mickey@weneedmoore.org
elect Mickey Moore
9th Ward City-Council
612-220-0233

Educational Reform and Restructure

Pople should remember that elected officials who have been in office for years have never put together a comprehensive breakdown like this.  Then I want to remind you that you clicked on the "deep dive" button yourself.  (I didn't ask you to look into this issue...)  Hopefully, you're doing it because you care and you want to know more. 

 

1.) The education issue is complicated and for a variety of reasons, politically dangerous.  2.) The education reform issue is not something that moves voters, because few people can detail the type of intelligent and meaningful reforms that are both reasonable and realistic. 3.) Politicians rarely, if ever, are willing to speak truthfully about issues that could be interpreted as making America appear weak or less than competent.  Speaking truthfully about issues like this is often used as a weapon against politicians in future elections. And as you know, to politicians, the risk of not winning a future election is more important to them than being honest or sincere.

 

Before we begin any conversation about education in America we have to explain in detail about the facts involved. This way everyone talking about this subject is on the same page with our terminology and broader points.   The most important concept we have to understand and recognize is that there are really 2 systems of education in America.  One is private education, and the other is public or govt. subsidized education.  (this type of "public" education can often include Charter schools)  As someone who attended both public and private schools for many years, I understand these differences very well.   While in general, private education facilities in America are often quite successful and competitive worldwide, we have to come to grips with the reality of the fact that govt. education in America.  That is to say, public education, lags far behind much of the civilized world.  When you compare govt. schools throughout most of Southeast Asia and much of Europe, you find that student abilities and competence far surpasses that of their American counterparts.  In some cases, we’re talking about grade gaps of 2 to 3 class years. In other words, sixth, seventh and eighth graders in Thailand, often operate at what would be considered an 11th grade level in America. I encourage people to look into this information. Here's one link about school life in Japan, but google search the issue and find out more.  https://web-japan.org/kidsweb/faq/life02.html

 

When we consider the future that our current preschoolers are going to inherit, we must fully admit that they will be at a tremendous educational disadvantage compared to students in Singapore, Norway, South Korea, China, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, India, Viet-Nam, and many other countries who have decided long ago to put a supreme emphasis on maintaining the highest possible standards of education for their young citizenry.  So we have to first agree that serious, substantial and systemic reforms and restructuring is desperately needed if American children are going to be able to properly compete in the 21st century. (and beyond) I want to remind everyone that I totally understand that it's a natural American reaction to believe that everything we do is the best in the world.  This means that most Americans are under the impression that our education system is among the best in the world. The reality is that is simply untrue.  Perhaps 70 years ago it was a more accurate depiction of our world order but right now...today it is not.  The sad reality is that America is systematically falling behind many other countries in our efforts to properly educate our children.  Extensive international travel has both exposed and confirmed to me precisely how far behind we truly are, and also how quickly we are falling even further behind. 

 

We should all know and recognize that we can't possibly discuss every last aspect of this intensely complex situation.  We can't solve this large of a problem within the confines of this one issue statement, on this one website.  So let’s start our discussion by just looking at a select few of the simple differences between some of these top tier countries, and what we do in America.  Again, I can't say it enough times, we can’t discuss everything here, but today, let’s just look at a few (3) key yet extremely SIMPLE points.  When kids begin to attend school, what they wear, and how long the school days (and years) last. 

 

We're going to talk about how we CAN solve this problem, but it's going to have to start at the very beginning.  A lot of Americans simply don't ever get the chance to have this discussion and therefore, have little or no real understanding of the issues which prevent us from accomplishing what might seem like a simple goal.  Educating our children properly.  In most Asian countries, children begin school basically as soon as they are toilet trained.  This means starting full, all-day school sessions for 2 and 3 year olds.  It’s likely that to most Americans, this concept may seem radical and excessive, but when you consider the tremendous effects and benefits of educating children when they are at that ONE MOMENT in their life when their minds are the most fertile and impressionable, you can begin to see why Asian countries are so far ahead of us. 

Part 1- When we begin to send our children to school

First, people have to understand that beginning early encourages rapid and immediate toilet training of children. It's a positive catch-22.  Americans might be confused about why this issue is so connected and important.  The vast majority of people in America simply don't realize how critical this is.  Americans aren't taught to understand how failing to immediately toilet train children, while it creates a tremendous economic boom for diaper companies, (who get an extra 2, 3 sometimes as much as 4 years of sales out of each child) actually STUNTS the growth of our children.  1.) Imagine the advanced confidence level of 2 or 3 year old, toilet-trained children, going to school and receiving the cognitive skill sets that they'll require for great achievement throughout their academic career, rather than allow them to soil themselves in wearable diaper pants until they are 4 or 5 years old.  Sometimes even as advanced as 6 years old.  Spending much of their days crying out loud and failing to learn the critical concepts like authority, discipline, respect, social skills and cooperation.  When Asians find out that American children are still wearing diapers at ages 2 and 3 and beyond, they are understandably shocked and confused.  They very naturally ask, "Why"?  While most countries would consider it purely nonsensical to purposefully delay the most critical training of young people, this is exactly what America has been doing for generations.  On a very real level, one might claim that it is the invention and advertisement of inexpensive, disposable diapers that has allowed America to continue to fall behind and become complacent with regard to early education and preparation.  2.) Sending our youngest children to school all day allows parents to achieve whatever needs they have. Not all of us have the resources or even the opportunity to also be the world's greatest at-home teachers.  Whether it’s work, taking proper care of newborn babies, or simply accomplishing the various needs of their household without being obligated to provide personal daycare for their own children, who by all rights, should already be in school.  Certainly, not all of us have the financial ability to send our youngest children to expensive "learning centers", which lends to the origins of our "education gap" which we'll discuss in a moment. 3.) Children learn the most when they are the youngest. This has been scientifically proven time and time again.  We all know this to be a truthful fact of life.  Humans develop more as babies and small children than they do throughout the entire rest of their lives.  This specifically includes their brains.  Full day school allows our youngest children to learn the basics of language, social structure, discipline and obedience, basic life skills, such as eating, putting on clothes, putting away their toys, tying their shoes, fooling around with musical instruments, learning to play with others and so much more.  Let’s be sure to fully understand that the youngest children in the best schools in the world, don’t go to school to get on computers and start learning foreign languages or processing complicated mathematical calculus. That's not how it works.  That's not what we are talking about here. They engage in play acting, storytelling and story listening, singing songs, playing music, coloring, walking in lines, holding hands, structured discussion in groups with each other and with instructors, learning words for everyday objects, instructional, uplifting or inspiring videos and then, practicing all these skills with repetition. 4.) By doing this, it means that by the time they are 4 or 5 years old, and ready for actual educational schoolwork, they’ve already mastered many of the fundamental learning basics that will help them focus, study, learn and produce results.  It’s also important to remember that children, especially young children, love to go to school.  It is literally their favorite thing to be a part of.  It is absolutely critical, both for them and also for everyone involved with them, (parents and teachers) to capitalize on that positive feeling and fully normalize that positive attitude.  Rather than focusng on behaviors and delays that result in a continuous struggle with children about going to school, and being forced to try and readjust a unnecessarily learned, negative attitude towards school at an older age.  (any parent that struggles with their child about going to school or having a positive attitude about school and learning understands this problem and what it can mean over the long-term of a child's education...)

 

SOLVING THE "EDUCATION GAP"

So, with this basic understanding, we can easily see how and why certain children get such a real advantage and headstart with their education. An extra point we should all keep in mind is that these other countries have significantly less "behavior problems" or "special education children" than we have in America.  And what we should all be asking ourselves is, "is the way these other countries educate their children the reason why they have such a conflict-free educational system"? (We'll circle back to this point as we continue to discuss some other intelligent and simple changes we can make)  Everyone should be able to recognize the absolute truth of this first point simply by comparing their own experience and understanding of the different environments in which children in America are raised. We all know that those children who were fortunate enough to have an upbringing which included early learning, like reading, learning to count, simple math, long conversations with older kids and adults, and so much more. Children whose parents took it upon themselves to educate and teach them long before they ever started attending school, have a clear advantage and are less likely to fail or develop behavior problems.  We all know this, and it's long overdue that we should incorporate what we know into our system itself. (we will circle back to this critical point in a moment...)  The bottom line is that the reforms I'm suggesting and describing, finally and absolutely solve multiple and generational problems such as "the education gap".

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Part 2- what we wear (the use of uniforms as a learning tool)

Another drastic difference between top level schools across the globe and what we do here in America is the use of uniforms.  And when we talk about uniforms, we mean that in the literal sense, not the sort of "uniforms” we casually suggest in America.  Where basically, they want you to wear some kind of certain color of T-shirt and a certain color of pants, and that’s it.  The concept of uniforms can be a fundamental aid in training students to appreciate their school, focus around a common goal, and aid in uniting the student body, and in treating others equally.  Real uniforms consist of every article of clothing, not just being the same color, but absolutely matching. Made by the same manufacturer and made for that specific school. Uniforms include all accessories, like backpacks, thermoses, shoes, pants, skirts, dresses, socks, shirts, belts, hats, scarves, whatever athletic wear a student needs.  In many cases, even items like pencils and assorted stationary.  In short, everything.  Uniforms should always have a meaningful and thoughtful emblem or insignia related to the school emblazoned somewhere on the outer clothing.  Uniforms accomplish many things.  1.) They absolutely help to balance the children's morale and self-esteem.  2.) They create a very real sense of school unity and community.  3.) They significantly lower the cost of clothes for every family. Instead of new school clothes, students need only 2 sets of uniforms.  Because schools will use the same basic uniform year after year, there is always a constant supply of lightly used uniforms available for those students with financial difficulties.  Some American parents might initially think that a school uniform is an additional expense, but that’s simply not how real life works.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You don’t need additional clothes, and the reality is, you will spend much less than HALF of what you might normally spend on clothing for your children.  Mathematically speaking, you should need approximately 2/7 of what you might normally need.  That’s about 30%.  If you had been spending $1,000/year on your child’s clothes, with a strict school uniform policy, you’ll spend only $300/year.  And in reality, probably much less than that.

 

The last point I want to make about uniforms is that they represent the lowest of the low hanging fruit options that any school could immediately apply to begin making a positive difference in their operation.  It doesn't take the passage of brand new legislation.  It doesn't require the investment of millions of new dollars.  No one has to agree to levy special tax funds so that some school can institute a strict uniform policy.  It can be done in a simple E-mail message or an assembly hall announcement.  This point is so basic, and critical, that it bears repeating.  Any American public school or district, can immediately apply this proven technique, to being making a positive difference in their operation. The positive effects are as immediate as they are important, and we should all understand that the fact that so few schools take advantage of this easy upgrade not just wholly shameful, it's great example of why American public schools are falling further and further behind. The blanket unwillingness to just take those simple and necessary steps that would automatically improve the system.  We're trading a better educational product for our children for a misguided understanding of what we believe to be their expediency and comfort.  (which I shouldn't have to explain to anyone, is a bad trade for everyone involved...)

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Part 3- How long children attend school (school days and hours)

Lastly, we should discuss the hours of school operation and how many days are in a typical school year.  Almost all of the world's most effective schools start at 7:00 a.m. and last until at least 3:00 p.m.  (Many last much longer, and we'll discuss those options...) Just one of the key reasons why schools should start early is because children should go to bed early. Nothing positive or appropriate happens late at night, so there is no reason for young children to spend that time up and active.  That’s the proper time for children to be asleep.  Meanwhile, we should all be able to agree that waking up early makes a lot of sense for everyone.  Unlike staying up late at night, there are lots of opportunities and advantages to getting up early.  Early is a great time to eat, a great time to wash up, a great time to get dressed, a great time to do something academic.  Going to bed sometime between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. and waking up between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. would be almost every parent’s preferred option and give them the most advantages in their own schedule and life.  So it’s important to everyone that schools start at the most appropriate hour.  Having a strict school attendance, taken everyday, precisely at 7:00 a.m., promotes and instills discipline, promptness and encourages proper scheduling.  A full 8-hour school day gives students adequate time for homeroom, assembly, a proper recess, a proper lunchtime, as well as a full course of classes.  Americans don't realize that for a typical Asian student in second grade their full and well-rounded school curriculum will include courses in keyboarding, math, science, national history, world history, native language, foreign language, music, art, physical education, world religion and social studies.  Likely, they will not have every class period every day, but they will have all of these classes within their single school year.  Again, this is the school course curriculum for second graders.  (Compare this concept to your own public school second greader, who likely, only rarely leaves their own single homeroom class...)  Additionally, almost every school offers extracurricular activities beginning 15 or 30 minutes after the regular school day ends.  These activities vary in length and frequency depending on the exact nature of the classes, but extending the school day another 1-2 hours presents a host of positive options and opportunities for both the children and their families and is obviously highly encouraged.  In other countries, more than 75% of students take part in some amount of extracurricular activities.

 

So the idea of providing a full school day means different things to Americans than it does to populations that place a premium on the education of their children.  In America, we like to start late.  Maybe 8:00 a.m., sometimes 9:00 a.m., and finish early, maybe 2:15 p.m., maybe 2:45 p.m.  We offer very few extracurricular activities other than sports.  And most of those don’t begin until at least 6th grade.  We already have scientific studies and data-driven criminology reports that show the detrimental effects of sending children home before their parents.  The lack of discipline and stability during that specific portion of the day is one of the most dangerous situations for children, and especially at-risk children.  This lack of supervision during this critical time in a young child's life is precisely the type of issue which we can and must address through these intelligent education reforms and restructuring.  So, we have the opportunity to end a significant contributing factor for juvenile deliquency and at-risk youth behaviors. Win/win conditions like this really ought to seem like a no-brainer.

 

Hopefully, you can begin to understand, that without going too far into the multiple and complex details of all the possible reforms and structural changes that would be necessary to make America's educational system one of the best in the world again...If we can simply focus on just these 3 key issues.  1.) Sending children to school at a much earlier age. 2.) The strict use of real uniforms. 3.) And increasing the length of the school day and year.  Just doing these 3 things, none of which are either complicated or controversial, will be of vast benefit to the children, the schools, the teachers, the families and our society-at-large. 

 

(Now, before we close, let's quickly examine a few of the additional positive effects of implementing intelligent reforms like these...)  1.) Parents who are currently forced to seek and finance daycare for their young children, will be freed from that complicated and expensive burden.  We cannot understate what a big deal this is.  Some families pay a significant portion of their income, just to pay for daycare.  Some others make the difficult choice that it's more financially sensible for one of the parents to stay at home, rather than go to work.  Others rely on family members willing to become obligated to care for the chidlren.  2.) Children in America are already being segregated by their abilities and achievement level because some parents are able and willing to train their young children, and some are not.  So while most American children start kindergarten somewhere around the similar age of 5 or 6, some can read and some cannot. Some are outgoing and some are introverted.  Some hate school and some love it.  Having children at drastically different levels of competence, abilities and confidence levels, creates dignificant problems for them, and also for the teachers.  These early learning teachers are inherently forced to juggle the methods in which they approach everything they do across a wide spectrum of levels of understanding.  They can never give the accelerated children their fullest effort, and they cannot give the lagging and lacking children the proper attention.  As you can imagine, when children's learning levels and abilities are much more closely and uniformly aligned, their teachers will be that much more effective. This concept essentially illustrates how the education gap is formed, and reforming this aspect of our system will greatly reduce and limit that potential gap.  3.) Students who return home at 6:00 p.m. instead of 3:00 p.m. are going to be much more disciplined, and willing to do what is necessary, since there is not enough time to do the unnecessary.  You eat, you do some homework or reading, you take a shower and it’s time to go to sleep.  This is the proper daily structure of a young student.  Making time to do whatever you want, to play with friends, to idle away the hours in curious experimentation, is exactly how children get distracted and diverted into unhelpful, dangerous or negative behaviors and activities.  Let’s be realistic. American kids have plenty of week-ends, vacation days and holidays for idle play and relaxation.  4.) We didn't even discuss this incredible but absolutely true fact,  Compared to other countries, U.S. students attend much less school.  By the time an American completes high school, they will have attended school for approximately 2,340 days, compared to 3,185 days for a typical Chinese student.  Chinese students have 845 more school days than American students.  Think about what that means.  That equals 4.7 years of school.   If we’re going to realistically compete with the best students in the world, then we need a complete shift in our thinking.  We need to stop treating the young Americans as children, and start treating them like students.  What we’ll find is that when we do that, then they’ll start acting like students.  

 

If you've read this far, please understand, no other politician, let alone, someone who is just a candidate, even understands this issue at this level.   If they do, they are definitely not talking about it.  This is why it's so important for you to vote for Michael Moore.  Because this is the type of life-changing, societal reform issue that we will be discussing, advancing and working on solving when I am elected as your representative.

 

Please feel free to contact me anytime regarding this issue, or any other thing.  I include my direct phone number at the top of every web page for that exact reason. I want to begin now, establishing a direct line of communication with you about a variety of issues and concerns that will extend past this campaign and election and into the actual administration of our representation.  It is critical to us that you continue to play an important and direct role in helping to establish exactly who we are and what we do.

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