©2011, 2021, A. J. Mayer, Mirror Image Edutainment
May this message take on Godspeed.
This is a 10 Step Program in an attempt to reverse our failing schools, and restore our national conscience, home-ness, and pride.
We begin by focusing on education and our schools, by turning the teaching profession into a career, rather than a job. We begin by giving our educators the same respect we give entertainers, athletes, casino owners, CEO’s, land developers, and reality TV, and Tik Tok personalities.
In many countries, students rise when a teacher enters the classroom. But we United States-eans have proven ourselves incapable of showing the same respect our Mexican neighbors, (and so many other countries,) show their teachers. There is a co-relation to the way a culture respects their teachers, and that nation’s academic rank. The means of rewarding effective teachers, and expelling ineffective ones, has been debated for decades. If we are to stop our downward spiral into becoming a second class society, we must put into place the following mandates, all based upon demonstrating a new found respect for education, and educators.
1. WE MUST EXTEND LEARNING FOR TEACHERS, AND STUDENTS, from sixteen, to seventeen; not that learning stops at seventeen, twenty-six, or seventy-six. More investment in early education will provide students additional opportunities to learn, as they mentor students in lower grades on tasks they have already mastered.
Mentoring develops self-esteem, and knowledge, in both parties.
Mentors free teachers, that they may devote more time to those students with special needs. This practice also gives families an opportunity to strengthen ties. Mentoring cuts down on behavior problems such as bullying, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, violence, and crime. By establishing mentoring programs in our schools, we cut the demand for psychologists, (already cut,) nurses, (already cut,) juvenile lawyers, judges, guards, bailiffs, court employees, and police officers. This frees students, and teachers, to promote affirmative growth, rather than serving, (and honoring,) mediocrity, and delinquency.
Students, and student teachers, must be educated on the history of this continent, from the perspective of the original settlers, the American Indian, and African Americans. This introduction must begin in Kindergarten. By first grade, the study needs to be habit. The Thanksgiving story must be revised. Students would do well to promote world peace by studying a foreign language of their choice, for a minimum of six years. Ideally, this would be followed by a year of study in the foreign country of their choice.
This exchange program provides our future work force an opportunity to develop critical thinking skills, to think things through–from a different perspective, a different way of thinking, away from the support of friends, and family. This strengthens international, and family ties. International exchange promotes goodwill among nations, as well, it could prove to the world United States-eans are not the egocentric society whose culture is hamburgers, SUVs, and the dollar, as we have led many nations to believe. International communication among youth will change experience for the better.
Students looking for a scholarship are given opportunity to do so by serving in The Peace Corps, or Habitat for America, during their junior, or senior year of high school, or under a college, or university’s curriculum. Those who commit to spreading peace during this year are given an honorary diploma which provides lifetime benefits, as Veterans receive lifetime benefits for their commitment to war, and their honorary service. Students who choose not to participate in the program receive a standard high school diploma.
2. OUR SCHOOLS HAVE NOT KEPT UP WITH THE TIMES. Today, with instant information at our fingertips ad nauseam, a high school diploma carries relatively the same value as a sixth grade education, the reading level of today’s average American citizen. Federal and state governments can earmark funds to match monies raised by school districts, schools, businesses, sponsors, family, and parents. This can be done through programs rewarding outstanding intellectual or artistic contributions, performance, attendance, or substantial social, and or, academic improvement.
Compound interest upon compound interest
is the law’s greatest asset.
$100 invested at age 6 will prove substantial
by the time a student reaches college–if the interest rate ever rises above 1.5% again–if inflation doesn’t eat it up.
Each student should receive access to these funds at the time of high school graduation, for investment in college, or a trade.
3. EXTEND REQUIREMENTS FOR A TEACHING CREDENTIAL. Teacher candidates must be educated in the history of this nation based on the experiences of the American Indian, the African American, and women. Teaching candidates need to be informed in metaphysical studies, and comparative religions. Each candidate would study a variety of mental therapies, and write a thesis relating how, and why, the choice they made applies to their choice to pursue a teaching career. The foundation of such program could include such texts as:
A Course In Miracles, Foundation for Inner Peace
Utopia, Thomas Moore
2150 A.D., Thea Alexander
The Macro Society, Thea Alexander
The Greatest Miracle in the World, Og Mandino
The Greatest Success in The World, Og Mandino
The Greatest Salesman in the World, Og Mandino
The Richest Man in Babylon, Og Mandino
The Ragpicker, Og Mandino
Stories Behind Men of Faith, Ace Collins
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective, People Stephen R. Covey
The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck, M.D.
The Universe is a Dream, Alexander Marchand
Your Immortal Reality, Gary R. Renard
The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary R. Renard
Cosmic Consciousness, Richard Maurice Bucke M.D.
The Law of Success, Napoleon Hill
The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene
A Boy Alone–Obsessed, Alan John Mayer
The First Year Teacher’s Bible, Alan John Mayer
Unable to fix format on that above. Personal development seminars such as Omega Vector, taught by George Adair, would do well as a required part of the Teacher training curriculum. One weekend in an Omega Vector intensive training taught me more than I learned in two years enrolled in the University of California Teacher Credential Program.
The University teacher training program I graduated from focused on history, and laws, more than it prepared me for what one can expect upon entering the classroom.
4. RESTORE QUIET TIME — relaxation, meditation, prayer, inner thought, call it what one may, quiet time by any other name is prayer. No labels, just inner silence, for one minute, on the hour, an entire school is quiet. Twice a day, five to ten minutes of silence, to nap, read, color, draw, reflect. Every mind, particularly young minds, need this. Prayer is individual quiet time, not imposed by religion, and everyone stands to gain.
5. KEEP PUBLIC SERVICES RUNNING rather than closing community centers, and cutting the school calendar by ten days, to satisfy “necessary budget cuts.” We need to extend the school year–not cut it. Long breaks between school years were an 18th Century necessity that allowed farmers to have their children on the farm to help with the harvest. Since most parents are no longer farmers who require twenty-four extra hands to reel in the harvest, as more than three-quarters of the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District come from one parent households, we need to employ macro-cosmic thinking.
Not only will an extended school year provide more classroom instruction time, it will keep teachers off the streets, from turning to drug production, and Tupperware sales for additional income to meet life’s necessities. Many teachers are paid only ten paychecks a year. Many figure, teachers [only] work ten months out of the year, why should they be paid for more? This is not an issue about teacher pay, (which can easily be divided into twelve,) it is an issue of the self-esteem of our children, and the society they will create. What do our children learn from their teachers who substitute because they need the money, not because they are committed to education. For many, substituting, (or a side career,) is necessary for survival. Skipping car payments over summer to make ends meet is not an acceptable way to treat a professional. Then again, teachers must act as professionals.
Ask any (caring) teacher if they don’t work after hours, and during vacations, correcting papers, doing research, formulating ideas, making, creating, designing, organizing, planning. If teachers are not substituting during their vacation, (or traveling to Europe the next year, on time,) they are preparing for the upcoming week, holiday, or school year.
Divide teacher’s paychecks by twelve, not ten–with interest.
Extending the school year will keep youth, too, off the streets, and out of trouble. This will cut down demand for counselors, juvenile defense lawyers, judges, probation officers, and prison guards, not to mention the extended staff required to feed, maintain, and keep these institutions clean, safe, guarded, lit, fed, secure, drained, and running. Imagine all these people building homes.
I imagine a world in which most of the public court and prison system employees converge upon our schools as teachers, nurses, secretaries, dentists, psychologists, and yes, the school lunch ladies who actually cook real food, and serve it with a smile (some of them.) If just one in thirty would enter the nursing profession, we could reinstate school nurses (another Reagan cut), and tend once again to the physical needs and growth spurts of our future workers. Just because nurses were cut from the school budget does not mean a child’s knee stops bleeding, just as a child’s mind does not stop growing because it is summer.
We have it in our power to cut millions of unwanted teen pregnancies. Studies show, when children are in school, or feel free to speak with a school counselor, or a psychologist, they tend not to engage in sexual activity. In addition, when a teacher has an aide, (to take of the endless stream of paperwork,) teachers might actually find time to dedicate their attention to their students.
6. TEENAGERS MUST BE AWARE being a parent is a lifetime commitment. Once their precious little bundle of joy develops a mind of its own, being a parent can become very complicated. For boys, and girl alike, Homemaking, Wood and Metal Shop, Banking & Investments, Auto Mechanics, Living off the Grid, and Life 101 must be mandatory subjects in the high school curriculum for all three genders. It is unwise, and unfair, to send our children into the world without the tools needed to make, and develop rewarding inter-personal relationships with another.
When we stop giving girls Blondie dolls to play with, and boys G.I. Joe warriors yielding guns and grenades, we will have created a space in which boys don’t think they have to become warriors and kill to be men, and girls don’t think they have to be holding a baby to prove they are feminine, or fertile.
“The difference between what we know
and what we do
has the power to solve most of the world’s problems.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
A six (or nine) month 24/7 program in which teenagers, boys and girls alike, are required to carry around a Live-Baby infant that wets, cries, demands to be feed, changed, and weighs them down, gives teenagers who have been taught to do so, a realistic taste of the joys of parenthood. At very least, it will give them a brief introduction to what awaits should their zipper slip, or they forget the value of a condom.
Such a program has already proven to substantially reduce unplanned pregnancies, and unwanted births. The result: fewer ‘disposable’ diapers in our landfill, less trees in the rain forest felled to produce more diapers, more hamburgers, fewer bovines killed to satisfy our savage taste buds, fewer SUVs blocking the road, less overcrowding, less people, less unwanted pregnancies, less discussion over the abortion issue, less trash…and happier animals.
MORE EDUCATION brings about less ignorance, less frustration, less guilt, anger, hate, abuse, neglect, confusion, less unwanted teen pregnancies, a happier populace, a happier planet.
An investment in education cuts over-population, child abuse, spouse abuse, substance abuse, abortions, ignorance, poverty, and welfare payments to otherwise capable individuals–just to name a few of the benefits. Imagine how many trees are felled to produce the millions of ‘disposable’ diapers, and the landfill space we can relieve from the burden of years of diapers disposed for each of these baby insatiable consumers in the making. Imagine all the plastic toys, bottles, containers, and strollers we can save from landfill, not to mention all the packaging required to bring each of these infants into the toddler stage, and all our trash China is no longer willing to buy. That is when the wake of our footprint is multiplied, astronomically, and we become true consumers, gobbling up the earth’s resources for the next one hundred years–and beyond.
7. IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE for an individual accused in a court of law. Why should it be accepted as an excuse for an entire society to continue to walk down the road of a failing system that causes more problems than it alleviates, without putting into place the laws that will bring about change? The end depends upon the beginning. If we are to solve the problems in our schools, we need to demonstrate respect for the field, teachers, and we need to change our thinking, and district administration of schools–and we NEED gun control. An investment in education will take care of that.
The solution is to identify past errors, unlearn them, and follow through with right thought, right word, and right action.
All across our nation, from coast to coast, in bungalows, trailers, custodial closets, and overcrowded classrooms, children with all sorts of special needs gather amid the distractions of a noisy lower socioeconomic inner-city school. When teachers are reduced to babysitters, it is unreasonable to expect more from them than disciplinary crowd control.
Teachers need more input in their profession.
It is the teachers who work with children;
many who have not stepped into a classroom in decades.
It is little wonder
many teachers behave like third graders
when society and fat cat administrators
treat them like children, with student to teacher ratios sixteen times higher.
Teachers need to be aware of their students’ home environments. Teachers are required, by law, to take an oath to report any suspicion of neglect or abuse, yet the law does not advocate they check out the home environment of their students. It must be part of the teacher’s creed to do whatever is within their range to assure each student has a bed, and work area, where nothing is disturbed by anyone but the child. Many parents fail to provide this basic necessity. The dining room, or kitchen table, does not provide for the student’s needs.
Parents must monitor every communication channel their child interacts with. This is an astronomical task and there is help available. This can be done effectively and with love, simply by taking command, letting the child know YOU–the adult, is in charge. I have found, when an adult takes the time to explain to a child, the child listens. Students should not have cell phones in a classroom. If not enforced, the least a teacher may (not even) do, is have students drop their cell phones in a basket for the duration of class. In a very short time, students will admit how much calmer their minds are when they set aside their cell phones. Cell phones are yet another unnecessary interruption teachers have to deal with. Having the office inform a student of a ‘family emergency’ worked perfectly well for over a hundred years.
8. FEW SKILLS CAN BE CONSIDERED AS IMPORTANT AS LISTENING. Beginning with Kindergarten, curriculum must include a course entitled Listening Skills. Three minutes, three times a day, suffices for elementary students. With each grade, five minutes can be added, until high school seniors are devoting entire periods to developing listening skills, knowledge, and understanding.
Imagine the benefit if every child were taught how to listen, as a game, not as a scolding. We could eliminate war, violence–and a generation gap.
Before we can expect our children to take a course in listening, we must first offer it to our Teacher Credential candidates. This alone will stop some of the yelling heard in classrooms across the country by frustrated teachers who would do well to resign. Classroom time is wasted when teachers must discipline students who should be disciplined at home. We teach facts, from books, have students remember dates, yet we neglect to provide our children with the listening skills they need to build, and maintain, relationships at work, home, and play. Just imagine how the divorce rate might plummet.
Step Number 9. ON AVERAGE, ONE TEACHER OVERSEES THIRTY-SIX STUDENTS. Even with twenty-three students in a classroom, there are far more administrators overseeing teachers, than there are teachers, overseeing students. This thinking reflects the notion that teachers need more supervision than the children they teach. Administration is top heavy with ineffective Fat Cats.
Classroom size must cap at twenty-three, (the number where most learning takes place,) not just in first through third, but in all grades. Cutting classroom size can prevent caring teachers from deserting the profession because they are burnt out on a lack of support from administrators, parents, filling in bubbles on endless government mandated forms–secretarial work–not teaching. I needed a part time teacher’s aide just to handle all the paperwork. I loved teaching, if only my students wouldn’t have gotten in the way of my paperwork.
Society has been unwilling to invest in education because we do not have the patience to wait twelve years to see results. So far, we have been unable to make the teaching profession attractive enough to draw in bright minds, and we have been unwilling to hire (supply) enough teachers, to cover the need, (demand.) What restaurant owner would expect one server to cover ten tables, when all know, it is only humanly possible a person cover three. The sensible restaurateur either hires additional help, or loses customers, and reputation.
Most off-site administrators take more from the educational process than they give to it. I worked in a major Los Angeles District office for three months, during which time I reached out, and got to know the off-site administrators. Most serve bloated egos with six digit salaries that no teacher, regardless of education, performance, tenure, or seniority, will ever attain. I befriended the Superintendent’s private secretary, and saw open files, performance reviews, employment records reflecting six figure salaries paid to loafers, meeting planners. I watched, as every one of those administrators spent most of their days in meetings, keeping minutes, losing hours, and taxpayer dollars.
To my knowledge, the District has still not cut off-site administrators by anywhere near 80%. These people need to be sent back into the classroom to teach. Better yet, shut off the air-conditioning, and they will retire. Many fat cats continue sucking the system dry after retirement, by serving (themselves) as ‘consultants.’ Most are only capable of telling teachers what they should do. When asked to demonstrate, incompetence often shines.
When an administrator enters a teacher’s classroom to observe the teachers’ methodology, (often without notice,) then writes a biased performance review from their own limited, subjective perspective, it is called a stull. The teacher can rebut, but nonetheless, one is wise to carry out the administrator’s suggestions, even if the teacher knows better, even if the administrator’s suggestions are not grade level appropriate. I have worked with many stupid people who introduce themselves as Dr.
Teachers need to be stulled by other teachers who know what it is to teach.
10. TEACH UP, NOT DOWN. We must stimulate the gifted among our students, as well as those requiring special placement (R.S.P.) Every student, regardless of placement, is a money paying client. R.S.P. students receive daily special attention outside the regular classroom. Let us not forget, special needs can include everything from a child without a bed to sleep in, a child on medication, a child with asthma, with Tourette’s Syndrome, children with problem parents, to gifted learners who all too often get lost in government mandated paperwork. Bored, they drop out. Gifted students find better entertainment on the streets, than in school. We must find ways to keep kids wanting to come to school. And it lies not in more technology.
We must make our schools, our centers of learning look and feel like Centers of Learning–not prisons. The school reading specialist conducted lessons in the custodian’s broom closet, amid janitorial supplies. No executive works out of a broom closet. No CEO works in a building with busted windows. I have taught under leaky roofs, over loose floorboards, with buckets strewn about the classroom to catch the rain. No respectable business puts up with peeling paint, or missing light bulbs. At one time or another, I have taught under all these conditions. Our business centers and malls are architectural marvels, palaces of art, exuding wealth. Why do so many of our schools look poverty-striken? And why have we put up with violence?
Our future work (and fighting) force deserves to fill the Mind with better images.
We start by removing the sign over the District Office doors: ‘WE ARE NO WORSE THAN ANYBODY ELSE.’ Next, we remove the cyclone fences (the ugly ones), the chains, locks, and trashy trailers that scream of poverty. We remove the incessant interruptions, half of off-site administrators, and several on-site vice-principals. Dig up the concrete and asphalt that covers the playgrounds of nearly every inner city school, replace it with vegetable gardens, that students may learn team building skills first hand, lessons in science, botany, mathematics, and an appreciation for nature, their home, their neighborhood, their families’ tables, and the planet.
Middle and high school students can earn while they learn, building (off grid) tiny homes, to help with our homeless problem. The mentor program would do well here. Students can help build homes for homeless people, and graduate with a feeling of accomplishment, and skills that will follow them the rest of their lives.
Graffiti can be contained by creating graffiti walls where students can express anger, or happiness.
Like a Slam Book, when I was in Junior High, or today’s media platforms.
When introduced and maintained properly, (by the students themselves, under the principal’s supervision,) kids will stand up to the responsibility, and express themselves without feeling they have to resort to profanity. I proved this, against the will of my administrator, who, ten years before the Columbine School massacre, wrote me up for placing a bumper sticker on my classroom door that read:
DON’T BUY WAR TOYS.
My first year of teaching, a third fourth grade combination class of Hispanic students, there were sixty-two adults in my classroom on Back to School Night. The next highest attendance was eight, in the classroom across the hall. I was not even amazed. Since the first day of school, I made it a point to inform my pupils the importance to their lives of Back to School. I encouraged them to mark their calendars until the date, and rewarded those who did so with Happy Bucks, which they could spend in my ‘store,’ every few weeks. My young students informed their parents, it was their duty to attend. Uncles, and aunts took an interest, and showed up, as well. A full house on Back to School Night should be the norm for every classroom teacher.
Children need to learn respect for the environment, and self-sufficiency. This can be done by teaming children to participate in well digging, (in a safe, limited way), creating vegetable gardens, caring for their school, and neighborhood. Pride alone will cut down on the desire to deface the property of others, not to mention their own. Some might say these ideas are child labor. They may not have read 2150 A.D., by Thea Alexander, or, My First Year Teacher’s Bible. I call the children’s interest, community involvement, an opportunity for everyone to learn, earn, and create good in the world. When children work together, in teams, toward a common cause, the result is a new found appreciation and respect for themselves, others, and the environment in which they move.
Few activities bring a person closer to nature than digging in the dirt. Every child should visit a farm. It would not hurt to include a slaughterhouse tour, if only on DVD.
This social phenomenon will not only cut down on school expenses, it will cut down on students’ future dependency upon others, substance abuse, poor self-esteem, STDs, teenage pregnancy, meat factories, the need to create more jails, more probation officers, more guards, more sanitary engineers, more staff to feed, serve, and maintain institutions to house those we plan to fail–only because we failed to plan. As long as our inner-city, lower socioeconomic school children attend schools that look, smell, and feel like prisons, we will be teaching them to feel comfortable in, and prepared for life in, prison-like surroundings.
Or as the headlines in 1964 read: Lady Bird Johnson Beautifies America—She goes to Canada.
By following right thought, right word, and right action, we can avoid creating a prison home for the next generation of criminals.
In April 1989, on one of the first days of the United Teachers strike, the Los Angeles Times ran a half page color photo of a gang of middle school students jumping the ten foot fence, with a bold 56 font headline reading: “EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL”. Never underestimate the power of stupid people en masse, as long as there are enough fools to believe.
We are called upon to move beyond our subjective microscopic thinking of serving administrators and politicians, while our children, teachers, parents, businesses, taxpayers, and society pay the price. Nothing in this world of limited subjective thinking was ever gained without a fight, and sadly, teacher strikes do little to influence public consciousness, because the problem has snowballed for generations..
Changing our Mind does much to change what we see.
The 1989 UTLA strike arose because teachers had been working two years without a contract, their grievances unheard. The ten day strike resulted in the district giving in to some UTLA union demands, among them a six percent salary increase for the past year, the current year, and the upcoming year, for a total of eighteen percent, a valiant effort. When the District saw how out of control their schools were, without teachers, without enough scabs to cover, they gave in. Anything to end the nightmare they had created by refusing to listen, which they were forced to do anyway, in the end.
Before the next school year was up, the district retracted the salary increase, stating they could not afford it–another lie. Without further discussion, they reversed what the teachers had fought so hard for, I being one of them, knowing teachers could not afford to walk out again; they had drained the Union’s coffers by refusing to give in for ten school days.
It is unreasonable to open a savings account today, and expect to withdraw a miracle tomorrow. Put a specified amount into a CD account, wait twelve years, and compound interest upon compound interest makes an eye-opening impression. At least it used to. A thirteen year investment in education will prove even more valuable, but first, we must make the investment.
It took two successive Republican presidents’ double terms, for our education system to go from the best in the world to near the bottom of the heap. American schools have let our children, our workforce, and our society down. In a report conducted in twenty-six countries, on students in the 4th grade, American students scored thirteenth. By the eighth grade, they fell into the bottom third, and by the time they graduate, (if they are among the half who do,) American high school graduates placed dead last, out of twenty-six nations.
While Germany, France, Japan, and many other nations educate their children eleven years, we, with twelve years of education, sit with our head in the sand, waiting for the bottom to fall out. The government, or administrators, may set up a committee to investigate, at the cost of millions to the taxpayer, to find out “What happened?” We sit upon a catastrophe waiting to happen. Covid thinking is not going away this year, or the next. We have a choice. Subjective thinking will lead us down the road we have been traveling. Only objective thinking will pull us out of this slump.
Ever since Colorado made the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes legal, the state government has been raking in the cash. Marijuana sales in Colorado have been so astronomical, the state suffers from a multi-billion dollar surplus in funds. Republicans want a tax break. Democrats want to use the proceeds to fund schools.
What a turn of events.
For decades, the L.A.P.D. sent D.A.R.E. officers into classrooms to lecture children on the evils of marijuana. They were told it is a gateway drug, gateway being a word my students leaned just then. Now that we understand the evil was in their eye, they want to use the plant to fund their schools. And the herb has endless uses for everything from soap and shampoo, to curing glaucoma and helping AIDS and cancer patients with upset stomach, and nausea. Who cannot love a plant?
I end with a quote from Senator Rickey Hardy. “If you think education is expensive, try ignorancy.”
I pray we will not wait until it is too late. If you know a teacher, forward this post to they. Take a moment to say thanks for the contribution they made to your life. If not for teachers, we would have no doctors, no dentists, no writers, no musicians.
THE PROPONENT OF THIS BILL:
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