Tonight on V-RADIO we are going to talk about two topics over two hours. In the first hour we will be having a commentary on the subject of the recent incident in Obion County, Tennessee.
Apparently in the area outside of the main city limits you have to pay a $75 fee to get protection for your home from house fires. Quoting here from the news report on this subject:
"Imagine your home catches fire but the local fire department won't respond, then watches it burn. That's exactly what happened to a local family tonight.
A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.
The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn't do anything to stop his house from burning.
Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.
The mayor said if homeowners don't pay, they're out of luck.
This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn't put it out. It wasn't until that fire spread to a neighbor's property, that anyone would respond.
Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.
"I thought they'd come out and put it out, even if you hadn't paid your $75, but I was wrong," said Gene Cranick.
Because of that, not much is left of Cranick's house.
They called 911 several times, and initially the South Fulton Fire Department would not come.
The Cranicks told 9-1-1 they would pay firefighters, whatever the cost, to stop the fire before it spread to their house.
"When I called I told them that. My grandson had already called there and he thought that when I got here I could get something done, I couldn't," Paulette Cranick.
It was only when a neighbor's field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded. Gene Cranick asked the fire chief to make an exception and save his home, the chief wouldn't.
We asked him why.
He wouldn't talk to us and called police to have us escorted off the property. Police never came but firefighters quickly left the scene. Meanwhile, the Cranick home continued to burn.
We asked the mayor of South Fulton if the chief could have made an exception.
"Anybody that's not in the city of South Fulton, it's a service we offer, either they accept it or they don't," Mayor David Crocker said.
Friends and neighbors said it's a cruel and dangerous city policy but the Cranicks don't blame the firefighters themselves. They blame the people in charge.
"They're doing their job," Paulette Cranick said of the firefighters. "They're doing what they are told to do. It's not their fault."
To give you an idea of just how intense the feelings got in this situation, soon after the fire department returned to the station, the Obion County Sheriff's Department said someone went there and assaulted one of the firefighters."
Colbert also had this gentlemen on for an interview afterward wherein he described how the whole thing went down. The interview was conducted with the man sitting in front of the rubble that was his home.
I have to ask, this man offered to pay on the spot. Why the HELL didn't they let him do this? What difference would it of made if he paid right then and there? Two dogs, and the family cat also died in this fire.
Now on to the second topic.
Recently on my personal Facebook I linked a photo to my daughter getting on the bus for her first day of school. Being as how on my personal Facebook I have ZM members and my more day to day non-activist minded friends a conversation ensued because one of them, (Chibi) made a comment about public schools. I then stated I am considering home schooling when they get older. One of my other friends said that I should not do that, as home schooled children are socially deficient.
My brother, who is very religious and home schools himself pointed out that there was little to no actual data to support the idea that kids who are home schooled have any sort of social problems.
This got me to thinking. I didn't want the conversation derailed into talking about home schooling, however I did end up commenting on what sort of "social adjustments" children get. Basically I commented on what I learned socially when I was in school.
First of all, I learned that if you wear Wrangler Jeans rather then Guess Jeans, you worth less then kids who come from families who are lucky enough to be able to afford the jeans that are generally thirty to forty dollars more expensive. (Despite the fact that the only real difference between these jeans is a logo).
I learned similar things about every major fashion issue. I remember how important your fashion was to your worth socially. It impacted your entire image. I remember it went so far as to even include where you purchased the items in question.
Nike Air Jordans that did not have the tag on them that proved that they were purchased at Foot Locker were not as prestigious as those purchased at K-Mart or another department store. Why? Well the ones purchased at Foot Locker generally costed more. So they wouldn't want you "cheating" to get some more street cred when your mother bought them at another store.
Girls would not date you if your fashion was not in order.
And in the city I grew up in, I remember very clearly kids getting shot over their Pump shoes, Triple Fat Goose jackets, or Leather Trench Coats. People wanted these symbols of worth so much they were willing to kill for them.
I also learned a great deal about the social hierarchy system of "Popular vs unpopular". If you kissed the right ass, listened to the right music, dressed the right way then you were well on your way to becoming "popular". (Being physically attractive didn't hurt. But it didn't necessarily matter). But it was more then that. You had to willingly participate in the system of pecking order. Otherwise you could be targeted with endless harassment. Ridicule, and even violence.
Those in "power" would punish you if you did not help them keep the order of things in line. There are kids you can earn brownie points by harassing or hurting. And if you do not participate you would find yourself in the same shoes as the poor kid who was the target.
Don't get caught listening to music that is not approved by the social system. Don't get caught hanging out with the wrong people. Don't get caught dating someone whom is not on the list of those approved by the "clique". Sounds a bit fascist huh? Some of these kids would spy on you like the KGB to be sure you were towing the party line. Somehow I don't really think this is a system I would want my children to be "well adjusted" to.
Then, perhaps the biggest laugh about the idea that public schooling is superior because of the social aspects of it, we can always talk about what happens to the unfortunate kids who happen to be smarter then everyone else. I remember very distinctly being attacked once by another student solely for "using big words". I had a pretty high vocabulary in school. And it was a reason to be taunted, or beaten up. If you prove to be smart a whole slew of slurs come your way. Words like Geek, Nerd, etc all fit into this. Isn't it a bit counter-productive to send your children into an institution where they will be forced to interact with kids who will actually punish them for succeeding academically? I remember not wanting to carry a lot of books home in case I would have to escape from whatever group of kids had decided to make me their victim for the day. My homework suffered as a result.
Sports players who do well are revered. Kids who win the science fair will be lucky if they are not targeted for harassment. Or again, violence.
And on the subject of violence and bullying in school, what solutions do they offer?
Because my mother was poor and my father was well to do, at different times in my life I saw both sides of the spectrum. At the school I went to when I was with my mother we had shootings in or near the school fairly often. In the school I went to with my father there would be mild violence in comparison, however I was under mental stress constantly. (There was still violence, just not fatal.) My father was a cheap skate, and of course did not want to pay to dress me in such a way that was going to keep kids from bothering me. Ironically when given a choice at one point over which place I would rather go to school I picked the lower income area.
So how effective are school officials at dealing with this stuff? They generally tell you to ignore bullies. Because after all, this is a practical solution when your locked in a room with these people for five to six hours a day. You can report your tormentors to the teachers with perhaps some temporary effect. Or even take it to the Principal. They scold them. Maybe give them detention. But in the end I learned that the only way I was ever going to get these kids to leave me alone was by beating them up myself. As publicly as possible. (Which of course you get in trouble for.) Thankfully my mother was very sympathetic to this sort of thing. So when I was suspended for defending myself, or even going after someone who would not leave me alone she would not punish me for it.
Why was it so important to do it publicly? Well just like in our modern system today politics played into the memory of events. If two kids go at it, the more popular one will be the one "spun" to of won the fight if the popular crowd can get away with it.
When I talk about this subject I tend to think of the two kids who took guns to school and went on a killing spree at Columbine. I remember very distinctly thinking to myself:
"Well, I do not condone what they did. But I have a feeling I know why they did it."
The mainstream media did a great job of focusing on schools needing more metal detectors and that kids need to play less violent games like "Mortal Kombat" and "Doom".
(I would also point out that we in the schools in the ghetto neighborhood I lived in thought it was pretty funny that the news found it so important that some kids were shot in a nice white suburban neighborhood when shootings happened where we lived on a regular basis.)
Every violent impulse I ever had in school had zero to do with the video games I played. It all related directly to the way I was treated by the other students. And frustration about the fact that the people in authority either were too apathetic or incompetent to handle the problem. But in a typical fashion our society rarely wants to look at the root causes of such problems. Particularly if it might mean they might have to -gasp- take responsibility for their own part in it.
So to be "socially adjusted" I was forced to be violent myself. Or a victim.
With the advent of the internet, you don't even get to escape the taunting when you go home. Kids have committed suicide recently because of cyberbullying. Another thing the school system seems to have no clue how to eliminate. Though I have read about more then one case where students get punished for attacking their teachers or other school officials online. Glad we have our priorities straight.
So what are the real statistics on this issue as far as which environment is producing smarter or better educated kids? The home schooled kids? Or the ones forced to "socially adjust" in our public schools?
From this article: http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/educational-testing/41081.html
"According to a report published by the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) and funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, homeschool student achievement test scores were exceptionally high. The median scores for every subtest at every grade were well above those of public and Catholic/private-school students. On average, homeschool students in grades one to four performed one grade level above their age-level public/private school peers on achievement tests. Students who had been homeschooled their entire academic life had higher scholastic achievement test scores than students who had also attended other educational programs."
One interesting facet of the study noted that academic achievement was equally high regardless of whether the student was enrolled in a full-service curriculum, or whether the parent had a state-issued teaching certificate.
The study states, "Even with a conservative analysis of the data, the achievement levels of the homeschool students in the study were exceptional. Within each grade level and each skill area, the median scores for homeschool students fell between the 70th and 80th percentile of students nationwide and between the 60th and 70th percentile of Catholic/Private school students. For younger students, this is a one year lead. By the time homeschool students are in 8th grade, they are four years ahead of their public/private school counterparts."
Also, "Homeschool students did quite well in 1998 on the ACT college entrance examination. They had an average ACT composite score of 22.8 which is .38 standard deviations above the national ACT average of 21.0 (ACT, 1998). This places the average homeschool student in the 65th percentile of all ACT test takers."
Also, from this website:
"In 1997, a study of 5,402 homeschool students from 1,657 families was released. It was entitled, "Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America." The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. A significant finding when analyzing the data for 8th graders was the evidence that homeschoolers who are homeschooled two or more years score substantially higher than students who have been homeschooled one year or less. The new homeschoolers were scoring on the average in the 59th percentile compared to students homeschooled the last two or more years who scored between 86th and 92nd percentile. i
This was confirmed in another study by Dr. Lawrence Rudner of 20,760 homeschooled students which found the homeschoolers who have homeschooled all their school aged years had the highest academic achievement. This was especially apparent in the higher grades. ii This is a good encouragement to families catch the long-range vision and homeschool through high school.
Another important finding of Strengths of Their Own was that the race of the student does not make any difference. There was no significant difference between minority and white homeschooled students. For example, in grades K-12, both white and minority students scored, on the average, in the 87th percentile. In math, whites scored in the 82nd percentile while minorities scored in the 77th percentile. In the public schools, however, there is a sharp contrast. White public school eighth grade students, nationally scored the 58th percentile in math and the 57th percentile in reading. Black eighth grade students, on the other hand, scored on the average at the 24th percentile in math and the 28th percentile in reading. Hispanics scored at the 29th percentile in math and the 28th percentile in reading. iii
These findings show that when parents, regardless of race, commit themselves to make the necessary sacrifices and tutor their children at home, almost all obstacles present in other school systems disappear.
Another obstacle that seems to be overcome in homeschooling is the need to spend a great deal of money in order to have a good education. In Strengths of Their Own, Dr. Ray found the average cost per homeschool student is $546 while the average cost per public school student is $5,325. Yet the homeschool children in this study averaged in 85th percentile while the public school students averaged in the 50th percentile on nationally standardized achievement tests.iv
Similarly, the 1998 study by Dr. Rudner of 20,760 students, found that eighth grade students whose parents spend $199 or less on their home education score, on the average, in the 80th percentile. Eighth grade students whose parents spend $400 to $599 on their home education also score on the average, in the 80th percentile! Once the parents spend over $600, the students do slightly better, scoring in the 83rd percentile.v
The message is loud and clear. More money does not mean a better education. There is no positive correlation between money spent on education and student performance. Public school advocates could refocus their emphasis if they learned this lesson. Loving and caring parents are what matters. Money can never replace simple, hard work."
So in this finding we see that home schooling helps get around the issues that happen when your a student in a low-income area.
This and a great deal more data on the subject can be found here:
So what do you think is improving these test scores and performance of the students in question?
How big of an impact do you think these kids not needing to worry about being taunted or attacked for being smart had to do with their performance?
How much do you think it had to do with their learning environment being free of distractions like fashion, or the social pecking order?
What about the lack of stress of any of this nonsense our kids are forced to deal with?
Do you WANT your child to be well adjusted to such a situation?
It's another one of those things that people just shrug their shoulders and say "Oh well, that's just the way it is..."
I guess that is just not good enough for me as a parent.