Up until last week, there was probably only one thing President Obama and I agreed upon: we both oppose same-sex marriage.
But last week, during an interview about the Today Show’s initiative “Education Nation,” President Obama talked with Matt Lauer and acknowledged that the amount of money spent on schools has gone up but the positive results from all that spending has gone down. “Money without reform will not solve the problem,” he said and then went on to talk about his new federal program “Race to the Top.” (Translation: new federal program = more spending, of course.)
This country already spends over $10,000 per student per year. So, I agree with him that money won’t solve the problem.
Having worked in the area of child abuse and neglect for over twenty years, I’ve seen thousands of children who’ve absolutely no hope in life because of their chaotic surroundings. Their homes are not conducive to learning. Period. When you see children at Wal-mart at 11 o’clock at night, something is wrong. There is a lot of big-screen TVs in the homes but no books. There is no dinner time, there is no homework time, there is no bed time. There is no structure whatsoever. So many children in the inner city, where school dropout rates are astronomical, just don’t have a chance.
President Obama suggested a longer school year. I like that idea. He said too many children forget what they’ve learned over the summer and too many of those children don’t have the discipline/wherewithal/structure in their homes to continue their education during the summer months. He’s absolutely right.
He did acknowledge that parents, in addition to teachers, should be accountable for their children’s education. He’s absolutely right again, but he didn’t take a strong enough position, in my opinion, during this interview to stress the importance of parents creating a home environment which encourages children to learn.
While he and Mrs. Obama limit the amount of time their daughters spend in front of the television, President Obama didn’t emphasis enough the discipline necessary for parents to set aside time, even during the summer months, every few days for a child to read, write, or review their school materials. He mentioned that so many kids don’t have books in their homes but never mentioned that it’s up to the parents to take their children to the library – where books are free.
He didn’t mention that so many of these children who are doing so poorly in school come from broken homes, homes without fathers, homes without parents reading bedtime stories and homes without structure and organization.
The President didn’t address the huge amounts of money paid to administrators. For example, Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Edwin Diaz earns $230,600 annual salary, the highest in the San Gabriel Valley in California. The average salary for top school administrators in the Pasadena area is $200,000 while superintendents in neighboring counties including Los Angeles make $175,000 on average – huge amounts of money.
A family member in Los Angeles who is a LA Unified School District teacher has repeatedly expressed concerns with the union and the District’s top-heavy administration. It’s inconceivable to me why teachers have to buy their own school supplies while the fat-cat administrators sit pretty with their car allowances, tax sheltered annuities and lengthy contracts. It’s an abomination.