Music Ed Mondays – Placing the Focus

While I had a whole other idea for a post this week, the “Gov. Rick Perry forgetting which three agencies he wants to scrap” has really been occupying my mind – but not for the forgetting; but rather, what it is that he wants to scrap:

Commerce, Education and, uh…

Wait a sec… EDUCATION?!

What does that say about the state of the social state of education in his mind? Keeping in mind, the keyword is social.  Is he viewing education as so unimportant and frivolous that he wants to axe the whole department?! Why are people focusing on the notion that he can’t remember when he publicly says that he wants to cut Public Education in its entirety? Breaks my heart…

Thankfully, it also breaks the heart of another prominent individual (and one of the people who I really look up to): Astronomer, Neil deGrasse Tyson:

“Odd that people focussed on Gov. Perry’s memory lapse and not that Education was a government agency that he wants cut because, that’s what America needs right now — less Education.”

– via Twitter

If that is the kind of “idealism” and “cost-saving” that governments are looking for, I think that there is an incredible cost to be paid for that – cost is the keyword there.  One former president of Harvard (though, I can’t for the life of me remember which one) once said…

“If you think the cost of education is high, try the cost of ignorance.”

… and that sentiment never, ever left me.  Education is not a cost; but rather, an investment and if you invest well, the returns are beautifully high for everyone involved.  Work ethic, patience, acceptance of others, literacy, critical thinking, leadership… these are not qualities that someone is born with, they are qualities that people are taught.  Education is not just about skills and concepts, it provides the framework to improve the moral and ethical fabric of society (through guidance by models who share the same philosophy, also known as “teachers”) while pushing students to self-awareness, rational thinking and emotional intelligence (while, at the same time, teaching skills and concepts to improve the lives of themselves and others).

But even beyond that, education is about being more than you are – it’s about bettering your life and your thinking.  If you live in a tough socio-economic climate, it’s the golden ticket out; if you’re plagued by demons and abuse in a downward spiral, it’s your silver bullet; if you’re someone who never knows when to quit and won’t stop until they can’t reach the top, it will keep raising the bar for you and pushing you farther than you ever thought possible.

Education is for everybody.  As a result of being for everyone, it isn’t the most efficient method of instruction all of the time – I’ll give you that.  However, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here because it still works for the vast, VAST majority.

It’s like NASA – not the most efficient sometimes, but it’s so much more than just a program – it’s a dream.   It’s about going to places you never thought you could go, then exploring and walking around for a while.  It teaches us not to be okay with “just getting there,” it says, “okay, you’re there, now what? What’s next? How do you get further? And when you get further, what’s out there?”

NASA’s funding got hacked in October – big time.  It breaks my heart, because it’s not just the space program, it’s about the dream of going somewhere where generations of our ancestors never thought possible.  Let’s not do the same to Education.


5 thoughts on “Music Ed Mondays – Placing the Focus

  1. What an embarrassment- this bumbling fool… It’s all a big freak show. Kleptocractic, totalitarian, giant small interest alcohol and tobacco, ponzie scheme running, derivative changing thugs.
    As long as there’s a reason to get to Mars so set up a death ray- we’ll get there…

  2. Kenley,

    Just to play devil’s advocate, I don’t know the details behind his reasonings in wanting to cut the Department of Education, but I imagine that it’s not as bad as it sounds on paper. I would assume that he is interested in giving more power to the states, especially after No Child Left Behind failed miserably.
    Regardless, the cuts to the space program are particularly heartbreaking. There is so much from which to learn by studying space, and people would realize that if they took a step back to see how space-age technology and researched has aided life on Earth. It’s amazing that the government was to push “math and science” education, but trim NASA by so much, eliminating opportunities for those kinds of scholars.

    – Greg

  3. I think one of the main objections from Republicans about the Department of Education is that it is specifically a federal department overseeing education in all states. Republican politicians want it axed so the authority of education systems is in the hands of state governments, not big bad federal goverment. However your point is the same as axing that department would likely result in a worse education system state-to-state. Republican states then have the authority to do whatever they want with the system, such as lessening investment :/.

  4. Upon further research, both of your points are quite meritorious. I think that I’m the most worried about Tea Party extremists who want the full-on privatization of education… which is petrifying. That is quite unlikely, but it sends a strong message to the public that education can be quite relative and variable – I mean, it’s like that now, but the public option enables a much lesser degree of it.

    @Greg – Great devil’s advocate points (and many of them probably are true). Let’s see how it plays out, but as we both degree on NASA, I’m sure that we both agree on the importance of publicly-funded education.

    @Kyle – I agree, a worse state-to-state option is detrimental to the public good, I think. Why not just work to improve the infrastructure of national education? Because then, everybody benefits. I know that’s a tall order, but Scandinavia, Northern Europe and Canada seem to be doing just fine by it 🙂

    1. Exactly, and furthermore, federal standards for education keeps the entire nation’s systems under a single spotlight. Individual states are quite obsessed with self-determination, but there’s tons of history showing that opinions on social institutions, state to state, vary very wildly. Something so fundamental, so functional, and so beneficial as public education should not be so readily dismantle-able by states bent on playing politics with voters’ whims.

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