Insanity has been defined by Albert Einstein as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” American-style solution: Throw more money at a problem. There! The answer to poor student performance. But I think Mr. Einstein’s argument trumps the American solution.

Recently I have had conversations about what is wrong with our schools. A fellow from wartime Germany said the problem’s that we follow the Prussian education model. That is children are taught to conform to a plan giving desired results. Obviously we have seen this result. Continued declining grade scores.

But the proverbial 

“elephant in the room” brought a consensus of answers. Aretha Franklin gave us “RESPECT.” There lies the problem. One can talk endlessly about putting more and more money to expend our tax dollars into an unworkable system where the key ingredient is respect. Parents have lost the ability to command respect by children, students don’t respect teachers, or each other. Look at bullying. Can’t totally blame parents as the world teaches disrespect all over. Teachers can’t maintain order for those who want to learn as they have no ability to discipline. My neighbor, a former teacher, told me that. Mainly that’s why he retired. “My Johnny or Kathy wouldn’t do that.” But they do and there is no answer.

Conversing with some friends who entertained Asian exchange students confirmed the respect notion. School for them was often 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. They respected their teacher just as much as their parents. Competition in school pushed them to do best. As one Asian student said, “What I am learning in 12th grade I learned in 7th grade.”

As an added thought parochial schools do far better on half the funding. Public schools say “that’s not fair. They get cream we get sour milk.” Maybe respect is different as parents care what the kids do in parochial school.

The Almont Twp. writer continues on about pension funding. Yes it is a problem. But don’t blame Republicans as Democrats have pretended the problem also doesn’t exist. Human nature is to turn the other way until the shoe pinches. Warning flags are going up all over about federal debt from national debt to Social Security to Medicare to nationwide public pension debt. Nothing will be done until the problem reaches “critical mass.” So get over it. Worrying about it does as much good as trying to get a buried-in-mud tractor out. Until conditions are right, nothing will happen. And I’m afraid those conditions are are not in the near future.


—David Naeyaert