Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Does It Take?

I’ve been pretty gushy, sweet the past couple of days, but it’s the old, angry broad again today. So, beware!

There are a number of major problems this country needs to deal with – and soon. The whole Wall Street problem is the big issue these days, but it shouldn’t totally distract us from other serious issues. And one of those is in our educational system – particularly in the area of math. A new study finds that we are failing to develop math skills of boys and girls especially among those who could excel at the highest level, and it asserts that girls who do succeed in the field are almost always daughters of immigrants from countries where mathematics is more highly valued.

According to Bob Herbert, the idea that the U.S. won’t even properly develop the skills of young people who could perform at the highest intellectual levels is breathtakingly stupid! Oh, yes, it is indeed, stupid! The American culture does not value talent in math very highly. We’re too busy with other things, like text-messaging while jay-walking. The whole math thing is something for Asians or worse, nerds!

The other major problem is the truly sad state of the U.S. infrastructure. We, as a people, seem to be remarkably oblivious to this issue and according to Felix Rohatyn and Everett Ehrlich, most Americans are totally oblivious on this issue. We’re like a family that won’t even think about fixing a sagging, leaky roof until it collapses on our heads.

There’s the nightmare of Katrina, the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis and none of these disasters seem to have been enough of a warning for us to get serious about infrastructure maintenance, repair and construction.

As Herbert says, a country that refuses to properly educate its young people or to maintain its physical plant is one that has clearly lost its way – and this on top of an unnecessary war, a clueless central government that is wasting taxpayer dollars by the trillions – say it after me, TRILLIONS, and you’ve got a society in danger of becoming completely unhinged – if we aren’t already.

According to an article in Monday’s Times which spotlighted some of the serious problems that have emerged in the No Child Left Behind law, among the law’s unintended consequences, Sam Dillon reported that it’s tendency to “punish” states that “have high academic standards and rigorous tests, which have contributed to an increasing pileup of failed schools. You’ve got to be kidding, right?

Why isn’t this an issue that is being discussed in the presidential campaign? Why not talk about this during the final debate? Why not interview a few teachers, principals and thoughtful citizens? Yeah, right.

Well, I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. Neil Postman warned us years ago about our amusing ourselves to death. We may be closer to that than anyone is, not only unaware of, but too wrapped up in their own personal little world to give a damn about.

It’s our country and it’s our children and grandchildren's future! It’s way past time for us to start giving a damn about it.


Rain said...

Boy do I agree with that and Obama has said the same thing. A lot of the no child left behind is about testing and learning to take tests. Education and learning to think is about so much more than that but Bush's brother ran one of the testing companies that profited much from this program. Teachers did not.

Obama has said education and infrastructure is a big part of what he wants to see us work on but this administration has robbed the larder for a war and now a bailout and what is going to be left? We are in a bad time for improving our country and at a time when we can least afford to be ignoring the decay.

Darlene said...

The legacy Bush is leaving is one of total failure. The "No Child Left Behind" was supposed to be his signature success. It should be labeled "All children left behind".

What a total disaster this administration has been. What a relief that it's almost over.

Dogwalkmusings said...

Well old, angry broad, as I take a week off I'm glad to know that indignation is in the best of hands!

Aleta said...

What does it take? It takes concerned people. It takes parents to teach the children respect and appreciation of education. It takes teachers who are dedicated. (One of them - my Mom who used to teach English, now teaches Math and Science, which she adores. She is retired/returned, because she loves the field) It takes people to realize that the government will NOT support the system that WE need to take action and protect ourselves ~ build our levees stronger (I live in the city adjacent to New Orleans and received damage during Katrina).

Enough of politics and red tape ~ it's in our hands and responsibility falls in our laps.

Margie's Musings said...

I have a friend who teaches in Texas and she says they HAVE to teach the test to satisfy the government's demands.