Friday, March 12, 2010

Bill Maher on Education

Well, it is Bill Maher:

New Rule: Let's not fire the teachers when students don't learn - let's fire the parents. Last week President Obama defended the firing of every single teacher in a struggling high school in a poor Rhode Island neighborhood. And the kids were outraged. They said, "Why blame our teachers?" and "Who's President Obama?" I think it was Whitney Houston who said, "I believe that children are our future - teach them well and let them lead the way." And that's the last sound piece of educational advice this country has gotten - from a crack head in the '80's.

Yes, America has found its new boogeyman to blame for our crumbling educational system. It's just too easy to blame the teachers, what with their cushy teachers' lounges, their fat-cat salaries, and their absolute authority in deciding who gets a hall pass. We all remember high school - canning the entire faculty is a nationwide revenge fantasy. Take that, Mrs. Crabtree! And guess what? We're chewing gum and no, we didn't bring enough for everybody.

But isn't it convenient that once again it turns out that the problem isn't us, and the fix is something that doesn't require us to change our behavior or spend any money. It's so simple: Fire the bad teachers, hire good ones from some undisclosed location, and hey, while we're at it let's cut taxes more. It's the kind of comprehensive educational solution that could only come from a completely ignorant people.

Firing all the teachers may feel good - we're Americans, kicking people when they're down is what we do - but it's not really their fault. Now, undeniably, there are some bad teachers out there. They don't know the material, they don't make things interesting, they have sex with the same kid every day instead of spreading the love around... But every school has crappy teachers. Yale has crappy teachers - they must, they gave us George Bush.

According to all the studies, it doesn't matter what teachers do. Although everyone appreciates foreplay. What matters is what parents do. The number one predictor of a child's academic success is parental involvement. It doesn't even matter if your kid goes to private or public school. So save the twenty grand a year and treat yourself to a nice vacation away from the little bastards.

It's also been proven that just having books in the house makes a huge difference in a child's development. If your home is adorned with nothing but Hummel dolls, DVD's, and bleeding Jesuses, congratulations, you've just given your children the gift of Duh. Sarah Palin said recently she wrote on her hand because her father used to do it. I rest my case.

When there are no books in the house, and there are no parents in the house, you know who raises the kids? That's right, the television. Kids aren't keeping up with their studies; they're keeping up with the Kardashians. We're allowing the television, as babysitter, to turn us into a nation of slutty idiots. By the way, one sign your 9-year-old may be watching too much One Tree Hill: if she has an imaginary friend with benefits.



froggy said...

>According to all the studies, it doesn't matter what teachers do... What matters is what parents do. The number one predictor of a child's academic success is parental involvement.<

Which is why this is SO troubling. We KNOW this. Either they have decided to give up on parents or they have cynically decided to score political points on a convenient target.
Depressing that.

mrs. miss alaineus said...

god forbid the parents should have to take the ultimate responsibility for what their kids do/ don't do in the classroom.


Bob said...

What I find reprehesnible, are the parents who stood by and let this happen. Don't they care about their children's education?

Boy Toy said...

Love this post! So many thoughts...

1) Bill Maher - even with the gratuitous Palin slaps (I just find them too easy) - is always pushing social and political dialogue forward. Even with lines like "turn us into a nation of slutty idiots". Simply awesome.

2) The social breakdown is interesting. Bob mentioned this - how do you get parents to care? Is it because it's difficult to make a living (and so there's less time), or are we/parents today simply more narcissistic?

3) Gladwell's "Tipping Point" argues that students with crappy parents but affluent neighborhoods still turn out better than kids with great parents but bad neighborhoods. Teachers are the easy scapegoat - not that bad apples do not exist - for the larger societal problem.

Love the post. Can you tell? ;)

froggy said...

Looking at the parents I work with - they don't see that they are paying a price (with their child's well being and future) for their behavior. The lack of maturity is stunning. Society used to exact a much higher price for pregnancy outside of marriage. Now we'd just be happy to have a pregnancy within a committed, mature relationship and we don't even get that.

Boy Toy said...

Interesting. So short of reinstituting societal shaming (which is problematic because who knows how far that would go), how do we convince teens (who will hopefully grow into decent parents) that maturity - and children - are worth waiting for?

I found it interesting that "16 and Pregnant"'s ratings on MTV were so high that they raised the number of episodes for this season. What a disconnect.

froggy said...

Sometimes I think mandatory parenting classes in high school might help. But then I fear letting Texas write that curriculum.

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SteveA said...

Parents (and also siblings) also have a role to fact they are the primary role. If it wasn't for my sister - I would not have made it through!

Dan said...

The only role my parents played in my education was show me how important it was for me to get into college and get the hell away from them all.

There has to be some drive on the childs part as well. I was blessed to have had some great teachers who saw that in me and helped push me to my goals.

Plenty of blame to go around, but personal responsability has to weigh in here too.

Berry Blog said...

Our Mar 26 workshop will have teachers breaking down what they call "the document"- the latest set of guidelines from a state task force to rejuvenate the middle school concept It is clear that the state feels it has all the tools in place to implement. Onus: on the teachers again. I would challenge anyone to develop a lesson plan that could implement everything they want. they give sample lessons, but on in specifics. I would like to see one principal of any school to develop one lesson plan to comply with these guidelines.
Any old salt teacher is familiar with all the vernacular, no matter how vague, of researched based methods and all the criteria stragegies for measurement...but get a load of this guideline which our school has to take on I'll send to anyone interested. Its in ppt format. It's named Bright Futures
You really nailed it Joy.

Marker said...

Goddess I love Bill Maher. He's 1000% right - again.

(Sarah Palin deserves every single gratuitous slap she gets.)

Kyle said...

Bill and I are very closely aligned on this subject.