Back to school

As another long, hot summer draws to a close the sounds of school bells ringing and school buses bussing remind us that the nation’s public, private and charter schools are back in business and I do mean business.  No one is more excited for the start of a new school year than Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and McGraw-Hill. No, this is not an upscale attorney practice, it’s the trifecta of textbook publishing companies that have cashed in on the testing bonanza that has flowed from No Child Left Behind. These for-profit companies make the textbooks, they make the supplemental materials and they make the assessments. And, wait for it, they even make the remedial materials for students who don’t pass the assessments. But I do not want to discuss the cash cow that public education has become, with a select few companies winning the equivalent of the Powerball every freaking year. What I want to take a moment now for is to focus on the positive facets of education we sometimes lose sight of as certain media voices steer our attention to those fat cat, unions and them lazy, good for nothing, teachers who are sucking the public dry.

Thomas Built Buses Mighty Mite school bus. This bus is a retired unit that has been customized. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Education has given me opportunities and, at times, it has given me access but most of all it has given me choices. Today, I have more than one way of synthesizing information or analyzing an opinion piece that tells me it’s time to go to war with X, Y, or Z country. I am able to comprehend that there are motives, elementary teachers call this cause and effect, that compel people to act in certain ways and I can consider them when evaluating a current event. Now I can tell the difference between a myth, a fable and a fantasy, such as when I hear a report that a certain X country may have weaponized cans of massive whoop ass and destruction (WCMWAD’s for you military, acronym lovers). Best of all, education has given me the seeds of faith that I can be more than I am. I can be a person who seeks liberation of thoughts from dogma and mythology and having tasted the sweet nectar of freedom, wants to offer it to my sisters and brothers from other mothers. I don’t have to settle for just being me, I can be more than me. I may not have all the right answers but at least I’m not asking the wrong person anymore. My report card should say, Jeff is making progress but still needs more time. Teachers will all want me in their class to pad their evaluations.

Education

Education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

So as the backpacks are being packed, the new clothes are being laid out for the night and the classrooms are being made real, let’s take a moment to give thanks to all those who make education possible…the lovers, the dreamers and me. Just kidding, I meant to say Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and McGraw-Hill.

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29 Responses to Back to school

  1. Jeff, it’s incredible that your article has been freshly pressed. Very unusual of them to court a controversial topic. But I am so glad it’s on the FP main page. Congratulations !

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  2. nigeil says:

    This is a great piece of writing here; though I know it’s a serious topic, you have a way of making me laugh while I’m reading it. My parents are both teachers, and I always here their sob stories about the injustices THEY feel on a day-to-day basis, and all I want to do is slap them in the face and remind them they have one of the easiest (and yet highest-paying) jobs in Uhmerrka. We need teachers, yes, and most are great people. But sometimes they lose perspective, as do we all.

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  3. vanbraman says:

    It is always interesting to see where our education dollars are being spent. I know that there is a lot of politics behind textbook selection, but in the end it is still the big textbook companies that win out. They publish what is required :-).

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  4. I am glad you are so positive in the midst of sarcasm. Isn’t nice that at least ONE portion of the economy…even if it IS GOVERNMENT-CONNECTED…will be looking up? Being a former teacher of sorts (long story), I agree with your perceived assessment on educational value in helping us THINK. Come visit us at ourpoetrycorner.wordpress.com. It might even be educational!

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  5. Ron Goetz says:

    This is camcorder spam. Don’t waste your time, unless you’re in the market.

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  6. FP says:

    I appreciate your view on education and how it opens choices to people. However, I must say “how it should open choices to people” and it is not. Unfortunately, education in general is mediocre and oriented to create automats. Most people graduate from school to do nothing else than the things they suppose to do: find a job, get a credit and believe in whatever ridiculous, nonsense story showed on the TV news. The current education level (I would say worldwide) generates students with no basic mental capacity to even notice and understand this situation. Sorry if my comment results “hard to chew,” but we live in a world lacking of sufficient consciousness level and I feel we need to start elevating our own bar and this cannot be found in a classroom. You mention about the importance of liberation of thoughts from dogma and I cannot be more in agreement with you. However, as Gilbert Keith Chesterson said: “this world is full of people who sustain dogmas so firmly, that they don’t even notice they are sustaining a dogma.” Thanks for your time writing your blog and reading my comment. Wish you the best.

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    • I appreciate your comment, I have a few responses…while I do not have hard evidence, there is an argument to be made that much of the dogma that is disseminated to the public is the product of elite private schools, institutions and think tanks. Genuine education frees the mind and propels activism but the keys to the kingdom are guarded closely. We can not fault children for believing the lies of adults, now that I am an adult I must accept my responsibilities and work towards fixing what is broken. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

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  7. cartoonmick says:

    Well done, Jeff. It’s every kids right to be educated, so they should go for it, Jeff, and get as much out of it as they can. It’s what their future (and the country’s) is built on.

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  8. Wow, when do American schools go back after summer? is it this early?

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  9. gauravdey says:

    Well composed.. Education is a big game of business now !!

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  10. Shayan Zahid says:

    I just saw your article on the main FP page and I was really impressed, keep up the good work

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  11. It’s not only textbook companies that benefit, there’s the shops that sell uniforms, stationary supplies etc. What annoys me most is how the shops advertise ‘back to school’ before they’ve all left for holidays.

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  12. Cancerpurse says:

    I have always found it very curious that Pearson has a hand in everything. It’s like they are the Walmart of the education world. Hmmm.

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    • My wife and I are both educators. She has worked for Pearson for a couple years. While they may not be perfect, they are trying to do great things and create change. Yes, they are a profit seeking company, but unlike Walmart, they take great care of their employees.

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      • Pearson is a London based multinational corporation making obscene profits from public taxpayer money. The government has abdicated it’s role as protector of the public interests and has allowed a “free” market free-for-all that benefits few at the expense of many. I respect the workers who try to make positive changes within the system.

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  13. Saadman says:

    I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m not certain whether or not this submit is written through him as nobody else understand such unique about my difficulty. You are incredible! Thanks!

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  14. so not ready to go back to school! really like your post though :)
    and do you mind checking out my blog? its new and id really appreciate your opinion!
    Thanks!

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  15. halfwayto50 says:

    as a teacher I can agree that these companies are in it for the money. I’m fortunate to be at a great school/district that doesn’t purchase these products. No mass textbook sets will be found in my classroom! Only learning and smiles… and the occasional crabby teacher :)

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  16. believeinjamie says:

    As a trainee teacher of Religious Education in England, I just do not believe in the text book! It cannot be used as a resource in my subject. As my job is to teach students to think, it can only happen by making each topic relevant to the real world, and not merely by answering questions in a text book.

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  17. JWB says:

    I must admit, this topic is so underestimated. Education is free, especially in the age of information. Now, as far as institutions participation in Americas’ education, well, we have a long way to go. It is about politics. Many teachers want to teach the best way they know how, but unfortunately, the education system wants to clone all teaching methods, so they are not able to teach the way they teach best. I salute teachers that love what they do, and do it because they love it. They deserve a million dollar salary. Teachers need to speak louder, and students need to support their efforts. It is sad that the most powerful country in the world places education on the back burner. Good article, and good writing.

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  18. Jay says:

    Nice post Jeff….. sometimes people don’t realize how crucial role education plays in their lives. But yes, these days it has become a business than service to the society. And all it has done is to make education unnecessarily more expensive, especially in cities.
    But still I miss those days at times and your post did just that….
    Congrats for FP…

    Like

  19. Pingback: Let my people read « Deconstructing Myths

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