Monday, April 06, 2015

Pro-Choice Teacher

Education has gotten much too complicated. It was my life’s profession and I loved to teach, but I began to resent modern education after about twenty years. I stayed in for another sixteen while my frustration increasingly supplanted my enjoyment until I finally retired four years ago. Lately however, I’m learning how uncomplicated it can be. Since last September I’ve been teaching a US History course to ten home-schooled, high-school-aged kids in Auburn, Maine. I was recruited by one of the parents and it’s a one-year gig. I have nine classes left at this writing.
It’s a long commute — a hundred mile ’round trip every Tuesday morning, but that’s the only downside for me. Early on, we agreed on curriculum, compensation, texts, format, and venue. There are no unnecessary meetings or paperwork. There are no discipline problems. There are no politically correct strictures — not that I ever worried about those, but I don’t have to defend myself if I should be even mildly critical of any secular-sacred taboos. There are no appalled progressives to be outrageously outraged. My students are bright, cheerful, respectful, and they nearly always do their homework. Best of all? Government is not involved, except that students learn about government by studying the Constitution. We discuss how it’s obeyed and disobeyed by our president. We discuss how Congress has so far allowed him to tromp all over it, citing specific sections of Articles I and II.
We’ve been covering World War II lately and last week I gave them a lesson on the Holocaust. We had little time for discussion since I ended the two-hour class with a description of how Nazis progressed from eugenic euthanasia in the thirties, to mass shootings by Einsatzgruppen death squads in Poland, to systematized death camps using cyanide gas “showers” and ovens. They were quite solemn as they filed out and I’m sure they will have discussed the lesson with parents. Next Tuesday I’ll ask for their reflections after it’s had time to ferment in their minds and hearts. They’re all conservative Christians and so are their parents. So am I. We will relate this example of the Nazi culture of death with other manifestations in today’s world, including mass abortions by Planned Parenthood in the United States, and Radical Muslim slaughter of Christians in Africa and the Middle East.
What we enjoy is the ultimate local control of education. Americans formed our first schools that way at every level. Many provided excellent educations, even in humble venues with small budgets. The quality of education is determined not by money spent or fancy buildings, but by the commitment of parents and teachers with high standards working together. The parents I work for hire professionals for subjects they don’t feel qualified to teach themselves. Last year they hired a physics teacher, for example. This year they hired me for US History.
Most Maine towns spend well in excess of $10,000 per child, per year on government schools. If I had my druthers, I’d initiate pro-choice voucher initiatives in every municipality in the country. Parents could send their children to government schools if they chose, or they could send their kids to private schools using $10,000 vouchers. Running this idea past others over the years, people ask: “What about rural areas like ours? There aren’t many private schools within commuting distance to choose from.”
“That’s true,” I say, then point out that there weren’t many daycare centers around here thirty years ago either, but now there are. First came the demand, then came the supply. The same thing would happen with schools, which would be as good as the parents and teachers working together demanded.
“But what about quality control?” people ask. I point out that quality control of our very expensive government schools is sorely lacking now, but they still have plenty of students and plenty of money, only because parents have no choice but to send them. If we had a pro-choice movement in education, government schools would be forced to improve because of the competition vouchers would provide.
With my druthers, I’d abolish the Department of Education in Washington — except for one solitary function: They would exist only to produce and maintain a battery of tests at each grade level to measure minimum competency in reading, math, writing, and history. And notice I said, “maintain.” They would not administer the tests, only maintain them, updated from year to year. The tests would be voluntary. If municipal officials questioned whether their money was being spent properly, they could require students and/or schools they’re funding to take the tests. Further funding for either schools or vouchers could be contingent on the results.
No other government involvement is necessary. There would continue to be good schools and mediocre schools, but they would be a reflection only of parents in local communities who chose to send their children to them.


Judy Hamby said...

Another great column, Tom. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

"We will relate this example of the Nazi culture of death with other manifestations in today’s world,..."
Don't forget the "economic theory"
of massive welfare to "select groups" that resulted in MASSIVE National Debt that led to NAZI
(or simply National Socialists, as they liked to call themselves)
"Master Race/Final Solution"

Ok, ok, IF the history of "economics" theory is appropriate for your charges.
Maybe see: The Independant Review
Vol.19, No.4 Spring 2015.
IMHO Nice stuff for "above average" teen level folk on the disingenuous political altration/usurpation of what words, and outright lies, actually do to "the narrative".

Of course, there's ALWAYS what "some unidentifiable people" (self included)write in response to your own blog/newspaper bits.

Your students leave a bit stunned, are likely to chat with their parents, and return with even MORE questions?

Again, IMHO, You win!

Anonymous said...

Kinda sad to see the same lies being pushed as history. Anyone with an internet connection can see this bs for what it is--- propaganda. Plain and simple. Actually much of the holocaust narrative can now be disproven. Not to say it didn't happen on some level, but the hyperbole is now seen as desperate lying. Science can disprove, and has, much of the claims too.
I would urge anyone who wants to look behind the curtain to start their own research about WWII. Warning--- you will not see anything resembling what you have been "taught" in school. Far far from it..

I feel very sorry for those kids. They will never get a chance to research what really happened..It's pathetic really..
Your posts do a great job of exposing how little you know about this country. Keep it up, please.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm a bad person.
The gobledy gook AOL number entry above is,(as always apparently) CaptDMO
Sorry for not affixing my "name" to it.

Anonymous said...

What part of the Holocaust narrative can be disproven? I have multiple family members, some still living, who liberated the camps and if anything it was worse than the narrative.

Anonymous said...

History doesn’t only shape our reality but it is also crucial for our decision making. If our reality was devoid of any past experience, I couldn’t see how we could plan for a better future.

Though history is long-gone, it remains the only thing to learn from, as the future has not yet come into existence. And if we learned from a false or tampered with history then all our perceptions of reality will be wrong. If we were given/inherited a fake history we would be bound to indefinitely linger in falsehood.

The real history is not necessarily the stories you were told in the school. The real history is the one you will discover yourself. Unless you make the effort and embark on a quest for the truth, you may never know what really happened. The first step on the road to truth is to doubt all the stories you were told happened in the past.

With some critical thinking employed, many of us have come to doubt and question some of the modern stories dished out to us by mainstream politics and media. One blatant example is the official story of 911. We simply can’t buy it, for first and foremost the story doesn’t make sense.

And if we are entitled to question stories as recent as 911 and WW II, who can deny us the same right when dealing with ancient stories.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, do you realize that in many European countries you can be jailed, yes jailed, for questioning the holocaust? True. Start connecting the dots.

Use your inter web connection to seek the truth cause we ain't been told it. Why rely on others to tell you what happened?