Tucked into a quarter column on page A 19 of today’s NY Times is a short story about how the already overburdened schools are bulging at the seams. The shortcomings of our PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM have been thoroughly examined in the last fifty years or so and old buildings in need of new roofs and modernization are still being used to contain the enormous numbers of children who spill over into makeshift trailers, warehouses and commercial buildings while small private enterprises gladly open to select their “geniuses” from among the “rubbish” to use Thomas Jefferson’s words.
It was bound to happen and by happenstance this might be the worst time for “the Schools” to absorb 49.6 million students. The Boomer generation of Post World War II has produced another burst of life to be contained in the schools for home schooling cannot do it and the private systems are overburdened too. The Boomer generation produced a record of 48.7 million scholars and at the same time countless (for there is no hard data on this) legal and illegal immigrants have pushed these numbers even higher.
This is a bad time for education. The huge numbers of students pushing into crowded classrooms do so regardless of the condition of old buildings. The shame of windowless trailers (here in Florida), campus-like structures with no covered passageways and multi-purpose rooms with roll out gym equipment and lunch facilities should shame the tax-payer – but OOPS – the taxpayer is not asked to make the schools into ornaments to their communities. Anyone remember the classical buildings which hosted community celebrations of successful students going out into the world prepared for anything?
Worst of all is the low esteem in which teachers are held and the popular belief is that they are the cause of poor students, rotting buildings and the decay in standards. Lower than the teachers in the estimation of the general public are the teacher’s unions that have never achieved the proud status of democratic institutions among the governmental icons that we hold dear despite the poor and sometimes criminal performances of our elected officials.
We can take pictures of the surface of Saturn’s moons and see the clear visual evidence of past floods on Mars. But, we cannot agree on the content of what to teach in the Public Schools. We have the religious right insisting on their values and their SCIENCE being taught by Public School Teachers. This ‘record’ bodes ill for the health of America posing as the poster country for the rest of the world.