Chicago Public Schools: Get the Issues and Goals Straight

The last articles focused on the roots, the basics, the essence of what defines learning and education. Understanding the dictionary definitions of these words is fine; applying the concepts is another matter.

Observations indicate that linguistic changes, or the demands for less of the visible focus that might show a tendency to “dumbing down” trends, can have an effect even to the largest corporations. I was relieved to see McDonald’s finally change that “How are we doin?” slogan to finish the word “doing”. And as for that old phrase, “Reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic”, well, time to get rid of that one and use the correct spellings, which would then be reading, writing, and arithmetic, the basics of a classic program of study and lifelong learning.

Apparel also has its place in certain aspects of promoting academics and achievement and the idea of getting into or belonging in the collegiate environment.  I was not impressed by the appearance of the misspelling of the word “academics” with the letter k, and then the abbreviation “akdmks”, which made the problem even worse. Then came clothing with the simple word “college” on the front. Of course displays of regulation university/ collegiate clothing is everywhere, for games and alumni events. One should take pride in completing strenuous higher education courses.

Promoting the idea of getting a “good” education is one thing; knowing what makes up a good education or a complete education, or knowing that you are getting a beneficial or productive education- a return on your investment of time, money, cramped hands, etc. – is another thing. Do we know what the goals of our nation’s education system really are or should be? Yes we want a “competitive” workforce, we want “smart” kids, we want “gifted” kids, we like to show off good grades, and we thing grades are such a hot thing.

As a note, think of the issue of bullying. Now, consider what our goals ought to be for the education system. We might want competitive workers, we want high test scores and standards, we want fewer dropouts and we want those federal funds to put computers and better food in “the schools”. All of that will not matter a bit until we focus on how the elements of education come together to build that one crucial part of a strong and healthy nation- the GOOD CITIZEN. Without understanding how to build and train good citizens, none of the material stuff will be an issue.

Now please, Mr. Brizard, and please, Madame Lewis, be reasonable and come together. Act like mature, civil and sociable adults, like mature people out to set an example for the very children you are talking about helping, reaching out to and protecting. Put aside talk of “the neighborhoods” and “communities” and “local” this and that. Such terms smack of exclusivity, division, separation and keeping people, ideas, and cultures apart. You have to think outside the classroom, outside the federal funding box and the standardized test circle. You are dealing with people, with our nation’s future, with children, with kids who will someday be our leaders, doctors, nurses, statespeople, technicians, and infrastructure maintainers and designers.

Think of these ideas as questions. “How do you build a road?” “How do you become a first responder?” What would you tell a student who asked that? You might give a standard answer such as, “Eat right, study hard, get plenty of sleep and build a strong body.” Well and good, if you consider the bigger picture of what those aspects mean. Consider the elements of being a good citizen- and it is nothing to do with attaining one’s national citizenship (that is not the same thing at all and do not confuse them).

Good citizens practice good behavior, simply put. You have the honor of being a citizen by being born within a nation’s boundaries, but you have duties as well, important responsibilities to yourself and others. There is the aspect of accountability, the element of respect for others, and the facet of  serving others. Community service is vital to promoting and practicing the first two elements. You branch out, you polish your skills of behavior by interacting with every age group. You tear down the barriers put up by those powers that be, by politicians and demographers. You do a lot of good and stand as a beacon, a fortress against troubles, harm, and depression.

Good citizens also participate in the election and political process. They vote, attend meetings and learn about promoting better government. They also exercise the diplomacy involved in knowing parliamentary procedure, and so knowing is a big help in preserving proper behavior. Then you mix in the element of honesty and add a hefty serving of keeping up with current events. Doing so might save your life or that of another person.

I figure that with over forty years’ experience in the field of being a good citizen, I have the qualifications to speak on the issue and have lived my life by those elements. Teach by good example and learn by following your examples. “Practice what you preach” and “Do unto others” are proverbs, but knowing the consequences of what you preach and do is vital. Respect for others is the cornerstone of what we call “Human Relations” It is all “human relations” and “human resources”.

OK, CPS board and Teachers’ Union members and officials, never forget that. Or should I say, always remember those you serve. They might someday serve you.

Next on the docket will be “School Boards, Appoint or Elect?”

Divi Logan and EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2004 – 2012.

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