Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lesson’s That Won’t Be Learned

So here we are, five days after the beginning of the Baltimore Riots.  By now every talking head has had their say.  The President, always an opportunist, has blamed the Republican’s for not providing enough funding for inner city programs, and all the wise and wonderful politicians have weighed in on the potential causes, ranging from simple police brutality to a sense of hopelessness from the disparity of wealth and lack of opportunity for the poor, mostly caused by the Republicans and the 1% they are supposed to represent.  Finally, Mr. Sharpton has pulled himself away from his demanding MSNBC schedule to offer aid and comfort to the Mayor and her city council.
Those on the left, and on the right will naturally blame the other, for we are no longer capable of recognizing the grains of truth in each others position.  We don’t want gray, we demand black and white answers.  Even if those answers drive further division between blacks and whites and do nothing to address core issues.
Let’s pause for a moment and look at the political reality of Baltimore, as highlighted by Allen West.  Mr. West’s politics aside, I challenge anyone to dispute the fundamental facts.  This is a predominantly Democratic Party run city where the black population is not some small minority without representation.  The Democratic Party has controlled this city since 1967, yet in those 48 years they have not found a way to address the problems of poverty and racial equality for this microcosm of America. What they have done is what every politician has ever done, cater to their political contributors and give lip service to the poor.  They have poured huge sums of money into the inner Harbor, while effectively fencing off the poor.  The average income for a Baltimore citizen is $41,385 per year compared to the state average of $73,538.  What, in the last 48 years, has the Democratic leadership done to address that disparity?  What types of jobs have they brought in? 
We talk about training and education, certainly a hot topic in today’s society.  What has this city done to train its youth to support the emerging technology? Of course the liberal answer is we need more money and the associated more government.  That is always the answer.  We need to pay our teachers more, we need to pay our administrators more, and maybe some small percentage of every dollar will actually go to improved programs for the youth.  Maryland spends, on average, $13, 871 per student, which puts them in the top tier of per/student investment in the United States.  I wonder how much of that actually finds it way into inner city classrooms for life shaping education?  We won’t realize that more centralized management, larger bureaucracy and the advent of a nanny state administration destroys the initiative of those who would be different in how they teach.
What, you may ask, is the difference between education and training? For this discussion I will use the lessons drawn from my training as a Navigator in the USAF.  Training is the process we use to teach someone to do something.  It doesn’t matter if it is to be a good plumber or a good navigator.  We teach the individual skills, reinforce their importance, and finally evaluate the student’s ability to apply those skills.  They are usually measured against some baseline, but may also compete against others in the class.  For example, in Navigation school I learned about the stars, how to use a sextant, and how to located three stars to determine my actual position of the earth.  We did not spend time talking about Einstein’s theory of relativity or the expansion of the universe since the big bang.  These things were not critical to the task I was to learn.  Learning to be a good plumber is the same.  You need to understand some fundamental things like gravity, and hydraulic theory, but mostly you need to know how to connect pipes, install things in accordance with the local codes, and determine how to estimate the cost of a job.  Training involves practice.
Education is different.  It used to be the intent of education was to open your mind to the possibilities of the world and universe around you.  Today I am not sure that is still the case. We spend so much time talking about how far behind the rest of the world we are, and indoctrinating our youth in the “correct” ways to think of things that we seem to have shut down the idea that youth should challenge rather than accept the status quo.  Today we have more professional “educators” than at any time in our history.  What kind of challenges are they presenting to our young?  Apparently education today is more closely aligned to what we called indoctrination in the old days.  Perhaps that is why the Democrats are so high on everyone getting more education rather than legitimate job training.
Can we expect our politicians to take an introspective look at what they should do different?  Not likely!  Hell, we as individuals won’t do that so why should the politicians?  We will continue to point fingers at the other side, we will continue to indoctrinate our youth in the ways of bigger government and we will continue to jump to decisions, looking at only one side of an issue.

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