I do not think throwing money at a problem will make it go away. And this is especially true with education. Firstly, I think our education system is a broken and flawed one as long as it is [primarily] based on property taxes. I believe this because of the obvious, poor people live in low income areas which means low property taxes. In addition, the poor and the working poor usually don't pay taxes or pay very little taxes (outside of payroll tax, sales tax, gas tax, etc).
And of course, this is the opposite for the wealthy, for people like Reed Hastings. The wealthy live in nice neighborhoods with manicured lawns and gated entrances which comes along with high property taxes. They can afford to pay taxes and do not need any assistance. Therefore, areas which are considered affluent have better schools by definition and pay teachers higher wages than the schools in poorer areas. Better schools and school systems also attract better teachers, more qualified teachers, and more experienced teachers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I grew up in middle-class America until I reached high-school and then our family entered into the socioeconomic world of the working poor. But regardless of this, I was an average student with no aspirations for college. I was willing to just do what I had to in order to graduate high school (I was a "B" student who occasionally made an "A" and occasionally made a "C").
I really didn't enjoy school overall. If I wasn't pushed by my parents I probably would have dropped out, and this is the problem with the education system: Students have to want to go to school, they have to want to learn. Parents forcing their children to go to school only does so much.
Here is the proof that the fix is in the children's attitude . . . not with government bureaucracy. Twenty years later I was sick and tired of my job. After thinking about all the jobs I've had in the past, I came to realize that I can't live the rest of my life working these types of jobs, high stress, low pay . . . I would have a heart attack if I did.
I thought of all my options and came to the conclusion that I needed further education. I enrolled in the local college. Now, at this point I saw the importance of an education. I didn't need anyone pushing me, I pushed myself. It is this shift in education which needs to happen.
The student has to realize how important an education is.
I ended up with my undergraduate degree (with a 3.2 GPA). I went on to get my graduate degree (with a 3.33 GPA). This is what happens when a child wants to go to school.
BUT HOW CAN CHILDREN'S ATTITUDES CHANGE?
From the start, before the child starts school, parents needs to be a positive influence on their children. Don't wait until the child starts to watch television . . . this will turn them off to reading and writing almost immediately; "TV viewing takes away time from reading and improving reading skills through practice" (Comstock, 1991).
Too many parents use the television as a baby sitter and why not? It's cheap and readily available at all hours of the day (and night).
Parents need to read to their children. Let the child hold the book and follow along, let the child turn the pages. Parents need to practice writing with their child. It doesn't matter if the child is writing gibberish or not . . . as long as they show an initiative to write. Take the child to a book store or a library . . . put them in an atmosphere of learning and exploring.
If you live in a city which has museums and art galleries, such as New York, Chicago, LA, or London make a visit occasionally. Take your children to a play, or a show, or to the opera if your town has these options available. This needs to carry on throughout the child's academic career.
Not only does the parent need to interact with their child, the parent needs to set the example.
If the child sees the parent reading, the child will want to read. If the child sees the parent writing, the child will want to write. Studies show that parents who smoke, there will be a likely hood that their children will become smokers. This is true about drinking, a good deal of adults who have drinking problems, or just enjoy drinking, comes from a family who had a close family member who drank or had drinking issues. So it goes without saying that if a child sees the parents reading or writing, the child will pick up these habits.
THERE IS NO QUICK FIX
But this is difficult to do when a modern family needs two incomes to survive or when a child is raised in a one-parent household. This is definitely true, but I think as a child starts to want to go to school, within a generation or two the educational system will be fixed. In turn, a family wont need to have two incomes to survive; the education the child received growing up will allow that
child as an adult to have a higher paying career . . . not just a job.
Is this a pipe dream? Is this even possible?
It definitely won't happen in my lifetime and maybe not in yours, but if something isn't done immediately it may never change. But I am making sure it starts in my family and with my four month old daughter. She will want to learn.
I live in a very good place to accomplish my goal. I live in London and there are so many world class art galleries and museums with all the classics I've studied . . . and it's free. We have the Globe Theater, opera, ballet, stage shows, musicals and I can buy tickets pretty reasonable. Unlike the US, there are many book stores as well as independent book stores.
She is lucky to be living in a place with all this to her disposal and the internet. There is no reason a child in this situation can't be properly educated . . . and enjoy it.
CALL TO ACTION
Reed Hastings has good intentions. But this isn't a money problem . . . it's not that simple unfortunately. It's about about changing minds, mind sets. and keeping the bureaucrats out.
It's up to us, the parents to make the first step in fixing the system. We have to make sacrifices. We have to be the movers and shakers if we want a solution.
We can't wait for the educators and politicians to throw more money at the educational system. So much money has been thrown at it now that the educational system is barely recognizable.
No more red tape!
No more bureaucracy!
No more excuses!
We have to be the solution.