Blast 'em

This Blast 'em blog is going to shine a much needed bright light on legislative shanigans. We will provide details of the wrong doing, give names of the doer, and describe the ramifications to the public. Initially we will focus primarily on consumer issues.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

IS PUBLIC EDUCATION, EDUCATION?

A few days ago, my neighbor, a locally born, raised, and educated lady; stopped at a super market for a small purchase. When she checked out her purchase came to $ 19.79. She gave the cashier a twenty dollar bill and as she did so the cash register went down. The cashier picked up a pad and pencil and wrote 20.00. Under that she wrote 19.97, drew a line under the numbers, and crossed out the seven. My neighbor thought” my god, she’s going to do second grade subtraction. In order to nip this fiasco in the bud, my neighbor said “twenty-one cents”. The clerk said “thank you, how did you do that”? My neighbor took her change and left the store in amazement. I wonder what the cashier would have done if my neighbor had said forty-one cents? We’ll never know.

This brought to mind the fact that I’ve been living in Hawaii for eighteen years. During all this time the story regarding education remains unchanged, “more money is spent per student than any other state, many pupils do not have text books, and Hawaii schools rank last in the nation”. Eighteen years and nothing has changed. If you ask the Department of Education (DOE) you receive, what is to me “cop out” answers such as, “teachers spend too much time on discipline and not enough time teaching, English is a second language for many pupils, The cream of the crop is scraped off by the private schools and public schools have to take all comers, and parents are too busy working two or more jobs for survival to spend time on their children’s education”.

I grew up in the Bronx, New York. If there were any private schools they were so far over the horizon I never heard of them. Many of my classmates were from immigrant families and they sent their children to school with strict instructions to pay attention, learn English, and come home and teach the parents. They all knew that in order to prosper in this great country you had to be able to read, write, and speak English! Moreover, they learned early on that the streets were not paved with gold as they had been told, and they were going to have to work in order to prosper. Please note that prosper was the key word and not survive. These folks came to this country to prosper and if learning English and working hard was the answer than that is what they did.

Discipline was handled very simply by jerking the problem pupils out of the room and sending them to the principal’s office. The principle required a parent to come in for a meeting before the pupil was allowed back in class. Of course this was a great inconvenience for the parent because last time from work meant lost wages, just like now. These rules were strictly enforced and very few discipline problems remained after second grade. Those that did were handled in the time honored fashion, inconvenience the parent and they will handle the problem.

Back to the money, in Hawaii, more money is spent per pupil but not on pupils. The money disappears into the DOE never to surface again. It’s not spent on text books or teacher raises, so where does it go. My guess is it stays right there as fuel for the ever-growing quagmire that is the DOE. Moreover, the teachers union does its very best to stand in the way and make sure teachers do as little work as possible. No-one represents the students. As long as politician’s, DOE personnel, and teacher’s children attend private schools, nothing good will happen in public schools. I’ve heard at least two governors say they wanted to be known as the “education governor”. Maybe so, but can any governor do anything good for public education? I sure don’t have the answer.

A few weeks ago Dave Rolf, a lobbyist for the Automobile Dealers Association, wrote a great Op-Ed piece in the Advertiser. Apparently automobile dealers aren’t getting a sufficient number of entry level employees who can read and write. Hopefully, more lobbyists and their clients will step up and demand better education in the public schools. After all, it’s in their best interest. Think about it! George

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