This morning I investigated an online high school diploma at work that turned out to be fake. Looking at what the student bought in to, I thought I'd do a quick list on things to look out for when selecting a school.
The website in this case, Stanley High School, is set up to hook people and can look legit. Lots of pictures of smiling students, official sounding terms like accreditation, and a nifty seal complete with a Latin motto are plastered on every page. This helped convince the client to spend over $200 for a useless piece of paper.
So what are some red flags to keep an eye out for?
There are some real online schools out there, that is what makes this a difficult issue. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much digging to find the truth.
As the nation once again looks at the bodies of dead students at yet another school we hear some of the usual shouting about guns.
Predictably, many gun advocates are arguing that we should post armed guards or arm the teachers to solve the problem.
One “solution” meme that I have seen suggests that we hire veterans to be armed guards. It even went as far as to state three per campus would probably do the job. Sounds good on paper, gives vets a job they would most likely excel at and protects the children.
Let’s take a moment to look at the smallest school district in the Tucson valley, Tanque Verde School District. TVSD has only four schools, two elementary, one middle, and one high school. A bit of quick math tells us TVSD will get twelve armed veterans. How much will they get paid? The average teacher salary in Arizona is $46,000 a year. Using that as a starting point, that adds $138,000 to the budget. And don’t forget benefits.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Tucson Unified School district has 89 schools. Hmmm… Eighty-nine times three, times 46,000 --- $12,282,000 in armed vets to protect the schools. Plus benefits. In just ONE district.
That’s, um, kinda expensive.
OK! Let’s arm the teachers.
Going back to TVSD, they have a faculty of forty-seven at the high school. A quick Google search states that a “decent 9mm” can be had for between $250-$400. For this we’ll say $300 per teacher. So TVSD is looking at $14,100 in guns. Guns are useless without ammunition so considering a box of 50 rounds is around $15 we are looking at another $700 to the cost. Hey, Tanque Verde High School can arm its teachers for just under $15,000, that’s a gonga. $60,000 for the district. Not too bad. (We’ll look at blowing up the training budget on a later date.)
Just one small little problem…
Doing another quick search on Google, we see that there was about 3.2 million full time teachers in the United States in the fall of 2017.
To the calculator!
Just for guns.
Add in another $48,000,000 for ammo.
Let that sink in a moment.
To arm America’s teachers.
In a nation that already has teachers buying basic classroom materials because the schools have no money.
Now, some of you I’m sure are saying hang on, some of those teachers probable already have guns. I agree. Let’s say two hundred thousand teachers already have guns, leaving us with just an even three million to arm. You know what? I’ll bet those freedom loving gun manufactures would give us a group rate on guns and ammo, right? How does $150 a gun and $10 for a box of 50 rounds sound?
It sounds like $480,000,000.
That’s a lot of zeros. It also does not count the part time teachers, of which there are many. And the training, which we are still ignoring for now.
Spend all this money and we still have a huge hole to plug. Armed guards and armed teachers do nothing to stop the accidental discharge of a gun that some 3rd grader has in his or her backpack.
Which is why more guns us only treating the symptoms, not the disease.
I used to teach at a school with a banner at the entrance that stated “Failure is not an option.”
This is amazingly wrong and I wish this nation would get over this poor idea.
Failure is not only an option, it is a necessity. Children need to fail. They need to trip, crash and burn, and fall while they still have the ability to bounce. This is not to say that parents shouldn’t try to protect their children, but they need to understand that failure is not the end. Failure is a beginning, a crucible that forges a strong mind and heart that is needed in order to thrive in the world.
Failure gives us the power to overcome and conquer.
Failure gives us empathy.
Failure keeps our ego in check.
Failure is a master teacher and it is better to learn its lessons early while life is still a game. To fear failure is to allow it to conquer us.
So parents, let your children stumble. Teachers, go ahead and use the red pen. Let them drift and then help pick up the pieces so they may trip again. And again. And again. To keep failure at bay underestimates a child’s ability to overcome. Continual blocking of failure will make the eventual failure that much harder to overcome when they run into it in an adult world that lacks the time or inclination to help those that give up because something is seen to be too hard.
A reader asked me recently about why have schools close for MLK day. The point was made that these kids were getting out of school with no idea as to why or how big of an impact he had on our nation. Wouldn't it be better to keep them in school and have them study about Dr. King for the day?
This is my response -
I’ve been spending some time thinking about the issue you brought up about a day off for MLK. Unfortunately, you have run head first into an issue that is controlled entirely by money.
The main problem with any discussion about education policy in the United States is how education policy is thought of. If you listen to policy makers in other nations, they talk about education as an investment in the future. They don’t expect results today or tomorrow and they see education as a way to make a better nation generations into the future. To them education is a long term investment. Now take a moment to listen to talk of education policy in the United States. Education is a cost. It is an expenditure that must be controlled and results should be seen tomorrow if not sooner. No fast results? The cost is not worth it. Gotta protect the bottom line.
What does this have to do with a school holiday? First understand that school calendars are probably the cause of some of the most heated debates in school administration. Every person in the room, no matter how important or unimportant, no matter how informed or uninformed, wants his or her say and usually gets it. That’s a lot of voices shouting for their own cause and many many many compromises are made. Most of these compromises are made in the name of money. Hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars can be made or lost in a school budget based on when children are in school. Many districts across the US have looked into a four day week simply for the cost savings that can be generated by turning the lights off for an extra day. Parents screaming about the personal cost to them for daycare is the only force preventing this idea from taking hold. (Of course their voting for every tax cut that comes along is what destroyed the school budgets in the first place, but that is a rant for another time.)
You can’t find a better example of money making decisions better than the year round school argument. Countless reams of research have been printed on the benefits of year round schooling. It is well documented that year round school prevents loss of educational gains over summer. Especially for those low income and special ed students that keep getting left behind. Many have commented on the question of why is our school calendar based on an 18th century agricultural model (kids get summer break so they can stay home and help with the harvest) when we are educating for the 21st century and beyond? The answer is money. Forgetting about the argument about teacher pay, just consider the thought of keeping a campus of 2000 teenagers cool in the middle of August. Who is going to pay that bill?
Money even dictates the time of day that class starts. Just as in the year round argument numerous studies have proven what every parent knows: teenagers don’t do mornings. So why don’t high schools start later in the day? Bus schedules. It costs too much to keep the busses running all day and many high school students can use alternate transportation to get to school so they get the short end of the stick. The district could buy more busses and hire more drivers but…
As far as keeping students in school and having a day to look at the impact of MLK when are you going to fit it in? Schools already loose close to a month of teaching time each year to various federal, state, and district mandated testing, not to mention all of the various other social education programs such as say no to drugs and various be nice to each other programs. More days could be added to the calendar, but it costs money to open the doors and remember costs in education in the United States are to be avoided whenever possible. Especially for academics. Also, there is no test covering MLK so there is no reason to lose instructional time on something that is not tested. That is the ultimate reality in education right now.
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