Back to the On-line Grind

I know that the New Year should be greeted with renewed optimism, and excitement for the days ahead. We should be looking at what has come in the past, and how it has allowed us to grow in the future. It is a time of reflection, and adjustment, one that we should look forward to every year.

This was before the advent of Covid-19. The last two year have felt like a decade and it is hard to believe that this world-shattering event hasn’t even reached its second anniversary. We always seem to be able to take a couple of steps forward so we can return to a lifestyle we once knew, but then something else comes into play that reminds us that this pandemic has not ended yet. First, it was the Delta variant over the Summer, and now it is the evil sounding Omicron that is producing numbers the likes of we have never seen since this pandemic began. It has forced us to return to the ways that we were hoping to avoid all along. So 2022 will start with the one thing I have been hoping to avoid all school year, on-line learning.

A recent email from my school stated that when we return to school after the break, we will be going on-line until the 17th. This date may be extended depending on what is happening with the Covid pandemic at the time, and the way it is going, it looks like this is a strong possibility. I know that it is the right thing to do. Schools need to keep their students and staff safe, and we should not be subjected to the chances of people who are not willing to take the necessary precautions to make sure everyone is safe. Schools are also a great breeding ground for the disease. There is not a single a elementary school teacher that can go the whole year without catching some disease from their walking petri-dishes that inhabit their classrooms. And it should not surprise people that high school students can be just as bad. They share food and water bottles without thinking what they are doing and what they are spreading. Many of them complain about having to wear the masks in the first place because it hinders their ability to look good, so it is a constant battle to get them to put them on correctly. With all of these factors, it is no surprising that we are going back on-line, especially as the numbers worldwide spike to more than a million new cases a day.

Still, it is not a great way to start the new year. There are many challenges that come with teaching on-line. Many students are not as engaged in the lessons, and many of them fall further and further behind in their studies. My students this year are significantly behind where they should be because they has spent all of last year on-line, and they are complaining that they are being pushed too hard. It scares me to think what the next generation of people will bring because of this pandemic, and the holes that students are getting in their learning. But the battle must rage on and I need to prepare to push through. I need to make sure that my students get the education that they need to be successful in life and to take the ever increasing challenges that the world will present.

The point being is that if you know any teachers who are going through this, please understand that they are doing their best to give the best education possible. Also remember that students are going through a lot at this time as well, and they need the encouragement to keep moving forward. There are also the parents of these students whose lives have been turned upside down because of this new way of living. They have to give up a lot to make sure that their sons and daughters are being taken care of properly. Give them all the patience that they need as they continue to work their way through this challenging time.

And most importantly, do what you can to bring this pandemic to an end. Avoid large gatherings, wear your mask, and most importantly get vaccinated. They are small things, but if we pull together as a world society we will defeat this ugly beast, and return to a world that is better for everybody involved.

Thank you, and have a Happy New Year.

A Free Market Look at Education

I am going into my thirteenth year of being a teacher, and as the demand grows for teachers grow in the United States, I am amazed that the government does not try to make this job more appealing for people to pursue as a career. I know that many people think that teachers should not receive much benefits because they do not work as hard as other professions do. I could sit here and tell you that this is not true, but those people will not listen to me as they have already made up their minds that teachers are overpaid people that don’t work much to begin with. And if that is your perception of education then you are correct, teachers should not get the raises that they are begging for right now. So I have decided to look at this from an economic, free market perspective as this might be a better way of reaching those individuals who believe that we should not be taking care of our teachers better.

In order to make this argument, I first need to establish that education is important for the future of the country. Any community needs an educated workforce, and the more educated a community is, the more powerful its economy becomes. If there are a bunch of people that don’t know how to count money, communicate properly, or work the ever evolving complicate advances in technology. An educated workforce is the foundation for any thriving economy. Just look at South Korea. Here is a country that has no real natural resources, and because of their unique relationship with connecting nations, they are basically an island, and need to import most of the food and resources that they need in order to thrive. They do not have anything of significance to offer the world, yet they have the eleventh largest economy. How is this possible? They looked to the one resource that they had, and utilized it to their advantage, their people. They educated these people and then sent them out into the world in order to help their economy grow, and they created one of the biggest turnarounds ever with an economy, going from one of the world’s worst in the 1950s to where they are today. They did this through an educated workforce.

On the other hand, if a government wants to repress a people, the first thing they do is to take away their education. Hitler did this by burning all books he did not agree with. Pol Pot did this by taking the doctors, professors, and lawyer out to the Killing Fields and getting rid of them. Mao did this by promoting the reading of his red book and only that book. I don’t think that anybody would say that these societies weren’t repressed and the people under the control of these ruthless dictators suffered because of the lack of education. These leaders have gone down in history as some of the greatest killers to have ever walked the earth, and nobody within their societies were able to stop them from these atrocities because they did not have the mental capabilities to bring about the change needed. They were not given the education that was needed to start the revolution because revolutions are not started from gun but from ideas, and it takes an educated individual to create the idea that will inspire the masses into action.

I do not think that there would be many people that would argue that a basic education is needed for each individual, and because of that the future of our nation is dependent on the skills of the teachers that provide this education for our youth. There are numerous studies that show that this is true. In fact, it is not technology that produces great results in the classroom, but it is the strength of the teacher and the size of the class that does it. If you have a child and you want to make sure that he or she gets a good education, you want a skilled teacher leading a class of no more than twenty people, so that skilled teacher can give each student the attention that they need. In order to do this, money needs to be put into education to make sure that this happens.

None of these arguments are new to the person who does not wish to raise their taxes to make this happen. They still think that teachers are given enough money to perform their jobs, and they do not see why more money should be given to them to have them stick around. Well, there is one little trade secret that many of these people do not realize that is already have profound effects on the educational system in the United States, and it has to do with the principle of the free market.

To best understand this principle, think of it from the perspective of a teacher. They want to paid fair wages for the job that they are performing. They want a strong health insurance so they can take care of any medical conditions that might arise through their stressful job. They want to make sure that they are taken care of financially after they have retired from their jobs. They want a place with a diverse population that can add to the educational experience with the unique perspectives that the students bring into the classroom. If they could get this job with great working conditions, as well as somebody paying for their housing, and the added perk of being able to travel to exotic locations during their breaks, what would stop a teacher from doing this? Some people would have to ask about these teachers’ children and the opportunities afforded to them from such a place. Well, if those teachers had children, they would be provided with one of the best educations in the world because they would be able to go to that teacher’s school for free.

I know that there are many people out there that do not believe that a situation like this exists because if it did, many highly qualified teachers would be rushing to get one of these jobs. But I am here to tell you that these jobs do exist, and there are so many of them, that schools are desperate to get the best teachers to fill in those vacancies. It is a simple matter of supply and demand. Because of years of painting educators as greedy individuals who spend most of their time sitting around doing nothing more than babysitting children, many people have stopped going into this profession. Because of being vilified, many teachers that are still in the profession are looking to find a place where they can get the respect that they deserve. If the current practices are allowed to continue, it will only be a matter of time before there is a  serious brain drain in the United States concerning this field. The best in the field will take their skills overseas, leaving schools to scramble to find anybody to fill in the spots that they need to fill. There is already a struggle to fill in science, math, and special education positions because there are already other professions that pay better and are looking for these people to fill these positions. For those that truly love the passion of teaching and being able to connect with the future generations, there is now another option made available to them. And there is a huge demand for English teachers overseas because this is the language that most of these schools teach in and the students want to graduate with a strong grasp of its intricacies.

The best education will eventually come from schools that have been exported overseas. Colleges and universities will look to these same schools to find the students that they believe are worthy enough to attend their institutions, and the people that attend will take their education back to the counties that they come from. Some might claim that this is a slippery slope argument, and there is no way that we can predict the future in the manner, but the truth of the matter is that this is already happening, and as the other countries of the world continue to get smarter, Americans continue to discredit their own educational system, and not fund it to the level that it needs to be funded at. I have seen countries like Korea, Japan, and Cambodia take an active approach to education, and they have seen the benefits of this push already within their economies. America needs to take the same approach to their schools if they wish to compete in the future. Education is not about having a certain part of the population given the privilege of being smarter so they can gains the advantages of a capitalistic society; it is about making sure that we are all smart enough to maintain what needs to happen to make that society sustainable. We should not be sacrifice this aspect of our society because of the financial burden that it puts on us because it is a vital part of what makes America great.

It is the government that eventually decides how they fund their school, but it is up to the people to make sure that the government is doing the will of the people. So during this election cycle, pay close attention to the politicians that are looking to take over the positions of leadership and make sure that you choose wisely. The future of America should not be compromised because a few people do not find a value in it. We should all find a value in it because it affects us all.