Sunday, January 16, 2011



The education of a child is a complex process.   Our legislators would have you believe it is as simply as getting well educated teachers in a classroom and legislating a curriculum that results in a required outcome, as supplied by a commercial company, in the form of a standardized test.   This one size fits all process might work if all children were cloned to a conformed standard.   However, in our diverse society this is a formula that does not work.  

I was a principal and teacher in the Indian and Eskimo villages of rural Alaska for eleven years.   The era of No Child Left Behind (government mandated education process) was a disaster for the bush communities.   Like most Republican projects it accomplished the antithesis of its lofty name.   In my first year as principal in a southwestern Yu'pic Eskimo community, eight out of twelve of my senior students did not graduate because of the standardized testing requirement.   That year there were eight out of twelve students Left Behind.   I had excellent young teachers; but, the village children speak non standard English.   They live in a subsistence community of five hundred people.   Their world, their life and their experiences are as removed from the government's legislated standard for children as cows are from caribou.   These children are bright and capable, but they live in a different world then the children of New Port, Rhode Island or Seattle, Washington.  It was heart breaking, after twelve years of school attendance, to deny these children a high school diploma.  These children can not join the military, can not attend most trade schools, can not attend community college or universities - because their culture does not conform to STANDARDS. 

For the next two blogs I will deal with our legislated system of education from my experiences - my point of view. 

Before we get into the specifics of our failed education system we must understand that each child comes into the process as a unique and non-standard individual.


The child coming to school is a combination of Nature and Nurture. Their behavior in school and their ability to learn (the latter depending to a large extent on the former) is programmed well before the child reaches junior high.

Psychology Psychobabble 101 introduces the college student to Nurture vs. Nature. There have been men who have lost their sex drive pondering which factor has more effect on the developing child. People actually dealing with groups of children, on a daily basis, realize that there are many factors effecting the development of a child’s personality, and that each factor weighs differently on different individuals.

Each child is born with basic factors (Nature) that are unchangeable: Race, Genetics, Sex and IQ. Each race has unique attributes that identify their members. Regardless of race, genetic inheritance can determine size, health and mental and physical attributes. Boys and girls exist on different planes. A person’s IQ can affect their reasoning ability and retention of information.

Nurture of a child also exists with different degrees of influence. Nationality, Geographical Environment and Community are subsets of Nurture that imprint early upon the child. Of these three, Community probably has the largest influence. A child that is raised in the rural Bible belt - a child raised in the inner-city – and a child raised in Silicon Valley are indoctrinated by the culture of their communities. They will begin school with different values, different mores and different experiences.

But, on a more personal level, we have to begin with The Parents. Fucked up parents are probably going to fuck up their kids. Borderline retarded parents tend to procreate borderline retarded kids. Immature and emotionally disturbed parents start their children off with a considerable handicap. Single parents deny their children a roll model of the other sex. The parent(s) also sets the home environment – this varies in the amount of supervision and enrichment that are available to the child. Home Environment is the biggest factor on the success of a child entering preschool.

Other factors influencing the transition of the child to an educated adult will include family wealth, quality of education, access to information, availability of opportunities and childhood experiences.

But, according to politicians, student educational attainment all depends on teacher training, standardizing curriculum and test results. Doctors, lawyers and teachers are all require exams to prove their competency; but any fool on the street can be elected to the Congress and the Senate if they have charisma and political and financial backing. These people, with no competency requirement, are deciding the outcome of our nation, and more specifically our education system. 

On my next blog I will discuss the education process in more depth.  

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COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."