Monday, July 18, 2011

Our Broken Escalator

Sometimes I hear people endorse education cuts
by arguing that “school isn’t for everybody,”
which usually means something like
“education isn’t for other people’s children”
— or that [some] kids...really don’t need schools...
I can’t think of any view that is more un-American.

-- Nicholas Kristof

Judge Ray Corns was taught as a boy that there was a ladder going up through the roof of the school that students could climb to achieve great heights in life, depeneding upon how hard they worked. For Nicholas Kristof, the metaphor was the same, only it was an escalator, or a rocket ship.  

This from Nicholas Kristof in the NY Times:
THE United States supports schools in Afghanistan because we know that education is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to build a country.

Alas, we’ve forgotten that lesson at home. All across America, school budgets are being cut, teachers laid off and education programs dismantled.

My beloved old high school in Yamhill, Ore. — a plain brick building that was my rocket ship — is emblematic of that trend. There were only 167 school days in the last school year here (180 was typical until the recession hit), and the staff has been reduced by 9 percent over five years.

This school was where I embraced sports, became a journalist, encountered intellectual worlds, and got in trouble. These days, the 430 students still have opportunities to get into trouble, but the rest is harder.

For the next school year, freshman and junior varsity sports teams are at risk, and all students will have to pay $125 to participate on a team. The school newspaper, which once doubled as a biweekly newspaper for the entire town, has been terminated.

Business classes are gone. A music teacher has been eliminated. Class size is growing, with more than 40 students in freshman Spanish. “It’s like a long, slow bleed, watching things disappear,” says the school district’s business manager, Michelle Morrison.

The school still has good teachers, but is that sustainable with a starting salary of $33,676? ...

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