August 27, 2012

Education Policy

Education policy can go to hell.


You know what it is, when politicians and “experts” and whatever other adults get together and talk about education policy? Exploitation.

True, this is something I’ve talked about before. But even beyond what I wrote there, it goes so much deeper.

I just saw a Facebook posting by a nice organization called Our Time, sort of a youth rights org geared primarily at young adults. It was a little cartoon showing Chinese and Indian students studying hard (due to their countries supposedly investing more in education) while the American student is just listening to his iPod and chewing gum. They proceeded to ask whether education should be made a bigger priority here like in those countries, asking those who didn’t think so to explain in the comments.

So I did:

I’m wary of simply comparing ourselves to other countries without taking a good hard look at what the cultural and other differences actually are that result in the findings, or even whether the right aspects are being measured. Too often the political solution to wanting to compete with other nations not only fails to truly look for what’s being done differently (and when it’s a cultural thing, it’s not something any political decisions can do anything about anyway), but it usually translates to “work our students harder” which leads to third graders getting six hours of homework every night, and other egregious ways the lives of those under 18 are being made to have no other meaning or importance than their schooling. Behind the global comparisons and hand wringing over education policy (where only adults are discussing it) are the REAL individual lives of the students who are at their mercy.

It was while I was typing that I had a realization. Several realizations actually.

For one, okay, there’s the global competition, trying to be better than other countries at education. But then again… why the hell do we care? Even if the ways education quality is being measured were totally accurate and objective, why the hell do we care if China or India or Zambia or whoever else is doing better than we are?

It’s just yet another international dick-measuring contest, that’s what. Just like healthcare or energy policy or the Olympics. It’s wanting to be better for no other reason than being better, for bragging rights, for pride, to say we’re the ones doing it right. For elected officials to say this to their constituents, that this means better education for their children, that they made this happen and for that reason they should be re-elected or the candidates for their same party should be elected.

If this were being done in a way that actually did make things better all-around, it’d be fine. But they aren’t. While these officials and educational “experts” and consultants are blabbing on about how to improve education, which to them means absolutely nothing else than raising test scores (gag), and patting themselves on the back when they succeed, they forget this is not their success. It’s the students’ success (if anything). It’s the students who studied for and took these tests. All these adult decision-makers did was make some decisions and some guesses, but the actual work was done by the students.

I’m sure if they handed 30 kids some coloring books, and the 30 kids proceeded to color the pictures all nicely, these adults would be all proud of themselves for their own art project. 🙄

Therefore, my little brother’s preschool was giving him homework, to prepare him for the veritable stack he got in kindergarten. And I’ve seen the homework he gets. It’s bullshit. Even where it’s normal stuff like math problems, they manage to put in a lot of bullshit, much of which makes no sense. Much of it is pointlessly repetitive. Much of it is attempting to develop a certain skill or way of thinking or reading, even though the method makes no goddamn sense. I was talking to my dad about this recently and he sighed and said “Because apparently it’s SO important we compete with Korea!”

It comes back to the idea that kids have no worth if they are not making an adult look good. So it’s up to my little brother, who just started third grade, and every other little one and not-so-little-but-treated-like-little one, to keep their heads down, go through the system, do as they are told, and above all excel on standardized tests, not for themselves but so all the teachers and administrators and Department of Education jerkoffs can go “yippee! look how awesome we are!” The kids are being overworked, for no compensation except for a far off diploma they won’t see until they have reached adulthood, just so the entirely-adult-led school system can say it’s doing a good job, hopefully to get more money with which to pay the teachers and administrators and fund more tools to squeeze more delicious “achievement” out of the students on which the school officials shall feed.

And schooling is compulsory. The kids and their parents get into legal trouble if they don’t go, must have a legitimite excuse for being absent, must jump through a whole lot of hoops to homeschool or unschool. These kids are legally forced into 13 years of bondage in which they must achieve achieve achieve to make their school system and politicians look good. Yet education still needs to be improved, so we get wonderful suggestions out of Obama and others such as… make it so you can’t drop out until 18! Oh, and make school days longer! While we’re at it, do we really need this whole “summer” thing? :irked:

Goodness, how long until weekends, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break are on the chopping block?

Because it’s not like kids need rest or leisure time (except where it might make adults look good). They are worth nothing more than the letters on their report cards. No punishment is too severe if it means getting kids to study and lift those grades. Any minute not being used for something relating to education is a minute wasted. Any minute not being used for education is being used for something bad, like watching TV, playing a game, being online, or – gasp! – interacting with their friends!

Those minutes are supposed to be used making our junk look bigger than China’s, damn it! :doitnow:

This has been Day 96 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 12.


  1. I’m pretty sure America is worse than Japan about overworking ourselves anyway. Instead of working even more, maybe we should ask why our education seems to be so poor.

    *shudders* That ‘no dropping out until you’re eighteen’ really frightens me. Luckily, I’m in a state where the dropout is still mercifully sixteen, so I was able to extricate from myself from the school system with relative ease.

    It just worries me that people will have to remain in school for an additional two years, and have an even harder time of trying to get out.

    Comment by Kaza — August 31, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

  2. My school district has already killed off Spring Break.

    Comment by wedway — December 3, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

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