The same conservatives that complained our educational system was failing us 20 year ago are now trying to dismantle it. They have pushed for more basics in math, language skills and science. Now they want to strip out all liberal arts in the name of budget cutting. But cutting necessary classes, such as foreign languages, violates the compulsory education attendance laws that each state has adopted and agreed to maintain.
All of this is to save tax money. But at what expense? It is ridiculous to cut foreign languages at a time when our society is becoming globally integrated to the rest of the world. While it is not reasonable to expect our students to understand every language at the same time, learning one foreign language helps develop brain patterns that allow a pattern of learning new languages later in life.
We already lag behind the rest of the world on understanding world geography and basic map finding skills. To much of the rest of the world, our lack of knowledge of foreign affairs is laughable and there are plenty of foreign media pundits who have made light of it. We are at war in to places and maybe more countries in the future. And here in Wichita a person can get a high school education with only one semester of world studies.
The problem is corporate America only cares about the ability to function on the job. That takes mostly math and English language skills. That is all they care about and they are setting the agenda.
According to The Wichita Eagle:
“Wichita school leaders expect another $25 million in cuts to state aid next school year, and they're asking parents and teachers to help set priorities.
The list of possible choices for parents and teachers includes programs often seen on the chopping block, such as art, music, librarians and computers, and services the district hasn't considered cutting before, including five-day school weeks, alternative high schools, all-day kindergarten and latchkey programs.”
A breakdown of the programs to be cut include:
“* These items are included on the elementary, middle and high schools lists: five-day school week, alternative education, art, assistant principals, class size, clerical, counselor, custodial, foreign language, learning coaches, librarians, magnet schools, music (instrumental), music (vocal), nurse, para-educators, parent involvement workers, physical education, professional development, professional learning communities, school building budget (supplies and equipment), social worker.
* Also on the elementary school list: all-day kindergarten, field trips, latchkey, parents as teachers, pre-kindergarten, summer programs such as enrichment and latchkey, team time, transportation and technology.
* Also on the middle school list: after-school programs, alternative education centers, athletics, AVID (a program for at-risk kids), data coaches, elective classes (such as family and consumer science, health and drama), extracurricular activities such as robotics, JROTC, school resource officers, student transportation, team planning time, technology classes and technology equipment.
* Also on the high school list: alternative education centers, assessment leaders, athletics, AVID (a program for at-risk kids), block schedules, career and technical education, child development centers, college career centers, data coaches, debate and forensics, drama, drivers education, extra-curricular activities such as clubs, yearbook and photography, JROTC, school resource officers, student transportation, summer school and technology equipment.”
Some of this is ridiculous. It includes all programs to help at-risk and poor students. Cutting many of these programs means that some students will fall through the cracks and get no education. Other programs, such as art and music, mean that we are becoming a country without a common culture.
We are becoming a society of autonomotrons. A nation that neglects its culture is doomed to failure. We are cheating our next generation and neglecting to teach them the history and substance of the culture they live in. We are not living up to our obligations for compulsory education for all of this country’s citizens.
Cutting education is like cutting off our heads to cure a headache.