Friday, October 5, 2012

Guest Column: Education Bureaucracy is Failing Our Children

Why Little Johnny Can't Read & What Education Bureaucrats                   Aren't Doing About It

Friday, October 5, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Tom the Green Gobble

When was the last time that someone stopped you and said “The public school which my child attends is absolutely great.”? Just last week? Well, maybe not.  In fact, most of us have probably never heard such a thing. Have you ever wondered why? Is the list of answers to that question just too long to even contemplate? Let’s take a look and see what’s going on. Maybe there are some areas which might be improved upon.
Who’s in charge of little Johnny’s education? Let’s see; there’s his class room teacher Ms Jones, and then the Principal, Ms Smith. She in turn answers to the Superintendent who then answers to the county Board of Education, with an elected representative from each district. They oversee the work of the Superintendent of Schools and set policy for the school district. And let’s not forget about the myriad of clerks, specialists, janitors, cooks, cops, and other assorted bean counters mandated (but not paid for) by the Georgia Dept of Education and finally by the U.S. Dept of Education. Wow! That’s a lot of people helping Ms Jones teach little Johnny. It’s like they don’t trust her to do her job.
It begins to look like we have more “educrats” than teachers!  Why are these people here? Fifty years ago, the average high school with 1200 students had a Principal, a Vice Principal, one secretary, 40 teachers, a kitchen staff and a part time guidance councilor. The district superintendent had a secretary and a staff of two clerks. Now those numbers are dramatically changed. We seem to have more “chiefs” than “Indians”. The reason is more and more and more mandated regulation from Atlanta and Washington, DC. It takes dozens of bodies to create all these reports to tell us what we already knew back then. 
We are spending huge sums of money creating reports that no one reads or cares much about except the next “educrat” up the line. If schools are underfunded it’s because huge portions of the money are going to pay the “educrats” who contribute little, if anything, to little Johnny’s education.  Looks like we might have an opportunity for a partial solution here. Get rid of the excessive number of non-classroom “educrats” and increase the number of classroom teachers.  Oops, I’ve been told that we can’t do that because all these “educrats” are required to fulfill obligations to Washington, so we can get our tax money back to help run the schools that they are destroying. Oh, well, let’s look elsewhere.
Why are so many kids failing and dropping out of school? It can’t be for the lack of “educrats” or for facilities. It must be… the parents! Make that noun singular or possibly even non- existent. There are hundreds of kids in Richmond County being raised by extended family members because one or both parents have abandoned them, died or are in prison. And then there are those parents who literally cannot help their kids even if they wanted to, because they have no education either. Sadly, many just could not care any less about helping their child with their school work. It is no big surprise when these kids act just like their parents. Just ask the sheriff. We are dealing with a huge portion of the population which has a significant cultural deficit.  Or to put it another way, their life culture actually embraces drugs, prostitution, theft and burglary, assault of all types and all manner of antisocial behavior. Again, it is no great surprise when these kids fail to graduate from even our most  dumbed down public school curricula.
What can be done? Given that the current system fails with this group of students, we must look outside the box. Unfortunately, our “educrats” can’t do this. They have been brought up and trained in the current system which still predicates success on outside sources (parents) to help educate their children. Since a huge portion of our kids do not have access to this resource, it is hardly surprising that they regularly fail. We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand, if we are to find a way to educate these children who have no support at home.  In order to successfully change the educational paradigm in Richmond County, the first thing which we are going to have to do is elect some Board of Education members who see things in a new light. The old ways don’t work and haven’t worked for 40 years. 
It’s time for new ideas, new approaches and a bold approach to educational reform. Get rid of the old school of “educrats”.  Most of them will not even admit that there is an issue. Marion Barnes, a BOE member from District 1, is a perfect example. At a recent forum he publicly stated that charter schools do not out perform public schools. Any independent study of Charter vs Public schools clearly shows that charter schools do a superior job across the county.
The key differences between charter schools and regular public schools lies in three elements that help define them: they are held accountable, not just in general, but to achievement goals embedded in their charters. Their student body is made up of children whose parents chose the school, and the school is tailored to the student body’s needs. They are given freedom from certain bureaucratic procedures with the idea that this will give them a greater ability to focus on creating academic emphasis.  (All of this is the subject of another article.) If Charter schools were not succeeding, one would have to ask why they are being developed in over 40 states across the country. It has gotten to the point that if the “educrats” don’t want it, you can almost be certain that you need it. It’s all a matter of control; the “educrats” have failed miserably. Allowing a new and successful approach threatens their very existence. It’s time to start threatening their existence at the ballot box. ***

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1 comment:

Craig Spinks said...

"There's not much courage in Augusta, GA." There're not enough people in My Hometown courageous enough to vote for Lucien Williams and for Robert Cheek and thereby to show Marion Barnes and Jimmy Adkins the door. This situation STINKS.