Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Breakfast Club 30 years ago, tomorrow the HB1490 Workgroup club. The world's an imperfect place.

I'm getting ready to drive to Missouri's capital, Jefferson City, tomorrow morning, to meet up with a number of others - on all sides of the political fence - in the HB1490 Workgroup to help in rewriting our educational curriculum standards for Missouri's public school system.

30 years ago I was watching The Breakfast Club. Now I'm putting ridiculous amounts of time and money into trying to fix a system which makes Mr. Vernon's 'Schermer High School' seem a shining gymnasium on a hill.

I shouldn't disclose details of private email conversations, but a friend who's very much involved in the process made an apropos, and very depressing, analogy between our public system of education and the Titanic, basically that it can't be fixed, it will sink, and in the meantime we do our best to help reduce injuries to as many of the passengers we can, while also doing our best to encourage as many as we can to get to the lifeboats as soon as they can.

For those of you out there with a more optimistic view of things, I'll remind you that we're trying to save a system that was largely designed by a fellow who, in 1909, after setting the template for our modern school systems with their superintendent structures, textbooks, centralized testing, etc, chortled that
"Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.” 
If you're interested, I've got a few more details on that in this post from several years back.

So why am I heading out to Jefferson City early tomorrow morning for our HB1490 workgroup meeting? Partly because I couldn't forgive myself if I didn't do what I could to help make the system less bad, but... fix it? Well... here's a question I've yet to hear come up in any of the debates about 'education reform':
"What do you mean by Education?"
Shouldn't that be the very first question asked, before setting out to reform or fix it?

Yes, it should.
The Brat Pack we ain't, but we're working on it.

Any questions?

One more - a question for myself and everyone else who feels beaten down by the educational system and by the political system: What can't we do about it?

What we can't do, is do nothing. Our system of public education is not separable from our system of government. The education system we are all fighting right now is the very same system that is tearing our system of government apart before our eyes and it would like nothing better than to do so ever faster, without our interference. The state of our nation, our government, our culture and the widespread lack of understanding of all of it, is a result of our current state of education, and as my link points out, this problem began a heck of a lot earlier than the 1960's.

And it's not going to come back, or even improve, if we leave them to their own devices.

So long as we as a people retain some shred of ability to reason, then we have to do our best to change the system through the laws, and as the cooler heads among us have pointed out, that requires engaging with our legislators and with those who'd like nothing better than to 'teach us a thing or two' to the contrary.

And you know what? One of the nicer surprises I've had in this process, is that it is not only possible to work together with those who see things very differently from how I do, it can be interesting and rewarding to do so.

And hey, if you're stuck on the Titanic, might as well rearrange the deck chairs.

 So... see ya'll all again in the morning.

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