Monday, March 20, 2017

Why Do These People Get Paid?

Today's facepalm of the week is brought to you courtesy of Rep. Chip Baltimore of Boone, who has tabled a bill that would ban schools from offering extra credit for school supplies. Because with state revenues in the tank, this is what we should be worrying about right now. The money quote:
"But it's one small sign of how we are devaluing the educational process in this state and country."
Really.  That's how we're devaluing the educational process in America today? By offering extra credit for Kleenex? While I acknowledge the point that the practice does, in fact, divide families between those who can afford to purchase extra classroom supplies and those that can't, this is still a moronic stand to make.

Look, I'm no educational expert. I look at teaching now and again as a possible 'next career' but have yet to convince myself to pull the trigger on anything in that regard, but it doesn't take an expert to realize that our educational model is woefully inadequate to the needs of the 21st Century. The model needs to change (there's this great video from Sir Ken Robinson that illustrates why) and that's a big enough task to tackle as it is.

But then you get to the system we have. Which is underfunded and under attack, these days more from the Right than the Left. This isn't to excuse either side of the aisle from devaluing the educational process in the country. As a whole, we've got problems in our national culture that devalue the educational process. While we talk a lot (and shout) we don't listen. We're spoonfed garbage by the news media. The textbooks that our children are taught from have become part of the political battlegrounds being fought across the country. But getting extra credit for school supplies- we've gotta nip that shit in the bud right away.

Okay. Fine. Let's accept the premise of the bill and say that this is a "problem." I have further questions: is this a universal problem? Do the majority of school districts in the state offer extra credit for school supplies? If the answer to your question is 'no' and I expect it is, then you need to talk to your local school board and quit wasting the time of the state legislature with this nonsense. And how much extra credit are we talking about here? In my experience, extra credit consisted of like 1 or 2 points. Maybe 5 or 10*. But not enough to make a major impact on a student's grade. (Like, I suppose if you're at a B+ and right on the cusp of an A-, it could, theoretically, push you over the top. But how many students are going to be in that situation? If you go from an F to a D-, it hasn't done you much good, has it?)

So, a representative of a party that champion local control of schools has found a problem that doesn't appear to be universal in nature and wants to trample all over local control in some idiotic attempt to solve what he appears to perceive as a problem. Here's a notion, Rep. Baltimore- how about you ask yourself why teachers need to offer extra credit for school supplies in the first place? How about demonstrating that you value the educational process by funding our damn schools properly?

Legislative meddling and micromanaging of local politics. Between this and the minimum wage bill the State GOP is all about, it's almost as if the precious Conservative principle of local control doesn't mean much of anything at all. And this bill is nothing more than a grandstanding effort to preach about the perceived permissiveness of our national culture and in doing so, score cheap and easy points with his constituents. The problem isn't the two points of extra credit for a damn box of Kleenexes. It's that they have to offer the extra credit in the first place.

Remind me again: why the hell do these people get paid?**

*All right. I'll confess... once, on a geography map quiz in 7th Grade, our teacher offered one point of extra credit for any bodies of water we could name. I got 15 extra points and he stopped doing that.

**Second tangent and somewhat related to my question- some brilliant human has started a petition to strip Congress of their health benefits. I signed it and you should too.

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