Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Don't Tell Me We Don't Have Any Money!!
Despite our high tax culture in my adopted State of Minnesota I have several Minnesotan things that keep me happy such as canoeing in the Boundary Waters (http://www.ely.org) and listening to the "Garage Logic" talk radio program -- http://www.am1500.com/garagelogic.htm
Garage Logic is a world view, a philosophy that I sum up as -- "life is not so complicated that we need a government program for every 'crisis' , instead we just need to sit in our garages enjoying a cold beer while talking with friends to solve problems using our common sense............." One of my favorite jingles on this show is when a choir sings, "Don't tell me we don't have any money.............."
I was reminded of this jingle on Monday when I was lifting weights at my local gym. While I was stretching two women in their late forties/early fifties were talking about the one woman's interest in some part-time work in local schools. This led to a discussion of their mutual friend's current job in some local school district serving as the CULTURAL LIAISON.
At the risk of sounding like an old, grumpy man talking about things in a "back in my day we never........." mindset but here it is true. Granted my school was not at all diverse in terms of new immigrants, languages spoken, etc. so we clearly did not need a "Cultural Liaison" but at the risk of sounding cold-hearted and ignorant let me call for the replacement of all "Cultural Liaisons" in our nation's schools with a very crazy idea -- more math and science teachers!!!
Math and science are built on a foundation of universal and eternal concepts -- created by God or simply the cosmic order of things depending on your own belief system -- I will pray for you regardless ;) -- that are not dependent on changing cultures. I have to believe that having more math and science teaching positions created will generate more economic growth for the US economy than cultural liaisons will generate.
In fact given the constant drum beat about the need to "reduce class size" why can't we completely re-think and re-tool the way classes are taught. Looking at my university experience it is clear to me that classes can be taught effectively using varying class sizes. For instance -- why don't we create high school math courses that only have 15 students per class while a course like literature could be taught with 30 or 35 students based on a format focused on reading books and writing about them perhaps using a book club format of small student work groups within each class.
No I don't have the perfect solution but my options are better than the thinking offered by the current education establishment which simply says -- "give us more money so we can reduce class size and everything will improve..............." We have thrown enough money into this money pit called public education so some new thinking would be refreshing.
More teachers less liaisons please,