After reading about the privatization of the Hartford ischool isystem, I can only say, "Give business a chance." It might sound cold-hearted, but I am the product of parochial schools where the only way we got something was to have parents pay for it. It wasn't much then, and it is even less in a public school.
I've spent time in public elementary schools with my mother. I've seen overworked teachers, supply shortages, many children with special needs, a shortage of aides, teachers spending their money for projects, no parents' participation, and faculty who's often too tired to care.
Teachers must man the doors to check the kids in, set them up with trays and food for lunch, and do bus duty to get the little darlings home. All these duties are done on their own time. How long do you think the teachers' unions will let that last?
Special needs children sometimes get an individual aide, but that's almost a necessity in a classroom filled with children, all of whom demand constant attention. Furthermore, the majority of today's teachers are not trained to teach or help special needs children.
I've been in the classroom with my mother, and I've seen the "regular" students she's had to deal with. These kids carry so much emotional baggage from broken or abusive families that their behavior frequently is difficult. Teachers are not counselors or psychiatrists, and yet the public school system asks them to take on these jobs.
The parents of the '90s certainly need to learn how to parent. Parenting skills seem to be the single biggest problem facing all schools today. Single-parent homes, parents who are too busy working, those who sink into drug abuse, and parents who just plain abuse their kids have become so commonplace within our schools that teachers are no longer shocked by parent non-participation. These children carry their emotional problems into the classroom. They have not had proper supervision, or love at home, and parents expect school and its staff to handle and even "cure" a child's erratic behavior. Teachers are not counselors or healers - they are human beings in stressful situations. These problems are multiplying each year. This is where big business might make the difference.
From what I've read about privatization of schools, big business could sink the needed dollars into the schools. They would be willing to try motivational and innovative programs to keep our kids in schools without a big political hassle. Support for good teachers might bring back a sense of accomplishment and a new thirst for teaching. And maybe big business could finally get parents and families involved so they would take interest in these children, and not expect the schools and teachers to raise their children. Big business certainly would ask some questions that we seem to be afraid to ask. ?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.