I received a letter last week from one of the schools that my children attend. As I read it, I counted at least four grammatical errors, two improper uses of punctuation, and one word that I don’t believe is even in the dictionary, although anyone without a background in literature probably wouldn’t have known any better. Although the letter was merely an administrative missive that was composed to pass on some fairly useless information, it came from an educational institution, and that’s the part that I find disturbing.
I don’t have a good grasp on which direction we claim to be going with our state and federal plans for education, but my biggest concern is our incompetent approach to the edification of America’s youth. We’re hamstrung by budget cuts that are eroding a system that hasn’t even proven to be very remarkable for quite some time. In the meantime, districts across the country are laying off teachers in quantity, and there seems to be very little focus on actual quality, as active teachers seem like they could have been pulled off of street corners and still met the minimum qualifications.
Nevertheless, we continue to preach a philosophy that implies that higher education has a decided impact on our overall success when it comes to combating our recessive socioeconomic trends. Exactly how in the hell are we supposed to fill the marketplace with well-educated prospects when we can’t provide a suitable learning environment for our children?
I consider myself very fortunate. The opinions that the system has enabled me to form in the past 20 years are part of what has led me to instruct my children not only on making the most of their opportunities, but on reaching behind the dark curtain to discover what else is lurking there. I have five kids, and I have an outstanding success rate regarding their brains (they all have one), abilities, and talents, although most of the credit for their common sense (and maybe their looks) goes to their mother. I may be an intellectual, but I lack the ability to restrain myself from doing things that often end in injury, minor destruction, and the occasional structure fire. In that respect, I’m the anti-role model, yet my children seem to understand that. They wouldn’t be nearly as successful as they are if they didn’t.