No, I am not afraid to address you directly.
While I realize that these problems are not unique to you (let’s face it, the whole American School System is a sick, sick joke), you are the one to specifically earn my ire and contempt, as this is what you have personally done to me and my family.
You told me at a young, impressionable age, that adults could solve my problems, then allowed me to be bullied by my peers, with no better advice for me or them than, “You should try harder to be friends.” On at least one occasion, you actually punished me for trying to stand up to a few people, while your paid employee sat in the same room on the sidelines and did nothing.
Even earlier on in my life, I watched as you manhandled my disabled sibling, as if he or she were a vicious animal. Later, you foisted him or her off to people who didn’t give a shit about him or her; people who forge test results for kids they don’t want to deal with anymore, and who treat all disabled children as if they all have the same condition, with the same needs and developmental planning requirements.
You have the gall to suggest that you actually care about their needs and futures, just like you once told me you cared about mine and my sibling’s.
You told me that grades should dictate my self-worth, and that once I got through college, a cushy job would surely be waiting for me and my precious, coveted degree. You discouraged me from exploration because what I wanted to learn “wasn’t in the textbook,” or “isn’t necessary to past the upcoming test.” You barely prepared me for what college was actually going to be like (the courses that came closest were all labeled “Advanced Placement”), and the government-mandated tests were all multiple choice, which can easily be passed with process of elimination. Did you know that I had a college professor whose multiple choice portions always contained the options “None of the Above” and “All of the Above”? Doing something like that might have actually forced me to know the material, not just memorize snippets that I can parrot back to the teacher when called upon. Thanks for that.
You never once encouraged me to take a home economics course, where I might actually have learned some practical adult skills. I also can’t recall even once being encouraged to seek an apprenticeship or internship, even though work experience is clearly more helpful in finding a job than going through more schooling.
And yes, there are some impractical degrees out there. But hey, you told me to follow my passions and find a job that would make me happy, and the degree I chose has some flexibility and job significance. Certainly more than something like Art History, anyway.
And now you and your middle aged employees feel perfectly comfortable criticizing me and my generation for our laziness and entitlement, even as those of us who seek employment from businesses like yours are given little to no benefits and no job security, forced to either move back in with our parents (if we even can), work 6 jobs just to make rent, or be homeless.
What is most insidious to me is how much you pretend to care about students; their personalities, their learning styles, their families, and their hopes and dreams. For every positive step you make, such as feeding and supplying poorer students with needed school materials, you push this disingenuously optimistic message about individuality and happiness and job fulfillment and the importance of education in making all of that a reality. As I said, I realize that some of this is a top-down problem; some things, you just have little or no control over. But that does not excuse the things that are in your power to fix, like being able to employ teachers who actually have a passion for children and education. Or other staff who aren’t lazy or cruel about the treatment of those who can’t take care of themselves.
Or how about not employing a bunch of doddering, out-of-touch, cynical or blithe old farts who think that your organization’s most pressing concern (aside from your major budget cuts) is making your public website more mobile-friendly…about ten years after everyone and their mother started doing that.