Right off the bat let me tell you about myself (JET I.F.). My credentials – a recently retired black teacher of 40 years in the Hartford, Connecticut public school system. I was raised in a large inner city of Washington D.C. and educated in the public school system. I possess a Bachelors and Masters Degree and am a “people person” who loves teaching.
I retired this past year with great disappointment and sadness for the public school system, the individual students, teachers and parents. The current education system is failing to do the job of educating our children. There are individual successes, but for the most part the successes are very few. The educational system as a whole would be a lot better if they would only choose to do what is right for our children, but they WILL NOT. Many, many harmful changes have accrued in the 40 years that I have taught. In this post I will attempt to state these changes that I have witnessed firsthand. First of all, may I testify to you that I have personally changed.
In the first 10 years of my teaching career I was neither conservative nor patriotic, and without the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior. It was not until I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior that I saw things for what they were and how they should be (Eph. 2:1-10). It has been my personal relationship with Him that has absolutely changed my life and opened my eyes to the realities of this world (1 Cor. 1:30)!
The public school system as a whole is not winning. It starts at the top, i.e., the superintendent, right on down. To be successful in this arena one must stay on track and be focused to win. One must not succumb to the “system” and its politics. The doctrine of social promotion is basically a losing policy. Students know that after a certain number of years and little or no work - or even poor attendance - they will still be promoted to the next grade. How is this naive and slothful ideal for our children’s future supposed to motivate and encourage success? It doesn’t! It ruins them and removes personal responsibility and motivation from these children to succeed. There are many teachers who feel sorry for these students, but in the end they allow them to slide on through to the next grade, washing their hands of the matter and blaming the system for the injustice. Most of these children will fail down the road. In the end, who loses? The children do.
The Discipline Disaster
The decline in discipline is a tremendous problem. With the disintegration of the family unit, children already have their backs against the wall. The majority of them lack the guidance of a father and mother to give them discipline and direction. The school superintendents choose to ignore this grievous problem. Administrators like to pass the buck onto the teaching staff. Many of these administrators do not have the respect of the students. Because of this situation, teaching staffs are totally frustrated and demoralized. The student’s attitude is: “Since there is no accountability why should we bother to do right?” The repeat offenders continue to go on doing their thing with no consequences of discipline following. In the attempt to maintain order and prevent violence, police officers are now assigned to the middle schools and high schools. The charter and magnet schools have the privilege to remove the repeat offenders and transfer them out of their schools. Where do you think these repeat offenders from the magnet and charter schools are sent? That’s right. They are placed right back into the regular public schools. School security guards are also totally frustrated with the lack of support from the administration to deal with these repeat offenders. Through the years, I’ve talked with several principals, assistant superintendents, and union leaders regarding the concerns about lack of discipline, and nothing ever gets done. Sadly, it will likely take something serious to happen before anything substantial changes are made. The education system has placed a "gag order" on its teachers against talking to the media and press. We are told NOT to voice our concerns to them unless we get permission from “Downtown.” My friends, you can just imagine why there is such a gag order imposed. The educational leadership wants to squash and suppress any truth leaking out that might be damaging to them and their educational facade.
If there was a strong code of discipline in place that was quick, effective, constant and firm - this would solve the majority of these problems. The students would know they would be held accountable for their personal actions and that consequences would soon follow. Right now the consequences for misbehavior are weak and inconsistent. Again, if a system of strong discipline were implemented and enforced by the educational administration, this would greatly enhance the teaching atmosphere and the efficacy of today's dilapidated education system.
No Leaders to Lead and Moral Decline
There is no strong, visionary leadership to be found today in the educational system. Nowadays the administrators are nothing more than useful tools or little puppets (“bobble heads”) at the superintendent’s disposal. There once was a day when strong leaders listened to their staff’s concerns and dealt with a situation immediately. They had a personal bond with their teaching staff and sought the betterment of the students and the educational system as a whole. They took care of whatever needed to be done, and the staff willingly followed. Past administrators supported the staff in difficult situations, but today they have succumbed to the fear of the superintendent and losing their job if they choose to support their staff and not the administration. Yesterday creativity of teachers was encouraged, but now there is a widening divide between the administration and the teaching staff and parents. For the system to work effectively, good leadership and mutual support among educational professionals is essential. My personal observation over the years is that this relationship is in total collapse.
The moral decline in the public educational system of today is very evident. Political correctness, relativism, profanity, blaspheming the Lord’s name, teaching the use of condoms and clean needles, filthy sexual language, etc., is common practice. Graffiti is prevalent everywhere. All one has to do is to walk through the hallways to see the decay. Try scheduling a visit and walk around a school unannounced. I seriously doubt if you will be allowed to do so, but if you are able to, talk to the custodians, security guards, cafeteria workers and substitute teachers. They will testify to the collapse of order and structure to be found in these "institutions of learning.” I have personally seen disruptive students removed - swept under the rug, as it were - to disclosed locations for concealment from view of visiting administrators. Why the fear? Why hide the problems? There is no reality to be found in the delusional, bizarro world educational system of today.
Additional money for education is not needed. Too much of it is already being squandered on worthless programs that will never work or help the students. Much of it goes to the creation of mediocre jobs that are totally unnecessary. These newly created jobs are usually of the administrative variety found downtown. One example of wasteful spending is the computers owned by the schools. For instance, computers are not even being repaired with spare parts available from other computers. These non-working computers are just put aside and eventually thrown away. There is not even an attempt to repair them. There is no appreciation at all found for teaching resources, the taxpayer and the taxpayers' money. How can the educational system be effective when it takes everyone and everything for granted?
More Issues Clouding the Picture
The teacher unions of today refuse to listen or act on the concerns of its members. They used to be attentive, but they are no different today than a political party seeking votes on Election Day. Once they have your vote you are ignored until the next election. They are extremely liberal and socialistic. They practice, promote and push a P.C. (politically correct) agenda on its teachers and members. The political correctness of today is destroying the educational system by the suppression of truth and promotion of a false reality.
There are still many great teachers and eager students in the public education system. Students that want to learn can learn. The teachers want to teach, but the administrators are not people persons. They have geared themselves only for the teaching of the CMT (Connecticut Mastery Test), which is in their view all important. Their only concern and goal is centered in achieving high test results. This process is called “teaching for the test.” My friend, whatever happened to teaching and educating the student? The main focus and drive of today’s teachers is to obtain a high CMT score. The results of this practice are not in the best educational interest of the student.
The students’ parents are essential for the school system to run effectively. Good parents want only the best for their children. A great many teachers want the best for their students also. The “old school" approach was that you taught the student as if he/ she were your own child, but teachers today are instructed to “low key” the problems and just teach the students in light of them. The parents actually have more power than they ever use. They have been turned off and discouraged by the bureaucracy of the failing school system. This system has become these parents' “sugar daddy.” The nanny-state socialistic ideology and mindset is: “We can take better care of your child than you ever could – we are the professionals - so get out of the way.” Unfortunately, many do because it is convenient to do so. These parents give over their children and responsibilities to the state. For example, note how early in age the system wants to start educating our children. The public educational system seeks to offer and provide for the children free lunches, health clinics, P.C. social instruction, after-school programs, etc. These socialists actually believe they can provide for a child better than any parent ever could! They take this responsibility upon themselves to dilute parental authority and advance their agenda of total government control over every area and facet of our lives. Notice how they seek to accomplish this indoctrination of our children at early and earlier ages.
The schools of the past were “real neighborhood schools” in which everyone in a particular neighborhood went to the same public school. The communities of old were tightly knit and looked out for one another (more or less), but in today’s educational system students are now being bussed into magnet schools to get a “better” education. When one reflects on the current busing mentality, it is an absolute insult to be bussed out of your community and into another. What one is unknowingly communicating to that child is that they are unable to learn effectively in their own community and own neighborhood. What is crucially needed today is to strengthen and encourage the parents and these communities to work together with their local school boards to produce higher quality education in one’s own neighborhood. This would increase the quality of education in areas where it is needed and reduce the need for magnet schools and more busing.
Today there are countless obstacles that detour progress, such as endless paperwork and meaningless meetings. These "feel good" and worthless meetings should be more beneficial and relevant to the needs of the failing school system. However, they are not. Teachers and parents should be allowed to have more say and input, but the educational machine is out of control and too despotic to ever allow that. If these meetings are in any way to benefit students, teachers and parents must have an input into the equation. All we as teachers want to do today is to teach the children and have the educational system provide us the basic “common sense” tools that we need to do so. It is tragic that we only get more good intentions and "pipe dreams" that cannot and will not bear good fruit.
The Breakdown of the Family and the Old Ways Fading
Because of the breakdown of the family unit and social order, today's students possess a higher amount of social and psychological problems than ever before. The current school system is not equipped to handle these problems and still effectively teach the student. “Special needs” students are further hampered by the inclusion policy put in place by the educational system. The inclusion policy enforced by the education system lacks the individual, i.e., “one-on-one” time with a teacher that is essential to help these students succeed. These students need more individualized time with their teachers, and because they do not get this added attention they also become frustrated and act disorderly. The mainstream students are frustrated also because they are missing out on learning from having to wait on the teacher tending to the special needs students. In this endless cycle it is easy to see how this idle downtime caused by the back and forth interactions between students creates more disruptions and problems in the classroom. Classroom size increases imposed by budget cuts do not help special needs students affected by this inclusion policy; they only make the situation worse.
Today, patriotism (nationalism) and our Judean/ Christian heritage are going by the wayside at an alarming rate. The question needs to be asked, “Are we the United States of America or a socialistic state requiring diversity?” Whatever happened to the traditional Easter and Christmas recesses? These have been discarded and replaced with secular titles of Spring break and Winter break. In all my 40 plus years of teaching, I never could imagine going to school on Veteran’s Day until recently. There is absolutely no respect for tradition, i.e., the “old ways.” The Pledge of Allegiance used to mean something to the teachers and students, but now it is a ritual of the past. Could this be because it contains those taboo words, “under God?” There is absolutely no respect for the American flag or our veterans to be found.
There used to be a commitment to teaching excellence practiced by those in the profession. I have been looked at by many of my acquaintances today as insane for being a public educator for 40 plus years. When I first started teaching it was not like this. We enjoyed our job and our students. We used to look forward to going to school each day, but while the secular liberal system has succeeded in beating out of us the love of our job, it hasn't yet beaten out of us the love of our students. Today many young teachers get overwhelmed by the failing educational system of the inner-city schools. They are greatly discouraged by this frightful monster and have chosen to leave the inner city to teach in less stressful suburban schools. I cannot blame them.
The public school system of old once embraced patriotism, conservative ideals, and allegiance to God and country, but unfortunately those days are long gone and have been taken over by socialistic liberals and leftist ideology. This leftist ideology takeover has had a devastating effect on our society, students and the public education system as a whole. These are dark days indeed.
What Is Needed Today
There exist numerous choices in magnet/ charter schools having different themes. The gifted students are not challenged in their own neighborhood schools, and as a result they go to a charter or magnet school for a richer education. Each school should have their own programs for gifted students so that others could strive for this mastery also (1 Cor. 9:25). If the public educational system would “raise the bar” for the gifted students, the mainstream students would also benefit from this lift.
More “hands on” subjects or vocational (trade) schools are needed for middle school students. This includes academics that will help the students to realize the benefits of the three “R’s” (reading, writing and arithmetic). Due to budget cuts though, these kinds of classes are being eliminated. For example, the courses which have been cut have been - Technology Education, Family Consumer Science, Art, Music, Band, Physical Education., Computer Repair, etc. The current educational system DOES NOT look on these subjects as vitally important to its student population, but these classes would at least have provided students with a useful trade and practice to help them in the future.
One’s Personal Evaluation and Reflection
Again, my heart personally goes out to those teachers, students, and parents that are oppressed and snared in the current liberal-driven public educational system in America, which is undeniably failing. Just look at the statistics on the education system since school prayer was removed from the schools in 1962.
In light of these things, one should ask these personal questions: “Where is my starting point?” “Where is the starting point (foundation) and the future in light of the current public school system?” I have personally found my personal starting point in the Person of Almighty God. He alone is my sanity in light of the insanity of the public school system. If you are a public school teacher or administrator - or someone who just breathes the air - and Almighty God is not your starting point, then you will NEVER make it, my friend. NEVER! The current system is geared for failure, not success. It is a lawless world today which is getting even worse. IT IS ALL HEADING TO A GREAT GLOBAL TRIBULATION AND FINAL JUDGEMENT OF ALMIGHTY GOD (Matt. 24; Rev. 13)! That is the reality of the situation, my friends.
The public educational system of today and its delusional aspirations will never strengthen your heart or give you hope. The realities of the current situation will only drive you to despair. There is no hope to be found in the public educational system of today for the future of our youth. There is only one place to look. This hope is found only in Almighty God and in His Son Jesus Christ. We live in precarious and difficult times. Whom will you serve? Whom do you choose? May your choice be found in the Great Educator of Life (Matt. 11:25-30; 1 Cor.1:30). Christ alone will set you free from the delusional thinking of our current day and its devastating effect on our youth and culture (John 8:32, 36). As I reflect over the last 40 years of teaching, the Lord has been my sanity and hope for 30 of those 40 years. As this godless world system implodes on itself due to the ravishings of sin and lawlessness, (Romans 1:18-32) the Lord is my Rock! He has personally set me free and given me hope for a bright and shiny future tomorrow (Romans 15:13)! May you also place your trust in Him today - you will never be the same!
“Be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24)
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
JET I.F./ DJP I.F.
The Gospel of John Challenge
What is Sin?