Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mackinac Island Forum Offers Fantasy Island Education View

Michigan business and Republican leaders have been meeting on Mackinac Island for the last several days, congratulating themselves on their success in fattening their own wallets by cutting funding for local schools and higher education in this state.

Perhaps they really don't understand that that is a short-sighted approach to economic growth in Michigan. Or perhaps they do know it and realize how bad it looks. Either way, they decided they'd better act like they care about education and understand it's importance so they invited a few educators to speak at the conference.

And one of made them all feel better by just blaming teachers for everything that's wrong with public schools.

According to the Detroit Free Press:

"Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, spoke at the conference and said public schools' success rests solely with teachers, who should be fired if their students don't go on to college.

"'If you get paid to educate a child and you cannot do it, then you should probably go into a different business,' he said."

Really? Every student must go to college, whether they want to or not? Does Canada live on a Fantasy Island where no one needs a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter, or a mechanic? No one has to draw blood, drive a school bus, stock shelves in grocery stores, pick up the trash, mow lawns, lay ashphalt on our roads, plow snow in the winter? And all the people who do these jobs are failures because they didn't go to college? So their teachers should be fired?

What poppycock. Michigan needs to send more of its students to college. Income tends to rise with education. Many of the best jobs of the future will require college degrees. But not all jobs will need that training. And not everyone likes school. That's just a simple fact. Not everyone has college-level ability -- even some who come from well-off families. And because of high tuition rates -- due to inadequate state support -- too many bright students from poor families can't afford to go to college.

But to label everyone who fails to go to college a failure and a sign of the system's failure is taking the lazy way out.

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