Full disclosure: I am a parent of a high school student. I have been both a teacher in the public school system, and of course, at one time, I was a student. I’ve seen education from at least three different perspectives. And let me tell you, education today has gone so far off the rails, I’m convinced that, save for a few dedicated teachers who bravely buck the system, kids learn in spite of their schools…not because of them.
A couple of years ago, I was asked to help my daughter’s school by reworking a course catalog. The previous year’s book was…um…how shall I put this delicately…crap. I mean, a real stinker. Hard to read. Poorly laid-out. Not at all a selling tool for her school. So I endeavored to fix that, and make it better. Much, much better. I put a lot of thought into the layout, and spent more time than I had to rework it, so it was easy to read, and emphasized how great the school was. I left room in the layout for a letter from the school’s principal. I thought that this would be a nice way to open this book targeted at next year’s Freshman parents – a ‘personal’ message from the Administration. I thought this could serve as a way to frame the message, which would then be amplified by a series of “Did you know…” callout boxes that would cite facts about the exemplary educational experience at the school.
The problem was, they wouldn’t get the letter to me. It would have taken too long to reformat the catalog. So I thought, “Hey…I’m a writer…and a parent. I know what I’d like to hear about the school, so I’ll just ghostwrite it, and let the Principal sign it. So I did. My letter was all about how the school turns out ‘leaders’ and what a superior education your kids can get there.
Much to my surprise (and chagrin), after they read my letter, it motivated the principal to write one and send it over. Finally. The new letter de-emphasized qualities like “leadership,” and instead focused on “diversity” and “personalized learning experiences” with sentences that went so far off the reservation, I had no idea where they were going – or why. And that was the leitmotif for my daughter’s experience there. She had a few, really dedicated teachers – who always seemed to be in hot water with the administration for daring to care about actually teaching the kids. She had several competent teachers that did what they could, without bucking the system. And then she had a surprising number of burnouts who were obviously just hanging on until they could get their retirement maxed out.
But rather than me rant about this, I’d like to show you both letters. In order to avoid humiliating the school in question, I’m redacting the name of the school and the principal (who has since retired). But make no mistake – this kind of dreck is not unique to my daughter’s former school. It’s pervasive in the nation. And until and unless we stand up and renounce the evils of “political correctness” and the concept that anything is more important than actually teaching our kids the three “R’s” – and jettisoning the pandering to Progressive ideals – we are wasting our children’s time, squandering their futures, and turning us into a nation of sheeple, one graduate at a time. With that in mind, here’s my letter:
Welcome to ________!
High school is a big step – a rite of passage, where students go from children in a headlong rush, to adulthood. It’s a time of not just learning, but growing, a time of laying the groundwork for adult life and beyond. Just as the foundation of a building is the part that provides strength, endurance, and security for the walls and ceilings of a house, a solid high school education is the academic foundation upon which you build not just careers, but lives.
At ________, we teach more than math, science, English, and the arts. We provide a foundation to build an exemplary life, a life of accomplishment, a life where you can reach your potential. Our graduates go on to excel at college and beyond. ________ has graduated leaders in music, drama, politics, the law, medicine – name a profession, and you’ll find a former ________ student leading the way. For a limitless future, that kind of foundation is priceless. And while _________ knows no equal in this state for the quality of our educational experience, we are a public school, not a private college prep institution. It speaks volumes that every year the demand for ________ exceeds the room we have to take students.
The very fact that you’re reading this tells us that you seek the highest-quality education you can find. And if you’re interested in ________, that puts you in rare company, those with the capacity to become the leaders of tomorrow.
In this booklet, you’ll learn more about ________ –what it takes to enroll here, what courses we offer, and more about the ________ experience. The ________ experience is far more than just facts on a page, though. It’s about learning, growing, and demanding more of yourself, reaching for and attaining goals you never thought possible.
We invite you to read over this material, and contact us should you have any questions. If you think you are the kind of student that would flourish at ________, we invite you to submit an application, so that we can get to know you, and discuss your future with us.
We look forward to hearing from you, and hope you’ll consider a future here at ________ High!
__________ __________, Principal
____________ High School
And now here’s the letter that the Principal wrote:
Welcome to ________ High School,
_________ High is a special place, rich in history and diversity. Here, responsibility, respect, and seeking excellence are timeless qualities that provide the foundation of our school community and students’ educational experiences.
Selecting a high school to attend is a decision that impacts youngsters’ lives not just for the next four years, but for the rest of their life. High school offers amazing opportunities for students to prepare for their future, and ________ High has made a long-standing commitment to provide them with personalized learning experiences to help them feel confident about their abilities to succeed in higher education, and beyond. Our teachers are imminently qualified to serve academic needs, and the support staff is here to help provide a safe and caring environment for everyone.
The motto of ________ is, “In our hands we hold today. In our minds we hold tomorrow.” Regardless of residency, all students must have an awareness of the world around them and past the boundaries of their communities, the state, and even the United States of America. Over twenty-five different middle schools are represented at ________ High, and we embrace the resulting diversity in culture and ideas. In order to compete globally, students need to graduate from high school with the skills developed by taking courses that challenge them to reach their intellectual potential. To this end, our curriculum is data-driven and focuses on student achievement.
If you are looking for a high school experience that prepares students to succeed in all aspects of life, then I hope that ________ High will be a top consideration. We welcome you with open arms.
__________ __________, Principal
____________ High School
Notice the differences? Mine was focused on the student, and what the school could do for them. The Principal’s letter was focused on the school, how diverse it is, and how it prepares you to be a citizen of the world. Uh huh. Lemme tell you…as a father of a high school student, I don’t give a damn about preparing my daughter to sing We Are the World at some Progressive protest over the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide. And what in the Wide, Wide World of Sports does “To this end, our curriculum is data-driven and focuses on student achievement” mean? Do they hand out trophies for just showing up? (SPOILER ALERT: Yes. They did.)
I care about sending my kid to a school that’s going to maximize her scholarship potential to get into a good college or university without bankrupting Daddy. And THAT, my friends is what is wrong with education. Too much emphasis on “diversity” and not enough attention to actually teaching the kids something that will help them compete in the real world. Are you a parent of a kid in school? Does your school pay lip service to teaching math and science, while ensuring that the campus is accepting to every bit of weirdness they can find to cherish? And do you care that your tax dollars are being squandered to turn your child into a non-functioning human being? And so that, ladies and gentlemen of the court of public opinion, is what is wrong with education.
I rest my case.