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I have heard people mention in the past about figures from somewhere how kids in the United States hold some of the lowest education scores in the world, however, do not lack in confidence. That is an amazing stat, and although I could point fingers on what helps to feed those numbers, it won’t help with the solution.

This past weekend, I started teaching again at Madrid in El Monte for the GATE program. This will be my 5th year teaching the web design program for GATE, and unfortunately now walk into class with education even further in an abysmal state. I don’t have to tell you that the last few years our economy has pretty much been swimming around the bottom of the toilet. Unfortunately, while our lovely politicians in Sactown are trying to balance the budget while balancing their interests, education normally gets hacked to pieces. This week newly, re-elected after 30 years, Governor Jerry Brown released his coined “painful but realistic budget“. This budget basically looked to cut funding for almost everything, right down to funding the office for his wife, and asking California Taxpayers if they will keep paying higher taxes.

Fortunately, these cuts seemed to have spared the K-12 school system, however, UC’s and CSU’s got slapped with a cut of around 500 Million each, and City Colleges were not spared either, as they got slashed a bit as well. The point I am getting at? We need education, progressive education, and higher education.

This picture says it all. This photo is of one of the monitors at the current school I am teaching at, where we use this program for design. One of the programs I teach with to help students appreciate design on the computer and pique there interest in entering this type of line of work? Photoshop Elements 5.0. This is almost as bad as asking a medical doctor to operate on you with a sharpened stick as a scalpel, and bird feathers to clean up the mess. I am not making this an issue simply because I need the latest and greatest to get the proper points of design across, but this is a program that is not meant for design, nor does its’ load time permit you to open it within one class session. I am not upset for myself, but for the kids that have to use it. I know there are tons of classrooms around the country that are without proper computer systems, and no I would not want to balance a budget either. However, education cannot take anymore cuts as k-12 has in the past, and colleges are getting slapped again now.

As an act to reach out to hopefully get some private organizations to help out, I asked some of my past students to write their comments on one of my blog posts, to pique interest in helping their programs. Unfortunately, nothing has come of it thus far. However, some great explanations were written as to why they feel improving their tools for their education is beneficial (remember these are middle school students):

March 28, 2009

I feel that this school deserves new hardware. One of my reasons would be that this school benefits us a lot. Not only because students need it but because teachers use it to, either to learn things themselves or to teach children as well. Students will benefit because they get a taste of what’s out there and of the great advances that the world is making. In fact you might be helping few of many students receive a better education so that they can have a better life and that’s just few step away from a better life for many other people.

March 21, 2009
I think our school needs new computers. First of all, our computers are really slow and are always getting stuck. Secondly, the computers we have right now are old and let’s face it; technology has improved a lot over the years. We should be able to experience the new things in technology to get more advanced. Thirdly, not all of the students have access to the programs we need to do our projects with so we have to use the computers from school with limited time and we do not get the project done. Finally, the only new computers we have are the ones only the teachers could use. This is why I think not only our school but all the schools in our district should have new computers for the students.

There are many reasons why we aren’t able to get the new computers we need. One is because of the school budget cuts. Our district is not rich and we do not have the money. All the schools should have access to good computers.

Of course most people already know this, but Improving education, not just in the technological areas, but in other areas as well only benefits us, and our state budget in the future. Having the right ideas come from educated mind can only be a positive for the culture and economy of our state. According to The Center For Immigration Studies, it has this to say about California’s current state:

Historically, California was not a state with disproportionately large unskilled and low-income populations. Relatively to other states it had one of the more educated labor forces in terms of the share of workers who had completed high school. But today it is the state with the largest share of its labor force that has not completed high school.

Hopefully, with the right tools, or even any tools at all, we can get back to instructing students appropriately. Unfortunately, it is almost a hope that teachers biggest worry will some day be simply Answering the Essential Student Question: Why Do We Need to Learn This? In addition, if parents cannot give more financially to help out their child’s school, I am a big advocate to get involved somehow in different ways. It pains me as well to see teachers during back to school night have to display video to parents that show school leaders asking for financial help, especially after most parents are taxed enough as it is financially (no pun intended, sort of).

Education needs help, even as we are all Waiting for Superman.