Thursday, July 14, 2005
I have just one question for the board. What about American History, period?
Ask many of the kids currently in Philly’s public school system about American history and you will get back a blank stare. They have heard of George Washington (he was a President, right?) and Abraham Lincoln (he freed the slaves, right?). They may have heard of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence (they was from that Nicholas Cage movie, right?).
The vast majority of Philly’s public school children get a sampling of real American history inside a program that has already become watered down, incomplete, and virtually of little or no use in instilling a feeling of mutual national pride. Forget about learning the basic foundational principles of our country, and the men and events establishing the same.
Have there been black Americans who have contributed greatly to the success of America during it’s founding and growth? Of course. Just as there have been great white, Asian, Hispanic and Native American contributors, to name just a few ethnic and racial contributors.
Having an “elective” class on African-American history would be wholly appropriate, given that there is a large percentage of these students within the Philly school system. Same can be said for Hispanic-American history. These classes would teach the culture beyond what the students already receive at home (at least, we hope it is being taught at home, since it is so important) to anyone interested.
But to have a “mandatory” class in this subject is ludicrous. Kids who are not of this background and who share none of it’s culture, and who have little or no interest in it, will now be force-fed the subject matter, having it compete for their valuable study time with science, mathematics and other necessary courses.
Why is Philly doing this? Because they can. Because, in the immortal words of African-American Mayor John Street “the brothas and sistas are runnin’ this town” now. This is nothing more than another Street-influenced move to further liberalize the already deteriorating City of Brotherly Love.
Businesses and families have fled, and continue to flee, the old town for the past couple decades, and the radical polarizing efforts of this administration have just made things worse. Philly has steadily dropped in national rank of population from it’s once and longtime position as #4 behind only New York, LA and Chicago. It will never return to the top five, not as long as the liberal politicians continue to run the town into the ground with policies like this mandatory class.
The Philadelphia school district is not doing enough to churn out kids who will be highly productive citizens in the future. School violence is rampant, especially when compared to Philly’s local Catholic and other private schools.
But the parents of Philly’s school kids have a choice. They can vote with their feet, just as their fellow citizens have voted with theirs over the years, and get their kids out of the public school system before it is too late.
Of course, this will likely take a commitment in dollars. Parents will have to shell out the cost of education, the cost of tuition at a decent school. As someone who went through twelve years of primary education in a non-public setting, and someone who saw three daughters through a mixed bag of public/private education, I can tell you that it is absolutely worth the cost. Whatever sacrifices you need to make, make them.
At the very least, Philly’s parents need to begin to stand up for a stronger basic education for their children in the really important subjects that will help their kids compete on a national and world stage. And these same parents need to demand a stricter disciplinary system that sorts out and deals substantively with juvenile delinquents, many of whose parents are a large part of the problem.
Getting the system to change in a positive direction in Philly, be it in city government or in the school district, has become one of the most difficult chores, one that is beyond the scope of most parents. But the parents can do one thing for sure. They can ensure greater odds of success for their own children by pulling them from the sinking ship that is the Philadelphia public school system.