When I was in grade school and in high school, in addition to the basics, we also learned how to make things. We learned how things worked. Teachers encouraged us to reach our full potential and they cared about us as individuals.
At grade school, when I was 11 years old, my father bought me a chemistry set. I learned how to make volcanoes using sulphur mounds. One morning, my friend and I carried a car battery all the way to school - walking (tote and all the rest), and used it to ignite the solid fuel cell of my "Estes" rocket. My classmates were literally in awe as it blasted off and rocketed towards the sky, and then gently floated back down to earth on its parachute.
In high school, I carved a panther out of wood. I painted it black, and mounted it in a hand-made frame that I lined with plush purple felt. It was a beautiful sight, and I had a tremendous sense of pride to witness what my hands had wrought.
At that time, school was something more than a government bureaucracy. Teachers cared and parents were involved. Even though some of the parents were uneducated, or were unable to read and write themselves, they made sure that their children were going to have better opportunities to pursue their own destiny- their own path in life. But more than that, there was a real sense of community. Although I may not have made it known then, admittedly I remember times when I was actually excited and eager to go to school and learn.
Today, with the Federal Government in charge of "educating" our children, our kids spend more time trying to figure out how to kill things, break things, and how to conform to the current system or status quo instead of building things, innovating, making things better, or daring to start or build their own businesses. Schools are now funded based on how many bodies occupy a space in the classroom. Teachers are protected and their jobs are secured regardless of their successes or failures, and often it's the low performing teachers, administrators, and unions that benefit from the government's "investments". One thing is clear...Education has become a BIG business.
The Obama Administration wants to grow and expand preschool services for children from birth through age five as part of a “cradle-to-career” government-controlled education system. Just this year, the Administration proposed significantly increasing government spending on early childhood education and care to include;
- new federal spending to establish a “cost-sharing” model with states to expand public preschool programs;
- significant new spending on Early Head Start to serve infants, toddlers, and three-year-old children;
- an effort to “grow” the federal Head Start program; and
- an expansion of home-visitation programs. The White House deems this its Preschool for All initiative.[Source]
I want the Federal Government out of education.
I want education and schooling to be dealt with at a local level. This means more choice and access for the parents who are willing to make sacrifices in order that their kids can access schools and programs that will best meet their needs.
Not every parent wants to push their 3 or 4 year old's off to a government run daycare. Given the choice, many parents would elect for other options for care and education during the early years.
I want meaningful testing, performance evaluations, and higher pay for the caring and committed teachers and childcare workers based on their performance and proven results. This will attract the best teachers and role models in our schools, and not just civil servants looking to collect a pay-check at the expense of our children's futures and their parent's tax dollars.
I want alternative educational tracks. They should include programs for military preparation, mechanics, civil service, and industrial production training. Everyone is not going to be successful in college or higher education, but everyone can be good at something.
I would like to see every family given the choice to opt out of the public school system if they instead choose to home-school or privately educate their children. This should include a tax rebate or exemption from funding public schools that they do not utilize.
Finally, and most importantly, I want policies that will encourage and require parents to parent first! Policies that effectively turn school systems into mere daycare centers must be abolished. Good teachers spend too much time disciplining instead of teaching. This is the role of parents, not educators.
I want the Federal Government out of the "Education Business" and parent's and local communities empowered with the right to choose what's best for their children.