Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My Answer to Chris's Question

A few days ago, Chris Roberts an important question in his insightful blog:
What is the most effective means of teaching young men without fathers the skills needed to be a man within the context of a public education classroom?

[He has beaten me to the punch by posting his answer. It is far better than anything I could think of, however, in the spirit of exchange, I will post my answer too. As I am not an educator, my proposals will no doubt strike my readers as silly, but I ask that you to bear with me & take the time to read & criticize my views.]

1. Public Boarding Schools
Many of the children who go on to become teenage parents & negligent fathers come from broken homes themselves. They have never had the opportunity to develop the skills & discipline necessary to succeed in life. Their home environments, as well as a majority of those they encounter in their community tend to be ill equipped to assist a child in the path of academic advancement. While, many single parents are no doubt good people who love their children, should the child's academic performance be at a state where he or she will find himself or herself disadvantaged when competing in the adult world, I believe that taking the child out of this toxic & unhealthy environment would be the best solution.

At a boarding school, not only will the children be insulated from harmful influences, gangs & violence, but also, they will be surrounded by caring adults who are good role models. There are a few experimental ones already, and while they are far more expensive than regular public schools, the phenomenal results:
*according to a Ford Foundation study, 5 percent of SEED students were in a physical fight last year - compared with 35.7 percent of students from other D.C. public schools; and 12.1 percent of SEED students had tried drugs - compared with 47.2 percent students elsewhere.
*the national public high school graduation rate is 63 percent; here it is almost 100 percent
*ninety-eight percent are African-American, 2 percent are Hispanic. Ninety percent come from homes below the poverty line; 88 percent come from single parent or no parent households, and 93 percent are the first generation in their families to go to college
*100% of the graduates are going to a four-year college versus the national average of 45%

fully justify the price tag. We as a society will reap dividends from an investment such as this. I do not believe that, should these schools continue to perform in the way that they do, that tax payers will refuse to fund them. Here an article about one of these schools, please read it.

2. Abstinence Based Sex Education
While their effectiveness is debatable, one thing both sides agree on is that these programs delay the onset of teenage sexual activity by at least 18 months. Almost all of the studies done on the subject agree that delaying sexual activity is healthy. This means that when the child does become sexually active, they are more mature & less hormonal & have a greater investment in their future.

Also, the norms that such programs set of respecting one's body, refusing to surrender to peer pressure & reject the messages in pop culture are healthy & conducive to character development. When teenage pregnancy ceases to be a quotidian phenomenon, children will begin to see it as deviant & undesiable, & thus, strive to avoid it. Lack of disapproval for parenthood out-of-wedlock has been found to be a factor in teenage pregnancy.

3. Strict Enforcement of & Tightening of Statutory Rape Laws
Many studies show that girl who are sexual active at younger ages tend to have older partners. These girls are also more likely to become pregnant.
*teenage girls with older partners are more likely to become pregnant than those with partners closer in age.(Planned Parenthood, 2004)
*a recent study found that 6.7 percent of women aged 15-17 have partners six or more years older. The pregnancy rate for this group is 3.7 times as high as the rate for those whose partners are no more than two years older (Planned Parenthood 2004; Darroch et al., 1999)
*teens who date older partners had a lower likelihood of consistent contraceptive use. For each year a partner is older than the respondent, the likelihood of always using contraception decreases by 11 percent. (In this study, on average, first sexual partners were one year older than the respondent.) Child Trends (2004)

Clearly, older men & young girls are not a good combination. Once a girl has become pregnant as a teenager, her whole life must be rearranged to accommodate this. She has a much greater chance of dropping out of school, as well as increases the chances of her experiencing divorce or never marrying. Broken homes produce poor parenting skills.

These are the methods that I propose to utilize in order to teach young men& women, the skills necessary to avoid teenage parenthood & pave the path for their leading fulfilling & productive lives. As the problems & of young men go hand in had with the problems of young women, my proposals address both. All of these proposals would be strengthened & made far more effective with the help of religious institutions & strong communities. None of them would be needed were it not for poor parenting & a poisonous pop culture. Unfortunately, teachers are increasingly being called upon to teach the things that parents should. This is not an ideal situation, especially when teachers are subject to the mechanizations of politicians & unions.

This sounds a bit too liberal for me. Spending more taxpayers money doesn't usually work. Education is the best example: expenditure has risen, results have fallen. Part of this due to the wastage of money when government is involved. What is needed is better value for money in what we already pay for: fewer bureaucrats & better teachers.

It is also dificult to make a community behave itself. If black Americans cannot act as responsible people, throwing more money at them won't help. Welfare is the worst thing to happen to black Americans since slavery. It subsidises immorality & allows people to behave without responsiblity.

The whole welfare state system tried here and Britain has failed. Let's get back to basics: discipline in schools, bring religion back into schools so kids are taught something of moral value.
Chris makes some excellent points in the opinion of this public educator. I was not aware of those statistics concerning teen pregnancies; it is a serious problem that needs to be solved. On a side note, I must admit that I've often wanted to send plenty of my students to boarding school at times! Thanks for the link, too!
I should have made it clear that I prefer, private & charter schools over the monopoly of public schools. I believe that the best solution is religiouse schools & greater involvement of churches in the lives of children & communities. However, the question was concerning secular public schools only, therefore my responce is limited to this particular segment only.
I couldn't agree more that welfare is incredibly harmful for families. And I most certainly believe in a large role for morality, this is why I included the abstinance education as well as the eforcing of statuatory rape laws.
However, I also recognize that children must be exposed to good role models & have some sort of stability & order in their lives. Unfortunately, the culutre created by welfare has doomed many children to live in unstable homes & unhealthy communities.
This is why I am a proponent of boarding schools, which can be partially privately financed. In fact, the school featured in the article is not entierly governemnt financed.

Your're right Aaron, Chris's answers are much better, after all he is a teacher.
You guys are much too kind. I just figure it is something that all of us in the public education field should be doing, but many aren't.
I like the idea. I have toyed with the idea of starting a business based African-American boarding school.

I think the majority of the ideas are good, but I think african americans need education that is specific and relevent to African Americans. I will probably post on it someday.

About three weeks ago I was invited by the University of Nebraska at Omaha to give a presentation to teachers on the need to modify the curriculum to meet the current economic reality of today, IE downsizing, entrepreneurialism. I think the same can be said about society, are modern teaching techniques and curriculum meeting the needs of the social reality today? I don't think so, and that is why my kids homeschool.
Allow me to throw this out there:

This isn't the job of schools at all. Teachers are not licensed social workers, they're supposedly subject matter experts in fields the state has determined are necessary for the general populace to have knowledge.

There's nothing wrong with putting some discipline back in schools, but that alone won't solve the problem. The problem truly is societal, and expecting schools to fix society is attacking the problem bass-ackwards.

My 2 cents :-)
It may not be the job of schools, but it is reality in today's public education classroom.
If we can't make little Johnny learn his multiplication tables because it's oppressive and hurts his self-esteem when he can't remember that 4 x 3 = 12, then how in the world are we ever going to make him learn to act like a man?

And, anyway, how are we defining 'be a man'? Isn't even attempting to do so 'sexist' by definition? Possibly homophobic?

I'm not trying to throw water on the question, which I think is an important one, but I can just imagine the reaction the schools would get if they tried something like this.
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