Can't buy an education

March 1, 2005
I must take exception to something you said in the October 2004 issue of Motion System Design. On the editorial page you said, taxpayer moneys could be

I must take exception to something you said in the October 2004 issue of Motion System Design. On the editorial page you said, “… taxpayer moneys could be used for schools,” implying that it would create “educated communities.”

If money translates to educated communities, why do poorer countries like India do a relatively better job at educating kids? I think it's because they try harder in their schools than we do in ours.

Money is not required to put forth effort. If you were a teacher and had a good book, how much money would it take to teach the kids what was in the book? You could do it for almost nothing if you chose to.

The following is from the Final Report of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems: “It is estimated that [Indiana's] Wayne County has a higher proportion of adults at Levels I and II — the two lowest literacy levels — than the State of Indiana as a whole (47% compared to 43%), and the literacy level of Richmond's population is even lower. This level of adult literacy has a major impact on virtually every dimension of the County's economy and quality of life. Low literacy levels negatively affect early childhood education, the ability of parents to support their children in school, the levels of crime, the health and well-being of the population, and the levels of knowledge and skill of the region's workforce.”

In Indiana, where I live, we are spending more money per kid than India, yet our literacy level is worse. The solution to the problem as I see it is simple: The people with the most to gain — parents — must be in charge of teaching the kids. I was a board member for our local high school for three years and saw the problems. The administration worried about funding, ADA and lawsuits; the teachers worried about discipline. Teaching was NOT the number one priority.

I as a parent, on the other hand, cared only about my kids' learning. My wife began homeschooling. Both kids are now in college. We spent very little money on them (in addition to taxes that went to education) yet did reasonably well. SAT scores and other measures proved this. We succeeded because we wanted our kids to excel and made sure they did, in our basement schoolroom along with other families in their “schoolrooms.” It didn't take a lot of money, just time and effort.
Ken Kalies
Mechanical Engineer
Wayne County, Ind.
[email protected]

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