Friday, October 1, 2010

Time to step up

I am reading two books right now. I don't want you to think that this an unusual circumstance for me because I have been a reader for more than 65 years. Our mom was also a reader who only had a tenth grade education and she was reading to us from birth. She passed away at the tender age of fifty-nine, but she made sure we grew up with library access as well as a few comic books. She told me that I began reading at age four. I never stopped.

"Quilts, Masterworks from the American Quilt Museum" is a breath taking book for a quilter like myself. Every page an adventure or a confection or both. A book like this feeds my heart.

"Looking For Superman" is something different all together. This is a book about the failure of our school system. This book may well break my heart. I am a California girl transplanted to the mid-west eight years ago so my husband and myself could watch our granddaughter grow up. granted it has been an adjustment that I am still making. However, before leaving California I had become worried about education there. When I was growing up I remember that when a new student came to school from another state they often had to catch up. We had a wonderful school system. Things are so different now for all our children.

I am not only referring to the curriculum. A few months ago I had a talk with that twelve year old that literally broke my heart. Miss L. is a wonderful artist. ( I know, I am her grandmother, but she really is pretty good) She goes to a school that has a National Baccalaureate program that she is a part of. Art is her favorite class and she is in an art class this semester. The problem is there are so many students who have behavior problems that art is taking a back seat in this chaotic class.

In the scheme of things a below average art class may seem unimportant. There is more. L. told me that she has to be careful and responsible for herself every day. She says that there are fights every day. She has to be careful who she makes eye contact with, sit with, speaks with. A little friend stood up for a younger child and angered the bully. This older child later cornered her in the girls room and she had great difficulty getting out to tell a teacher what happened. Now her mother is worried about possible reprisals from the girl who had received a ten day suspension. I wake in the middle of the night and wonder how there can be any education going on in a school where there is also so much fear. I was never given reason to be afraid in my school. When my children were growing up and they were involved in a school day , I had a reasonable expectation that for those six hours they would be safe. They spent a lot more time in school that children do today. Education was going on!

My husband has witnessed physical fight among parents where the police had to be called! My daughter went to pick up L. a few days ago and as she sat in her car across the street from the school she suddenly saw what she thought was a fight going on right outside the school doors. When she realized there were no other adults in the area, let alone a teacher or school administrator she jumped out of her car and ran across the street. She is a teacher herself and did not think twice. Almost there and a teacher came out and started to break up what turned out not to be a fight but a beating! A big kid was beating the hell out of a small child.

I am afraid for our children. Not just because of the bullies, but because American education is so far behind approximately twenty plus countries. ( Can't remember the number, I am old and that is what happens) Ask a college English teacher if incoming freshman are prepared for college. There answer will make you sick. I know because that teacher daughter I just mentioned is a college teacher teaching developmental English. She would give you a real earful. It breaks her heart and mine.

Read "Waiting For Superman" or see the movie, hang out at your child's school, listen closely when you child is in the back seat speaking about his or her day at school. They are trying to tell us what is really going on.

I promise that this kind of post will not happen to often, but on the occasion of such injustice I will be back. This most intelligent generation is being given a raw deal and I don't want us to look the other way and take for granted that someone else will fix it.


Elizabeth Ann said...

My children attended California schools (in the country)and had a wonderful education until high school and we could see the education system going down hill. It broke my heart to see the teachers losing control and the principal would sit back and let it happen. I hear a lot of bad things about home schooling but when you have a child that wants to learn I applaud the parents that give up so much so their child can have a chance to a wonderful education. By the way I love your quilts, I got to take a class from you once and hope to again someday, I loved every minute!

Elaine said...

Another excellent book to read is "The Underground History of American Education" by John Gatto. This book tells why education is what it is today. It's not really a solution book, but is excellent for understanding where our country has come from its original intent.

Anonymous said...

Well, when Mom rights h-e-double toothpicks, you know she has had it! Thank you, Mom. You have said it so well. I feel like I am on the fence and trying to figure out which way to fall. Will I stand up and fight for LibbyLu's school, or is it so far gone that I have to grab her and run to the private school. I work in a public institution. We are lowering the bar to meet what we see coming through our doors. When I go to PTA meetings, I am often one of ten parents there, the same ten parents, in a school of hundreds. I always joke that a few us should simply quit and start our own school. Maybe I am not kidding. ~Kelly said...

Education in this country does have its problems. I know that when E & W were still in school they knew who to stay away from! They also knew where the drugs were, where the "gangs" hung out, and where NOT to be. They were always in fear for Claire, but I made sure she was in a more protected environment. I am proud to say that both E & W have chosen career paths in education. They are hoping for change. They are hoping to be a force to help make the change. Change is needed.

Purple Pam said...

It is appalling what is happening in our schools today. It is difficult to learn in an environment where you do not feel safe.