29 – Who Killed Education?

24 Jul

I stayed up until 3am watching CNN’s special entitled, Black in America. My mother called to tell me about the special…she said it would be featured in two-parts and that I should check it out. Well, I did…and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since! The education portion of the Wednesday night’s special really hit home…hell, it even reminded me WHY I flocked towards that inner-city school the way in which I did. The statistics were mind boggling…the special report mentioned that Black children are, academically, the lowest achieving group in the world…in the WORLD…WOW! The report also noted that Black females make-up the majority of the African-American populace of post-secondary enrollment…Black males are more likely to drop out of school, become involved in a life of drugs, gangs, and crime…and end up in prison. WOW! Then the special featured how the plight of the black male (you know…not being educated or gainfully employed) affects the family structure and trims down the dating pool for Black females (if she’s only dating within her race)…and the stats for that…only 45% of Black females will ever get married. WOW! (I know that had nothing to do with education…more on a personal note)

Dr. Roland Fryer is a big-wig professor of economy over at THE Harvard University, and he is also the associate director of something called the American Inequality Lab (and yes, I so totally have a nerd crush on him). Fryer was featured on last night’s special due to his idea of “paying students to learn.” He feels that it will work. Fryer revealed that he grew up in an inner-city environment and claims that today’s students are not like the students of the past. He says that phrases such as, “Do your work so that you can make good grades and go to college,” mean anything anymore…he also says that today’s student (especially the inner-city student) needs a tangible incentive to get through school because they (lower-class, inner-city students) do not have the same role models that middle-class students have at home (which I guess would be their version of the tangible incentive).

The next thing I see is a group of Fourth Graders who are being rewarded/paid for making A’s on test. They receive a sheet of paper that tells them their balance…and the kids are excited. When the students are questioned about how they feel making money for studying affects them, one young man responded by saying that he felt it made his expectations for himself that much higher (I’m paraphrasing here). Reaching Out to Students When They Talk and Text discuss the idea more in depth, and while I understand the idea behind the action…I’m not so sure that what students will learn in the long-run will truly pay-off. I understand that students need to be motivated to learn, but is paying them THE answer? …Or giving them a cell phone? And I found the following quote from the article to be extremely interesting:

Mr. Klein and Dr. Fryer said they hoped that celebrities like the rapper Jay-Z, the comedian Chris Rock and the basketball star LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers would participate by sending text messages or calling students who succeed. Grades, attendance and completion of assignments will all be considered signs of success.

I find that quote interesting because a simple “Good job!” from your parent is no longer enough…a male from the ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY is now being expected to tow the line as the last hope for academic encouragement. I’m just wondering what will happen to these kids when they get out into the real world and realize that there are no rewards in college for acing an exam…there are no rewards at home for taking care of your children…there are no rewards or incentives for paying your bills on time (I don’t get discounts for that)…so, I will be extremely curious to see the end result of Dr. Fryer’s two year experiment. Also, I wonder how well this would work with drug-dealing high school students who would scoff at $25 per test…and I also wonder WHERE is this money coming from? Hey…and maybe I have no room to comment on anything like this since I had a middle-class upbringing with college educated family members, but my INCENTIVE to learn was a spanking…I didn’t want one…so I did the work, and then as I became older the spankings stopped and I understood the value of completing something via the fruits of my labor. HA! Go figure! Ideas like that are foreign and antiquated now! Now my students talk of abuse or neglect…never the middle ground where nurturing occurs…Has this also killed education?


Posted by on July 24, 2008 in Work


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “29 – Who Killed Education?

  1. edbooked

    July 25, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    I would suggest that politicians have effectively “killed” education. They have set up a public education system in which school administrators frequently substitute politically motivated policies for sound principles of education. The potential, challenges, and obstacles that currently litter the public education landscape in America are discussed in the novel, The Twilight’s Last Gleaming On Public Education, a portion of which may be viewed online by contacting the publisher at, clicking on their Bookstore line, then Searching by title. This intriguing, socially relevant, and enlightening story possesses many of the elements commonly found in just about every school system throughout the United States. The plot contains more than a few strategically places twists and leads to a well-conceived and logical conclusion designed to leave the reader with a sense of time well invested in the reading of this story. Check it out for youself. Discuss it with your friends. See if you agree with the proposed solutions.

  2. msfriendly

    July 25, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Edbooked…Yes, I do agree that politicians have contributed in the killing of education. I will check the link out.


    July 27, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    We spoke in lengths about this on the phone. I’m honored you used my “paying your bill on time” example.
    So anyway, here’s a little food for thought…
    Something for Ms Friendly to ponder….
    A thought that popped into my head as I read your blog…
    (please excuse my spelling and grammatical errors)

    Many celebs and the non, even corporate big wigs who quit their jobs have allocated monies, time and their own vision to help children in other countries receive an education….right? Building schools, sending supplies, etc. ???
    In all of the inspirational stories I’ve seen, these children are eager to learn. They’ve grown up in poverty stricken areas, have lost their mothers, fathers, siblings, etc. and still have the fire in their bellies to walk through crime laden areas to attend school. And not only that, but learning in sub-standard buildings with little to no materials.
    I’ve even heard similar stories, here in the u.s. in times past of slaves, minorities and even grown men and women who did just the same…they had the fire too.
    It seems to me there are many similarities in THOSE people and the people now, even in middle and upper-class neighborhoods, who don’t value education. WHY?
    I’d be interested to know what it is/was that made THOSE people WANT to better themselves and present company, in a nutshell, give up and take hand-outs with an unappreciative hand?
    If Oprah and the like built schools here in the U.S. that provided a safe learning environment, where adults and children could attend school free of charge, where they wouldn’t have to worry about their surroundings, where they were going to sleep, wondering what they’d have to go home to, if they would have money, food on the table, who they’d have to sit next to in classs, if they were going to get beat up, laughed at, etc. Would they go? Would they have the same fire in their bellies? And if not, why?
    There are many suspects in the “killing of education”; parents, politicians, teachers, policy makers, the media, music, television, video games, celebrities, not enough money, the government, etc. All have been blamed for it’s demise. But, do you think it could possibly be the people and students themselves? Could they be the ones who’ve been killing education all along? Do we have a group who’s self fufilling prophecies are to do nothing? Be nothing? Work for nothing and expect everything? A group that gives up on everything, commiting thier own educational suicide? Has education just become another community hand out?
    Phew…ok…I’m finished with my rant. Talk to you laters…can’t wait to go to the theee-a-taaa!!!

  4. Alfie

    July 29, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Read McWhorters “Losing the Race” or “Winning the Race”.
    For the educators any opinion on Ed Hirsch Core Knowledge ?
    The “things” that have killed education in the USA are many. Sad.

  5. d'oh-rinder

    July 30, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Who killed education? More like WHAT killed education. And that’s the idea that education is a right, rather than a privilege. Why don’t kids value education anymore? Because it’s given to them–hell, it’s shoved down their throats. And you know as well as I do that people don’t value what they don’t have to work for. You gotta eat chocolate every day but you only get ice cream twice a year–which one are you gonna look forward to more?

    Of course I know it’ll never happen, but I would love to the British system where which school you attend is determined by the score you make on the standardized test. A levels and you are allowed to go college prep. Lower and you get to choose between tech school or art school. And the students who actually give a damn try hard to succeed, without being bothered by those who either don’t care or just can’t do it.

    And honestly, that’s just my compromise. Personally I’d like to see education become a privilege where only the best and brightest are allowed to be there. Prove yourself or get the hell out.

    It’s human nature to want what we can’t have, so take it away and see if that changes attitudes about it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: