Education won’t improve until teachers get more respect
I am a teacher. I’m certified in New York state and highly effective according to the evaluation system that my district chose. Many of my colleagues are also dedicated and highly qualified professionals. So why is the American system of education failing so many students?
I’m not a psychologist, I’m not the parent of any of my students, I can’t help them with their socio-economic status, and I did not raise them or get to teach them to be respectful. Yet I am asked to address all of these issues, and to teach them in way that allows them success on an exam that I did not create.
I’m trusted to assess these students for 182 days a year, and on the final day I’m not allowed to score their final exams. I’m forced to follow policies created by a secretary of education who has never taught and a state education commissioner who labels me a “special interest.”
In the last few years, my profession has come under attack by a host of state governors, Congress, the media and many citizens whose jobs do not allow tenure, or a comparable safety net.
[Author] Linda Darling-Hammond is one of the most authoritative experts and passionate proponents for public education in America. In the book, “The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future,” she examines American education, explain problems, compares American education with systems around the world, and presents solutions. Darling-Hammond describes in detail three other nations: Finland, Singapore, and South Korea — all once rated near the bottom and all now much improved.
Similarly [author] Amanda Ripley, in “The Smartest Kids in the World,” looks at three countries where significant education reforms have improved the system to an exceptionally high level — Finland, South Korea (again) and Poland. These two studies in education reform success point to a few similarities, but one stands out.
All four of these countries value the profession of teaching. Teachers in Finland are paid on par with doctors and other esteemed professionals. Teachers in South Korea are held in the highest esteem and almost never disrespected.
Success in reforming America’s education system will never happen until teachers are respected and defended by the public and their bosses. Excluding teachers from decision-making and labeling them “special interests” will only worsen a bad situation.
Christopher J. Ognibene
Tea party destabilized economy, and country
If the tea party had gone out of its way to damage the economy, it could not have done a better job.
By creating uncertainty over our sovereign debt payments, it has spooked the business community, which hates uncertainty. This has led to the direct opposite of what the tea party desires.
To boost a weak economy, the Fed prints money whose repayment will be on the backs of the middle class. Big business benefits from printing money by doing more with fewer employees, depressing the creation of high-paying white- and blue-collar jobs, the end result of which is increasing profits, but not employment.
The rise in the stock market, which looks good for those with 401k plans, is an illusion. Stop printing money and the stock market will drop like a rock. Wall Street has learned nothing; big banks control more of the banking sector than they did before the Great Recession. They continue to take excessive risks and the regulations to rein them in are as holey as Swiss cheese.
Our credit rating will probably drop in February as the tea party forces another debt crisis; this will lead to higher rates for mortgages, credit cards and loans. America is no longer a “safe” economy and our competitors and allies will look elsewhere for world leadership.
Richard Moody Jr.
Police students’ door-to-door fundraising
Recently a 76-year-old family friend in Anchorage, Alaska, was mugged in his driveway. The muggers were allegedly soliciting for a high school fundraiser. The man said “no, my wife contributes to United Way.” He turned around to continue his leaf-blowing and found himself in an ER with numerous head injuries.
The school district [there] requires student athletes doing door-to door fundraising to be accompanied by their coach. They also need to wear uniforms and show school IDs. I live in Rotterdam, where I see the uniforms sometimes, but that is it.
Time for school districts to tighten up fundraising protocols. The three muggers had no IDs and their coach was AWOL. Students who need money for extras at school should perform community service and chores for the elderly, rather than go begging, door-to-door.
America is turning into a nation of beggars, entitlements; soon the beggars will turn on us en masse if we do not pony up.
Foster safe begging habits on the young while they are in school. Teach them how to beg safely. Then when they beg, 76-year-olds will not get mugged.
Orwellian twist applied in Bush basher’s letter
Re the Oct. 23 letterby Gary P. Guido, once again trying to blame George W. Bush for our national debt five years after he left office.
First, he says, “I will agree that this is past history and we have to move on,” but then does just the opposite by claiming, “There was never a spending bill that President Bush even thought about not signing.”
That may or may not be true; but how does Mr. Guido explain the $7 trillion — and climbing — debt added by President Obama, more then every other president combined in our nation’s history? No liberal likes to talk about that. They would rather blame Bush.
In fact, no one in this administration has been held accountable for anything, from the IRS scandal to Benghazi, to the Fast and Furious gunrunning to the NSA spying on Americans, to the failed foreign policy and now the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
No one is ever to blame or at fault in Obama’s inner circle, and spokesman Jay Carney never gives a straight answer to tough questions. So much for “the most transparent administration,” as stated by Obama himself.
So keep on conveniently blaming Bush, all you liberals. George Orwell’s 1984 is happening, as the lie becomes the truth as told by the party.
Domestic violence campaign must continue
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Although New York state has redesigned its training modules to better recognize this epidemic, there is so much more to be done.
Law enforcement agencies need much more psychological training and programs that would make them aware what to look for in a domestic violence situation. I applaud District Attorney James Murphy III [Oct. 20 letter] for his diligence in bringing this to the forefront, as I am a victim of domestic violence.
Domestic violence does not discriminate against gender, educational background, economic status or even geographic area. Most of us know someone who has had domestic violence in their lives and the lasting effects it has — not only mentally, but economically as well.
While most agencies, as well as law enforcement, require evidence of physical abuse before they would even consider getting involved, the perpetrators who commit these acts against intimate partners or spouses know how to get around the system. Usually the abuser already has used control, intimidation and fear against their partner, whereas the victim is afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, let alone the police, for fear of retribution.
One huge factor of victims not speaking out or telling someone of the abusive relationship is the stigma, shame, guilt and disgrace that they did something to deserve it. Nobody deserves to have these hideous acts committed against them and they need to know there are resources readily available them to assist them.
I commend the state and local municipalities for their continuing efforts to stop domestic violence and its effects.
The deadline for election letters is Tuesday, Oct. 29. We will continue to run selected letters on local races through Thursday, Oct. 31 in the online edition.