The Education Liberator, Vol. 2, No. 8, October 1996
Each month, we will profile individuals who have signed the Proclamation for the Separation of School & State.
"You have to see it to believe the mess,"
teacher of 26 years reports from the trenches
After 26 years of trench warfare in large Indianapolis high schools, Leona McPherson is ready for Separation. "Public education as we know it has outlived its usefulness," she says. "It's just not working."
McPherson, who has watched education steadily decline in her 26 years of teaching business education, blames the usual suspects: bureaucracy, educational fads, failure to teach reading, lack of discipline, busing, federal money. When she started teaching in 1970, she recalls, not one Indianapolis high school had a Special Education department. Today Special Ed, fueled by federal money and an abundance of school-produced illiterates, is the largest department in every high school.
Possessed of a genuine compassion for her students, McPherson grows increasingly frustrated with the failure all around her, especially since she knows "things could be so much better" with Separation. She has no use for the anti-Separation argument that some kids might not get an education, saying simply, "They're not getting one now."
Scattered media reports about school violence, Ritalin, NAEP scores and the like simply cannot give parents and taxpayers a full-orbed grasp of public miseducation, she insists. She urges people to go and see for themselves. "It's such a mess, it's really hard to explain to someone who's not there in the trenches every day. We're there every day, and sometimes it's even hard for us to fathom. It's the kind of thing that, if someone would tell you about it, you wouldn't believe it."
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