Saturday, June 7, 2008

College is a "Birthright"?

In the "declaration" that he is the Democrat's nominee for President (See Full Text and Video of his Speech), Barack Obama made this comment within the context of his speech: " this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the few, but a birthright of every American."

A birthright? Talk about a totally misplaced comment and a false sense of the education problems in this country!

If you listen to Barack Obama, the only thing he thinks that stands between a student's ability to graduate from college is the lack of any college tuition assistance. Like every Democrat, Mr. Obama seems to think that its always all about money. However, somebody should tell Mr. Obama that the problem lies in the "crap" (and getting crappier) pre-college educational system in this country. In Detroit, only 26% of the high school students actually graduate. In Obama's hometown of Chicago, the school system is only able to produce a 52% graduation rate. When students do go on to college from these and other "city" school systems, the failure rate, in the first two years of college, is extremely high. That's because those who graduate from those school systems don't have the skills needed to survive in a college environment. They haven't got the reading skills; the research and study skills; and, they don't have the discipline to meet the demands of a college curriculum. What's worse, if they are receiving some kind of tuition assistance, it is being wasted. Further, the college "slot" that they are taking is being wasted and being taken away from some student who might have better skills.

The focus for education in this country is to take a seriously hard look at our city schools systems. I guarantee you that even if you doubled the pay for every teacher in America, you would get the same graduation rates that we have today. It isn't all pay. Just paying a poor performing teacher or teachers isn't going to solve the problem. We need a system of measuring a teacher's performance and paying them accordingly. Those who are poor performing, should be eliminated. Students will need math and science skills to compete in a global economy. In order to attract educators who are versed in those disciplines, we need give them higher pay scales than the average "Bachelor of Arts" school teacher. But, all this goes against the grain of a unionized system of education in this country.

To the teacher's union, no one teacher is better or more important than another. Everyone is equal. The pay for one should be the same as the pay for another. The quality of teaching is of no concern. There are no better or worse teachers among the group. It also doesn't matter if one teacher has a Bachelor of Arts in "literature" (like so many) and another has a Bachelor of Science degree (which is sorely needed). And, try to "fire" any poor performing teacher!

Beyond the education system and our teacher's, there are serious and deep social issues. Year's ago, our society wouldn't accept a 90% graduation rate. The parents would be in an uproar. Today, we accept 1/2 or less of the class being graduated. This malaise is systemic to our entire society. We have become lazy. We, too often, are spoiled into believing that hard work is for the fools. We aren't hungry. But, the rest of the world is just the opposite. Like in sports....when an athlete has the "hunger", he or she will generally win.

No comments: