Here’s how it was when I was coming up through secondary school: The teacher was the boss. You were given homework assignments and applicable tests.
If you didn’t meet certain standards on those homework assignments and tests, you were given a failing grade.
Ultimately, through the first and eighth grades, at the end of the school year, if you hadn’t performed adequately, you repeated that grade – “sent back,” as it was termed in those days.
When you reached high school and failed to meet the required standards for a class like algebra, you had to repeat algebra.
If you misbehaved in class – acting out, fighting, talking back to the teacher, etc. – here’s what you could look forward to: The teacher snatching you up by the nape of the neck, marching you to the principal’s office, the principal tearing up your tail end with a wooden paddle, and being expelled from school for a certain number of days.
True, if you got a whooping at school and were expelled, there stood a good chance that you would receive a second whooping from your parents when you got home.
For the most part, there was a good level of discipline in secondary schools, and most of the students who graduated from high school had a decent working knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic.
Granted, our society is one that evolves with each tick of the clock, and with that evolution, there comes inevitable changes.
Here’s an example of a drastic change in today’s school system, as was revealed to me by an elementary school teacher who teaches at a Middle Tennessee school.
Class had begun, and the teacher told the students to get out their homework.
A student replied to the teacher, “F*** you. I’m not going to do my homework, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Of course, the teacher attempted to take action, but guess what?
The same student still is in that same teacher’s class, still misbehaving much in the same manner as described.
On Jan. 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act. Without going into space-consuming detail, the law was designed and enacted to improve education in secondary schools across America – better tests, better teachers, better level of education for the students, you could say.
However, here’s the downside to that law, so my teacher friends tell me: If a teacher sets certain standards for her class and a certain number of students do not meet those standards – fail the class – the teacher is subject to being pulled to the side and issued a veiled threat to tow the line.
Sadly enough, the end product is far too many students with scarily poor academic skills are graduating from high school and being forced on the open job market. Some lack even the skills to operate a cash register and make change at a fast-food chain.
What does the future hold for these young people?
In 1970, the super rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released their legendary Déjà Vu album, which included the top-selling single “Teach Your Children,” penned by Graham Nash.
In terms of education and bright futures for our young people, I find it disturbingly ironic that a group of longhaired rockers were willing to address the issue head-on, while those in decision-making positions are dodging the same issue and collecting a monthly check.
Mike Vinson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.