Jan 01, 2014, I resolved to try to make-up for what other organizations have and parents do not — an institutional memory. All the groups school parents deal with have some continuity that assists them in fulfilling their roles and advancing their positions. The teachers have their unions, principals their associations, trustees their organizations. And, they have a running record of their achievements and access to information when problems arise.
Parents are handicapped as they are always starting from scratch if they have a concern or problem.
Constantly reinventing the wheel. Of course this leaves parents in an unfair position. After 45 years in the trenches so to speak, with grandchildren in schools, I feel I can help a little in this regard.
Today, I reproduce a post I made in one of my earlier blogs 6 years ago. I will comment later about what the interval tells us — in 2008 and to today in 2014.
The education systems I follow – Canadian, American, and UK – are so ponderously top-heavy on the supply-side of education economics that they can only survive from toppling over by using complex, interlocking schemes that deliberately and successfully thwart reform efforts from the demand-side (the customers). Having usurped the rightful “property” and duty of parents and teachers, they cling to power and influence by deceitful methods.
There are probably 101 DECEITS that impede effective education. I will start listing a few and you can add others.
1. We aim for a classless society. Yet, by denial of choice in education, poor or disadvantaged students are prevented from overcoming limitations and leave school with deficient skills for quality life, work, or further education. Lack of choice frustrates social mobility. Equality of opportunity applies to the rich who can buy private education or move to catchment areas where schools respond to articulate customers.
Look at the array of obstructionists that prevent CHOICE mechanisms from operating (magnet schools, charter schools, vouchers, open access….) and you start to see a good picture of those vested interests that benefit from a monopoly, state supply system.
2. We have civilian governance of education. That is, trustees, are elected from the community to ensure that schools are run for the benefit of the students and not the providers (teachers, administrators, teacher educators, etc.) Yet, how many trustees do we see that are themselves educators, ex-educators, or ex-teacher union leaders with hidden agendas? And, they are quickly trained and domesticated to follow the dictates of the administrators. Some simply exploit this experience as an opportunistic stepping stone in pursuit of higher political aspirations.
3. High costs of education are mainly due to teacher salaries. Yet, is this true? Compute all the overhead and subsidiary costs of the system. Factor in top dollar salaries of administrators and the rest of this bureaucratic empire. Don’t forget the costs of lawyers who are always on call in case of disputes. And, don’t forget the costs of Public Relations experts, conflict resolution experts, facilitators…..
4. Parent involvement is very important to boost student achievement. Yes, research supports the correlation between student achievement and parent involvement, yet the current waves of soliciting more parent participation results in only more fund and fun-raising activities – not academic attention. Furthermore, whole industries of “parent involvement practitioners” are spinning off of this fad, further providing jobs for unemployed education PhD’s, adding more layers of “experts” and further mystifying parents and keeping them at bay.
5. Education enables young people to be self-sufficient adults. However, the rising tide of mediocrity and dependency arising from “illiterate” grads is troubling. In some populations over 40% of students are drop-outs, leading to underemployment or dependence on welfare.
The poor economic performance in France and Germany is blamed on the education systems which prepare students for government welfare (“Learning to Love the Dole”) more than they do for entrepreneurship or productive employment. See: Europe’s Philosophy of Failure here: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4095