someone got their hands on the educational system in this country and ran amok. I am not quite sure when or how it started but it took over and it seems to have started with "whole language." Some bright spark decided that children learned to read the same way that they learned to speak, and in due course they would just pick up War and Peace and read it in a day and a half. Wouldn't that be lovely! The truth of the matter is that only four out of every ten children pick up reading on their own, so six children will probably be classed as dyslexic, because they were not given the tools with which to learn to read.

Some enterprising soul, armed with facts and figures on how America was falling behind the rest of the world in education decided that we must throw out everything that had educated our parents and grandparents and mess about with it a bit. Out went Dick & Jane and Spot & Puff... (they were deemed boring) to be replaced with...well nothing in particular.

No longer was "old" math good enough. This was replaced with "new math," which presented a whole host of problems, even with teachers who themselves struggled to get a grasp on it. Math fared better than language, however, as it was deemed a disaster early on. Not until 20 years after instituting whole language, into the state's curriculum, did California finally declare it a total disaster and revert to the old tried and true. Most states have since followed suit.

Now a teacher must not make corrections to papers, essays, and the like, as it might injure the child's psyche. A red mark on a paper, or anything less than a B+, just may traumatize them enough to make them never want to write again! How ridiculous is this? My psyche was blasted, right and left, by THE RED PEN. I am not a quivering mass of jelly today because of it, nor am I unable to put together a comprehensible sentence.

There is great disarray which faces the public educational system in this country today. We have failing schools, millions of dollars being poured into a system for curricula which teach specifically to a test, underpaid teachers, and children who do not have a good solid background in the basics of reading and writing. With all of that looming large, it concerns me that the major concern seems to be whether or not the words "Under God" are in the Pledge of Allegiance, or, heaven forfend!, there is NOT prayer in school!

Listen people, we all have choices. If the religiosity that you feel should shadow your child 24-7 is of that great a concern to you, then enroll your child in a religious school, but, make sure it has a good solid reading program so that your kids are able to read the Bible. Ditto for teaching "creationism" or "intelligent design." The key word here is public schools, schools which operate on tax dollars, both state and federal. The other key word is education. I want my child to understand Darwin and his theory, I send him to Sunday school for religious instruction. I do not want the public education that my child receives to be muddied up with anyone's religious beliefs, nor do I expect my tax dollars to pay for vouchers so that your child can attend a religious school. Might this come under the heading of separation of church and state?

So, I guess I am resistant to change, if, as it seems to me, the greatest issue of the school crisis, being addressed these days, is of a religious nature. But, hey, if you are worried about the lack of prayer in school remember, there will always be prayer in school...any day there is a test.