Thursday, September 23, 2010
Schools Under The Microscope!
Summer is over, and schools have started. Everyone, including the janitor, dreams about that outdoor vacation, even if he didn't go on vacation. Summer will linger in his soul for a long time. School, like work, is where we return, after the fun, the recreation, the time off. School is where children spend most of their young lives.
Lately, everyone has jumped on the bandwagon on the subject of school reform. Chatrooms are filled with all kinds of people who believe that schools need reforming and the best thing to do is ....
Everyone has a solution.
Everyone has an opinion.
Even my oral hygienist.
After all, we have all been in schools.
As you know, I'm a retired educator, and presently serve as a member of the local school board. In addition, two of my children are teachers in public schools. If I look at all the people that are teachers and follow this blog, we now have a very good sample of professionals who can jump in and get into the conversation.
Historically, in my lifetime, schools have never had adequate resources. Many teachers supplement their classroom libraries, supplies, videos and outdoor activities with their own moneys. I go back to my first teaching days when sets of textbooks had to last ten years or so, and things have not changed much since.
When President Johnson's War on Poverty brought some needed funds, training and supplies into poor schools we began to address the disparity of educational opportunities in different neighborhoods. Rich neighborhoods had great schools; poor neighborhoods had poor schools. The rich children had parents with books and accessibility to cultural activities. Poor children had illeterate parents, no books, not even enough food.
Now, Title One funds have continued to flow into schools with poor children, and the funds have done tremendous good to those schools. But, the dispararity doesn't go away.
Rich folks will continue to have the advantages because they can afford to supplement their public schools with PTA and Booster Clubs funds and parent led field excursions, and parent volunteers, and mentoring. They can tax themselves to construct new schools or repair present ones. Poor schools will have a portion of their funds cut, as of this writing, if the children do not make adequate progress. The local parents are too poor to provide supplemental funding to maintain the facilities, or to provide field trips and other enrichment activities.
There are five issues schools face:
1. Motivate students to do their best and stay in school.
2. Provide rich curriculum offerings, including the arts and outdoor education.
3. Achieve Adequate Progress as measured by standard and non-standard methods.
4. Maintain facilities so they are safe, pleasing, and attractive.
5 Hire and retain the best qualified teachers.
(to be continued...)