My last post looked at how the difference between the cost of educating students verse the cost of entitlement and prison systems. Something that will be addressed later is the term, "the school to prison pipeline". The question, then, is: how do we avoid these problems? The answers to this question is why I started the blog. In the second post of this series, I compared schools to seats, and said some should be thought of as big, sturdy couches rather than the traditional three-legged stool.
Had Bill from the last post been intervened upon when he was younger, he would not cost taxpayers $30,000 per year. Rather, via the results of the Hindsight Predictor, he would have gone on to become a scientist, single handedly reversed the effects of climate change
Our system is set up with the assumption that students come to school from a stable, supportive family. This family provides food, support, and loveIn this home, stable and warm, the water works, the food is warm, help and encouragement are given when the child is struggling. When a child has extra issues (special needs, emotional problems, cognitive problems), they are addressed. Since at least one parent is employed, the child sees at least one possible occupation; but since the parent's friends are also employed, the child is exposed to many more. The child is encouraged to ask questions, encouraged to engage in the world around them, and exposed to many different things (e.g. sports, music, culture). In addition to this: When problems arise in school, the parents help take care of them.
I could go on, but you get the idea. The problem is that we have nothing in place for when these assumptions are not there, or when the home fails or falls apart. For example (real scenario): a parent came in a school to pick up her son, early. She brought her second child with her. When the older child saw her, he said, "How do you like my new haircut?" The mom was outraged. She'd just paid for a haircut, and this was not the 'new' one her child spoke of. He was speaking of the 'haircut' a classmate had given him that day. The mother stormed into the office, demanded to speak to the teacher. The teacher was called out of class while the parent complained about the teacher's lack of control. Meanwhile, the students in the class were left with a sub, not learning. Meanwhile, the mother's second child wandered around the hall, walked to the drinking fountain, and peed on the floor. The mother was given money for a second hair cut, but the pile of pee was not addressed. Or take another child, a struggling elementary school student with a host of issues; his parents are called in to the school, and show up drunk. At 11 a.m.
For these kids, education is not the entire goal. Before they can get to the curriculum, before they can focus on reading, writing, science, and math, they need to be supported. In schools that are called 'high need', my hypothesis is that we go nuts and employ extra social workers, counselors, nutritionists, and prevention, to make up for the lack of parental support. Compared to the cost of even one student from the last post, doing so is not expensive. Different research and hypothesis shows that you have to get struggling students early, by about 3rd grade, if you want to keep them 'on track' with their classmates. So I propose pouring a lot of resources into the places where the parental support is low.
When 50% of our students fail in the current system, we need these interventions. We all know that what we eat effects how we act and behave, hence: the nutritionist. We know that if students are not emotionally cared for, education is not the primary focus, hence: the counselors and social workers. The funds to pay these salaries could be directly transferred from the departments they'd be given to later, if the needs were not met. School, in a society that already pours the money and gives importance, needs to be the place to make up for what the home lacks, whatever that is. This is already done to some extent, but if we want to be a loving, helpful, productive society, it needs to happen at every turn. Early on. If these systems are put in place, taking care of the assumed needs first, students can then enter classrooms ready and able to learn. These supports can be the extra legs to that nice, solid couch.