Monday, March 15, 2010

The Trouble With Our Public Schools

The Trouble With Our Public Schools
by Harry C. Alford
NNPA Columnist

(NNPA) - One of America’s biggest challenges is providing an adequate educate for our children. A solid education was a given when I was growing up and why isn’t it a simple thing now? It appears that we complicated a simple process to the point of making public education more of a “cash cow” than a vehicle to ensure our freedom and economic standing in this competitive world. Our corporate leaders consider it a very serious crisis and rightly so. Let’s look at some of the obvious reasons.

The grades Kindergarten through Sixth Grade are the most important years. This is where the mold is set. You drill, drill and drill into the heads of our little angels the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic.

In the early years, this was known as the “3 R’s”. If a child can master these three areas they will be ready to journey into other areas such as science, history, health, etc. The 3 R’s allow you to comprehend the more sophisticated subjects and gives you the rational to reason and perform logic on other tasks. That’s all we need to do during K – 6 grades.

Bad behavior will not be tolerated. These children must learn immediately to respect authority. Fighting for whatever reason is automatic suspension requiring a parental visit and a pledge to never do it again. Do it again; you will never return to that particular school. Talking back to a teacher is also a very bad thing and should be treated accordingly.

Manners and respect for your elders should be paramount in order to maintain a learning environment.

Dress codes must be in place.

Why are we providing free breakfasts at schools? This is a family matter and the government, if it wants to get involved, should deal directly with the family not a public school. Stop feeding these students free breakfast. School is for education only. Students should pay for their lunch or bag it. There should be no federal program dipping into the time for education. The same goes for daycare. Schools are for education not babysitting. There should be no daycare activities on the grounds of a public school. Let’s concentrate on education only!

Perhaps the worst thing to happen to inner city schools was the “Busing” programs. This was an attack on our communities. Why would we wake up our children in the wee hours to put them on a bus and take them to a school where they weren’t wanted? It disrupted local community pride and alienated potentially great students.

It gave them a feeling of inferiority. To answer my question, it was the bus manufacturers and unions, who wanted the driver jobs.

They saw big bucks in this and therefore ordered the NAACP to push for it. This was perhaps the most damaging thing done to our communities from an educational standpoint.

Central High, Crispus Attucks High, Booker T. Washington High, etc. soon disappeared and community pride and spirit went away.

The procurement process of many school districts involves serious money. With that comes much corruption. The books, learning tools and equipment are many times decided via kick backs, etc. instead of what is best for the student. There should be major cleansing at all inner city school systems – they are all corrupt. Also, there should be intern and training programs demanded of corporations who do business with a particular school.

They should recruit new applicants or train the very students they are making money from. This creates a visible future for the students and inspires them to study hard and perform well.

Teenage pregnancy is a big distracter. If a student becomes pregnant she and the soon to be father must be removed from school and home schooled during the pregnancy. No student should be walking through the halls of a school pregnant. Many of the public schools actually have on campus daycare centers for the children of the students. This is not school business and should not exist at all. Teen pregnancy should be discouraged not encouraged.

When my family moved to Washington, DC we decided not to go the route of public schools. We were lucky to get our twins into one of the best private schools in the nation. Funny, the teachers there were not certified like public school teachers are required and most did not have degrees beyond the bachelor level in addition they received about one half of the pay.

However, they loved the kids; discipline was a must; the classrooms were small (12 students or less) and the students were always taught that the sky was the limit for each and every one of them.

Bureaucracy, busing, corruption, federal intervention, lack of discipline, unions, low standards during K – 6 and poor social morals have destroyed our public school systems. Let’s rebuild them now.
Harry Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: Email:

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