Sunday, April 11, 2010

Not—So—Golden Schooldays

I went to see Dr. Potty, my urologist, on Friday. I won’t go into detail because it’s TMI (no, I don’t have an STD), but I’m now taking a med for whatever I won’t go into detail about. I will tell you, though, that I now piddle in beautiful shades of green and blue. It's suddenly fun to go #1 and see all the pretty colors—I was so damn sick of plain old yellow.

You oughta come over and see it sometime.

So what does pee have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing. But in Goofball, Heal Thyself, you all gave me permission to digress. I was truly overwhelmed by your comments (almost embarrassingly so), and in gratitude I’m sending each of you a big cyber Charlie hug.

* * * * *

The subject is school. Or rather, what passes for school. And school is downright scarifying.

My friend Linda (Laytonwoman3rd) pointed out this article Right-Wingers Write Jefferson Out of Texas Schoolbooks in one of her comments. According to the article's author, Adele Stan, "At issue are the textbooks to be used in the state’s public schools, shaped by the curriculum guidelines passed by the State Board of Education."

Stan, in turn, quoted an article from the New York Times, which to me is a stunner:

Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

Even more stunning is this statement by Stan:

The new curriculum will also downplay the history of racism in the U.S., and, according to board member Mary Helen Berlenga, a board member who stormed out of the school board meeting, virtually write Latinos out of history.

I think if Texas wants to do a bang-up job they should also write (white) out slavery, women's suffrage, and the American Indians who rightfully own Texas in the first place.

I could spend all day on Texas, but I have another bee in my britches.

This is an article I found on USA Today titled, Schools debate: Is cursive writing worth teaching? According to the article,

Some fear classic penmanship has been left behind as preparation for state assessment tests dominates class time. Others blame the rise of the Internet, combined with a push to ensure that children are technologically literate, for rendering delicate handwriting an art of yesteryear.

"With all the other subjects we must teach, we just don't have the time to spend a lot of effort on cursive," said Carl Brown, principal of Manatee Elementary in Viera, Fla.

Handwriting is an art of yesteryear? I cannot say this with authority because I don't have children in school, but my feeling is our gazillion-dollar school systems are raising a generation of illiterates—those who can neither read nor write (or count). Yes, we're returning to yesteryear when young people will "sign" important documents with an "X"—that is, if they know how to draw an X. I can see a marriage license with two Xs on it and the preacher saying, "Do you, X, take X for your ..."

When they divorce, which is inevitable because they don't know how to communicate, they will be ex-Xs.

And how many times have I heard, "With all the other subjects we must teach"? WHAT other subjects? I know they don't do physical education and they can't get lunch right, but for the rest of the subjects I haven't a clue.

I don't blame the teachers in the debacle we call public education. They do the best with what they have, which is a bunch of bureaucratic bullshit, disrespectful "students," outraged and outrageous parents, and my nemesis, cell phones.

I've barely scraped an X in the iceberg called No Child Left Behind, but there's plenty of fodder for you to think about and comment.

[Thanks, Linda, for steering me to Texas. Hah! Pretty funny stuff, huh, steers and Texas?]


Tiffin said...

Charlie, there is nothing funny I can think of to say about any of this. This swath of unthinking fundamentalism in the US is so freakin' scary. Do intelligent Amurcans just shake their heads and say there goes Jefferson and let it happen?

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, do they.

Robert the Skeptic said...

You know I am at a point where I want to just fall back and say, "Ok, you win.. have it your way". Raise a nation of idiots who believe the earth is 5,000 years old and that god made humanity out of mud and ribs. Go ahead... because the rest of the world, China and India, for example have more students in graduate school then we have students IN school.

Maybe, if we are lucky, after this country joins the new "third world", the Chinese will give us a subsistence income doing their laundry.

Pat said...

I know very little about American education. I'm being reminded of how
excellent our state education (UK) was in the thirties and forties, reading 'Grammar School Girls'. It's written by pupils over the last 70 years about my Alma Mater.
I don't regard myself a brilliant example BTW

Meg said...

Our (tiny) local school system added Mandarin Chinese to the list of high school classes last year. The Asian community in our town is tiny and very few people in our area have attended college and therefore will not be seeking employment in Chinese-speaking countries.

This year they're cutting 10 teachers because they can't afford the salaries because of the new program that allows for one computer per student per class. Then, to top it off, they took away the county's GED program (in a county where the dropout rate is nearly 70%) so they could add community college classes that less than half of the community will actually benefit from. And there's a college not 30 minutes away.

The school systems nowadays are just deplorable. I've always thought, and I maintain this viewpoint in spite of what others say on the subject, that society gets progressively dumber as time goes on. I'm not thrilled about the idea of bringing more children into this mess of a world.

Charlie said...

TUI: Other than Texas, Amurcans don't know about the textbook revisions; the article Linda found was from a blog.

One of these days your southern neighbor will be a theocracy like the Middle East and we'll have our own American Inquistion.

ROBERT: All while I was writing this I was thinking of you and how it would piss you off.

I was right, and so are you.

PAT: It's okay that you know very little about American education because there is very little of American education.

And despite what you say, you're a very intelligent and open-minded lady.

MEG: Somewhere along the line, you got a good education, probably because you cared and didn't want to grow up to be a dummy.

You point out several examples of the disconnect between school gurus and education. It's always the front-line teachers who lose, while the school boards remain fat and happy.

TechnoBabe said...

I have asked teachers I know in the past year about the loss of cursive writing and they all seemed fine with it. They said no one does it anymore. Yeah, like you say here, no one can count or spell or speak well anymore either, does that make it acceptable to stop writing? Good post here, Charlie. I hope the meds that turn pee into sparkly colors helps with what it is you don't want to talk about but requires you take meds.

Kim Ayres said...

But Charlie, you won't have to sign documents in future - just txt ur ID no.

Unknown Mami said...

Ugh! I started out chuckling and now I'm all pissed off. WTF Texas?! Honesty is the best policy. People get pissed off when they find out they have been lied to or written out! How can you write Latinos out of Texas history when Texas used to be Mexico?

Jimmy Bastard said...

I'm speechless... the world around us is falling rapidly on its own arse.

Charlie said...

BABE: Call me a freak, but I enjoyed learning cursive in school. The problem was the big hunks of lumber in the Big Chief writing tablets—you could get an "F" in writing if you hit too much of that wood.

Maybe the solution to formal schooling is an Apple iPad implanted in the brain-games, music, movies, porn, and mental texting all in one place. And that's not a joke.

KIM: You're right. We filed our income taxes electronically by an ID they have set up for us—no signature or X required.

UNKNOWN: I know, that one really blew me away too. Texas must still be pissed off about the Alamo. And they surely don't like the border crossers in El Paso. But to write off Latinos altogether? Lunatics all down there.

JIMMY: I think it's falling faster than rapidly. It's difficult being an optimist nowadays, but I still have to believe in the goodness of all the little guys (and "hens") like us.

laytonwoman3rd said...

"I think if Texas wants to do a bang-up job they should also write (white) out slavery," Oh, not necessary, my man. The Commonwealth of Virginia is working on that one.

Charlie said...

LINDA: I'm speechless—and you sure as hell have never heard me say that before.

Here is the article you referred us to:

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Declares April National Confederacy Month


Here is an excerpt from the article:

"By attempting to circumvent the issue of slavery altogether, McDonnell continues to perpetuate the idea that slavery is laughable, irrelevant and that groups dedicated to re-instituting it are ironic. Furthermore, he demonstrates even he doesn’t have a fundamental grasp of just how substantial of a role the institution played in the war he mischaracterizes as “one of independence.” What McDonnell and his other flag-waving yoohoo croonies like to ignore is that there was only one independence vital in the execution of the Civil War. That was the independence of stolen Africans from a servitude that went well-beyond indentured.

Buzzard said...

Penmanship and American History, two of the skill sets many of us were taught in our day. How important are they?

I could make a good argument on penmanship being dropped I believe.

However, to change American history to fit or fill the needs of a religion, race, or group is criminal. We lose more than just history when we let that happen, we lose part of our country. We lose our Freedom!

I want to be on Superman's side, and fight for truth, justice, and the American Way.

Murr Brewster said...

The Texas Board of Education has also recommended eliminating the number 666 from the math curriculum. One can't be too careful.

hope said...

I've had to explain to the kids I work with in an After School Program that it's THEIR job to learn. They were shocked.

And for the record my friend, I DIDN'T leave you! I don't know what happened but you're still showing on my blog as someone I follow. So I'm going to explain that to your blog right now so my road can go digressing right along with you!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Damn, Texas, you scary! And there's a reason, of course, why they call Calgary Texas North...

Thankfully we have the idea of sparkly pee to see us through.

Charlie said...

BUZZARD We still marvel at the histories of ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, and the United Kingdom, but in America, a country roughly 230 years old, no one will know shit about it.

Both you and I served in Vietnam, but do kids today know anything about it? Or Korea, or the two World Wars, or the Civil War, or the Revolutionary War? I suspect not.

MURR: I wonder if everyone tears page 666 out of their Bibles. Nah.

HOPE: Amazing, ain't it? I guess you're supposed to do the learnin' for 'em. NOT.

(Blogger must be having hiccups, which isn't at all unusual.)

BARB: You have peaked my curiosity about Calgary and Texas.

And yes, when all else fails, stare at the toilet and marvel.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Astonishing. The Taliban blew up thousand-year old statues of the Buddha for sectarian reasons. It would be ungracious of me to draw parallels.

hope said...

Okay, my "road" is officially back on your page...feel free to begin digressing. ;)

Fay's Too said...

I'm sooooooo happy to hear about your non-boring pee. In fact, I'm green with envy.
I'm wit ya on dis school junk.

kara said...

there's so much to say about this, i don't know where to begin. so i won't. i think you understand me.

Charlie said...

KEVIN: What is that old saying? "Cutting off your nose to spite your face." That's it. Yes, we may be tearing down what we built up.

HOPE: Tis good to have you back, even though you weren't gone.

You like that digression thing, don't you.

FAY: Envy is not a good thing. And the thing is, when boring old yellow mixes with the beautiful blue I get ... green!

KARA: I know exactly where you're coming from—all I've done is highlight a couple examples. I don't want you to get all upset like you da.

Mary Witzl said...

How dare they do that to Thomas Jefferson? He had his faults, but his insistence on separation of church and state had far-reaching implications and we all owe him a debt. Atatürk did the same thing for modern Turkey, and we owe him too. Perhaps those fundamentalist Christian hardliners ought to think about what happens in countries like Iran and Afghanistan where they don't have separation of church and state.

My husband still teaches cursive writing in his primary school classroom. Which is sweet because he can't really do it himself.