How Does It Get Better?

These last few years I have seen a change…a change in the climate of education.  Sure we have always had educational tests, since the mid 19th Century we have had them.  More recently we have had standards like Goals 2000, Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and now Common Core.  These were all to combat the perception that our standing against the world is slipping in the common subjects.  Granted, there needs to be standards, there should be standards, but somethings are missing from all these acts of the Federal Government, the role of the parent, responsibility of the individual, character education, the arts, and fear, yes a little fear.

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I adore being an educator, it is something I was born to do.  My mother was an educator and my grandparents believed in being highly educated, but they also wanted me to be a good citizen and person.  Admittedly, I wasn’t an A student, I wasn’t even an A/B student but I was raised correctly.  We all have said “it’s a different time, when I was a kid…” all these various cliches.  Why can’t we bring some of that old school back?  It seems to me that the older we are in society, the more respect we had for each other.  Why can’t we instill those values as a society?  The family unit is different, but the role of the parent is the same!  Check homework, raise the kids to be respectful, religion (if you believe in one), kindness, responsibility.  At some point parents (grandparents, caregivers), need to be parents.  You aren’t supposed to be your child’s friend or pal, or whatever many parents are doing now.  How is it that you grew up so well?  Probably because your parents had no problem doing whatever it is they knew would help you.  Sometimes it was ice cream, sometimes it was grounding, whatever it was, for the most part, it was probably good (abuse, totally different blog).

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Just because you have circumstances, doesn’t give you the right to be a MONSTER.  We all have circumstances!!!  Some are poor, some are rich, some lost parents, some lost jobs, husbands, wives, pets but that doesn’t give you the right to be a MONSTER.  I say monster because there are so many different types.  There are snobs, there are entitled, there are bullies, the list goes on and on.  But in what world does that give you the right to treat other people poorly?  You are someone else’s monster when you start to see yourself greater than others in this world.  Remember that time where your teacher called your parent and you were in trouble?  Nowadays, the child is nothing but perfect and the teacher is wrong.  Now there are ALWAYS exceptions but how often do you remember being guilty?  But no matter what happens in your life, why take it out on others?  Why not want to find a way out of your circumstances?  Why are you always right?  Passing the blame does nothing.  I’ve always been told “If you want to be the best, you have to play the best”.  Guess what, that means you’re going to lose, but losing shows another way it didn’t work.  Pick yourself up and try again a different way.  Rather than becoming someone’s monster, ask for help and try to find a way.  This is easier said than done, you have to be at a low point, but again are we instilling that in our youth?  What are OUR WORDS to kids when they need help or direction?  The way to teach kids how not to be other people’s monsters are to be that example daily.

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This leads to my next though.  Character education.  Character education is all our responsibilities.  It is the family’s, it is the school’s, the coaches, the role models.  Character counts in this world.  As I said, we are examples.  Charles Barkley infamously had a commercial:

This is it!  Character education begins at home.  But we are all role models, now that doesn’t mean you can’t have a beer at a game, or curse, but what you do matters.  We didn’t need to have character education because we had so many to do that growing up.  I look up to my great grand uncle who survived Pearl Harbor.  I believe that here is where testing has had a major effect.  We have stressed teachers and students to believe that THE TEST is a measure of a student.  But guess what, in the real world there isn’t a test to help you keep your job.  The measure of a person is their character.  Do we hear people say at funerals, “well I knew that when they failed that 7th Grade Standardized Test that they were going all down hill.”  I learned in church to respect and honor our veterans, yet at a local high school we allowed students to text, and disrespect them in a Veteran’s Day Ceremony.  Why?  Where were the teachers?  That is the measure of teaching character.  We start it early, saying please and thank you, why do we expect less as they get older?  When were we afraid of correcting a wrong?  How do we expect others to meet that expectation when we ourselves can’t meet it as a society?  We can’t bribe kids with tickets, allowances, prizes, we have to expect.  When did it become OK to set the bar so low, we have to bend over to see it?  Expect them to rise above their circumstances.  It’s like increasing the rigor in schools.  If one doesn’t meet the expectation and is moldable, that is one thing, if they are doing things to just get some reward, then raise that bar.  But let’s not punish the kids who meet the expectation daily without asking for it.  But let’s make character count for something, not just reward fake character, that just shows kids that they can get things over on us.

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The arts needs to be celebrated more and a key for schools.  So why did I put a football player in this? This is Mikael Kendricks, outside linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles.  He is also an accomplished multiple disciplines dancer, who went to University of California but went to a magnet school.  The arts bring about boldness, it teaches and is a sport.  I played multiple sports growing up, soccer, hockey, and baseball, but I loved music and musical theatre.  Some of the best action stars of the day that so many kids idolize all started or work in theatre.  Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) is an accomplished singer and dancer.  Christian Bale (Batman) got his start in a Disney musical Newsies.  Anna Kendrick, Ariana Grande, Ann Hathaway all starred on Broadway before movies.  So minimizing music programs are not the way to go.  In fact they should be maximized as they contribute to ever subject.  The arts is also a great equalizer.  A kid who makes it to Broadway can be paid like an adult and is a professional.  A child artist could sell pieces as much or more than adults.  Male ballet dancers are paid royally because of how precious a commodity they are.  It allows children to express themselves.  Did you know that there are roughly 5-10 arts scholarships for everyone 1 sports scholarship in college?  There is this concentration on STEM.  Why do the arts get disrespected?  After all the research?  That baffles me and is worth thought and discussion.  STEAM programs show better overall test scores (I have to post some) and it reaches a larger student population.

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Fear, yes a little fear does a lot.  I think too many people in general don’t have fear.  They just have to say and do what they want…’Murica or something like that.  We allow our politicians to do that without regard of what they say.  Trump, Cruz, Christie to name a few.  Kids say things to each other and to adults that would make us blush or when we were kids, I wouldn’t be able to sit down for a few days.  Where are those days?  When was it ok for a Kindergartener to look at an adult and say “What are you looking at?  This ain’t none of your business.”  We warn, we threaten, we intervene, when do we act?  Are we afraid as a society?  Are we bullied into believing that everything is racially, politically, sexually motivated?  Shouldn’t we fear what kind of a society we are building?  Shouldn’t we fear what morals we are teaching for the future generations?  It is time that we stood up to the fanaticism that we have allowed.  We have Congressmen refusing to acknowledge a Supreme Court nominee, states like North Carolina & Mississippi trying to hide bigotry and hatred behind a “religious law”, and people who get multiple chances because they are amazing athletes, skin color or influential family members, etc. It’s time to put our foot down.  Go to court, not just have troopers in but doing something.  If we wait, you tell me will your conscious be clear if a tragedy happens?  What happens when the crazies become the ones in power and the world then sees us as the enemy of all the things we claim to stand for?  What happens when someone bullies another into committing a life changing act and have to answer why that middle of the night call comes to you?  What happens when it’s your parent, sibling, child is attacked, ridiculed and discriminated against?  Don’t we fear that more than what happens to us?  Remember we grew up and had fear and respect and work ethic?

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So how does it get better?  That is what we tell everyone who are victims, hurt, etc.  Let’s be proactive, let’s teach parental roles, individual responsibility, character education (by example and education), the arts (to reach a broader audience), and have a little fear instilled in us.  We can’t is not an option, failure is not an option.  It will only get better when WE AS A SOCIETY get better.  Are you going to be an exemplar of that?  It gets better when we don’t give into our irrational fear and realize there is a bigger picture.  We can’t keep saying it gets better, we have to find a way to make it better.

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