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Educational Reform and Restructure
Before we begin any conversation about education in America we have to explain in detail about the facts involved. This way everyone talking about this subject is on the same page with our terminology and broader points. The most important concept we have to understand and recognize is that there are really 2 systems of education in America. One is private education, and the other is public or govt. subsidized education. (this type of "public" education can often include Charter schools) As someone who attended both types of schools for many years, I understand this difference all too well.
While in general, private education facilities are quite successful and competitive worldwide, we have to come to grips with the reality of the fact that govt. education in America. That is to say, public education, lags far behind much of the civilized world. When you compare govt. schools throughout most of Southeast Asia and much of Europe, you find that student abilities and competence far surpasses that of their American counterparts. In some cases, we’re talking about grade gaps of 2 to 3 class years. In other words, sixth, seventh and eighth graders in Thailand, often operate at what would be considered an 11th grade level in America.
When we consider the future that our current preschoolers are going to inherit, we must fully admit that they will be at a tremendous educational disadvantage compared to students in Singapore, Norway, South Korea, China, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, India, Viet-Nam, and many other countries who have decided long ago to put an supreme emphasis on maintaining the highest possible standards of education for their young citizenry. So, we have to first agree that serious, substantial and systemic reforms and restructuring is desperately needed if American children are going to be able to properly compete in the 21st century. (and beyond) It's a natural American reaction to believe that everything we do is the best in the world. This means that most Americans are under the impression that our education system is among the best in the world. The reality is that is simply untrue. Perhaps 70 years ago it was a more accurate depiction of our world order but right now, today, America is systematically far behind many other countries in our efforts to properly educate our children. Extensive international travel has proven and confirmed to me precisely how far behind we truly are.
We know that we can't possibly discuss every last aspect of this intensely complex situation. We can't solve this large of a problem within the confines of this one paper, on this one website. So, let’s start by looking at some of the simple differences between these top tier countries, and what we do in America. Again, we can’t discuss everything here, but let’s just look at a few (3) key yet extremely SIMPLE points. When kids begin to attend school, what they wear, and how long the school days last.
We're going to talk about how we CAN solve this problem, but it's going to have to start at the very beginning. A lot of Americans simply don't ever get the chance to have this discussion and therefore, have little or no real understanding of the issues which prevent us from accomplishing what might seem like a simple goal. Educating our children properly. In most Asian countries, children begin school basically as soon as they are toilet trained. This means starting full, day long school sessions for 2 years olds and 3 year olds. It’s likely that to most Americans, this concept may seem radical and excessive, but when you consider the tremendous effects and benefits of educating young minds when they are at that ONE MOMENT in their life when their minds are actually the most fertile and impressionable, you can begin to see why Asian countries are so far ahead of us.
Part 1- When we begin to send our children to school
Beginning early encourages rapid and immediate toilet training of children. The vast majority of people in America simply don't realize how critical this is. How failing to immediately toilet train children, while it creates a tremendous economic boom for diaper companies, (who get an extra 2, 3 sometimes as much as 4 years of sales outof each child) actually STUNTS the growth of our children. Imagine the advanced confidence level of 2 or 3 year olds. Toilet trained children, going to school and receiving the cognitive skill sets that they'll require for great achievement throughout their academic career, rather than allow them to soil themselves in wearable diaper pants until they are 4 or 5 years old. Sometimes even as old as 6 years. Spending much of their days crying out loud and failing to learn the critical concepts like authority, discipline, respect, social skills and cooperation. When Asians find out that American children are wearing diapers at age 2 and 3, they are shocked, and confused. They naturally ask, "Why"? Because most countries consider it purely nonsensical to purposefully delay the training of young people, which is exactly what America has been doing for generations. On a very real level, it is the invention of disposable diapers that has allowed America to fall behind and become complacent with regard to early education and preparation. 2.) Sending young children to school all day, allows parents to achieve whatever needs they have. Not all of us have the resources or even the opportunity to also be the world's greatest teachers. Whether it’s work, taking proper care of babies, or simply accomplishing the needs of their household without unnecessarily dealing with children, who by all rights, should already be in school. 3.) Children learn the most when they are the youngest. This has been scientifically proven time and time again. We all know this to be a fact of life. Humans develop more as babies than they do throughout the rest of their lives. This includes their brains. Full day school allows our youngest children to learn the basics of language, social structure, discipline and obedience, basic life skills, such as eating, putting on clothes, putting away your toys, tying your shoes, fooling around with musical instruments, playing with others and so much more. Let’s be sure to fully understand that the youngest children in the best schools in the world, don’t go to school to get on computers and start learning foreign languages or processing complicated mathematical calculus. That's NOT how it works. That's NOT what we are talking about here. They engage in play acting, storytelling and listening, singing songs, playing music, coloring, walking in lines, holding hands, structured discussion in groups with each other and with instructors, learning words for everyday objects and practicing these skills with repetition. By doing this, it means that by the time they are 4 or 5 years old, and ready for actual educational schoolwork, they’ve already mastered many of the fundamental learning basics that will help them focus, study, learn and produce results. It’s also important to remember that children, especially young children, LOVE to go to school. It’s critical for them and for everyone involved, to capitalize on that positive feeling and normalize that positive attitude. Rather than fight with kids about going to school, and having to try to readjust some kind of negative attitude towards school at an older age.
So, with this basic understanding, we can easily see how and why certain children get such a real advantage and headstart with their education. And keep in mind, these other countries have significantly less "behavior problems" or "special education children" than we have in America. And what we should all be asking ourselves is, is the way these othes countries educate their children the reason why they have such a conflict free educational system? (We'll circle back to this point as we continue to discuss some other intelligent and simple changes we can make) Everyone should be able to recognize the absolute truth of this first point simply by comparing their own experience and understanding of the different environments in which children in America are raised. We all know that those children who were fortunate enough to have an upbringing which included early learning, like reading, learning to count, simple math, long conversations with older kids and adults, and so much more. Children whose parents took it upon themselves to educate and teach them long before they ever started attending school, have a clear advantage and are less likely to fail or develop behavior problems. We all know this, and it's long overdue that we should incorporate what we know into our system itself.
Part 2- what we wear (the use of uniforms as a learning tool)
Another drastic difference between top level schools acroll the globe and what we do here in America is the use of uniforms. And when we talk about uniforms, we mean that in the literal sense, not the sort of "uniforms” we casually suggest in America. Where basically, they want you to wear some kind of certain color of T-shirt and a certain color of pants, and that’s it. The concept of uniforms can be a fundamental aid in training students to both appreciate their school, focus around a common goal, aid in uniting the student body, and in treating others equally. Real uniforms consist of every article of clothing, not just being the same color, but absolutely matching. Made from the same manufacturer for that specific school. Uniforms include all accessories, like backpacks, thermoses, shoes, belts, hats, scarves, whatever athletic wear a student needs. In short, everything. Uniforms always have a meaningful and thoughtful emblem or insignia related to the school. Uniforms accomplish many things. 1.) They absolutely help to balance morale and self-esteem. 2.) They lower the cost of clothes for every family. Instead of new clothes, students need only 2 sets of uniforms. By using the same uniform over and over, there is always a constant supply of used uniforms available for those students with financial difficulties. American parents might initially think that the uniform is an additional expense, but that’s simply not how real life works. You don’t need additional clothes, and the reality is, you will spend less than HALF of what you might normally spend on clothing for your children. Mathematically speaking, you should need approximately 2/7 of what you might normally need. That’s about 30%. If you had been spending $1,000/year on your child’s clothes, with a strict school uniform policy, you’ll spend only $300/year. And probably less than that.
The last point I want to make about uniforms is that they represent the lowest of the low hanging fruit options that any school could immediately apply to begin making a positive difference in their operation. It doesn't take the passage of brand new legislation. It doesn't require the investment of millions of new dollars. No one has to agree to a levy funds so that some school can institute a strict uniform policy. It can be done in a E-mail message or an assembly hall announcement. This point is so basic, and critical, that it bears repeating. Any school, can immediately apply this technique, to being making a positive difference in their operation. The positive effects are as immediate as they are important, and we should all understand that the fact that so few schools take advantage of this easy upgrade is wholly shameful. We're trading a better educational product for our children for a misguided understanding of what we believe to be their expediency and comfort.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Part 3- How long children attend school (school days and hours)
Lastly, we should discuss the hours of school operation and how many days are in a typical school year. Almost all of the world's most effective schools start at 7:00 a.m. and last until at least 3:00 p.m. (Many last much longer, and we'll discuss those options...) The reason why schools should start early is because children should go to bed early. Nothing positive or appropriate happens late at night, so there is no reason for young children to spend that time up and active. That’s the proper time for children to be asleep. Meanwhile, we should all be able to agree that waking up early makes a lot of sense. Unlike staying up late at night, there are lots of opportunities and advantages to getting up early. Going to bed sometime between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. and waking up between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. would be every parent’s preferred option and give them the most advantages in their life. So, it’s important to everyone that school’s start at the most appropriate hour. Having attendance taken precisely at 7:00 a.m. promotes discipline, promptness and encourages proper scheduling. A full 8 hour school day gives students adequate time for homeroom time, assembly, a proper recess, a proper lunchtime as well as a full course of classes. A single Asian student in second grade typically has courses such as keyboarding, math, science, national history, world history, native language, foreign language, music, art, physical education, world religion and social studies, ALL within their single school year. Additionally, almost every school offers extracurricular activities beginning 15 or 30 minutes after the regular school day ends. These activities vary in length and frequency depending on the exact nature of the classes, but extending the school day another 1-2 hours presents a host of positive options and opportunities for both the children and their families and is obviously highly encouraged. In other countries, more than 75% of students take part in some amount of extracurricular activities.
So the idea of providing a full school day means different things to Americans than it does to populations that place a premium on the education of their children. In America, we like to start late. Maybe 8:00 a.m., sometimes 9:00 a.m., and finish early, maybe 2:15 p.m., maybe 2:45 p.m. We offer very few extracurricular activities other than sports. And most of those don’t begin until at least 6th grade. We already have scientific studies that show the detrimental effects of sending children home before their parents get home. The lack of discipline and stability in the structure during that specific portion of the day is one of the most dangerous situations for children, and especially at-risk children. This lack of supervision during this critical time in a young child's life is precisely the type of issue which we can and must address through these intelligent education reforms and restructuring.
So you can that without going too far into the multiple and complex details of all the possible reforms and structural changes that would be necessary to make America's educational system one of the best in the world again, we can focus on just these 3 issues. Sending children to school at a much earlier age, the strict use of real uniforms, and increasing the length of the school day and year. Just doing these 3 things, which are neither complicated nor controversial, will be of vast benefit to the children and the families. Parents who are currently forced to seek and finance daycare for their young children, will be freed from that complicated and expensive burden. We cannot understate what a big deal that is. Children in America are already being separated because some parents are able and willing to train their young children, and some are not. So, American children start kindergarten somewhere around age 5 or 6 and some can read and some cannot, some are outgoing and some are introverted, some hate school and some love it. Having children at drastically different levels of competence, creates problems for them, and for the teacher, who are forced to juggle the methods in which they approach everything they do across a wide spectrum of levels of understanding. As you can imagine, if the kids were much more closely and uniformly accelerated, the teacher would be much more effective.
Students who return home at 6:00 p.m. instead of 3:00 p.m. are going to be much more disciplined, and willing to do what is necessary, since there is not enough time to do the unnecessary. You eat, you do some homework or reading, you take a shower and it’s time to go to sleep. This is the proper daily structure of a young student. Making time to do whatever you want, to play with friends, to idle away the hours in curious experimentation, is exactly how children get distracted and diverted into unhelpful, dangerous or negative behaviors and activities. Let’s be realistic. American kids have plenty of week-ends, vacation days and holidays for idle play and relaxation. We didn't even discuss this incredible but absolutely true fact, Compared to other countries, U.S. students attend much less school. By the time an American completes high school, they will have attended school for approximately 2,340 days, compared to 3,185 days for a typical Chinese student. CHINESE STUDENTS HAVE 845 MORE SCHOOL DAYS THAN AMERICANS. That equals 4.7 YEARS OF SCHOOL. If we’re going to realistically compete with the best students in the world, then we need a complete shift in our thinking. We need to stop treating the young Americans as children, and start treating them like students. What we’ll find is that when we do that, then they’ll start acting like students.
If you've read this far, please understand, NO OTHER CANDIDATE EVEN UNDERSTANDS THIS. If they do, they are definitely NOT talking about it. This is why it's so important for you to vote for MIchael Moore. Because this is the type of life-changing issue that we will be discussing and working on solving when I am elected as your representative.