Kentucky Education, Schools, Debt and Politics

I talked with my children about school last night. My son, now 16, attends Russell County High School. This is CATs testing week. So, you may wonder, what’s “testing week” really like? Apparently, the kids work 90 minutes per day. The rest of the time there is drawing for prizes, they watch television and DVD movies, go outside and “hang out” and get extra bonus points (up to 60) to add to their class scores for showing up for school and appearing to attempt to do well on the tests (this involves not staring into space or filing in ‘just anything’ to hurry up and be finished with the exams). How’s that for rewarding? And how effective is CATS testing? Not very. Of course, many of us have suspected as much all along. You can’t teach to the test, unless you are first teaching. Right? Testing…

It’s enough to make me just beam with pride. This is to go on for two weeks. They are doing NOTHING in classes. There is no homework. There is, however, a free-flowing supply of sugary treats being passed out and those obnoxious vending machines that are supposed to stay turned OFF during the school day are back to being plugged in constantly. It’s not enough to teach to the tests, it’s not enough to deny children educational opportunities in order to collect a paycheck for them.

Equally impressive is the job that our state government is doing for our children’s long-term future. How forward-thinking of them to sell out our children for political gain now. It makes me so proud. Maniacally proud. That’s what it means when you see red, right? Overwhelming pride?

Pick up a pen, Governor Fletcher — and print “VETO” — will ya?

So, while I’m doing my absolute best to teach my own children, I also have to put up with the public school’s “rules” that secure funds for the school, but ignore the educational opportunities that the children have to forgo in the name of increased… uh… lets see, a new swimming pool and television monitors throughout the school. Yeah, while some of the current textbooks were printed in 1987 — three years before my 16 year old son was even born. And while I’m teaching my son to be fiscally responsible, to work for his money, to draw up contracts for jobs, to invoice and bill, to handle a bank account… our government is not exactly a glowing example. It’s an example that’s not even fit. Thanks Governor Fletcher, thanks to ALL the members of the Legislature and the “powers that be” — I appreciate your help.

So, it’s great that our priorities, as a state, are in line. It’s good that we are looking out for our minor charges (that’s minor as in young, not unimportant — Frankfort seems to have confused the two meanings lately.) I wonder what we will do when these kids start making a living. Will they be ready? Will their priorities be straight? Will they even be capable of paying back the loans we are currently taking out against their futures…. much less the interest that those debts have accrued?

Tell me again why we don’t have school vouchers. Tell me again how the government knows best. Remind me why we need so much government interference in family life. Tell me again how the government knows best –state and federal — and why I should TRUST this government to know what’s best for me and mine? Remind me again how tapping my phone, reading my email and spying on me is in my own best interest as the Patriot Act passed again with flying colors. I’m a little slow, so explain it kinda simple, will you?

And, while you are at it… explain to me again about all the dang money I just had to pay into social security for my own future. You and I both know I’ll never see a dime of that money. No one in my generation will. And yet we keep paying… and paying… and paying. Our population is aging, living longer and that trend (thankfully) is expected to continue. Isn’t it about time we let people decide their own retirement? Now, I’m funding social security to pay off the mistakes that previous generations made and loans the government made to itself with MY future and I’m funding a private account so I won’t have to work until the day I die.

I know what it’s like to have your future sold out by powers outside of your control — before you are even old enough to vote. So, I feel for this new generation. I worry that my kids will never enjoy a quality of life as good as the one they have right this moment…. ever again. It’s sad. It’s pathetic. It ticks me off.

So, while I’d like to relax a bit and enjoy life a little more… there is so much going on, so much to keep my dander up. So much to make me feel like one lifetime is never going to be enough to even make a dent in the issues that are worthy. Is everyone really so self-centered that we are willing to accept the “me” generation approach to everything? Haven’t we, now that most of us are parents, outgrown the “it’s all about me” attitude? Isn’t it our responsibility — legal, moral and ethical — to care for and preserve the next generation’s holdings, to improve rather than consume? To grow rather than to reap without replanting?

Yeah, it’s a rant day. I’ll admit it. But, do you blame me?

To read more:

  • Cauldron of Wasteful Spending Continues to Churn (Update 2/2014 – this link is defunct.)
  • Too Many Kentucky Schools Shooting Blanks (Update 2/2014 – this link is defunct.)
  • (Kentucky) General Assembly passes $18.1 billion state budget (Update 4/2011 – this link is defunct.)
  • Bluegrass Policy Blog (Update 4/2011 – this link is defunct.)