A Christmas Wish for Education

Dear Santa-

I know this time of year you are filled with requests from children, asking for a variety of toys, trips and goodies. Some wishes are self-serving and others are filled with generosity. An example comes from my 9 year old son Griffin who wishes for a sled to enjoy the winter weather in Michigan and wants to adopt an pet from the Michigan Humane society to give an animal a home.  This year I have one Christmas wish that tops the rest:

I wish our society valued education!

Over the past few years, education has gotten plenty of lip-service from politicians and education reform groups. Teachers have been attacked, deemed the enemy and left out of reform process. Education has been viewed as an untapped cash cow, that corporations deem ready to take over. Instead of listening to educational experts, the voices of corporate reformers have taken center stage. World rankings of standardized test scores are often featured as prime evidence of need for reform. Poverty is often overlooked as a hindrance to the education process. Don’t reformers realize that our education system is just a reflection of our society!

What does our society value?

How does a society show value towards something? When we are willing to pay a price for it! Our society values sports and entertainment. We pack stadiums every weekend for college and professional sports, paying more than $30 per ticket (yes low estimate). The “Big House” in Ann Arbor has been selling out since the 1970’s, with over 100,000 attending each contest. Communities pass tax breaks and spend millions to fund new stadiums. Even Bankrupt Detroit wants to spend money it doesn’t have to fund a new home for the Red Wings.   Atlanta is replacing Turner Field which was built in 1996 for the Olympics with a new stadium in 2017. This sports infrastructure projects are happening while our educational infrastructure mostly built in the 1940’s t0 1960’s is crumbing and in major need of upgrades. Film companies spend millions to produce a few hours of entertainment, just think what schools could do with these budgets? Society accepts paying sports figures and actors millions per season or film, but to pay a teacher $70,000 for a year of teaching brings public outrage! Don’t these actions alone send the wrong message to our children about education?

How many books are going to be on your sleigh?

Did many children wish for books? Mine always get some, but do the majority of children receive them? Many parents give presents with education in mind. Giving a computer, tablet, or smartphone seems popular these days, often with the idea that it is an educational present (at least many advertisers want us to believe this). Do parents monitor the use? Do students know how to use them for education? Frequently the answers to these questions is NO. Often the presents are given with great intentions but when students are left to their own choices they use the tools for entertainment (not that there is anything wrong with entertainment). Society needs to model the importance of education. Instead it seems it mocks education every chance it gets. Ever notice that every mention of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates includes that they both dropped out of College? Yet, it is rarely mentioned where other CEOs/ Celebrities graduated from college!

Santa, please make our society realize the importance of education as an individual journey and process, not one dictated by teachers or a common core. Have our society value EDUCATION and show respect for those that foster the process.

Sincerely,

An educator…

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