18 March 2010

Shifting Expectations of the School Institution

After a brief conversation yesterday with my Mentor Teacher (MT), I discovered the purpose of my teaching career. Granted, teaching kids is always the reason teachers get out of bed each morning, but there has to be some over-arching drive to anyone's professional career. Film makers want an Oscar, music artists want a Grammy, executives want to become CEOs, but what do teachers want? The education system is too flawed to be content to just assimilate into it with the only conflict arising from teacher salaries and state testing. There is more needed to fix the education system than just paying teachers more.

Anyways, I was talking with my MT and she was talking about her philosophies on teaching, and the things she'd like to see. She told me her conservative nature that wants more natural competition brought back into the education system. However, it is her liberal ideal that I want to talk about. My MT said, that she wishes she could funnel all those funds that go towards those inefficient and ineffective social programs and put them into the schools. This additional funding would not be for academic programs, but social programs that are based around the student that would be with them throughout the school year. The school would live up to its expectations as an institution designed to better the lives of its students. The school will now be able to provide breakfast, lunch (during the school day), and even a dinner for those students who qualify and do not eat one a regular basis. The school can be the state-provided daycare for single parents, teenage mothers, or struggling families who have trouble getting by. The school will also become much like the combination of a Sylvan Learning Center and a Boys and Girls club after school hours. It can now provide activities and programs that are not school related, tutoring services, trainings programs, recreation spaces for kids to be safe in until they have eaten, done their homework, and need to go home and sleep. The kids are now not on the streets or in the woods causing trouble, and they will now have no more excuses to be unsuccessful now. This way the students are fed and have academic help, and all their parents have to do is be home at the end of the day to enjoy their children.

I do not have the logistical, practical, or other answers to make this work tomorrow, because this was a quick conversation, and I think that this is just in the brainstorming stages right now. However, there is great potential in this idea. There is a school facility everywhere throughout this nation, and there are kids in every school (even the rich schools) who need a little more than what is offered during the school day in order to be on even ground with their peers. This way, social services can concentrate on medical services and getting people working, and not whether or not the children are eating properly.

What are some of the negatives about this idea? I am very excited about this idea, but I will try to see both of its sides. The main problem with it is the amount of added administrative and bureaucratic overhead that will be needed to reallocate the funds from one set of organizations to the schools. How much of the extra funds will go to the added administrative and staff overhead needed to operate the additional services? Yet, I still strongly believe that if these kinds of questions can be answered, then this idea had great potential to be effective. This is something that I feel will be a productive time use of my time to develop and work towards.

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