Does School Teach Kids to Survive and Thrive?

Submitted by JJ Ross on 14 March, 2006 - 17:52.
Accountability | Catastrophes | Commerce | Creative Class | Education | Food | Health | Homeschooling | Parenting | Teaching | Technology | Terrorism

Maybe I got it wrong before, and moving school nurses to mega-grocery stores is a good idea?

I didn't see the disaster-preparedness angle when I wrote:

We're getting one of these fancy food-clinic combos in my state, right in Miami where school corruption is a more popular sport than football and jai alai put together. Miami is the perfect place to play around with anything that disadvantages schoolkids to generate ill-gotten profits for greedy grownups.

So now I'm thinking, what's best for kids if their school can't be accessed, maybe isn't there at all?

Where are we wiser to place expensive institutional electric generators, to avoid Katrina-scale misery -- in schools or grocery stores?

It could be that South Florida culture is doing something smart for survival preparedness even if they didn't exactly plan it that way, haven't recognized it and never admit it.

By Elaine Walker

The next time a major hurricane strikes South Florida, shoppers should be able to find their local Publix stocked with milk, cheese and ice even before the power returns.

Publix Super Markets announced plans Monday to install 400 generators in stores throughout the chain, including all 146 stores in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties. The generators will power the entire store. Another 175 quick-connecting docking stations will be placed at stores in less hurricane-prone areas.

The initiative puts Publix ahead of a proposed Miami-Dade County ordinance that would require an alternative source of power for all food stores of more than 40,000 square feet. Broward County has considered possible requirements for targeted retailers, but has nothing officially proposed.

The Lakeland-based supermarket chain announced at a news conference attended by Miami-Dade County officials that it will spend $100 million on the generators, which will be installed in two phases by July 2007. Phase 1 is to be finished by July 1 and include about 120 stores, many of them in South Florida.

''This is something our communities are asking for,'' said Bill Fauerbach, vice president of retail operations for Publix's Miami division. ``Publix being open for business after a hurricane is often the first sign that things are getting back to normal in our community.''

Publix executives say the generator installations are part of an effort to be good corporate citizens, but it's also a logical business decision. The chain says it lost more than $60 million in food that had to be thrown out after four hurricanes hit Florida in 2004. . .

School -- even high-stakes, test-driven, national-defense compulsory school -- isn't essential when real disaster hits a community or a nation. The "accountability" that matters then is living to count another day.

We do treat schools as storm shelters, but that's not because school must be kept open at all costs. The opposite is true. This model intentionally disrupts "school" throughout the community, whether or not the disaster ever touches a single school building. First thing we do is stop all classes and lessons, send the staff home to their own families, and convert the facilities for evacuees (of all ages, residents of school board-defined zones or not, and not to teach them anything either.)

Obviously then, it isn't the micromanaged "educational" functions of school (funded by taxes, mandated by law and vaguely justified as national defense) that matter to anyone's survival. Not even the kids.

Big grocery stores, reliably staffed and stocked with safe food and drink, ARE urgently essential to the whole community, and thus their primary functions must be paid for and protected.

Public schools, um -- (hear my Jon Stewart impression?) not so much. No kid ever died from missing out on that high-stakes test or a few days, weeks, months, years of School attendance.

Meanwhile on a different planet, in one of those odd connections that makes blogging more fun than school, a lawyer for the conservative Christian-based HomeSchool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has started blogging about bird flu.

Bird flu could be a disaster in which, rather than keeping schools open as essential, survival preparedness may depend on CLOSING schools, and keeping them closed long-term.

If schools had to be shut down for our mutual survival, which kinds of "education" would be the best prepared, for the least disruption? We'd soon need to climb back up Maslow's ladder. Virtual learning from home, maybe small groups of neighbors enjoying home libraries -- call it what you will -- would suddenly look a lot smarter than what we've legislated and labeled as public education policy during my lifetime.

And to carry the thought further, which kinds of education (if any) are best preparing future citizens to survive, and even help prevent, all manner of potential catastrophes to come? I'd put a high premium on self-reliant yet socially responsible technology, schedules, lifestyles, networking, world views and income generation. The kinds of learning based on intrinsic motivation, privacy and sustainability, learning that doesn't require or prepare people to live and work in assigned dorms and barracks under constant public supervision and scrutiny.

Public school protectionism is sorry public protection. So why would we want that doctrine undergirding the entire third-millennium curriculum, and why would we accept union politicians as best equipped to control how all kids learn to think, plan and problem-solve?

I think our kids need to learn differently and do differently, SO much better than we did and so far past school. Someday soon they'll replace us as thinkers, caregivers, problem-solvers, diplomats, designers, and story-tellers. (If they survive!)

I believe preparing ourselves to prepare them, will require new learning and creative cultural-political change on our part first, changes for which the lessons of our grandparents (as interpreted through our own schooling) didn't prepare us that well, either.

But getting walk-in health care out of school and available on demand for the whole family could be a start . . .

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JJ Ross's picture
Submitted by JJ Ross on 16 March, 2006 - 16:05.

Here's more about crucial business functions when the bird flu comes, in which not even corporate school is mentioned as a vital service, probably just a failure of imagination?
Not to worry.
Grocery stores are here in the thick of the planning, and by golly, the CARTOONS will continue come hell, high water and bird flu combined, because well, global conglomerates are planning for our kids to be "homebound for months" even as local schools continue to define survival planning as ways to keep more FTEs at school round the clock.

March 16, 2006
Is Business Ready for a Flu Pandemic?

ROME — Governments worldwide have spent billions planning for a
potential influenza pandemic: buying medicines, running disaster drills, developing strategies for tighter border controls. But one piece of the plan may be missing: the ability of corporations to continue to provide vital services.

Airlines, for instance, would have to fly health experts around the
world and overnight couriers would have to rush medical supplies to the front lines. Banks would need to ensure that computer systems continued to move money internationally and that local customers could get cash. News outlets would have to keep broadcasting so people could get information that might mean the difference between life and death.

"I tell companies to use their imagination to think of all the
unintended consequences," said Mark Layton, global leader for enterprise risk services at Deloitte & Touche in New York. . .
"down to the food available for purchase in our grocery stores, one begins to understand the importance of advanced planning."

Some of the most important planning involves not employee health, but how to continue to deliver vital services in a crisis. . .
Time Warner is also working to create a mechanized cart that could
automatically load tape after tape into a satellite transmission system, so it could keep stations like Cartoon Network on the air — a boon if children were homebound for months.

So does our planning reflect our priorities? Just checking.

JJ Ross's picture
Submitted by JJ Ross on 23 March, 2006 - 23:04.

Here's part of the online school checklist for pandemic influenza (section two, the only real part - the part about something besides interfacing with other government entities)

Continuity of Student Learning and Core Operations:

* Develop scenarios describing the potential impact of a pandemic on student learning (e.g., student and staff absences), school closings, and extracurricular activities based on having various levels of illness among students and staff.

* Develop alternative procedures to assure continuity of instruction (e.g., web-based distance instruction, telephone trees, mailed lessons and assignments, instruction via local radio or television stations) in the event of district school closures.

* Develop a continuity of operations plan for essential central office functions including payroll and ongoing communication with students and parents.

Yeah, yeah.
Or just close. Send the kids and staff home. Stop the payroll. Hush. Go about your own lives and tend to your own family's learning and well-being and help your own neighbors, for the indefinite future.