A student, former board member chimes in

Well, I was gonna? end this discussion last week, the third swing in Teacher Dialogues. But I have received some good input. My third swing last week must have been a foul tip and I get another pitch. Following are parts of letters from a student and former board of education member. Fulllength versions will be posted online.
Without further ado, Teacher Dialogue, Part 4.
* * *
This is in response to the dialogue taking place regarding teachers/students. First of all, let me frame this by stating I happen to be a home school student who will attend college as a freshman in the fall. Before anyone jumps to the conclusion I received an inferior education or that I wasn’t ‘socialized,? please take a moment to understand this is not the case.
Not only did I have the best of tutors, teachers and the luxury of a home school cooperative with more than 70 students at its peak, I also have several friends who go to public and private schools. I was also accepted to 5 colleges (private and state) with full scholarships at each institution. If anyone still doubts the validity of my education then they should also know that I am a National Merit Finalist.
That being said, the dialogue taking place between parents and teachers is a large part of why my parents began homeschooling over 12 years ago. The dialogue also reaffirms comments made by my peers who attend public school and who are extremely discouraged with the educational experiences they had, even though they are also honors students/high achievers.
It is unfortunate for both qualified, caring teachers and interested students that they have to contend with the nonsense that takes place daily in public and private school classrooms. One of my favorite teachers quit teaching at the public schools because he was so discouraged with, not only behavior but also the bureaucracy of the system and the lack of interest from the parents of students he cared so deeply about.
He used to say he loved teaching but he spent 90% of his time reprimanding the 10% of students who did not want to be in his classroom. Ten percent? He is probably correct. Most students are curious by nature and want to receive an education. However, they are hindered by the classroom situation which dictates that a teacher must basically be well versed in ‘crowd control? instead of the true art of teaching.
Unfortunately public education is just what it implies ? it is public and no matter who walks through the doors they must be dealt with on some level. There are many parents out there who are deeply involved (like my friends? parents) and are actively engaged in their children’s education. There are also too many parents who aren’t, leaving the teachers and administrators at a disadvantage, shaking their heads and wondering what to do when they are not allowed to truly discipline or hold students responsible.
My point? I was held responsible for all my actions, as were my friends. However, I was also extremely lucky to have parents who plucked me out the system and provided me with every tool I needed to succeed.
Good luck to all those concerned parents, wonderful teachers and bright students who are left to flounder in a failing system. As for me, when I have children of my own, you bet I will make sure they receive their education under my tutelage surrounded by unique opportunities similar to the ones I had. Two of my very best friends who attended public school will be offering the same to their children when the time comes because they felt truly robbed of what should have been the best years of their life: high school. — C
* * *
As a former school board member, I have found your writings of the last 2 weeks very interesting.
While I was on the board, I, on a regular basis, was amazed to see just how dysfunctional the education had become. The most heated of debates were never centered on quality education. Six people showed up to attempt to stop the demise of the high school foreign language program. That program is now gone. Four showed up to attempt to stop the demise of the Options/TLC alternative education program. That program is now gone as well. However, one hundred and twenty ‘caring individuals? did show up to protest an increase in sports fees. Conversely, no one ever showed up to question why $550,000 was budgeted for athletics, yet only $10,000 for gifted and talented students.
Seemingly, every new rule passed and every new standard set seemed to be geared to ‘Education to the Lowest Common Denominator.?
Case and point, approximately 5% of the student population at (blank) high school were ‘in trouble? with absences and/or truancy. Taking ‘swift and decisive action,? the administration proposed a sweeping new attendance policy that would eliminate ALL EXCUSED ABSENCES unless a note from a Doctor, Lawyer, or Clergyperson was produced.
After 5 ‘unexcused absences,? the child would be expelled from school. Of course, no one ever took into account there are children who have ongoing medical issues or that the ADA protects those folks under the law. No small oversight, to be sure.
I know someone that had to miss 5 days of school for college freshman orientation and this was considered, under the new rules, as an ‘unexcused absence.? This situation put her at 6 days and they actually talked about expelling a 3.95 GPA Honors Student in her last week of her senior year.
Sheer brilliance!
Would it not have been easier (and wiser) to address the real problem of 50 malingerers instead of punishing the other 950 students? I use this only as an example of how things are twisted and doctored to make life easier for the poor teachers and administrators.
Remember the push to get kids to ‘feel good about themselves?? This was yet another mindless, non-educational boondoggle thrust upon us by ‘experts.? I asked aloud what was going to happen when we had a district full of happy children that were so illiterate that they could not write a sentence on paper to tell you why?
Remember ‘Character Education?? Remember the 3R’s? If you do, you’re obviously not an educator or school administrator.
I have so many more examples that it would make you sick at you stomach. It did mine, and that my friend, is why I am no longer involved. There appears to be no room today in education for folks that are really interested in educating kids
What a sad commentary on society.
— Former board of eduction member
* * *
Administrators, I have yet to here from you. — Don

Comments are closed.