As I pick up the DeKalb Neighbor from my driveway on August 4, 2010, an oppressively hot and humid morning, I notice a front-page article about the new school year. Three items draw my attention:
1.) Classes begin the following Monday. Students in Decatur city schools have already started.
2.) Various high schools have enjoyed renovations. Tucker High School, at a cost of $54 million, now features a new “media center, gym and parking deck.” Cross Keys High School enjoys a $16 million renovation featuring the “cafeteria, media center, administrative area, counseling center, gym, the band and chorus rooms, and the heating and air conditioning.” The photo accompanying the article features LaShawn McMillan Ph.D., the new principal, who “discusses the new computers that will be in every classroom,” according to the caption.
3.) I notice that LaShawn McMillan holds a Ph.D., and my jaw goes into lockdown.
Start dates have been moving forward incrementally since my own son was in kindergarten in 1992. In Cobb County, students are being encouraged to bring water bottles to school. On school buses, windows and roof hatches are opened to prevent heat stroke. Air conditioners in classrooms are contributing to peak energy use.
In Rochester, New York, where I grew up, ever since I can remember schools have started after Labor Day. Like many parents, I had a short window of opportunity for visits to relatives when my son was growing up.
Every parent I’ve ever talked to has wanted to wait until after Labor Day to begin the school year.
But never mind what the citizens want or what makes sense. Administrators tinker with calendars and other non-academic matters at taxpayer expense, obscuring what’s really wrong with schools: that most teachers don’t know their subjects. Education majors are asked to “think deeply” on pedagogy written by Marxist theorists who tell them children are able to “construct” their own knowledge. They come up with variants on the Ebonics proposal of the 1990s. I still remember the outrage that the mother of my son’s friend expressed about bringing the language of the ghetto into schools.
As education schools produce ill-prepared indoctrinators, educationists insist that more money needs to be spent on computers and new facilities to “enhance” learning and to “motivate” students. Computers replace books in “media centers,” where students, unable to discern valid sources of knowledge from invalid ones (thanks to their teachers), surf the net, amalgamate passages from online papers, and play games. As if they already didn’t suffer from attention deficits because of their own electronic devices, they will now have these blinking temptations in front of them in every classroom. Coddled by teachers who are taught that their primary role is to be emotional coaches, students boisterously roam gleaming new halls of buildings that look more like high-scale shopping malls or spas than schools.
LaShawn McMillan holds an advanced degree, which in the field of education usually does mean Piled Higher and Deeper. Dr. McMillan may be an exception to the rule, but advanced degrees indicate a deeper trek into the Marxist thicket of theory. The idea of “sharing” the wealth, which is already done when students are forced to pool and redistribute the school supplies their parents have bought, is extended to academics. Brain power is shared as children are put into groups, with the smartest one carrying dead weight and wasting his time getting his “peers” up to speed. The collective status is more important than individual merit.
Then politically correct curricula are enhanced by outside groups and consultants who come in to waste time on discussing “feelings.” Since educators are failing in academics, they now focus on “social and emotional intelligence” and welcome in ideological groups to conduct “anti-hate” sessions.
But the Ed.D. and the Ph.D. can expect to enjoy higher salaries of about 30 percent, into retirement.
Coincidentally, a few days before my DeKalb Neighbor newspaper hit my driveway, my tax notice had arrived in my mailbox. I live in an area that, according to a study by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has decreased in value 50 percent since the housing bubble burst. Yet my property taxes have increased 30 percent since I bought my house in December 2003. Like other Georgia taxpayers, over 60 percent of my property taxes will be going to produce graduates like the ones I have taught in college: undisciplined, narcissistic, and semiliterate. Renters also pay for this product. And we all pay through our state and federal taxes that are used to end “disparity” and to enforce federal mandates.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s vision for “21st Century Community Learning Centers” was released in a document titled: “A Blueprint for Reform — The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”
Duncan is taking his Chicago project to the national level. For Chicago, he outlined a plan for 14-hour day schools that offered health clinics, homework help, and potluck dinners. His “blueprint” announces “competitive grants to states, school districts, and community-based organizations to leverage models that comprehensively redesign and expand the school day or year, provide full-service community schools, or provide services before school, after school, or during the summer.”
You can bet that grants won’t be awarded to conservative evangelical groups.
The document also claims that “all programs will focus on improving student academic achievement … and providing enrichment activities, which may include activities that improve mental and physical health, opportunities for experiential learning, and greater opportunities for families to actively and meaningfully engage in their children’s education.”
I doubt that E.D. Hirsch’s core curriculum will be employed. If I had to take an educated guess, “mental health” activities will include anti-hate indoctrination and “social and emotional learning” consciousness-changing sessions.
I predict many grants going to groups like GLSEN whose members Obama met with at the White House in June, while he broke presidential tradition — instead of attending the annual National Boy Scout Jamboree on the occasion of their 100th anniversary, he chatted with the ladies on the View. I see the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, who are in tight alliance with the teachers unions, offering anti-hate programs.
I eventually see beds in the “community learning centers,” as the state simply raises our children. In the meantime, we’ll be working 12-hour days to pay for it all.