Monday, October 6, 2008
Reading, Writing & ‘Rithmetic
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Another presidential debate will be on your idiot box tomorrow night. Expect Barrack Obama to more aggressive and John McCain to continue his travelogue. “I’ve been to Narnia and Rivendell, Senator Obama. I met with Elrond personally and he supports my foreign policy platform. … And you don’t get it.”
Of course their will be droning punches and counterpunches about our sickly economy and how we need Doc Brown to invent a Mr. Fusion so our time machines can run on banana peels and beer cans. While you’re at it, scientists, we could also use a flux capacitor. And some Willy Wonka style Lickable Wallpaper and Three-Course Dinner Chewing Gum. Get to work.
One hopes that Tom Brokaw will steer the debate to, you know, an actual debate and not a canned stump speech like we saw in the Biden vs. Palin Bore on the Shore. (I don’t think the debate was on a shore, but it rhymed. They can’t all be winners.)
There will one topic, one hugely important topic, that I fear will continue to be ignored. An issue that has been swept under the partisan carpet.
That of education.
Why aren’t we talking about education? Why aren’t the candidates putting the issue in the forefront? How is it not a huge hot button, talking-point-laden subject?
Our schools are falling apart. Teachers are woefully underpaid. American test scores continue to plummet. In 2006, the Program for International Student Assessment reported that American 15-year-olds ranked 17th out of 30 industrialized countries that participated when it comes to science test scores. In math? We sat at 24th place. We are the Detroit Lions of world education. The U.S. is the third largest country in the world. You don’t need to rank higher than 17th to figure out that is troubling. A complicated algorithm isn’t necessary.
Ask a young person who the vice president of the U.S. is. I’ll wager most won’t know. Ask them when World War II happened. Or who John Kennedy was. Or what the last book they read was titled. You can get angry all you want when people say America is getting dumber. But common sense and test scores make it an irrefutable fact.
Why aren’t the two presidential candidates addressing this? Why aren’t they pounding the pulpit with promises of education reform? Stumping away in town meetings and rallies on how they will fix our fledgling education system.
If a teacher did not have a starting salary in the mid 20’s, but in the mid 40’s, imagine the caliber of people that would become educators. Teachers should be making six figure salaries. There should be overwhelming competition for teaching spots in public schools across the country. The noble men and woman who are already sacrificing for your children should be justly rewarded.
A public school teacher should not have to take a part-time job teaching night classes to make sure his four boys have new basketball shoes and can go to regional track meets. That is what my father did for his sons. I never heard him complain. He has diligently served his community and taught mathematics for longer than he would like me to say. He is a hero. Why did he have to work two jobs to make ends meet?
To fix this? Make gambling legal.
Serious as a heart attack. Make gambling legal. Gaming is already a (roughly) $500 billion dollar industry. There are casinos on Indian reservations and lotteries in nearly every corner of the country. Very few don’t live within driving distance of somewhere you can walk into the climate controlled confines of a casino and play Pai Gow poker. People are going to gamble no matter what. Why not legalize it, regulate it, and tax the holy hell out of it? Funnel that money to public schools and overhaul the whole shebang.
That eliminates the illegal bookies that are raking in dough hand over fist from the national obsession with sporting events. A licensed “Sports Book” would be a cash cow for statewide education. Hell, you could charge a cover fee just to get into the joint.
Don’t give me the rubbish about how gambling is addictive and is detrimental to society when cigarettes, alcohol and coffee are allowed to roam free. We permit far more addictive vices than blackjack.
Allowing gambling, which Americans are going to do anyway, to be a source of income for the school system could bring in millions. Millions.
I would like to hear less about what we are doing to police the rest of the world and more about the problems at home.
There may be no more important issue than the education of the future of this country.
Speak up Mr. Obama. Speak up Mr. McCain. Tell us what you are going to do to stem the tide of stupidity in America.