Tuesday, January 23, 2007

School Unions--Time for Dismantlement?

I found the article entitled, the Innovators from The Atlantic's State of the Union 2007 to be interesting more in relation to what it did not discuss than to what it attempted to portray. The curious omission of Robin Jarvis' picture from the gallery line up makes one wonder why on earth Doris Roche' Hicks would be portrayed. She being, apparently, a slow learner and by her own admission, an impediment to change if ever there was one.

What is wrong with the American system of education is that it has no teleology and without a clear idea of the end or the kind of student that it would like to produce, the process remains a mishmash run by clueless administrators, morally neutered psychologists and cheerful but largely useless social workers. Headless processes, in short, turn out headless students.

Unless the kind of pupil to be produced by a system of education is clearly defined in terms of intellectual ability, moral clarity, physical health and social dynamism there will be no improvement. The American educational system wants its student to be good and to obey the laws but it hasn't a clue as to how to do this. The perceptive Kenneth Jackson comments: "Students needed something, or someone, to fear because they have gotten away with a whole lot.

It is interesting to note that, in this vein, Saddam Hussein kept order in Iraq by killing the kinds of people that wouldn't cooperate with his regime and that Americans, in their desire to impose their values on Iraquis failed to take into account why Saddam behaved the way he did. Well-chosen violence can be spectacularly therapeutic but there is no will for this in a morally eviscerated America that views its highest moral triumph as a woman's right to kill children in the womb. Neither will there ever be any real order and absense of fear in America's public schools until the basest instincts of students are warned against and cautioned with more than words. This is not likely to happen in the atmosphere of tolerance, celebration of deviation and general moral turpitude that constitutes the vision of the teachers' unions.

If there is any lesson to be learned from Katerina in New Orleans, it is that to start over from scratch might be the best thing that ever happened to the people of New Orleans.

3 comments:

Doctor Biobrain said...

Sean - As I said in the post you responded to at my blog, conservatives are far too in love with connecting dots than in actually looking at the dots they're connecting. And it looks like this blog is proof of that.

For example, I've been in many different public schools and have had my kids in many more, and I have no idea what you're talking about regarding lack of order and whatnot. I haven't been in a school yet where I thought they did everything "right", yet that's a far, far cry from suggesting that there is no "real order" in them. Sure, too many schools have problems with violence, but the fact that all of these schools are limited to being in areas that also have issues with violence would be indicative that the problem isn't the public school system, but rather the areas that the schools are in. Looks like you connected dots that don't exist.

As for Saddam, he used many other techniques than killing people. He rewarded people loyal to him. He had neighbors spying on neighbors. And is this post merely suggesting that we spank teenagers (who are clearly a bigger problem than pre-teens), or do you have some of Saddam's more drastic measures in mind for them? I can assure you that spanking a misbehaving teen would more likely get the spanker's tires slashed than in getting obedience. And perhaps you like the idea of these teens dropping out to avoid your "more than words" punishments, but I'd prefer that they be in school during the day, rather than roaming the streets.

Finally, what on earth did your post have to do with school unions? I guess everyone's got a different style, but I've always found it helpful to have subject lines that are in some way related to the subject of the post. Your subject line asks if its time to dismantle school unions (or perhaps it's with dismantling the school system itself, I can't tell); but your post just sounds like yet another substanceless rant against public education. You didn't even cite any evidence of what you were talking about. It was all in the abstract. Might I suggest that before you start connecting dots that you actually find some dots in the first place.

Your end note on the lesson learned from Katrina is a case in point on that. How can you learn a lesson from something that has barely begun? Sure, it might be the best thing. Or it might not be. How about waiting until the facts arrive before we pass judgment? I know that's not as fun, but that's how this is supposed to work. Instead, it just sounds like you're connecting dots that you imagined yourself.

Sean said...

1. Have you ever been in a school with order so that you have something to compare?

2. I have been to public school in San Francico as a Jr. high school student and can assure you that the undercurrent of violence and intimidation was vast and this was in the 1960s--and that was in a good neighborhood.

3. Try going to a Catholic school or a good private school in a bad area and you will find a curious amount of order despite the surroundings. Connect dots that actually do exist, not the ones you want to connect based on your ideology.

The post was in written in relation to an article. If you had read the article in question, you might be in a position to make some sensible comments. The article was hinting that dismantling school unions, which most definitely do not have the best welfare of the students in mind, might not be a bad thing based on their dismal track record in New Orleans before the flood. The unions exist not to improve education but the lives of the teachers and that frequently has very little to do with education.

Doctor Biobrain said...

The post was in written in relation to an article. If you had read the article in question, you might be in a position to make some sensible comments.

But you didn't mention anything about unions in your post. Perhaps that was original intent, but your post was entirely about replacing the public school system, not unions. If it helps any, I agree with you about teacher unions not being for the benefit of the students. I also agree that we need a better system. But for me, public schools focus too much on discipline and not enough on education; so I don't think we have the same ideas in mind. I would like it if public schools were modeled more on how colleges are run. In my opinion, real education doesn't begin until college, when they start treating students as if they're real people.

And yes, I went to two different private schools as a kid, one of which was a Catholic school. I don't remember there being a significant difference in discipline at any of these schools. Why did you assume that I hadn't been to private school? Again, it's all about the dots.

And just so you know, I'm referring to schools in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, and I never really found there to be a big discipline problem. Again, for me the problem is that education comes second to discipline. They care more about attendance, obedience, and timliness than they care about teaching things. That's a problem.

BTW, this is entirely a fluke that I'm writing back, so you shouldn't expect me to respond here again. I only came in the first place because I was going to insult you on my blog and decided to do a little research on you before smearing your name. I was kind of hoping you were just joking about what you wrote on my blog.