photo credit: sigma.
As if to prove the point I made in my last post about passing out casts and crutches, the Seattle Post Intelligencer this week published an essay from Brad Soliday, a teacher in eastern Washington, where he shares his perspective about how the increasing money bring allocated to education is being misspent because it is focusing on a mistaken solution.
I doubt it is truly coincidental that while real education spending has risen 49% in the last two decades it is dysfunctional or broken families that have seen a corresponding rise in society rather than educational outcomes (which have flat-lined despite the ever rising funding). This should be irrefutable proof that those perpetually sounding the cry that education is underfunded are either misinformed or intentionally deceptive (I’m sure there are some who fall into each of those camps). Education is under-supported due to the disintegration of a solid family foundation in society but money cannot solve that problem.
Mr. Soliday puts into words a disturbing fact that many people would be unwilling to articulate:
Many educational reforms attempted in the last fifteen years are an attempt to recreate or substitute for the structure, attention, discipline, support, love and expectations of a healthy family.
I can’t imagine that there are more than a very few people who truly believe that such an attempt could ever be truly successful.
Perhaps my favorite part of the essay is the prescient statement at the end in which he summarizes:
For forty years educators and politicians have been trying to raise test performance and reduce dropout rates by “fixing” schools. These efforts have largely failed or returned meager improvements. They have failed because they are trying to fix the wrong institution. Schools are not the problem and schools are not the solution. The disintegration of the family is the problem and its restoration is the only solution (to several social issues besides educational achievement).
Schools and teachers can always improve, they can do better, and they can make the difference for tens of thousands of individual students, but they cannot make up for systemic dysfunction in the most important institution in America, the family.
Mr. Soliday ends by offering some conclusions about the true way forward in education. Among them he offers this, which sounds very much like something prophets and apostles have been telling the world for fifteen years already:
Curriculum, programs, and even laws should be developed to promote and protect the family, especially the role and responsibility of fatherhood.