Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SG at the Ballot Box: Welcome to Education Week

I should have done this yesterday, but I'm human and have another job. So I didn't.

In any event, welcome to Education Week. If you have something to say about education--either K-12 or post-secondary education, I want to hear from you.

To start with, I'm posting links to the candidates' platforms on education.

In the red corner from the great desert state of Arizona we have John "The Maverick" McCain and his ideas on education.

And in the blue corner, from the battleground of Southside Chicago we have Barack "Changeman" Obama's ideas on education.

As a first step, I recommend glancing at these two to see the difference--and I'll sum it up in my own words: Obama supports public education, McCain would rather see people who are able to put their kids in private schools do so...and get tax breaks to do it. Which begs the question: what's so great about private school vouchers?

Keep reading for more...

1 Comment:

marilynJean said...

I'm totally coming at this with a bias: the bias being that I am a graduate of a public school. I strongly believe that public schools are one cornerstone of a strong society. When people advocate for private schools, charter schools or any other alternative - while it is their right - I take issue with it.

If people have the time, energy and resources to invest in private and charter schools, then why isn't that same effort matched when it comes to treating our public schools? I don't want to hear excuses about the school board, bad parents or lazy teachers. Public schools are controlled by the public so we have no one to blame, but ourselves.

And let us look at the really, really BIG picture: blighted neighborhoods, communities infected with crime, foreclosure and unemployment affect our public schools. We cannot have a conversation about public schools without talking about the cities which they serve. This means looking at education beyond the traditional classroom, beyond teachers and beyond the hours between 7:00 and 3:00.

To assume that public schools can only be remedied by removing students and placing them in privitized educational institutions serves only to further decline, promote separatism and encourage a gross misappropriation of taxpayer money.

I respect any candidate who has a plan to invest in public schools, involve parents, encourage prevention, and engage the community in taking an active role in its schools. Make teachers accountable - don't attack their union. Support positions such as school social workers, health professional, art instructors, psychologists, etc. to enhance the learning environment AND address the societal issues that plague our childrens in failing schools.

The answer is not to turn your backs on the problem and expect privatization to cure what ails you. Fixing the education system is about everyone doing their part...community leaders, politicians, professionals, educators, homeowners, young people and parents.

And higher education: break down the ivory towers that perpetuates the collegiate caste system that exists. Create a philanthropic environment that encourages large donors to support endowments of smaller schools. Places like Harvard and Yale where the size of their endowments exceed some countries' GNP should help families who want to provide their talented and qualified children with an exceptional education. This doesn't mean let any and everybody in, this means helping those students who are smart enough, but not rich enough to attend schools that challenge their educational achievements.

State funded schools should be held to even higher standards since their are funded by the people. Recruit the best professors and fund tougher academic programs - not just get better uniforms for the football team. An OSU degree should carry as much weight as a degree from Penn or Stanford. I know that is a stretch, but it's a belief and one that I am willing to work for as a taxpayer and citizen.

If we keep supporting administrations that don't make education a real priority, then our country will never heal some of its deepest wounds.


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