Mouthing Off: The kid’s don’t stand a chance

Brian Figurski becomes a vessel of transportation for Calil, one of his former students.

Brian Figurski becomes a vessel of transportation for Calil, one of his former students.

By Brian Figurski

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The state of education is at an all-time low in America. Like most other struggling economic topics – healthcare, social security, anything that sucks up our money.

While no social types of any sort should be left behind, I have first-hand documentation that the children of this generation have it rough.

This has been a long time coming.

While most people spent the summer farting around, I spent my time teaching workshops at a summer school center in Pontiac. Why someone thought me being responsible for molding young children’s minds was a good idea, I did not understand.

Now that it’s all said and done, it’s clear that there’s really no harm I could have caused worse than what’s already established. The state of education is heartbreaking.

Historically speaking, I don’t really passionately care for anything, so being so taken by this sad state of affairs is surprising to both all my ex-girlfriends and myself.

I taught creative writing to kids of urban Pontiac, anywhere from first to fifth graders. The writing really wasn’t accomplished, though – it morphed into mainly drawing pictures.

These kids could vividly tell me about their blockhead characters with square limbs and these insane adventures of rescuing interstellar pizzas and being attacked by blueberry giants, but sadly, most lacked the mental tools to write anything down on paper.

It’s a dilapidated system. Schools are rapidly closing in these urban areas, which are surrounding by other communities in decent hands, if not thriving and giving their kids concert-level cello lessons by third grade, and while some neighboring communities have opened their gates to the public, many require discrepancies more than city residency before they lower the drawbridge – proof of home ownership, utility bills, water bills. Just invite the principal over for a hot meatloaf dinner at that point.

The average teacher-to-student ratio in some Detroit high schools borders 45-to-one. That’s no way to sink any information into a kid for a teacher – that’s glorified babysitting, making sure the day ends and no one gets hurt in the meantime.

I know, I once saw a kid start bashing another one’s skull against the tile floor in a colored pencil war, because it’s all they’ve learned in their short experience.

I don’t think many of us will ever actually understand this. Majority of us come from a middle-class background and have a decent education. We did all get into Oakland University, obviously.

Of course, that’s not saying much sometimes. During one of my first semesters here, I had a classmate that was a mop handle with a face drawn on with a Sharpie.

Either way, we haven’t experienced this decay. We read about it in papers, sure, but most of us remain ignorant to the actual facts with this laissez-faire let-it-be attitude.

Teaching is a thankless, overworked job. The average pay of a first-year teacher in Michigan, according to the National Education Association, is around $36,000. So let’s say they work 40 hours a week in the school, and let’s undershoot another ten hours grading papers, writing lesson plans and not ripping their hair from their scalp.

That equates to a measly $13.85 an hour. In a country where minimum wage is bordering a bump to $10 an hour, for every working person under the sun.

Rarely do the children these teachers work with on a daily basis show any sign of gratitude and they have seen some of the worse demons in people. But they come back to it everyday and wear that smile.

Thank you to anyone involved in the educational structure of America’s collapsing youth. Even the professors at the universities – I’m sure it’s not the easiest gig when you have people like me doodling satanic cheeseburgers on all my papers and midterm assignments.

I have tried it and have not the fortitude to pursue it. You are the cavalry on the front line and I hold faith that you can help mend things one born-innocent child at a time until a permanent solution is found.