Educating All

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Education of our children is so vital and yet most of us spend more time with television, sports, our cars and other things than to the education of our children, their children. The oft heard term that we spend a lot for education but for that statement I would add, we don't spend enough. 

Statistics tell us a story regarding where money comes from for education. As follows, federal government supplies 12 percent, state 46 percent and local 43 percent.  Tennessee has a black population percentage of about 18 percent.  It is likely that we spend more to educate the black child with results disappointing.

What is wrong with progress and why can't the taxpayers see real educational results?  The answer to that question is complicated, but one reason why is education has not changed much since the early 20th century.  When communities built schools to house all grades the one class, one teacher prevailed and prevails today. Maybe that is one of the reasons why children don't gain as much as some other educational alternatives might.

Let me suggest some alternatives to educating the child. One is daring. There are gifted educators all over the state. I know because I was part of the measurement for excellence created by then Governor Lamar Alexander. Called the Tennessee Career Ladder Program, teachers could advance from one rank to the top, master teacher and receive additional funds, i.e., $10,000 per school year, providing that teacher worked summers and after school programs. One of those creative teachers could accept a class of new learners and be responsible for educating that group of children using all the creative and community benefits available. That same teacher would be solely responsible for meeting, knowing and be part of the family structure.

Still another, team teaching has been tried, dismissed, tried again but never quite caught the attention of those in charge. That process of two minds and two creative people working with a child benefits the child on several layers of importance, not the least is like mom and dad, the child learns with one most comfortable.

Still another, and this one is the creation of school community. Affecting largely the elementary school, this important resource must become more of the community then present. Isolated, the school can and does become the place one must go to meet when a child has been disruptive.  A punitive place where mom might not feel welcomed. The need for a community school that is present in the child's world must also be present in the world of the parent. Monthly meetings at school in the evening. Dinner is served. Workshops and learning experiences are conducted. Outreach programs directly in the homes to help the parent learn how to be the child's first teacher. You should know that many inner-city parents do not not know the role they play as the child's first teacher resulting in a most stark reality for that child entering his very first learning experience. The task of catching up, the learner to the process of learning, must first undo community and home influences often detrimental to the advancement of the new learner. The community school must then be in the homes of all the students and further welcomed there. 

Robert Brooks 


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