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Red-StaterWisdoms explores the differences between the Red and Blue states on social, personal and political issues.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A Discussion on Education-Why Our Kids Can't Read

Note from Sallyann: "Lono", a fellow blogger, and I have been corresponding on Red State/Blue State issues since the inception of the Red-StaterWisdoms blog. Go to the November Archives, "Red State morality confusing" title and read the "stream" in the comment section. I have pulled Lono's last comment to the front of the blog in order to engage the larger readership in the discussion. We are confronted with an "education crisis" that No Child Left Behind was designed to overcome. Of course, Red Staters differ with Blue Stater's solutions to this problem. In general, Blue Stater's believe it is the lack of money that has caused half the student population to graduate without being able to read and write proficiently. Red Staters believe, generally, "teaching methods" are at the root of the problem. To start the discussion, I asked Lono why he believed No Child Left Behind was unfunded. His response follows:

That it is almost entirely unfunded is a fact even the President doesn't deny. You say Dems have controlled education for the last 30 years. In my experience, that is far from the truth. Education is mostly state based, and I grew up in Arizona... which was militantly Republican all through my school years. I watched them chip at school money every single year. I watched classes and programs get cut every year. I watched fees and taxes rise with less and less services.The reality is that Republicans don't want to be in the business of subsidizing anything public. Look at social security same thing. It is ok. As I said, I understand the thinking... the thinking is that people need to be more self sufficient and rely less on the government.However, cutting funding for education and sex education especially only hurts America. Bush says he is pro-life... but he has gutted so many programs that his administration saw many many many more abortions during his term than during Clintons.Also, here is a quick Democratic look at why we think education is valuable to all of society. If you create (and subsidize, there it is I said it) better educational opportunities for people you have people with better jobs. This means less crime (because people won't have to steal to get by). This also means that you have more people working and more people making more money... this is good for the tax base.Look at our deficit, look at the problems in the schools, look at our image around the world... and the President wants to send us to Mars. Let's take care of the humans first, then worry about the martians.


Blogger Susanne said...

I am a parent of two elementary school age students. My children attend the "richest" school in the district. I have a teaching degree in Early Childhood Ed. ... for what it's worth here are my two cents.
First, have you noticed how many days off students have these days. It's no longer federal holidays, spring, and winter break. My kids are getting multiple days off for "teacher in-service" and conferences. My children will miss a full calendar week of school for these events. When I was getting my degree, and when I first started teaching it was my responsibility to get my exta hours of instruction during the summer. Apparently teachers have better things to do with their summers these days.
Second, the states change their minds about what method is best for teaching reading, writing, math, and science about every 5 years. My first grader is now learning to write in the Danealian style because it's supposed to be easier to make the transition from printing to cursive writing. I challenge you adults to try this printing ~ it's not easy. In fact to me, it seems flat out wrong!
Third is classroom size. My kindergarten student only goes to school half day. There are two teachers and each have classes in the morning and in the afternoon. Each class has twenty five students. My first grader is also in a class of twenty five with a total of three 1st grade teachers. Keep in mind that this is only one elementary school in the district. The district has a total of 6 elementary schools. They all have the same classroom sizes.
Because of the increased classroom size and cuts in federal budgets the teachers have had to become thriftier and more creative. Frankly, some of them are not up to the task. Those teachers need to be held accountable for their failures, just as the good teachers should be rewarded for their success. Take a look at how "powerful" the teachers union has become. It's no longer about the children and getting the the best education. It's about raising teachers salaries, administrator raises, and seeing legislation passed they see as necessary. Most times the recommendations they make to improve education is nothing more than recycled ideas that have failed in the past... but yeah, lets spend millions of dollars on a proven failure.
I've also noticed a trend to teach to the "lowest" part of the class. Those students who do excel, or need to be challenged are just out of luck. Another area of contention are the English as a second language classes. Yes, America is the land of opportunity, and yes we speak English. The children who cannot speak English need to be taught, but is it the federal government's job to do it? I don't like that my children's classroom dollars are being lessened so that these programs can be provided. It's not a racial thing either. If your child can't speak English how are they going to get through the school system and enter college. Thus insuring they will get a better job...
Our children's lack of success cannot be placed solely on the teachers and schools or on the government. With most households having two working parents the kids are left to inadequate daycare or worse, left at home to fend for themselves. Many parents these days don't have the energy or desire to check on their children to make sure they are getting homework done, what's coming home from school, helping their children strive for better. Most don't talk to teachers until conferences. How is your child going to succeed if you don't take an interest. To me the problem with children and learning is also a social problem. Too many people don't focus on the family. They are too stressed out from the daily grind, and too interested on the tv. Many children spend a ridiculous amount of time in front of the boob tube, or playing video games. They are not reading, they are not doing their homework.
I don't agree that our children's suffering in school is a partisan issue. How to resolve it has obviously become one. Truth is there have been mistakes made on both sides. The politicians need to get their egos out of this, and start focussing on what does count, and that is the children. I don't care if a Democrat or a Republican can come up with some WORKABLE solutions for today's youth... just somebody please do it. We don't need "study groups" to analyze the problem. We don't need more "clinical trials" that rehash old information. What we need are legislators who have the guts to not cow-tow to their special interst groups (it's on both sides of the isle) and stand up for what is right.
Lastly... about sex education in the schools. Yes there is a need for it, but this is just another attempt to take the responsibility off the parent where it belongs, and put it on an already taxed school system. Why SHOULD it be the responsiblity of the school to educate the kids about this. Can't talk about God or morals in the school without penalty ~ how are you supposed to have an honest open dialog about sex ed without these components. Sex ed should be more than condoms, the pill, and STD's. But with the limitations on teachers about what they can and cannot say, it's never going to happen.

2:27 PM  

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