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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Will they ever learn?

On May 31, 1995 Mitchell Moss concluded his Op-Ed for New York Newsday titled "Ray Cortines Must Be Doing Something Right" with this paragraph:
The school system's problem is not a lack of leadership but the failure of politicians to recognize that cuts in school spending will undermine the city's economy and long-term competitiveness. We now have a schools chancellor who is not in any body's hip pocket. Nevertheless, even a strong chancellor cannot overcome the political abandonment of the public schools. The leaders of the city and state believe that tax cuts create jobs, but what happens if they are wrong and we get the worst of both worlds: no new jobs and no skilled labor? If that happens, by 1997, education will replace crime as the critical issue facing the city. Do we really have to kill our public schools in order to save them?
That's right fifteen years ago, Cortines, was in the middle of things in the NYC schools. Today, he is in the middle of it in the LA schools. I've always liked Cortines' style and work. He is a serious educator in a tough position. He understands education like few educational leaders. What is happening to education in California is criminal. What is happening to education in this country is criminal. We don't have any more feet to shot, they are both gone.

We keep hearing politicians speaking beautifully and respectfully about schools and the function of education in this country, and then when they leave the podium and roll up their sleeves, education gets hammered. What dictators do in other countries to their teachers from cutting off their tongue or even beheading them, US politicians commit more civilized crimes against education by cutting funds, trimming staff, and overloading classroom with more students. We are a nation that abhors torture, but as we have learned we have practiced it and demonstrate our skills when it comes to education.

Just as the Iranians are disgusted with their politicians; the Brits are disgusted with their parliament members; the Italians are embarrassed by their PM; New Yorkers are leaderless as its senate behaves like a bad married couple; and Washington is educationally leaderless.

We keep hearing great stats from our school leaders, and yet our jails are still filled. I believe their is a correlation between our school success or lack of it and the jail population. In other countries, students who do not continue with their education are given opportunities to learn a trade and are given opportunities to learn how to work. Not in America. Our students who don't continue in educational pursuits are on their own and too often end up in jail. I find the rhetoric of our politicians about education insulting since we see how they behave so badly when the speech is over.

Now I reached back to a 1995 Op-ed. We can reach even further back in history, all the way back to Socrates to hear complaints about education. We all know Socrates' fate.

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