Friday, April 02, 2010

School Day

A long school day, but a good one. Found out my 93 on my test got bumped up to a 95 in my Poli Sci class. This may have something to do with the fact that I just dyed my hair dark brown and cut it. The TA for that class told me that he only dates brunettes and that his brothers only date brunettes and that he can't figure it out because his mom is blonde. Hmmm, I think that actually makes perfect sense. So, whatever the cause- I'll take it.

We had been discussing the corrections system in that class, and the staggering figures of how many people in the United States are incarcerated. I knew it was bad, but these figures were appalling. If you are a Black man, you have a 1 in 9 chance of being behind bars. It's about the same if you are a Latino man. I think for White men it was 1 in 25. In California, it costs the tax payers approximately $40,000 a year to have someone in jail. In Utah it is $27,000 a year. Let me just contrast that by saying, as my Professor pointed out, that we do not even spend $5,000 a year on our children for their public schooling. And we spend nothing on their college tuition. So, that means we could take every Utah inmate out of prison and send them to the University of Utah with room and board paid for, for the same price that we pay for them to rot in jail. Ridiculous. And I know that some people say that those inmates deserve to be in prison, and they should not have a quality education. But, when 70% of the prison population is illiterate...they can not read as well as my five year old daughter..then I say that maybe a quality education is exactly what they are due and is what they should have received in the first place.

And I guess that you could argue that if they wanted to learn to read or do well in school, they had their chance. Just like I would argue that if Garrett wanted to learn to poop in the potty he would just jump on that pot and get down to business. Give me a freaking break. It is the job of the teachers to teach. Just like it is my job as a parent to potty train. The child's enthusiasm or worthiness has nada to do with it. I could diaper my kid till he was nine and he could still not be enthusiastic about the porcelain throne. We suck at educating our kids in this country. I hate to say it, but we do. Those that educate, and educate well are to be thanked profusely. But it's really actually not the fault of the educators. It's the fault of the broken system. And it is broken. We can all admit that. We won't in public, because that's like admitting you're fat because you eat a whole pizza and a box of ding doings each day instead of blaming it on genetics. But really, we know that the fault is not with the kids. It's with the broken system that is failing them.

So why don't we flipping fix it? And that's where I got in to trouble in class. Because my Professor asked what the solution to all of this was. The majority of the class are social workers, so he figured that we should have some answers. And I said that the solution was not going to happen on a micro level with social work, because that is applying band-aids to the problem. (I did say the band-aids were needed and it was a noble thing to help in that way) But I suggested that the fix was in those that make the Policy. Not until the Policy (meaning the rules of the education, and corrections system, etc) are changed will there be broad change. Until then, the education system is going to keep failing the kids who are going to be prepared for nothing but crime, which will land them in jail for some minor offense, where they WILL be educated on how to be a hardened criminal, and they will continue in that cyclical pattern, of crime and prison, eventually making it out to be completely helpless on how to survive in the "real world" and ending up as another statistic in the shelters, or on the welfare rolls. And when that kid dies, guess how much money the government will have spent on him? Over a million dollars!

Yet, for one fifth of that, we could give that kid a GREAT education from preschool through college, and then guess what- he is productive and PAYING IN TO THE SYSTEM. Wow, so it's a win-win. He's happy, the system is happy. But my classmates were not so happy. They were a little peeved with my band-aid analogy and felt like their profession had been slandered. Hello people, I am a social worker too. I am just saying that as social workers, we should be creating the policy instead of just reacting to it. We are such a lazy society. Absolutely uninvolved in anything that doesn't have to do with our shabby chic kitchen renovations, or our activity planning, or our kid's soccer matches, or our lazer skin treatments. I mean, we get what we pay for. And right now we are getting the exact society that we are buying at the beginning. You know that old adage, you have to spend money to make money (the whole talents parable), well that's where we are at. We need to pay it forward. In the words of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, Nothing Comes From Nothing. Nothing Ever Should.


Kati said...

Since Mat works at the prison as an RN I hear WAY too much crap that I don't want to know. It just makes me SOOOOOO mad! I remember the first time I realized exactly how messed up our society was. Jackson and Ryan were both pretty small and it was when the flu shot was very limited. I was still undecided on whether I was going to get the boys this shot or not. I called the pediatrician to find out details and they told me I was not likely to get them for my kids. Mat came home that day telling me about how his entire day was spent injecting prisoners with the flu shot. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM! And, yet, I could not get my own children one. That was the beginning of a opened daily conversation Mat and I have. You would die if you knew how bad it gets there. The entire state of Utah is basically in a hiring freeze and yet we are keeping VERY old and VERY sick (health wise) old men in prison that are of NO danger to society. I mean literally NO danger. So...on top of prison costs, they are also spending thousands upon thousands of dollars that could otherwise go to the school system, jobs, or a million other things that are needed. It just makes me sick! I agree with what you all starts with education and yet our society doesn't give a crap about it. And those of us who do....What do we do?????

Jared and Delia said...

I don't think you are alone. I agree in many ways. I am so sorry that your classmates didn't really get what you were saying. With Owen entering kindergarten I am learning more and more about how inadequate public education is. I struggle with the desire to home school him but then is taking him out of school going to help our society improve public education? I don't know what to think. It is really on the top of my worry list right now.

Ashley said...

Delia, I understand the temptation to home-school, just so you don't have to deal with the system. But I think that you are right that opting out is not going to solve anything. When great families like you opt out of the public school system for homeschooling, private or charter schools, it creates a brain drain that only makes the situation worse. Public school is only as good as the families involved.

And Kati, I agree with you! I think that it is parents like us who need to go door to door (as uncomfortable and embarrassing as that is) and get people on board to pay more for education up front. It's people working in the education and prison systems, who need to educate the rest of us on what needs to change so that we can start the movement and make it happen.

As unsexy as this conversation is, it's one that we need to be having desperately and right away with all of those around us.

Anonymous said...

"Former"?!? Miss know-it-all?