Thursday, December 13, 2007

When Failure is an Option

Imagine the following: Your neighbors have entrusted you with their children’s education. They have given you sixty million dollars and asked you to do the best you can with what you have. You recognize the responsibility your neighbors have bestowed upon you; so much of their children’s futures depend on what you do. In such a scenario, would you do any of the following?

  1. Give all teachers guaranteed employment for life if they manage three years without getting fired
  2. Dole out millions of dollars a year as an incentive for teachers to improve their own education but not one penny as an incentive to improve the education of their students
  3. When presented with two candidates to coach the chess club, a local grandmaster willing to work for free or the gym teacher who demands a thousand dollars, choose the gym teacher
  4. Adopt the legal minimum standards of education as your own standards
  5. Allow students to coast through school by taking only the easiest courses
  6. Dedicate more resources on psychiatrists and drug counselors than on the science department
  7. Draft a mission statement that doesn't include teaching
  8. Guarantee every teacher an automatic raise regardless of performance
Let's say you did all the above and failed miserably.
  1. Each year, your students score below the state average in all the assessment exams
  2. Most of your students graduate with an 8th grade math education compared to other industrialized nations
  3. Only a minority of your students successfully complete college
  4. Most of your students lack the skills to pursue careers in the most promising fields
Assuming all the above, would you then have the gall to demand more money from your neighbors because of promises you made to the teachers? Would you have the chutzpah to extort money from your neighbors by threatening to cut services?

Now, imagine the reverse. Imagine it’s your neighbor who’s taking your money. Imagine it’s your neighbor who’s failing to educate your child. And ask your neighbor this – “Since when did failure become an option in my child’s education?” >>> Read more!


Truth In Matawan said...

This is disgusting, and the ignorance and apathy of every Matawan and Aberdeen resident that has allowed this to happen makes us all complicit. What can be done?

* When the board of education features an ignoramus who doesn't see the value of math or science classes because "all those jobs are going overseas anyway", we have a problem.

* When 5/6th's of our property taxes (that's 83% people!) are decided by these reckless and irresponsible individuals--which only 300 or so people even bother to show up to vote for--we have a problem.

* When residents of both towns diligently go to Council meetings and complain over expenditures of $2,000 for a sewer repair or $25,000 for sidewalk renovations, but $60 MILLION DOLLARS in under the control of dangerous and unaccountable maniacs on the board, which spends like crazy and NEVER SAYS NO TO ANYTHING, yet these same residents are nowhere to be seen at the Board of Education meetings, we have a problem.

* When our children are an embarrassment in a county such as ours, because every single one of the neighboring school districts turns out better educated, better prepared young adults than we do, we have a problem.

* When the teachers don't care, and just want to collect their paycheck and their pension (don't forget their raises), we have a problem.

IN SHORT PEOPLE, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. So, Matawan and Aberdeen residents, what are you going to do about it?

Anonymous said...

Great article, Mr. Aberdeener. Please provide a link to the Board of Education public meeting schedule so we can all start attending!

Aberdeener said...

You can get the schedule, minutes, and agenda at; select Our District and click on Board of Education. Unfortunately, it appears that they scan the pages rather than convert the original files to pdf, making it impossible to do a text search unless you use an OCR program to convert the files.

You missed last night's meeting but you likely wouldn't have gotten in till the end. The teachers union had maybe 200 people there. They said their piece and then left. Once they were gone, there were fewer than a dozen people left in the audience.

We did have some fun, though. Being that the new year is just around the corner, I asked what good things we could expect to see next year. The board appeared baffled by the question. I persisted and the board answered that a couple students had been accepted at ivy league colleges, they hope to have an early draft budget, and they expect to hire a new superintendent.

Thousands of students and this was the best news we could expect? Perhaps the board just needed more time to think about it.

Truth In Matawan said...

What piece did the disgraceful teachers union have to say? A board more interested in real education and fiscal responsibility would lock the union out, and hire new teachers with the line being laid down from the get-go. There shouldn't be a problem hiring new people at all. We'll see you at the next meeting, we're ashamed to have missed the one last night.

Aberdeener said...

Nearly all the teachers have tenure so firing is difficult.

I have no idea what the teachers were trying to achieve by their appearance. They're well aware that the teacher representatives and the board have already agreed to arbitration hearings.