Tuesday, February 17, 2015

TL;DR: Money ain't everything

I wish we had a truly fair and equitable way to fund public education in Texas and all states -- a good (and safe) educational opportunity should be available to all -- and high completion rates should be a goal we can all support. Having said that, I don't think that funding is the only issue to address. The U.S. outspends nearly all countries of the world on education per student (only Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Norway spend more per student). TEXAS, for Pete's sake, outspends Sweden, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Japan, France and most of the other countries. Yet in Texas and most of the US our educational outcomes are comparatively dismal. Some of the states with better results spend less per student, some of the highest-spending states have poor results. (SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2014). The Condition of Education 2014 (NCES 2014-083), Public School Expenditures.) 

Dare I say that some of the responsibility must lie at the feet of the family (or, more accurately, at the lack of familial support and guidance)? The U.S. Office of Special Education Programs says, " “When parents become involved, children do better in school, and they go to better schools." 

I think this is key. We need social policy that promotes family involvement (and the ability to be involved) in the raising of children. And "family" can be very broadly and liberally defined. Maybe the ONLY place I fully agree with Ms. Hillary Clinton is in the statement that, "It takes a village." We need parents who will (and are allowed to) hold our schools (public or private) to high standards. And, on a side note, I believe that standardized testing should only be an indicator of where work is needed and certainly not the be-all and end-all of school and student evaluation. 

Well, that's my essay for the day.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The circle of life

Today, in church, the funeral schedule was announced for the remembrance of a dear older sister who recently passed after a decades-long struggle with cancer. The birth of a new baby to another family was announced, and another baby girl, the grand-daughter of the sister who passed, was blessed. Her grandfather, husband of the recently departed, stood in the blessing circle. Life, with its pain and joy, is affirmed, the rituals strengthen and comfort, the hand of friendship is offered, and life goes on.