Chapter 5

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Our Education System

 

"Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another" - G. K. Chesterton

 

     I feel particularly qualified to write about schools since I was an emergency substitute teacher in my town for 4 years. An emergency substitute is someone who has been certified by the state to teach, but not as a regular teacher. We were called early in the morning when there were not enough regular substitutes available. Regular substitutes are normally certified teachers who do not want to teach full time. Furthermore, many are very particular as to what days they teach, what grades they teach and what schools they teach at. So we emergency substitutes filled in since there has to be an adult with the kids at all times. We have to have a college degree, pass a police background check and supply a lot of references.

      Given the doctrine that there has to be an adult with the kids at all times, before this program, the principal might have to take a class. PE might be cancelled for the day and the PE teacher might have to take a class. Front office workers might have to take a class or they may have to close the library and let the librarian teach a class.

      The mistake they made by setting up the emergency substitute teacher's program is that it allows ordinary people into the schools. Normally, those in schools are teachers who have been indoctrinated by the teacherís education system. We called them Kool-aid drinkers. They are always ready to defend the current practices in todayís schools and always singing the tune that all we need is more money. Thus, with this program, regular people got into the schools and got to see what is going on. I was appalled. The attrition rate from emergency substitute teachers is high as the kids are disrespectful and insubordinate. It is a very stressful if you try to keep order and actually teach. Many don't even try to teach and are just baby sitters.

      During those 4 years I learned a lot about our schools. My first day of teaching, and the first time that I had been in secondary schools in 40 years, was horrid. It was 10th grade science. I had to threaten to send one kid to the office if he did not stop playing his guitar. One girl would not get off her cell phone. Everyone was slouching in their seat and it was a great effort just to get them to sit up straight. Many tried to sit on the desk part with their feet in the seat part. It was a horrible experience and I was shocked by the disrespect and insubordination I experienced.

      I am not a quitter by nature so I told myself that I would give this a week. But if this is what teaching is like you can count me out. I was an instructor in the Navy and knew how to present material. But the kids would not behave. I could not believe what I was seeing. Fortunately, I have a quick wit. I quickly realized that this was like hecklers in the audience. So I started nailing them. I pointed to one kid who was acting up. I said ďclass, this is what happens if the mother smokes when she is pregnantĒ. The class roared and the kid, humiliated, sat down and shut up. I told one kid to behave himself. He continued misbehaving. So I said to the class in a most serious and sincere way ďdoes he speak English?Ē They laughed and he shut up.Ē It turns out that this is a violation of the rules. You canít embarrass or humiliate the student regardless of what they are doing, including disrupting class. It seems that that would affect their self-esteem and these days itís all about the studentís self-esteem.

      In my day self-esteem came from making good grades but that has all changed. It seems that there has been a revolution in education starting with the Great Society and includes the boomer effect. This revolution required rethinking everything that has been done in schools in 5000 years. Nothing was left unchanged. In fact, the main thing that changed is that the drop out rate has increased and the scores on standard tests have declined when compared to the rest of the world. Americaís education system, once the best in the world, is in crisis. There are many reasons for this and we will examine some of these changes and their effect on our schools. But it can be shown that this change coincides with boomers becoming teachers. In effect, the 60ís revolution continued into the education workplace.

      One major change is the ďsocial promotionĒ. It was determined by the socialist Left that being held back to repeat a class was harmful to the self-esteem of the student. It would be better to go ahead and promote the student to the next grade with their peers even if they could not do the work. The so called ďsocial promotionĒ is now practiced everywhere. Few kids get held back anymore. For my generation the threat of getting held back was motivation to study. That motivation is now gone.

      But there is a more insidious reason for the social promotion. First, to hold a kid back is sure to start a war with the kidís parents. Parents these days always take the kidís side when dealing with schools. Itís the way they show the kid that they love them. The charge will be made that it is the teacher who has failed to teach rather than the student who has failed to learn. The parents will appeal to the principal and even the school superintendent, perhaps even the school board. If you were a teacher you would find it easier to just promote the kid and be done with it. After all, if all your kids get promoted to the next grade, then you must be a good teacher.

      Next came grade inflation. If a kid gets Fs on everything then how can you possibly promote them to the next grade? The solution to that dilemma is simple Ė just give them  Cs and Ds on everything. If fact, you will look like a good teacher if all your kids get As and Bs so just give all of them good grades. This is called ďgrade inflationĒ and it's happening. The way to accomplish this is to make the tests easy. Rather than converting 17/31 to a decimal make the question convert 1/4 to a decimal. Easy tests and high scores. Then when there are standard tests with more difficult questions, the kids do poorly.

      In my state 50% of the 10th graders can not pass the stateís standard math test which is actually 8th grade math. Yet 100% of the kids pass math class and get promoted. Hmmmm.

      I once saw a girl on TV who was devastated. It seems that she had made As and Bs all through school in math. When she got to college, she was put in remedial math. Grade inflation is real.

      So schools have become a pipe line through which all kids move with social promotion and come out the other end with fairly good grades thanks to grade inflation. Only standard tests can show what is really going on. The SAT scores began to fall. Since these numbers represent averages of all students across the nation, these numbers are statistically valid. When these numbers show that minorities did worse than non-minorities, the charge was quickly made that the test was racially biased. Only white kids can pass these tests because of the nature of the questions. Itís hard to imagine a racially biased math test. Perhaps History and English Literature but Math?

      The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was an attempt to fix our schools. It called for each state to set up standardized tests for evaluating their schools. But the immediate reaction from parents and teachers was to claim that these tests were poorly constructed and racially biased. NCLB is currently up for renewal. The powerful teachers unions in Washington D.C. are fighting it already, calling for more ďreasonableĒ tests. If you can read between the lines, this translates to easier tests. The kids have all heard of NCLB and from its name, they may form the opinion that they will get promoted regardless of their level of work. The name does imply that. Perhaps we should call it the SGLB test - Study or Get Left Behind.

      The theory was that the schools work but the standard tests do not show what the kids know. What a convenient theory if you are in the school business. So many colleges have stopped using the SAT as a requirement for admission. Nor do they have their own test. They just accept the grade point average of a student but recall that we have grade inflation.

      I donít have a particular problem with this college admission criteria. In fact, I would say let everybody have a chance at one quarter of college. If they get Cs they can stay in. But that would soon lead to a system where everybody got Cs. Colleges are businesses and students are customers. Businesses want as many customers as they can get. The theory seems to be ďif you have the tuition then we have the classroom seat.Ē

     One of the changes that has taken place is the way we teach Math. It began as the ďNew MathĒ. Everybody remembers when the parents could not help their kids with their homework. That has been dropped and it has been admitted that that did not work but not before an entire generation of kids was produced that cannot do simple Math like arithmetic.

      But the New Math was replaced by more methodologies to teach math. All of this is based on the belief that schooling should be more than mere memorization. The problem with that thinking is that the multiplication, addition and subtraction tables have to be memorized. There is no other way apart from counting on your fingers. When you ask someone what 3 plus 4 is and they start counting on their fingers, they look stupid.

      There is a doctrine in academia called ďpublish or perish. That means that PhDs must do more than just teach a couple of classes each day. They must write books and articles. The motivation for this is that universities measure themselves on how many books and articles that their professors have written. The more books their professors have written, the higher the tuition can be because the university has famous professors.

      Now suppose you are a professor in the Education department. What you need to do is to come up with a new methodology to teach, say, Math. This is where all these new methodologies come from. Beyond that, it would be nice to have it adopted by, say, the National Association of Mathematics Teachers. Next it is in schools. Adopting new methodologies for teaching math, English and even Science is the way that school boards and state education agencies make it look like the schools are being improved and by extension, that they are doing their jobs. So we are paraded by a train of new methodologies for teaching.  Also, those who print text books are always ready to sell new books to replace existing books. The problem with this, especially with Math, is that there was nothing wrong with the way it was done in the 50ís. We all learned to do arithmetic with fractions, decimals and make the necessary conversions.

      But that required memorizing the multiplication tables and the algorithms for this arithmetic. When you buy into the idea that school should be more than memorizing, then you buy into dropping the way that worked for centuries and substituting these methodologies Ė New Math, Reform Math, Discovery Math, Constructionist Math California Math and Integrated Math, to name a few Math teaching methodologies. The problem with these methodologies is that kids canít do math these days. Think Iím crazy, think Iím exaggerating? Ask a kid you know above the 5th grade to convert this to a decimal.

                                1/7 + 6.126/.056 - .32 x .83 Ė 1/3

 See if the kid can do this simple arithmetic problem. To make it harder, ask him/her to carry the answer out to 5 decimal digits. Few kids today can do this. Today and especially in the future, few adults will be able to solve this problem.

      Kidís math skills today are pathetic. Ask a kid you know to add 5/6 and 1/4 and again see for yourself. Ask them to find 17% of $35. Ask them to divide 13547 by 167 and carry the answer out to 5 decimal places.

      If kids canít do arithmetic then they canít do Algebra or the calculations required in Science class. So they fail at Algebra and Science as well.

      Still another change in the education system from say, the 50ís, is the basic relationship between the teacher and the student. In the 50ís the teacher was an authority figure. The teacher presented material, the student learned it and there was a test to see how well the student learned it. It was a simple process and those who misbehaved were sent to the principalís office.

      Then a theory came along that said that the teacher should be the studentís friend. It started with discipline problems. The thought was that the student would behave if the teacher was their friend. In theory it should not matter. So teachers made special efforts to have a personal relationship with their students. Notice that is does not happen in college. This may or may not work but it shouldnít be necessary. The kids should behave or be sent to the office and their parents called to let them know that their child has been kicked out of class for misbehaving. Then the parents should take away the kidís cell phone and Ipod. But this is far too drastic for liberal thinkers. Thus, many schools have hired psychologists to have a touchy-feely talk with the misbehaving student. This is not discipline.

      And the folks in the office claim that they are busy and do not have time to deal with discipline problems. Most principals tell the teachers that he/she expects the teacher to take care of their discipline problems and not to send kids to the office. If I were a principal I would say the exact opposite. I would say ďDonít take time away from your teaching to deal with discipline problems. If you have any ongoing problems with a kid, just send them to the office and I will take care of it. You teach.Ē

      But that is not how the system works. This did not really come up in the 50ís because the kids behaved. I was sent to the principalís office on occasion. I once, as a substitute, sent a kid to the office and they sent him right back. He walked back into class like the winner of our dispute. He was a hero to the other kids. I was appalled.

      Yet we are putting more money into education than at any time in history. So what isnít working? All we hear is that schools need more money. If we had more money to pay teachers then we would have better teachers. That very statement has a problem since it implies that after all the education, after the rigorous teacher certification process which includes practice teaching, many teachers canít teach. Before we go any further with this, we should ask what is wrong with the education and certification process now in place? Maybe that is what has to be fixed. It is apparently producing teachers who canít teach.

     But there is a bigger problem with this approach of more money produces better teachers. First, if we even doubled the teacherís salaries, it would take at least 20 years to replace all the current teachers through retirement and attrition. Can we wait for 20 years? What would happen is that the current teachers would get a big pay increase. Would this increase in pay make them better teachers? If you say yes then you are saying that todayís teachers are holding back and not teaching as well as they could and that they would give it their all if they were making more money.

      Is that what is happening? I doubt that the teacherís union would agree with that. We can presume that they are doing their inadequate best. So how about this? New teachers coming into teaching get higher pay than those already teaching. This will attract better teachers. Well what do you think the teacherís union will have to say about that idea?

      So the real problem seems to be the teacherís unions. The unions protect weak teachers. Itís almost impossible to fire a teacher. Union contracts say that they be put on probation and observed with the observations documented. That's a lot of work. Then they should be sent for more training, while drawing their full salary of course. But wait. Didn't they get a degree from college in education and pass a rigorous certification process? The unions fight any changes to reform education. They fight any efforts to evaluate teachers for performance. Teachers are the only workers in the American economy who are not evaluated. Few are fired despite the dismal performance of schools.

      I am currently trying to get our school board to establish the following policies.

Policy 1. It will be the policy of the school district to use the police departmentís drug sniffing dog to randomly sniff lockers at middle schools and high schools which have lockers. This sniffing will include gym lockers. The school district will enter into an agreement with the police department to arrange for scheduling. It has been previously determined that there is no cost required for this. This is legal and has been tested in the courts.

Policy 2. It will be the policy of the school district that teachers will dress as professionals when teaching class. For men this will require a dress shirt and tie. For women this will include dresses or pants suits. Forbidden will be blue jeans, T shirts and sneakers.

Policy 3.  It will be the policy of the school district that teachers will not cover up the window of their classroom door to the hall. This will allow the principal to view the conduct of students and the teacher in the classroom if the door is closed.

Policy 4. It will be the policy of the school district that principals will patrol the halls several times each day to look for infractions of school policies. Students in violation will be taken to the office and their parents will be called.

Policy 5. It will be the policy of the school district that students will not use their cell phones and/or music devices during class or during change time. Cell phones may be used anytime there is an emergency.

Policy 6. It will be the policy of the school district that tests which will have an impact on grades will be taken home, signed by the parent(s) and returned to the teacher the next day to engage the parents in their child's education.

Policy 7. It will be the policy of the school district that pictures and posters hung in the classroom on a permanent basis must have something to do with education. Forbidden are pictures and posters of movie stars, sports figures, popular contemporary musicians and singers. Acceptable are maps, the multiplication tables, the periodic table, pictures of historically famous people, geometric shapes, the solar system, famous quotations, and the like.

     I am meeting great resistance to establishing these common sense policies. Our school board will not even allow these things to be discussed in public at school board meetings.                  

        They claim that they are discussing these things in their work study meetings. They refuse to put these things on the agenda for public discussion.

      The teacherís union seems to feel that they have to nip in the bud, any changes to the way they have things set up. Otherwise, there may be a plethora of changes coming down the pike. These ideas have to be stopped in their tracks is the thinking.

      Our school board President said in the newspaper that requiring professional dress for teachers would be a change in ďworking conditionsĒ and would require union approval in accordance with the wording of their contract. Fine, I say. So letís force the issue and force the union to take the public position that they do not want to wear professional dress to school while at the same time calling themselves professionals and insisting on being paid as professionals. Letís let the pubic hear that.

      But our school board members, like most school board members, are not exactly profiles in courage. All they seem to want is peace in the family and not to rock the boat and ruffle any feathers, especially the feathers of the powerful teacherís union.

      So itís hard to believe that more money is the answer to our woes. This solution is popular because governments cannot envision a solution to any problem if more money is not the solution. If more money canít fix it, then it canít be fixed is their thinking.

      Colleges have long felt that they are apart from society in general. They have their own campus police and feel that there is no room for government interference. Lower schools are starting to adopt this attitude. Using the excuse of sexual predators, the public and press are kept out of schools, the schools they pay for with their tax dollars. You have to check in at the desk, which is OK, then you are asked what you want. Just say I want to look around and see what is going on in the classes. Lots of luck.

      Now we are being told that all this is the parents fault. The latest theory is that the parents do not motivate their children to learn. Yet we hear that teachers do more than teach. This is their defense when it is suggested that teachers be evaluated with tests. They are on record as saying that tests do not test what you know. When this happens the teachers say that teachers do more than teach. They motivate and inspire students which canít be tested for. Well, thatís all well and good but it does not fit with the notion that the parents are not motivating their children. It sounds like here that the teachers are supposed to be doing the motivating. This is why we canít evaluate them on merely how well they teach.

      I think that it is possible to teach kids that are in orphanages and who don't even have any parents.

      Also, we are told that the parents do not help their kids with their homework. One parent told me this. ďThey have my kid for 6 hours a day. Isnít that enough time to teach my kid fractions? Now I am being asked to teach them fractions at home.Ē That is a valid point so why are we blaming the  parents? Well the answer to that is simple. If we donít blame the parents then we have to blame the schools and the teachers. The teachers have a union but the parents do not.

       It may well be the parentís fault to some extent. They should motivate their kids to study and to go on to college or trade school for example. So a compromise is forming. We now hear that the education of children requires a partnership between teachers and parents. Parents who fall for this are simply enjoining themselves in the problem and setting themselves up for sharing in the blame.

       I happen to believe that the schools have the kids for enough time to educate the children even if there were no homework at all. But I do believe in homework because we learn through practice. Practice, practice, practice is how we learn arithmetic and the multiplication tables. Homework provides an opportunity for practice. But even without homework it should be possible to teach these things to kids having them for 6 hours a day.

     I decided to look at a typical teaching day in our district. Let me warn you that these numbers may vary from district to district and state to state.

      As a substitute teacher, I was amazed to find how easy it was to teach elementary school. In high school teachers teach 5 periods of different students with 30 minutes for lunch. That makes for a long day especially when you add in the discipline issues. Here is the breakdown of a typical elementary school teacher's day in my district. Every time I turned around I was on a break. (This will vary slightly from school to school, that is, some schools may get only 45 minutes for lunch and some schools may have only 25 minutes for recesses. But in general the following is true.)

      First, teachers work a 7 1/2 hour day. So how much of that time are they actually delivering educational material Ė ďteachingĒ as the word is used herein? Well, they are required to be there 30 minutes before school starts and stay there for 30 minutes after school ends. The kids are not there. So that's 6 1/2 half hours of possible teaching. But the children get a 30 minute recess in the morning and in the afternoon. So that's 5 1/2 hours of possible teaching. But there is a one hour lunch break where the children get another recess after eating. So that's 4 1/2 hours of possible teaching. But the children take a 30 minute class in music, PE or the library each day so that leaves 4 hours of possible teaching. Then our district emphasizes reading so the children do 30 minutes of silent reading each day. (The teacher is there but not teaching). So now we are down to 3 1/2 hours of possible teaching each day. I take away another 15 minutes in the morning when the children are putting away their back packs and sitting down, getting organized, the teacher is taking attendance, doing the lunch count, collecting homework, listening to the morning announcements, saying the Pledge of Allegiance and 15 minutes in the afternoon when the children are cleaning up the classroom, collecting their books and papers, putting on their jackets and back packs before being dismissed. Now we are down to 3 hours. Add to this the 5 minutes here and there when the kids are getting in line to go to recess, music, PE or library, and lunch and being marched to their destination by the teacher. It adds up to at least 15 minutes a day. So now we are down to 2 hours and 45 minutes of possible actual teaching time Ė delivering material.

       Imagine that. Out of a 7 1/2 half hour day, the teacher is actually delivering material to the students for less than 3 hours. What is wrong with this picture? Actual teaching (delivery of information) has become a part time job. Then they get all national holidays off plus a few personal holidays plus a long Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring break and they are off for three months in the summer while receiving a nice salary and healthcare and retirement benefits, sick leave and wear casual dress to work with little or no supervision and expected to work independently. Itís hard to imagine a better job than that.

      Now I wish to point out that teachers do work all day long. Even getting kids organized in the morning is work. Then there are papers to grade and work sheets to make up, but they do have nearly 5 hours a day for this by the above numbers. I am talking about the delivery of information. Check with your kids and do the math for yourself. In that 2 hours and 45 minutes each day they have to teach English, Arithmetic, Spelling, Social Studies (includes History and Geography), and Art. That is about 30 minutes a day for each subject.

      This bodes well for home schooling. If there is only 2 hours and 45 minutes of actual delivery of material each day, then parents can easily do that in the evenings. Many parents are doing just that. Having lost faith in the schools and not wanting their kids subjected to todayís school environment, which now includes drugs, they keep their kids at home and home school them. There are many websites that offer lessons and tests for this.

      But this assumes that at least one parent does not work and stays at home. In todayís economy, unlike the economy of the 50ís, both parents usually work. School then becomes daycare for their kids. The strictest rule I found when I was teaching was that there had to be an adult with the kids at all times. This too is a change from when I went to school. I clearly remember the teacher leaving the class room to go to the office or to go to mimeograph a test or work sheet. We sat there and did our work knowing that if she walked in and caught us misbehaving we would be in big trouble. This might include no recess for a few days. But todayís teachers do not like to withhold recess as punishment. Why? Because during recess the teacher gets a 30 minute break. If you withhold recess, you lose the 30 minute break. I was surprised that our teachers send kids on recess when it is cold and even when it is raining or at least drizzling. I have seen kids in recess standing up against the building and under the eve of the roof so as not to get wet while the teacher is on a 30 minute break.

      Getting held after school is out as punishment also since nearly all the kids now ride the bus to school. They canít be held after school since they will miss their bus.

      Since there are now many options to public school, parents with a significant amount of money use them. There are parochial schools, private schools and now charter schools as options. This of course creates a two tier school system, one for the rich and one for the poor. Later, this will create a rigid class system with the kids of the rich running things while the kids of the poor will not be able to add two fractions together.

      This trend of a two tier education system will have political ramifications in the future. Now we can tell the losers in society that their lot in life is their own fault. We can say that you went to the same schools and had the same teachers as everyone else. They succeeded and you failed.

      But in the future that will not be true. They will argue that they went to public schools while the successful citizens went to parochial, private or charter schools. They will argue that they did not get a good education and as a result, they are poor. They will argue that they never had a chance. And they will be right.

      So are we stuck with this situation? Well in theory we can fix our schools but in practice we cannot. The problem is the teacherís unions and the bureaucrats in the school districts. Letís start with the bureaucrats first. Bureaucrats are, by their very nature, delegators. They want to keep the work day easy. So they delegate things down to the principal at the individual schools. Each school becomes a self-contained unit. Principals, at least in my district, set policies for everything in their schools.

      This, of course, results in every school being different which results in good schools and bad schools, depending on whether or not they have a good principal or a bad principal. The thinking amongst the bureaucrats is that the principal, teachers and parents through their PTA can run the school as they see fit. This is the doctrine of local control of schools carried to the extreme. Any problem at the school is answered by ďyou have total control so itís your fault.Ē That lets the highly paid bureaucrats off the hook.

      But it gets worse from there. Most principals, if they have any effective policies at all, leave everything up to the teacher through more delegation. Thus, each classroom becomes a self-contained unit. Teachers are free to decorate their classroom any way they like claiming that this is their office. I once taught in a classroom that had pictures of basketball players hung everywhere because the teacher was a basketball fan. I taught in a classroom where there were sofas and arm chairs everywhere instead of desks. It was like being in someoneís living room, complete with lamps instead of the overhead lights which were turned off. Throw rugs on the floor completed the informal environment.

      Then teachers are free to seat the kids anyway they like. In the 50ís we sat in rows and there was a sense of individuality. Now the kids are organized into pods, 4 kids to a pod. These are little teams and not individuals. Usually the smartest kid in the pod does the works and the other kids copy it. With the pod arrangement one kid at the pod has his back to the front of the room and thus to the teacher if the teacher is standing at the front of the room.

      I once was having a terrible time with a 4th grade class. When they went to recess I rearranged their seats into rows. Returning they were shocked. They were all forced to look to the front where I was standing. I had no more trouble with them since I had thrown them off balance. Eliminating their social pods, they were individuals.

      Other seating arrangements I observed were to have the kids sit in a circle or semi-circle. I rarely saw rows like we experienced in the 50ís. But it seems that it could be argued that there is a best way to seat kids to achieve the best learning environment. Once that is identified, then all classrooms should be organized that way. Seems like a good idea so what is the problem? The problem is the teacherís unions who would fight any such proposal as they fight any proposal to evaluate teachers for effectiveness.

      So although it is theoretically possible to fix our schools, it is not practically possible because of the powerful teacherís unions. Thus the two tier school system is our only choice.

      Yet another change in schools is the relationship between the kids themselves. In my day the smart kids were admired. The goal was to have smart kids. Today, the smart kids are called geeks and nerds. The goal is to focus on the majority of kids which are the average kids. I appreciate addressing the needs of all the kids but the thinking seems to be that the smart kids can take care of themselves. Fortunately, most schools have advanced classes where the smart kids can reach their full potential. Some argue that this is discrimination against the poor.

      The most alarming thing about todayís schools is the fat child epidemic. This is not entirely the schoolís fault but they do play a role. The fat child epidemic is worrisome because it has been predicted that many of these kids will have diabetes when they grow up and more health problems in general. Obesity is a direct cause of many illnesses like heart disease. So what role do the schools play?

      Well first itís the lunches the kids are served. When I began teaching, I would buy the student lunch. I quickly ended that practice. There is pizza served at least once a week. Pizza, at its best, contains a lot of fat but this pizza was little more than doughy bread, topped with spicy ketchup and loaded with cheese. Then there were hot dogs and you can bet that they were not all beef probably not even all meat. Then fried chicken. Nearly everything was fried since the central kitchen has to prepare thousands of meals a day and frying is the fastest way to do that. To the schoolís credit, each kid gets a piece of fruit and a cartoon of milk each day, but a small carton and only one carton even if they ask for another. I would say give them all the milk they are willing to drink and all the fruit they are willing to eat.

      In high schools there is a deli where one can get a healthy turkey sandwich but there is also a pizza stand where one can get a greasy pizza. Most students choose the pizza.

      Then there are the vending machines in middle and high schools. Rows of them selling soft drinks and candy bars.  The kids just fill up on sugar and many get fat. At school we have an opportunity to give every kid in America at least one healthy meal each day but we do not do that.

      Fast food restaurants are trying to get into schools to sell their unhealthy meals there. The schools need the money which is why the vending machines are in the schools in the first place so we can be sure that the hamburger joints are soon to follow.   

     Finally, there are the toys used to teach kids. The idea is to make learning fun. Well learning is work and should be seen as work. This is OK for kids under 5 but school should be seen as a serious place. We do not need Mickey Mouse teaching the kids the multiplication tables. We need teachers teaching the kids the multiplication tables. There is a danger of kids learning everything through computer games and other software. There is a place for this software but itís not to replace the teacher.