Sometimes it feels as if our school system is at war with parents, and winning. The kids are just the ammunition.
Take homework, for example. Most schools load up the kids with hours of homework, which ruins a family’s quality of life after school, putting parents in the position of being bad cops from the time school is out until bedtime. The kids are stressed, overworked, and tired. You might assume there is a scientific basis for assigning so much homework. Does it make our nation more competitive on the International playing field? Answer: Nope. In fact, the Charter School down the street, that presumably looked into best practices, gives kids time during the school day to complete all of their assignments.
Now suppose your kid joins a sports team, or band, or competitive cheerleading, or just about anything. You’ll find yourself spending weekends out of town for tournaments and competitions. You might be booking hotels for overnight stays, and generally building your life around these occasions. I will acknowledge that for an elite student athlete/musician/mathlete/whatever, the opportunity to compete with the best in the state might help secure a college scholarship. But parents know early on if they have a scholarship-winning sort of child, and most do not. Most parents just want their kids to be active and stimulated, and to have some meat for college applications. For that, do they really need to travel across the state? Where is the scientific basis for the notion that Joe Average Kid is made into a better human being by playing soccer against kids that are six hours away by car?
Things don’t get better after high school. The cost of college is absurd, and half of the value of the degree involves the brand recognition of the school. Worse yet, the best classes fill up early. If society started from scratch to design a system of higher education, I can’t imagine it looking anything like the current system.
Interestingly, society probably has all of the knowledge it needs to fix the problems I mentioned. And parents are probably the strongest block of voters in the country. That tells me the real problem is a lack of leadership. Once again, I must reluctantly step into the void.
When I’m president, I will use the power of persuasion to encourage schools to adopt the best practices of the Charter Schools. I’m assuming Charter Schools have less homework and fewer unnecessary competitions on the road. But more generally, I’ll follow whatever direction the science points to. I’ll also use my powers of persuasion to come up with a useful ranking of colleges by value instead of brand. In time, that sort of comparison should drive down costs and perhaps attract innovative competition. Value rankings already exist, but making those rankings more important will require leadership.
Vote for me and I’ll end the war on parents.