Thursday, January 4, 2007

Weekly Podium: "No Child Encouraged to Move Ahead"

Somewhere along the course of American history, we decided that education would become the breeding ground for political correctness and socialist brainwashing.

I’m not sure exactly when it started, but I would venture to say that it started when the leftist radicals grew up after their psychedelic anti-war protesting the late ’60s and early ’70s, they decided that in order to spread their ideologies to the world and create a society more favorable to their beliefs, they had to spread into the two areas of greatest influence in modern America - media and education.

Education in America is flawed. One of the staples of George W. Bush’s presidency has been No Child Left Behind. This was not a novel concept, as many educational experts (read: “liberals in the field of education”) had long believed that many of the policies in Bush’s program were the best way to improve the education of K-12 students in America.

Virginia jumped on a similar bandwagon before Bush’s election, creating the Standards of Learning test to be administered to these same students to make sure they learned a certain amount of subject matter before they moved on to the next grade. This way, students would be prepared for the next level of education.

We also spend billions of dollars on programs to help those with learning disorders. I’m not talking about children who have problems such as mental retardation; I’m talking about students who are just not as smart as the others. There is no such thing as a dumb kid anymore. If a child underperforms in school because he’s just not that smart, or just doesn’t care, why do we have to create every excuse possible to explain why they’re not performing well?

Come to think of it, why is it that we allow children who are just a little slower than average a whole class period to get tutoring and assistance each and every day of the school year? Yet, gifted students get barely anything from the educational system.

When I was living in Pennsylvania, I was in a gifted program in that was obviously created by non-gifted educators. My gifted program consisted of two 30- or 45-minute sessions each week in which I was to leave class halfway through a particular subject! Then, on top of that, I would have to still have to learn the subject matter outside of the classroom, meaning that I actually had to teach myself what I missed, and then do the homework.

"Hey, this kid is smart! We can't have that, it will demoralize the other students! Let's punish him with more work, that'll teach him not to be intelligent!!!"

Since we can’t allow the dumb kids to feel dumb, we make the smart kids not want to be smart. Then complain that our schools are lagging behind other the schools in places like Japan and China. How hypocritical is that?

Speaking of hypocrisy, we spend taxpayer dollars on programs such as DARE, and then advise every parent with a child that is either an A student or a D student that they need Ritalin and other drugs to normalize them and bring them to the average level. Thereby making the teacher’s job easier, as they don’t have to teach to a wide variety of learning speeds.

Young gifted students are fed Ritalin because they restless due to the lack of mental stimulation provided by the teachers. However, it’s not the fault of the teachers, really. It’s the fault of such standardizing of education like the SOLs. We force the teachers to teach the kids to pass the test instead of teaching the subject matter so it can be learned. Since principals can’t be pressed to actually observe their teacher’s performance, we use the SOLs as a standard in which not to just measure the student’s success, but the teacher’s success.

Why not just eliminate grades altogether, then? The almighty SOL was designed to determine whether or not a high-school student will graduate or not.

Every child should have the opportunity to succeed, this is true. However, not every child has the same mental capacity and/or intelligence. So why do we treat all children the same although there is such a wide range of mental capabilities amongst these kids? This also contradicts the liberal ideological theory of teaching children to embrace our differences as individuals. So how’s it going to be, educators of America? Are we all the same - or are we all different?

No wonder our kids are so mixed up.

We live in a country that has the best college system in the world. People flock here from all kinds of foreign nations to study. However, we have a mediocre-at-best elementary and secondary educational system. It is the lack of focus upon the important subjects, like English and math, and too much focus on such subjects as sex ed, that we fall behind as a nation.

It is also the educational system’s overall lack of impetus to encourage the gifted and talented children to explore their own higher level of thought and intelligence that causes many of our future’s brilliant minds to accept mediocrity as success - just so the dumb kids in the corner feel better about themselves. My experience has told me that 85 percent of the time the dumb kid in the corner doesn’t care one bit about the smart kid, unless he wants the smart kid’s lunch money. He will get pushed through the system anyway, because no child can be left behind, right?

Some states have been making the attempt to educate the gifted students in a suitable way. The state of Maryland has invested a lot of money in magnet and Montessori schools that are made to enrich the minds of the gifted, and there are plenty of these schools around throughout the state, in areas both urban and rural. Where’s Virginia’s effort to push the talented and gifted? Where’s the enlightening of advanced minds?

I am the proud father of an almost 15-month old. Speaking objectively, my son is very, very intelligent. He does things kids his age just don’t do. I almost feel that, in order for my child to escape public schools with some semblance of motivation and drive, I shouldn’t tell him that he’s intelligent. I should let him just think he’s an average student and hide his gifts from him - because if he knows his gifts and potential, the current educational system will only tatter and tear his self-esteem, and destroy any drive he may have to get an education and become a better person.

And that, my friends, is the saddest thing of all.