September 8, 2003

In a Parallel Universe

I'm giving myself over to my *gasp* sci-fi imaginings today and thought I might share. If we lived in a parallel universe, what would the newspaper headlines read today? How about this: "Bush Requests $87 Billion to Fund the War to Improve Education." The article would read: " In his address to the nation Sunday night, Bush said the national community had a duty to make sure education was stable so that schools do not become an "exporter of ignorance and illiteracy." Bush might argue that "We are fighting that enemy in schools today, so that we do not meet him/her again in our streets and in our cities."

Of course, in my own version of the story, Bush would have the expository skills of someone more like Tony Blair and FOX news would actually know the meaning of "fair" and "balanced." But, I suppose, this is asking for far too much.

What got me started on this? I read an article from the New Yorker about "standards" in education. I'm not an enemy to the idea of standards by any means. I completely agree that theoretically, standards are a requirement of education if that education is to mean anything. I think there are plenty of times that I've done well at something and wondered by what standard I was measuring myself. This article in The New Yorker brings this debate into relief.

What the article doesn't mention, however, are the vast differences in the support students get at home depending on the school district. The article raises the issue of North Carolina where smaller schools have a higher likelihood of scoring both higher and lower on state mandated proficiency exams. Larger schools (with higher numbers and therefore lower rates of result fluctuation) tend to maintain something of a status quo. Still, I remember visiting a friend in Charlotte, NC who taught the fourth grade. I remember what it was like in his classroom to "teach to the test" when there were students who clearly would benefit from other forms of teaching. I also remember my friend's frustration. One half of his class had electricity at home. The other half had no electricity at home. The first half could always have homework completed and extra help, because it wasn't difficult for working parents to help them later at night. The other half couldn't expect that kind of help from home, because there was no light for them to read by.

Anyway, wouldn't it be nice if we were willing to take this kind of dramatic stance to clear up some of our own domestic problems with a sweeping one-time $115 billion over the course of 9 - 12 months? And as possible as it is being made to seem here, do we really believe that $115 billion is going to "fix Iraq" the way that we seem skeptical that it could "fix education"? Talk about throwing money at a problem. But who am I to say... I mean, I'm probably someone a patriot like Ann Coulter would consider a a "commie spy" for this type of utopian thinking... and such thinking is treasonous under her new definition of the word... so I'm clearly committing treason by asking such questions...and, of course, such treason must be born out of a desire to dismantle this Union. Otherwise, why would I bother writing something like this that questions the status quo?

Posted by c_jane at September 8, 2003 12:11 PM | TrackBack

You know what's sad is that this type of belief in education actually requires an alternate universe featuring a "Bizzaro-Bush" who actually values education instead of blowing things up.

I think Ann Coulter is a character out of science fiction, especially when everyone to the left of Gerald Ford is a commie...

Posted by: chuck at September 8, 2003 2:14 PM |

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As a defense gift, someone gave me a copy of Al Franken's new book--*Lies, and the Lying Liars who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right*--as light reading. It's ok, I guess; not all of his humor comes across on the page. But two chapter headings that make me giggle just thinking about them:

"Ann Coulter: Nutcase"
"You know who I don't like? Ann Coulter"

At least it feels a little like the tide is turning. I know, though, that such feelings can be deceiving.

Posted by: Ryan at September 8, 2003 10:32 PM |

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This reminds me of the oft-stuck bumper sticker, which runs along the lines of:

"It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."

Platitudes, cliches, and bumper stickers - that's what I'm good for ;)

Posted by: Jason at September 10, 2003 10:10 AM |

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