14 April 2007

Options For Educational Improvement

When an entity consistently, continuously and even criminally fails to perform a vital function, what remedies apply? The general choices are improvement (including improvement by forcible means), substitution or tolerance.

What if that vital function is public education and the entity in question is a historically incompetent government? What then?

In that case, the private sector eventually steps in to create a substitute. Witness the local explosion over the past 30 years of private schools, from dubious church-sponsored pre-kinder/daycare centers to nationally-recognized academies. But are they really a substitute? After all, they are still beholden to the laughable "standards" and bureaucratic procedures of the government's education lamebrains. In fact, the substitution, for what it's worth, is to the government's benefit: Fewer public school students means there's more budgetary fat to feed on.

At first glance, We can't force the government to improve, for any number of reasons: lack of unity amongst Us, general and imposed indifference to the true value of education, The Fools' kids don't go--oh nonono!--to public schools so they have no reason to give a damn and so on. Homeschooling, a combination substitution/forcing move, still depends on the lamebrain overseers who are trying desperately to gain even more control over it as We speak. And the ultimate substitution--moving out of Puerto Rico--is used increasingly, but only by those who have the means, a significantly low minority.

So what are We left with? Tolerance? Our historical non-reaction to the government's utter failure to properly and adequately prepare Our children for global competition? I hope I don't need to tell you that tolerance is and never was acceptable. Let Me be blunt: This educational failure cannot be tolerated anymore. The only possible choice is to use both other options, substitution and forcible improvement, to start making the change We desperately need.

How? Let's try these options:

--Build new schools or modify existing ones to establish high-effectiveness schools. Can't be done? Check out what Aspire is doing...with public schools.

--Locate areas where students are badly underserved by existing schools and create quality schools for them. Can't be done? Look into what Civic Builders is doing.

--Want to avoid building schools and use what's in them already? Okay, how about empowering the bare handful of true teachers We have with funding for their educational projects. Where will the money come from? Click over to Donors Choose and learn a little something.

--How about recruiting the high-quality Education students right out of universities to target daycare and pre-school classrooms? That's what Jump Start does and God knows a ton of church-based operations could use professional help. And look at what Teach For America does, using high-quality graduates to transform embattled urban and rural schools.

--Or what if We expanded after-school programs to focus on leadership and life-affirming skills? Talk about something new... Check out BELL, Building Educated Leaders for Life. And they even do summer school programs!

--What about expanding education to take in more than just under-prepared, overwhelmed and indifferent "educators" to include professionals from a wide variety of fields? That's the premise behind Citizen Schools. Or combining corporate employees with adopted schools for short- and long-term projects? That's what The Hands On Network does.

All of these organizations, all of their programs, are meant to replace the horribly deficient government effort with targeted new initiatives. In doing so, they force the government to improve, if not directly, then by the indirect path of raising public awareness of what can actually be done with education when it's managed with focus, expertise and passion.

We have run out of time. We have been misled, misused and mistreated by Our own indifference and incompetence in selecting those who would ostensibly lead Us to growth and progress. But with the same power of choice, We can choose--We must choose--to alter the spiraling descent of Our future and turn it into a steady, even if slow, rise to Our fulfillment.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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