I had a project due in my high school classes last week, and several students didn’t have it ready, with excuses like, “I was busy. I have stressful stuff going on. I have other classes, too, you know.”
At one point, I gently asked the class at large, “Is there anybody here who doesn’t have stressful stuff going on, and a busy schedule? Anybody have no problems in life, and hours of free time every day?” Of course not. “So why is it that everybody else gets their job done? Because they choose not to let problems get in the way. Because we all make our priorities.”
The difference is commitment, investment, and internal motivation.
The Clark County School District is facing a budget crisis; after having cut $130 million from its budget for this year, we now find ourselves having to cut even more for next year. Some details are here.
Schools are having emergency meetings with parents in the community to discuss ideas for cuts, and my school had such a meeting among its staff last week, as I’m sure many other schools have. Everybody’s worried about salaries, perks, and even job security itself.
Let’s set a few things straight:
First, there is plenty of money out there for what we need. There always has been and always will be. It’s not a matter of needing more money, it’s a matter of better investing what we have. It does not cost hundreds of millions of dollars to provide textbooks and necessary supplies. Besides (the curmudgeon hastened to add), there is absolutely no relationship between education spending and academic achievement.
But what about technology? Doesn’t that cost a lot? Yes, but that might as well be where we make some cuts, too, since…wait for it…students with greater access to computers statistically do worse academically than others.
All this brouhaha reminds me of a letter that I had in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on July 11, 2007:
Here’s a shocking thought from a teacher: Raising our salaries won’t improve anything.