Welcome back, fearless bloggeurs! I’m excited to be exited about the spring semester. I teach a goodly chunk of my favorite literature each spring–Chopin, Frost, Faulkner, O’Connor, Joyce, Williams–the list of beloved texts is almost embarrassingly long.
My seniors might find this semester a useful time to reflect on their accomplishments, and to ask us all about the sort of education MSMS would be well-served to offer. I do my best to offer college-level instruction in English. I have wondered lately whether or not such courses give my students the skills they need to thrive in college and beyond. Assuming that most students here will seek majors in STEM fields, would MSMS be better off if we developed a technical writing course that would knock a semester off literature requirements? I have no idea who would teach it–I am utterly uninterested and unqualified–but I suspect my science/math oriented students would feel like they were receiving better preparation for their professions in a technical writing class than they do while studying the Greater Romantic Lyric.
All of this begs another question: what is the proper goal of education? Do we simply want a more qualified workforce? Better citizens? Do we want schools to create more doctors than plumbers? More teachers than opera stars? More engineers than poets?
For me, such questions cannot be answered without acknowledging that education in Mississippi is likely to be funded at levels that are less than ideal. Mississippi is already over $100 million short of revenue from the current fiscal year, which will have an impact on budgeting for next year. Furthermore, our school’s specialized mission is imperiled by the insistence that “level funding” (the appropriation of the same amount year after year) is good, because at least it isn’t “less funding.” However, given the cost of boarding and educating 250 students, level funding is less funding because it does not account for inflation–we simply cannot accept all eligible students with the money appropriated to us.
You can’t have a Cadillac for the cost of a second-hand mini-van; you can’t get superb results from education if you offer funding for it that is sub-par.