Brother Giuseppe (a pseudonym) is a special Ed teacher in the Bronx. He tells me that one student out of the 17 in his class is truly "learning disabled," and the rest are just students with outrageously undisciplined behavior, or "out of control." I heard tales of parents in gang attire attending parent-teacher meetings, along with a lack of personal hygiene that is passed down to the children. This is the front line in the war to educate our most needy children.
The multcultural advocates that control the school system prohibit Brother Giuseppe from saying anything critical about the problems that are so apparent in the students' progress. This system has turned the power structure of education on it's head, and given the children more power than the educators. The parents are part of the problem, because most of them are product of the same failed educational system. If a student does something wrong, whether academically or behaviorally, the teacher must have done something to cause it, under today's standards.
Once upon a time in America, a student got his knuckles slapped with a ruler for the most minor discipline problem. If they went home and cried to mommy or daddy about it, they would be told; "You must've done something to deserve it," and been further punished by his or her parents. While this way of thinking is out of style, it is not extinct. Several public school districts around the country are "testing the waters," allowing corporal punishment by teachers in the schools, with a parental permission slip. Here is where the battle shifts to "the hill," or the political arena.
(Communist China created a self-imposed "cultural revolution" in the 1960's, but found that teaching a political belief system was no substitute for teaching actual facts [math, reading and writing] after less than a decade. It was a failed experiment, and they corrected it promptly. The difference in the US is that the "cultural revolution" has gone on for more than a generation before we realized how destructive it is. Now it is a far more entrenched system, with "punch the clock" unions, liberal judges, administrative bureaucrats, not to mention the mainstream liberal media and parents siding with kids who basically hate school, as all kids have throughout history. Multiculturalism and self esteem have supplanted disclipine as guiding principles in American education, while the Chinese experiment, teaching the opposite, didn't sacrifice discipline.)
Our elected representatives, from the local school council or PTA board member, all the way up to the President, are the higher ranks in the education war. While Brother Giuseppe is on the front lines, he needs the politicians to change the strategy and tactics, even the ground rules of the battle. This takes political will, sustained over a long period. If a majority of Americans realize that the education system is failing, then the first step is accomplished, politically. That is a far cry from fixing the problem, but perhaps we can move the battle to the (Capitol) hill, and fight from the high ground.
I'm ashamed that my support for Pres. Bush was misplaced regarding education, when he let Sen. Kennedy write the "no child left behind" law. Of course Sen. Kennedy is the largest critic of that law now, saying "it wasn't fully funded." This is another smoke screen that hides the true problems facing education today in this country. It's time for all of us, even non-parents, to use our political muscle to save the future of our country from this rotting and decrepit education bureaucracy, and to correct the corollary damage it's done to our culture.