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Education is NOT a right, it is a privilege.

OK folks, we’re way overdue for this particular rant.

Somewhere along the line, some bozo came up with the great sound bite that education was (is) a right, which All People are entitled to. Of course, being something that all people are entitled to, it is the Govenments responsibility to make sure everyone gets it. Everyone.

First of all, education is not a right. It is a privilege. The idea that a school must allow any kid attend whatever classes their age group is currently enrolled in is insane. Face it, some kids simply have no business in a classroom. Here are two examples.

dontpanic.jpgThe first example was a student that I encountered in a first grade class. The child’s parents had insisted that the child be enrolled in a normal first grade class, because they (the parents) felt that the child was prepared for first grade, and would benefit from being around other first graders. Sounds reasonable? Before you decide, lets take a look at the child. The child is in a wheel chair. OK, so am I, big deal. The child cannot speak. Hmmm.. this might be a problem. The child is deaf and blind. This is getting more and more challenging isn’t it. The child has little control over its bowel or bladder, or, for that matter, any part of its body. The good news? The child does come with a full-time attendant.

So, what was the end result of this kid being in a normal first grade class? Well, first of all, the kid wasn’t really in the class all that much. It turned out that the lack of motor control resulted in a lot of loud and ummmm… Unanticipated noises – both vocal and, well, excretory. If you have ever dealt with a classroom full of first graders, you are well aware that a well placed fart can cause mayhem for at least an hour. If the fart is accompanied by other, more solid effluvia, the mayhem is guaranteed. In any case, both the teacher and the aid somehow managed to work together to ensure that this particular student spent very little time in the classroom. So, what lesson did that bunch of first graders learn? It doesn’t matter what they were told the take-home lesson – the one that will stick – is that retards are all jut like that kid, and are best handled by being sent away. What about the kid in question? Well, probably the child really didn’t have the capacity to know what room (s)he was in anyway, so probably there wasn’t any real harm done.

nelson.jpgThe second example is another kid I dealt with – this time in a third grade class. I have no idea what was going on in this kids home life, but he could be counted on to start a fight at least once a day – on the playground, in the lunchroom, or in the classroom. He was disrespectful – to an extreme – to everybody. He was well aware that there was absolutely nothing anyone at the school could do to discipline him, and he took advantage of that fact. He had absolutely no interest in learning. His primary goal in the classroom seemed to be to get sent to the principles office – which happened on a regular basis. Of course, when he was in the classroom, he made it impossible for anyone else to learn, and the teacher spent most of his time trying to keep this particular student in line. Because this particular kid was in the third grade, he was subjected to the normal battery of tests – ADD, hyperactive, learning disability – the whole spread. End result? The kid didn’t have any “special needs” – he was just a plain old little shit who had never been disciplined. In the end, this particualr kid ended up completely disrupting the class for the majority of the year. Who lost? The teacher – who was powerless to deal with this kid. The other kids in the class – at least those who’s parents couldn’t raise enough of a stink to get their kids moved to a different class. They would have gotten as much education staying home and watching spongebob squarepants instead of coming to school.

So, what do these two examples have in common? The fact that the first kid was allowed into a classroom to start with – the fact that this kids parents actually thought that their kid had a right to be in a classroom, and the fact that in the second example the teacher, principle, and school couldn’t simply kick the little shit out. Because the general public has somehow accepted the fantasy that education is a “right”, it is impossible to prevent these situations from arising. Imagine these two scenarios if we accepted that education is a privilege. In the first case, even if the kids parents have convinced themselves that their kid really is normal (OK, maybe a bit slow), ten seconds with the school administration would simply result in a comment like “I’m sorry, but we cannot accept your child into our school, as we do not have the facilities to provide the special care (s)he needs”. End of story. Bye-Bye. In the second case, the kid would have a couple of meetings with the principle, and when things didn’t improve, the parents would be called in. Maybe the school would be soft, and have a few meetings with parents, but at some point the discussion would boil down to “either your kid shapes up, or we’re punting the little shit”. If the kid doesn’t toe the line, off he goes. Where does he go? dunno. Not the schools problem – he was given a chance to use a privelege, and he blew it. Now he’s mom and dad’s problem.

Another common situation that results from the “education is a privilege” idea is that Colleges and Universities are expected to accept pretty much anyone that applies – if their standards are too high, they lose the status that allows their students to access student loans, federal scholarships, and a slew of other benefits that make it possible for most people to actually pay for a college education. In order to keep those benefits for the students that deserve them, most colleges and universities accept a large number of students that they know are going to fail or drop out. They go through the motions of providing “remedial classes” – essentially trying to teach the kids what they should have learned in Jr. or Sr. high school. Even with those classes, most public colleges and universities expect 50% (yes: half) of an incoming freshman class to fail or drop out. Sure, they’ll take the money for a year or two, the they know those kids are never going to make it to graduation. The colleges and universities can’t be blamed – after all everyone is entitled to an education. Instead of fighting a losing battle with the government, the schools simply found a way to meet the insane federal requirements without having to drop their graduation standards (well, not much anyway). Sure, their entrance standards may be so low that a competent third grader could meet them – after all, they have to give everyone a chance. Fortunately, the colleges and universities only have to give them a chance – they don’t have to ensure that they finish.

So, what happens if we accept the fact that education really is a privilege? Take a look at how most European countries operate, and you’ll get a good idea. Sure, kids there are given the chance to get a free education, but for the most part if they don’t keep up to snuff – both in behavior and grades – they are shunted off to programs where their behavior or lack of academic acuity doesn’t matter. If, later in life, they get their act together, there are plenty of avenues available to them to learn what they would grad.gifhave had they stayed on a different educational track. Of course, they have to do it on their own nickel now, but hey, life choices do have long term consequences. Oh yeah, and most of those educational systems test the students on a  regular basis. As long as you can perform adequately on the tests, you can move on to the next level on the states dime. This includes University – both undergraduate, graduate, and post graduate. And their drop out/failure rates are a lot lower – if you get in, you typically finish. So what system is better?

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2 Responses

  1. I love your post. You speak the truth. Everyone in my family home schools. To make matters worse, the NEA keeps demanding more money. There are almost as many administrators as students. Paying this over-inflated salaries for these quacks is obscene.

  2. Working, as I do, in a school which has an open enrollment policy (if you can pay for your classes, you’re in), I cannot agree with you more. The lack of rigorous standards brings the quality of education down considerably – and ties the hands of professors like me who try to make the material accessible to everyone. This becomes a problem when you have two kids in the class who really have their shit together and sixteen who are barely literate.

    I wonder how far the pendulum has to swing before someone figures out that it’s already gone too far?

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