I bring this up because of recent snow days; school make-up; waivers to keep from extending the school year; student, parent, teacher and school administration opinions and beliefs; state and federal accountability, which seems to be at issue in recent weeks. First we need to know how this “public education” came about.
You can read here the history of public education. I perused many a site and feel this site gives a good, general understanding. For the most part, disciplining unruly children, rote and giving basic learning standards for children to do work, primarily factor jobs, was the intent for the public system. Compulsory attendance came into effect in the early 1900′s. Standards and minimum days (and/or hours) were later mandated and incorporated into state constitutions. Women were brought into the mix because they were seen as creating “good republican children with virtue”. All in all, it continued to evolve into the current system we now have instilled.
The current school system has become burdened with how to educate, what text and tools to use, as well vacations, holidays and “teacher” work days. I always enjoyed that term as being an oxymoron. When the teachers work, school for the children is not in session. Does that mean that when school is in session, teachers don’t work? Ponder that a bit. And why do we need to have the summer off from school? Why not winter instead? Originally, summer and fall was set for the kids to help on the farms with crops. We still do agriculture in this country but we can’t use child labor. Some of these farms don’t have a great return and it was always a family affair. Shoot, you didn’t have to attend school after you were 14. What changed and why? Even with mechanized equipment (which is very costly), how does the small farm make ends meet without family help? And who or what forces that circumstance?
Here is a brief stat on year round school. Yes, many countries do this because of the benefit of education. Why do people think that summer vacation (school break) is a holy grail? People work all year round with minimal vacation time-weeks at best, or even NO vacation time. Kids can’t handle school without constant breaks? Or is it school administration, teachers and parents pushing the point? Remember, public school was set up for those kids and immigrants to work in the factories of high density areas. But where now are those factories? And, of course, there where many other jobs and means of employment other than factories. Matter of fact, those jobs were pretty much OJT ( on the job training) where apprentices and employees worked their way up the ladder to achieve management, journeyman and masters of a trade or craft. But now, public education (or it’s equivalent) is being being pushed as a necessity to “make your way in life”. How so? Oh, right. It keeps people from feeding off the teet of the government where those social entitlement programs are involved. Why, then, are these same educated children, who cannot find jobs to their “skills”, doing just exactly that–feeding off the government? Something isn’t adding up here. Why can’t kids just quit school and work with their level of knowledge or pursue a desired skill or craft?
I have this article where Wisconsin wants to change the length of their school year by SHORTENING it. I have this article that shows how many days behind the local schools are because of snow days and what options they have. Seems that that holy grail “summer” is not to be interfered with. But what of the children’s education? Are they going too long or not long enough? Are they not getting enough breaks to assist in their learning capabilities? Is it a money problem for the school districts? Does our public school system need to morph once again to meet current needs and requirements? Idle hands; disciplining children; working the factories–where did it go wrong?