Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Public Education

The governor's office launched a back to school campaign today calling for, "Parental involvement." They offered helpful guidelines such as, "Read to your children", and "Attend conferences", stressing that, "Most learning happens at home."

Allow me cut through the bullshit for you. Parents must attend conferences, or the social workers get involved-it isn't optional. It doesn't matter if you are a single parent working three low-wage jobs to keep a roof over your heads-you are expected to be there, at the assigned time, day's lost wages or not.

Saying that learning "Happens at home", is a way to deflect blame from failing schools, onto parents. We chose to homeschool, but if we didn't, I'd expect my child's school to teach reading. We still pay taxes, and I'd happily pay more to see the schools get what they need whether my child attends, or not. Sure, read to your children, ask how their day was, help with homework-but that's no substitute for  functioning public education. At some point, you have to toss some money at the schools. Oh, I understand taxes are unpopular, but it is ever so much more effective than expecting parents to pick up the slack.

This latest scheme is not only pointless, it is insulting. There are different ways of, "Being involved" in your child's education-some more visible than others. This is rather blatantly aimed at the working class, assuming their economic status is a result of intellect, or the absence of. The recession should have had some sort of leveling effect with respect to that assumption, but I've yet to notice it locally. I suppose Nebraska weathered the downturn better than most places, so we can go merrily along blaming the poor for their own misery as we pass punitive reforms aimed at making their already difficult lives all the more so. Now, the defunded, failing schools are their fault as well.

Please, read to your children, show up at school, take them to a museum-but know that this campaign is little more than a manipulative attempt to blame the victims. It is easy to point fingers at parents, thinking we know anything at all about their lives, based on where they live, or how much they earn. It is sickening that this sort of rubbish can still be taken seriously. "Responsibility" can mean a responsibility to put some money back into the schools, but I wouldn't hold your breath waiting to hear that from our governor any time soon.

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