Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Heitsman: Paul predicted 'itching ears', attacks on schools

The Apostle Paul’s letter in second Timothy, found in the Christian New Testament, gives an idea as to the motivation behind the so-called educational reform movements so popular in the United States today.

In his letter Paul notes, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.”

While education and educators have tried to keep people focused on what needs to be and should be learned as sound teachings the public and itching ears have been wondering into myths that threaten to destroy American education.

Myth number one is that education is a cure for all the ills of society. While there are many things education can solve it is unwise to saddle schools and teachers with the task of curing all the ills of society.

Myth number two is that education can or should take the place of parents. Replacing mothers and fathers with schools is an idea that does not work and cannot work in spite of the best intentions of either proponents or opponents. Children succeed in spite of and because of parents and multiple forms of parenting. Schools that try to be parents are attempting a task for which they are ill fitted.

Myth number three is that all parents do better than schools. Some parents can and do a fine job of teaching their children. Throughout history teachers have hoped that some of their children would become home schooled. Homeschooling, however, requires a sacrifice on the part of the parents. Parents will have opportunity costs in jobs they could have had, vacations they could have taken, or money they could have used for something else if they did not spend the time and money to home school their children. If parents are unwilling to take the time and spend the money to do a good job they let the boob tube or the streets educate their kids. It does not take a genius to see that either the tube or the street is worse than any school.

A lot of the bad press schools have been getting is by propagandists who are very good at their jobs, have massive media access, and are bought and paid for by people who want to make a lot of money in corporate run schools.

They want to do to schools the same thing they have done to hospitals and medical care.

At one time most hospitals were run by religious groups, colleges and universities, and governmental agencies. Than the corporations determined there was a lot of money to be made in health care. Since than, health care is subject to the market forces While markets are both powerful and can be productive they also are ridden with falsehoods and lies as different corporations try to monopolize the market in search of bigger and better profits. Especally creating markers for drugs like Viagra and Botox.

Another powerful force is the tendency of “free markets” to be anything but free. The price of education is making college out of reach for many of our college students, when the private sector takes over public education it can be envisioned that economics will be used to recreate discrimination for the poor and make education out of reach for those who need help the most.

Because of the potential for profit there have been more than a few ideas, some good some not so good to meet the needs of people who seek teachers for their own liking.

Charter school, private schools, magnet schools, and special interest schools have been springing up, and will continue to do so. Considering some of the laws passed and enforced by well meaning but woolly-minded legislators, courts, and special interests its no wonder that parents and the public have lost faith in public schools and have itching ears ready to be satisfied by the market for schools and schooling.

Education would be ill served if it became another commodity and as such the itching ears would be satisfied, but at what cost to the country as a whole.

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