Rising costs and declining results

Published 9:37 pm Monday, May 19, 2014

By Joseph Bass

During the last 50 years, our educational system has experienced dramatic changes. Costs have increased, and results have declined. These changes began when educating little ceased to be schools’ priority.

When I was a child, schools were segregated. Black children were not encouraged to get an education. A major function of segregation was to have the capability to channel more money into white schools and less into black schools. Black teachers were paid less, black children used old books and supplies previously used by white children, and few funds were spent on buildings and grounds.

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In white and black schools, teachers maintained a safe learning environment through application of summary discipline. They established and maintained achievement standards for grades and passage from one grade to the next.

If a child could not achieve satisfactory grades, he or she had to repeat the grade and graduate a year behind children of the same age.

The major difference between black and white schools was the lack of encouragement to excel and the lack of funds to support educating black children.

Beginning in 1954 educating children stopped being a priority. Our priority became ensuring that black children attended the same schools as little white children. This was done even though there were no findings that black children would get a better education in classrooms with white children present. It was not because black children were absent that white children did better in segregated schools. White children did better because more money was spent on their education and getting a quality education was strongly encouraged by parents and society in general.

Today’s high educational costs and poor academic achievement resulted when integration became a priority, as opposed to educating children. Many negatives resulted from this new priority.

Children, mostly black children, got less sleep, because they had to ride buses to and from faraway schools, instead of walking to neighborhood schools. Black children living in the same neighborhoods were bused to different schools, reducing the positive influence of black parents.

Schools had to purchase more buses, hire more drivers and maintenance personnel and pay more for fuel and insurance. As old schools were shut down, new schools were built near major roads, away from safer locations in the middle of communities, reducing the number of children that could safely walk to school.

When little black children didn’t do as well and experienced behavioral issues, the federal government started suing teachers and schools for supposed discrimination. Eventually teachers were stripped of the capability to apply that type of summary discipline that had kept both black and white schools safe and secure for generations.

In the late 1960s, it was miraculously “discovered” that children would learn more if they were advanced in grade, whether they passed tests or not. Eventually both black and white students who were unable to read, write or do simple arithmetic began to graduate.

The plan to pass children from grade to grade without learning was eventually replaced with “no child left behind” based on “standards of learning.” This new plan resulted in classroom time being focused on repeatedly teaching to the lowest level of material found in tests.

Today schools are no longer safe and secure. Simple, childhood infractions previously successfully handled by teachers are delegated to police officers who are now stationed in schools. Insecure children bully each other at schools where teachers can no longer maintain order. Tired children are still being bused far and wide and still not doing as well in school as they could if attending neighborhood schools and getting more rest.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety1@aol.com.