Dear Mr. President

I recently decided to end my attempt to transform America’s social problems from the bottom up. Therefore, I’m planning to write a series of communiqués to the most important man on the planet: the President of the United States of America. The following is the first letter in the series…

Dear Mr. President,
I am writing this communiqué to thank you for your notable effort. I applaud your historic and noteworthy service to America, especially this early in your first term and in these most difficult of times. In the same vein as our Founding Fathers, I feel you are a genuine pioneer as well as an inspirational leader more than capable of breaking new ground. You just might be the first American president, since our founders, who genuinely recognizes the “big picture.”
Moreover, our amazing nation is presently waging a number of deadly battles: the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, and the war on unemployment and poverty, along with a bloody crusade in the Middle East. As well, America is fighting an ongoing campaign against ignorance. And as you know, we desperately need an improved educational structure
In view of that, I will be writing and publishing a series of letters/columns entitled “Dear Mr. President” outlining my main concerns. Therefore, let me get directly to the point. First, being a father of four, I’m extremely concerned about America’s failing schools and educational system. It is one of the core causes of poverty and also the root of various other social problems, including drug use and crime.
Across the board, America’s educational approach is, beyond a doubt, archaic! And, because its framework is undeniably and totally behind the times, many of America’s offspring are in very serious trouble. As you may already appreciate, a number of our ghettos schools are like jungles where children play survival of the toughest. Several of these schools are understaffed, under-funded, and under attack by their own students. Countless children in these schools can’t write—or even read a simple sentence!
Our current method of teaching habitually undermines our children’s individuality and, often, their true creativity. It’s hard to comprehend that in 2010, America’s schools (like its detention centers and prisons) still run primarily on negative reinforcement and punishment.
Forced learning under duress and intimidation is aberrant and undeniably not the most optimal way to educate young children. Our schools demand too much brainless busywork along with overwhelming amounts of senseless homework. Moreover, we must address the tenure issue. Upon achieving tenure, many teachers believe it is a license to slack off. Because of all these inept and ineffective tenured teachers, coupled with the constant negativity pervading America’s schools, we are, in all honesty, failing countless children along with the future of this incredible nation. This tawdry type of teaching is one of the reasons the lure of gangs, drugs, and easy money is now corrupting kids who just cannot get by in school.
Our educators and administrators must appreciate that it is no longer the dark ages! Most do not appear to appreciate or understand the fundamental concepts. For example, isn’t it highly unnatural to have a young boy sit still all day long? Boys need to get up, move around, take part in learning games, and not spend five or six hours sitting like a zombie at an undersized school desk. It is simply not natural. Why do you think so many adolescent boys loathe school while there, and then drop out? What is your Secretary of Education presently doing about our ongoing educational problems? I cannot comprehend why we have failed to correct this highly corrosive composition of negative reinforcement, brainless busywork, and insipid teachers to date. All that this downbeat, unconstructive behavior does is turn our children off of school and education. That is why we should immediately set forth fashioning a brand new, innovative, state-of-the-art teaching approach.
Additionally, America must invest significant amounts towards a quality preschool program for our country’s underprivileged children. As it has now become perfectly clear, a well-run preschool curriculum will save us billions of dollars in the imminent future: cutting prison costs, drug rehab operating expenses, and welfare disbursements.
The first thing a child should learn in school is that education and knowledge can not only be a mind-blowing, cool experience, but also a bunch of fun! Only then can teachers honestly get down and teach America’s children the true love of learning.
With the foregoing in mind, here’s a no-nonsense proposal that is uncomplicated and almost effortless. In contrast to coercion, pressure, harshness, and hollering at kids, I believe an unassuming warm smile on every teacher’s face might just yield a world of difference.
Always yours,

Kevin P. McKenna
Executive Director, IDEAS

Kevin McKenna is a filmmaker/social scientist and the executive director of IDEAS (Investigative Documentaries Educating American Society), a 501c non-profit corporation. If you have any comments, ideas, or need more information, please call (818) 588-3047 or e-mail ideasfilm@charter.net.

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