I heard something on the news this morning that reminded me of something I had previously forgotten to address. The pre-commercial tease was that the Detroit school district “found” 2000 students that had not previously been counted. The broader topic of course is the whole “count” thing that goes on at local public schools. I am not going to pretend to profess knowledge of the intricacies of the system, but I do know that the size of this count determines how much money comes from the state. Since the schools are chronically and woefully underfunded, high attendance on this given day is crucial.
And that is the crux of the problem. Schools have resorted to increasingly sly ways to boost attendance on that day. Actually, they are not sly, because they communicate these things ahead of time to the press. There are drawings for iPods, goody bags (what is this, the Emmy’s?), and one school even had a half day. I am sure a lot got accomplished during that half day too. What lesson does this teach our youth? We are essentially buying their attention. I am confident that, if pressed, schools would say that it is a neccesary evil. Well – then the system is inherently flawed. But nobody has the stones to do anything, because they need the cash. We have relegated our teachers, which should be one of our proudest professions, into being glorified crack whores for a day. I am not a teacher, but it absolutely rips me up inside that this has to be done. I hope that it does the same for them. If it does not, then I will have lost complete faith
in the system.
I think that these visits should be completely unannounced. Why does there have to be so much fanfare ahead of time? All this does is create a bogus, artificial count. I imagine this is obvious to the counters, but why should they care? And that is the problem, noone cares – nor acknowledges – that this is a problem. It is an annual event on the news, appears on countless school electronic boards, and is even on some school calendars. Again, for emphasis, what lesson does this provide to our youth? As I said earlier, we are telling them it is ok to have their attention bought. They do not have to do something for the greater good, when they can hold out for an incentive instead. All it does is reinforce the coddling that kids have become accustomed to. I wonder what the count size would have to be for them to be taught actual and proper life lessons.