Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Which Side of The Road?

I guess it's because this week is Educator Appreciation Week that I am finally getting around to writing this, but it's something I've been wanting to address.

Am I an expert in education?  No.  Even my degrees are in business.

That said, however, I worked in a low income school for seven years.  There were issues with mental disorders, drugs, abuse, abandonment and even death I saw in those seven years.

Thiis is what I do know:  What has been done in past is no longer working, and for many reasons.

First:  The nature and makeup of families has changed.  We are no longer living in a "Leave It To Beaver" family existence, instead we have single parent families, we have grandparent families, we have same sex couple families, we have foster kids, adoptees and kids born out of wedlock who would have been shunned when I was a kid, now it's common place.  

We have babies having babies.  When my Mother was in high school, she married my Father the summer before her senior year.  Not  because she was pregnant, but because her family life was bad enough that my Father told my Mother he was getting her away from it.  This was in 1951 and my Mother had to attend her senior year of high school at night as the school officials were worried of what she would say regarding sex to her classmates.  They didn't have children right away given the financial circumstances they were faced with and they wanted a more secure life before they brought young ones into the world.

These days, it's not unheard of for girls to graduate high school with a child in tow, regardless of whether they are married or not, and they are attending their classes during the day.

The  bottom line is:  things have changed over the years.

Second:  We have been into a new "industrial revolution" of sorts, where there are more jobs involving a technical knowledge that hasn't been seen in quite a while.

Keep in mind, there were growing pains when wagons and the pony express were replaced with the railroad.  That was the first industrial revolution.  Now we use satelites and an internet, complete with cloud computing, to transfer items, with railroads, airplanes and trucks delivering goods.

With this is requiring a new revolution involving education.  Gone are the one room classrooms that housed multiple grade levels where everyone learned together.  Gone are the days when reading about the world in a book sufficed, and card catalogs were the only search engines.

My point is this:

If you are in the United States, which side of the road do you drive on?

, Ken. highway.jpg. 2008. Pics4Learning. 7 May 2015 <>

If you are driving in Texas and then cross the boundary into Oklahoma do you change sides of the road?  No.

Do those white dotted lines you see in the picture above change to a different color when changing states?  No.

What would happen if it did?  People would have accidents, some fatal.  People would be getting traffic citations from local police and not understand what they did wrong.

How confusing would it be for families who would take a road trip involving driving through several states?

Congratulations, you now know why there are NATIONAL STANDARDS for roads.  Does this mean that local areas have no say in the roads?

To some degree yes, but to some degree no.  States can still decide on where the local roads are located, states can also decide speed limits on federal highways.

My point here is because there are national standards involving these roads, you don't have the confusion.

Don't our children deserve the same respect?

When children move from one state to the next, it's the children who usually pay the worst penalty given that they will end up in a school that is either more advanced than their old one, or less advanced, dependent upon the states the child is moving to and from.

I saw this at the school I worked at.  Students would come to Arizona from other states and the children would be one to two grade levels below Arizona's state standards for reading and math.  The problem is, given that each state (and in some cases districts or charter schools) has their own standards for reading and math, it is difficult to determine if this was due to lower standards in the state they came from, the school was not meeting those state standards, their teachers were not meeting their state's standards, or if this was a case of "educational neglect" on the part from the parents (parents not providing for the educational needs of their children).

Why?  Because while Arizona's state education standards might call for students to drive on the right side of the road, the standards in another state might call for the students to drive on the left side of the road.  The sign posts have different meanings.  The traffic lights are in different colors.

In other words, there are no NATIONAL STANDARDS for a child's education.

Who pays the price?  Everyone.

     The child pays the price in an education that is not equal to other children the same age and grade as them in another state.

     Adults pay when those children grow up.  Those children cannot qualify for better paying jobs, so spending must be cut to pay the bills.

     Cuts in spending mean fewer jobs.

     Those children, working lower paying jobs, require more jobs or government assistance.

     Those children are not making the money required to cover the payments to Social Security needed to pay for the retirement of the Adults.

     Those children do not have the educational knowledge and tools to provide assistance with homework and meet the academic needs of their children.

In case you are wondering, there are multiple studies on this, including this one reported by the Washington Post.

What really bugs me is the bigger outcome:  a loss in better paying jobs for Americans growing up as children of poverty.

Recently there were two actions being taken that I felt were alarming.

The first was the action taken by our Federal Congress to increase the number of H1-B visas for people from other countries to obtain technology jobs here in the U.S.  If you think those jobs are for call centers, think again.

The second is the outcome:  more companies are now hopping on the bandwagon to eliminate the technology jobs of Americans and replace them with H1-B visa holders.

I'm not saying I'm against immigrants coming here to start new businesses and create new jobs in the U.S.  There is a lot to be said about the job creation coming from those immigrating to the U.S.

What I am saying is this:  Why are American children not creating the jobs and not filling the technology jobs if they are in such demand?  Part of it can be blamed on the American culture, however a part of it can also be attributed to the fact that many of these immigrants had the benefit of an education system built on NATIONAL STANDARDS.

Remember this the next time a politician spouts off about how their state's standards are better than everyone else's.

Classrooms Around The World

OECD Report for 2014

US Census Data for Educational Attainment

A few more thoughts...