Thursday, February 23, 2012

Education in the U. S. A.

Education in Bibb County Georgia

Thoughts From One Citizen

First of all, a brief bit about the author of this Blog.  I am a mature citizen, born in Iowa, served in the U. S. Navy for 21 years and worked in a Factory in Macon, Georgia for about 17 years.  I have been retired since 1999.  Thus I have had ample opportunity to observe peoples in most every country in the World and the U. S. A.  Additionally I have been active in the affairs Middle Georgia since 1971, except for a final tour at sea in 1976 through 1978.

Secondly, I know that there a lot of perfect parents in our Society.  Just as there a lot of perfect kids in our Society.  Sometimes the perfect kids do not even belong to the perfect parents. 

As I contemplate the recent events within the Bibb County School System over the past thirty some years I would like to offer some commentary as to why we need to focus on improving the education for our future citizens, not only for Bibb County; but for the entire U. S. A.

Please consider this example of how would the crew of an Aircraft Carrier in our U. S. Navy function!!

First of all the Sailors in the Supply Department would probably like to remain in port.  That way they would never have to plan ahead to insure that the storerooms were full for a six month deployment.

I believe that the Sailors in the Engineering Department would like to deploy in the colder areas of the ocean.  That way the evaporators could make plenty of fresh water.  Additionally these Sailors would most likely desire that the number of flights in a day be reduced by 50 percent.  Everytime a plane is shot off of a Carrier it consumes 250 gallons of water that has been heated to power the steam catapult. 

The Sailors in the Air Department would most likely appreciate a reduction in the hours dedicated to night operations.  After all they must operate on the flight deck with the launching and recovery of planes with only a few red lights. 

The Young Men and Women in the Weapons Department would appreciate a drastic reduction of hours spent at sea.  Every time the ship deploys they need to man the lines to conduct underway replenishment to insure that supplies, food and weapons are brought onboard.  Then when the ship is in port they must work diligently to chip the rust off of the ship that has developed because of the salt water.

The Operations Department Sailors would most likely enjoy the deployment more if they could travel to an exotic port overseas and tie up to a pier.  No more long watches in the Combat Information Center, no photos to take, no flight schedules to prepare, no airplanes to talk back to the ship.

The Sailors in the Navigation Department would also appreciate restricted time at sea, so that they also could enjoy the pleasures of overseas liberty.

Finally, the Sailors in the Communications Department would not have to work so hard in the receipt of messages and the delivery of same.  The signalmen would also appreciate the extra liberty.  Just as long as they ship was at sea long enough every month so that they could keep their tanned bronzed bodies in excellent condition to impress the local citizens where ever the ship might anchor/visit.

Of course this would never work because the ship would never be able to accomplish the assigned mission.  The Captain and the Department Heads work as a team to insure that their respective Departments are ready to execute any assigned task. 

The crew has the benefit of having received nine weeks of extensive training at Navy Boot Camp so that they realize that they are part of a team.  Thus the Aircraft Carrier can execute their assigned mission/s.

Now, to consider the Education Situation in our U. S. A. and our Bibb County Georgia.  It is a known fact that about 74 percent of the young people between the ages of 18 to 24 are not fit for duty in any branch of our military.  Without going into the whole plethora of reasons for this sad situation I feel safe to simply state that it is because of the sad state of education in our Society. 

We have children having children and most do not have any reason to impress on their offspring the need to do well in life.  Yes, I know that there exceptions to this broad statement!!

Without a good education, which commences in the home and is refined in our institutions of learning our future looks very bleak.  We all know this!!!

Yet, we are now faced with the opportunity to improve education in Bibb County while we hear that some are unhappy with the recommendations.  In fact there will be a public meeting at Southwest High School right here in Macon, Georgia to give citizens the opportunity to present their opinions on what needs to be done.

This is great.  Involvement in education is critical and must be conducted in a full time basis.  I have pleasant memories of many school board meetings that I have been involved in over the years and I have been concerned that it would appear that not many are concerned.

But, now we have a plan that does not appeal to some and they are expressing their opinions.  Yes, this is the American way, and yes opinions are necessary to achieve excellence.  But I would also challenge anyone/everyone who is now concerned with this one brief question:

"Where Have You Been The Last Thirty Some Years?"

So let us quickly revisit the example of the Aircraft Carrier I mentioned above!!!  Do you suppose that if everyone on board had their own way that the Carrier would be able to execute the assigned mission?  You, as well as I know the answer to that question.

I would also suggest that many of my peers - those who are concerned about public education - have never taken the opportunity to assist in the defense of our Country.  Some may not even be qualified.

So, now we have an appointed Leader who has developed a program known as "The Macon Miracle" with many alarmed/concerned about the potential to achieve education excellence.

Yet we all hopefully know that what has been done in recent history is a failure.  A forty-four percent graduation rate cannot be the goal we want for our future citizens.

Regarding the reconfiguration of the grades, I would suggest that the suggested K - 3 is very appropriate.  We all know that we have some who simply pass on non-readers to the next grade level.  This bench mark of being able to read well by the end of the third grade would allow the school staff to focus on the individual needs of each Scholar.  They could not be promoted to the fourth grade and move on to middle school until the primary school and related staff had completed their assigned task.   Just as the Sailors on the aforementioned Aircraft Carrier discussed above are required to do.  No more passing the non-reader on to the next grade/school.

As regarding the recommended longer school day - If what were doing now was achieving adequate results, then there would be no need for a fix.  As it is, there is plenty of evidence of which we are all aware to suggest that we need to do better.  I do not think that the current proposals require additional two hours of rigorous class room instruction; however the additional time at school could be used to assist in development issues for those who need it as well as allowing our scholars to explore area of their own special interest.  Yes, there are some parents/caregivers/grandparents who do an excellent job in this regard, but as a Society right here in Bibb County, we must admit that we have not done too well.

I post this Blog today to share my thoughts.  As has already been stated, the "Macon Miracle" is to be implemented over a time span of three to five years.  I have also heard that it may take seven years.  No matter what the time frame, if we continue in our current mode of education we will be more of a failure in five or even seven years.  Admittedly change is difficult to accept; but I remain confident that adopting the "Macon Miracle" with the current level of citizen/parent involvement will insure that it can be corrected/modified as required to accomplish the mission. 

To delay the implementation at this time to suppress the vocal minority will only allow our failing system to continue to fail.  Thus my suggestion/recommendation:

Implement the Macon Miracle
Tweak the Plan as required
Continue the Parent/Citizen Involvement

Yes, there will be challenges to meet.  Yes, there will be a requirement for all of us to remain involved and Yes, "We Have To Do Better."

After all, as I recently heard:  "Achieving Education Excellent is All About the Children."  I take that to mean that while citizens all have excellent ideas on how this should be accomplished there needs to be a clear and defined program put into place to achieve the results so that someday soon our Bibb Board of Education can display a sign on their Headquarters which states:

"Mission Accomplished"

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