Angelina Jolie Says Our Education System Needs Improving

Okay, I simply must comment on a story I read on CNN Entertainment: The Marquee Blog. It was an interview with Angelina Jolie about, of all things, educating children. Some of what she said was sort of a no-brainer, but absolutely true, and some was just ridiculously-in-your-face to most of us who are raising and/or educating children in the United States today. Let me explain what I mean.

One of her comments which I thoroughly agree with was: “I do think we live in a different age and the education system hasn’t caught up with our children and our way of life.”

To a large degree, this is very true. We live in a more global world today as a result of improvements in technology, but a large percentage of teachers, like myself, grew up in a much smaller world where computers were a mystery because we just didn’t have access to them. While most of us have learned to embrace this bigger world picture, some veteran teachers still are fearful of computers and the Internet and have a basic distrust of them both, making it difficult for them to encourage the use of computers or to use them as teaching tools when they are uncomfortable with them personally.

The other major reason for the education system being unable to “catch up” is purely financial. When school systems are struggling financially and being forced to make tremendous cutbacks, how do they keep up with the constantly changing technological devices? No sooner do we “catch up” than what we just caught up with is considered obsolete, and we have to “catch up” again. Unless public education suddenly finds a rich benefactor, trying to keep up financially with ever changing products is impossible. In our school, we finally have Smartboards in every classroom, and now the big push is providing iPads for every student! In our present economic climate, it just isn’t happening!

So, Angelina, I will acknowledge the accuracy of this comment, but I would contest that it isn’t for lack of trying that we are playing catch up!

Angelina also said, “I feel that there’s got to be a new way to tailor things more directly to our children. Considering the amount of information we have today, the internet and online books… We as parents need to think about how we can shake it up and make it better.”

I heartily agree! We live in an age where information of any variety is just a few clicks away. The power that creates is awesome, and parents owe it to their children to encourage them and work with them to become self-learners. Encourage them to read about their interests online, to blog about them, to search out the questions they have on their own, to communicate with children from other countries and learn about their cultures. This is how you raise children who are creative, avid, problem-solving contributors to our society. So, yes, help your child to use the resources at their fingertips responsibly, and not just for their personal entertainment.

Now, here’s where it gets almost insulting to those of us out here who make an average living. The article mentions that Angelina and Brad’s children are enrolled in the Lycee Programme, a blending of Anglo Saxon and French schooling, in several different countries including New York, Prague, and Venice. So I did a little exploring to get an idea of what such an education would cost on the New York campus. Here it is:

                                     2011-2012 Tuition & Fees
Pre-Kindergarten to 12th Grade : $24,720

Additional Non-Refundable Fees

Application / Re-enrollment fee: $200

Lunch Fee (Kindergarten to 7th Grade): $1200

Books and supplies fee (1st to 7th Grade): $170 
APL Fee per student: $45
New student fee (one-time fee for the first year only): $3000
Okay, now that we have some picture of what they are paying for each child’s education, it gets better, because Angelina continues to explain, “But we have different teachers from different cultures in our house, who travel with us. Not only nannies but teachers. To us it’s about building a team around us where we can all be enhanced culturally and they can help with following a curriculum legally.”

Hurrah for you and your family! It’s wonderful that you can afford this for your children and that you feel the need to tell us all that you can! But it was at this point in the article that I wanted to call someone from CNN Entertainment and ask how they could possibly use this woman with her millions of dollars to be a spokesperson for improving the educational system!

Get real, who wouldn’t love to be able to provide this kind of education for their children? Who wouldn’t love to take them from country to country to learn firsthand about other cultures, while taking a whole entourage of teachers and tutors to work with them all along the way? Give public schools these kinds of resources and just watch what we could do, too!

To hold this up as the standard by which we judge the educational system here in the United States makes me so angry. It’s like comparing lobster to hot dogs! It’s simply ludicrous! Shame on you, CNN Entertainment, for even publishing this piece. And shame on you, Angelina Jolie, for tearing down a system which could never compete with yours, not because it doesn’t have the desire and the personnel, but because it doesn’t have your resources!

Maybe you should consider sharing some of those resources and becoming a financial benefactor of the education system you are so quick to denigrate.

4 thoughts on “Angelina Jolie Says Our Education System Needs Improving

  1. Gerry

    Asking Angelina for advice on how to fix education is like asking Donald Trump to change the oil in his Honda Civic—simply no concept of what real life is all about.

  2. Nicky

    These are her opinions, which she has a right to. And she was probably asked what type of education she choose and why. I doubt she went looking for some blog reporter to share her views with because she wants to change the world of public education.
    I’m so sorry you took this personally. If you or I had the resources we would look into different forms of schooling for our children too. To get down on her because she’s got millions of dollars and can choose how her children are educated seems a little petty and sounds like jealousy. And to say that if public schools had that kind of money things would be different if not better is just optimistic at best. Nothing can flourish in that bureaucracy. Even great teachers are not allowed to explore new and different ways to educate their students because of standardized testing. Has NOTHING to do with having computers or access to the Internet for either kids or teachers.
    I don’t doubt that you are a great teacher since this has stirred some emotion from you. And I truly believe that the education system is failing our teachers as well as our students. Not because teachers are bad at what they do, but because idiots are making the descisions of what can and cannot be taught and how it is taught to our kids.
    Because someone chooses a different route and has the means to do so, and happens to answer someone’s questions about it and it happens to be published somewhere does not mean she’s the new authority on education. At the same time thank god she’s taking interest in her childrens education. Most loving and caring parents don’t even give it a second thought that public school is the only choice. They never even explore other options let alone talk about the search openly.

  3. Joyce

    Hi, Nicky, I really appreciated your comment because you helped calm me down. When everything you read anymore is a jab against teachers and public education, you begin to get a little sensitive. Thank you for giving me your perspective on the interview. I truly don’t begrudge her her money or the opportunities it gives her to do some awesome things with and for her children. It just felt a little “in your face” in the economic mess public education finds itself in these days. I confess that it was just too stark a contrast to what we face each and every day in our schools.

    I also agree, and have said all along, that the problem with our schools is that they are being dictated to by politicians and businessmen who have no concept of what it takes to teach children and to deal with all of the outside influences which impact our students and make our job more complicated. If teachers could get back to teaching relevant subject matter rather than test strategies and test prep, we would see a vast improvement in our schools.

    Standardized tests do limit teachers, especially in math, as I learned this year since it was the first year I have taught fifth grade math. The pace with which material must be covered is grueling and there is very little time to explore or manipulate concepts in the race to cover everything before administering state tests.

    So, from time to time, I read something that really rubs me the wrong way, and all of the frustration spews. Thank you again for giving me a different perspective on this article. And my apologies to Angline Jolie if I sounded judgmental.

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