Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Education Gold Rush is ON . . . .

I keep thinking that I'm going to be leaving education behind and writing another, more inspirational novel, and I'll probably do that, too, but I just can't turn my back on the biggest single issue on my mind:  If we don't lead toward the future and prepare the way for an EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS, then what will become of the Earth and all its people, what will become of the American experiment, what will become of all our hopes and dreams? After all, the whole world is watching how we handle our appalling gun problems, our political infighting, our racial divides, our growing levels of poverty while the rich get richer.  What are we doing about human progress?

The answer to this urge for evolution lies solidly within what we give to and leave future generations, and right now, we're just not doing a very good job for them, either in their education or in the example we are setting (for rational debate, for good decisions, for helping others, you name it!).  Thus, the SCHOOL issue, the educating of our children, continues to hold a central place in my imagination as the ONE PLACE where a change of mind can change the world. 

To that end, I offer this article from The Washington Post, on Valerie Strauss' "The Answer Sheet," an article by a teacher who learned about the complexities of changing education and drew some conclusions based on actual research.  Read "Five Basic Lessons on Public Education" and notice the MUCH different story it tells about the viability of the public school system.  I could quote voluminously from the conclusions reached here, since nearly every one is informative, but let me just point out the biggest inequity that makes the system as a whole appear to be failing: Children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds continue to regress as they go through school based on outside factors that hamper their lives. POVERTY is the real problem, and people who listened at the time know THAT is the issue that Martin Luther King was ultimately talking about.

This is not to condone the current industrial paradigm under which public education operates, of course, merely to point out real information that gets glossed over in the corporate drive to BUY PUBLIC EDUCATION--from the wily testing companies to the privatizers to the now-legion creators of online "textbooks" that they say will revolutionize schools. Right. Yes, the kids need to be online, so their personalized computer programs can track their responses and adjust for them, but we were doing that with stand-alone programs in 1980 and no one was very impressed. 

What we do NOT need is a public education system that becomes a subsidiary of techno-world, where every developer and his brother is now rushing to promote his program to the multibillion dollar education industry--the biggest untapped Mother Lode since the gold rush. FOLLOW THE MONEY, and speak up!! We need to save our kids not only from faceless bureaucracy but also from mindless corporatization and economic exploitation.

The issue here is that we cannot allow the politicians and CEOs to call the tune.  We cannot allow the privatizers with dollar signs in their eyes to raid our school budgets.  We cannot allow yet another round of new "textbooks"--online this time--drain our money and homogenize our kids' brains and fit so neatly into ever-useless "standardized tests."  Somewhere in this mess of mass media manipulation (such GREAT alliteration, yes?) is the real story:  We need talent in our teacher pool.  We need a  growth model that supports our talent.  We need creative approaches that focus on real work in real time so our kids don't drop out from sheer boredom.  We need to lift the bureaucracy off the backs of teachers, students, and parents and create a nurturing environment for the good of those involved as well as the rest of the world and the planet.  All of this moves us toward the aforementioned EVOLUTION of CONSCIOUSNESS which will take us racing into a better future, leaving the old paradigms and old arguments and older wars behind.  Speak up, about a world worth working for . . . .