May 14, 2008: What's happening with education?

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To The Editor:

I have recently run into some problems with my child’s education. I have tried going through all the right outlets to handle the matter. But what I’m hearing from the school system is disturbing and I thought I should share it.

Apparently our teachers no long have the time to educate our children. They don’t have the time to follow up or the time to give extra attention to students that are in dire need of it. We all know that children learn differently. What comes easily for some may take others a bit longer to grasp on. My concern here is that I have never walked into the school and seen so many teachers. We have classroom teachers. We have classroom aides, teachers’ aides, resource teachers, student tutors and still our children’s education is failing. They are still not getting the individual help that is required to make them excel where they may be lacking.

Let me digress to 12 to 15 years ago. There was never an aide in my classrooms growing up. I feel quite certain that my teachers did a good job in delivering an education I can be proud of. They were involved in my life for eight hours a day. They made sure I had the necessary tools required to develop into an educated adult. If I was falling behind in a subject they let me know and they let my parents know it.

My children and my friends’ children come home with stories from school about teachers telling kids that they are lazy and stupid. That they shouldn’t try this sport or that club because they can’t do it. What kind of instruction is that? Every teacher in the elementary department asks at the beginning of the year for a letter about our children. A letter that tells them about our child gives them insight. They ask for this letter and then don’t use any of the information that has been given them. I’m always certain to let them know about my children’s personalities; things that work best to get my child to listen or want more so the teacher’s job is easier. That letter was not utilized this year.

I’ve had many meetings and conferences where plans have been set up and within a week they are no longer being followed. It’s days before someone returns my call. And all I’m hearing from the teachers is that they don’t have enough time. Not enough time to teach my children? Not enough time to see that with a little bit of extra help or listening or doing something differently can turn a D into an A? I believe that their job title, Teacher, requires them to have time to do just that. Teach children. I work a full time job and have four kids, all at different grade levels. I may not always have time to check up on them or drop in on their classrooms. But I do like to be totally available to my children’s teachers for good or bad reasons. So that if a problem arises, or if my child does something exceptional, I can hear about it. Which leads me to progress reports and report cards.

Report cards are received 3-4 times a year. Progress reports come out in between report cards; approximately every five weeks, to give you an update for the weeks in between. Students that have more problems should be receiving these progress reports whenever there is a problem, not weeks later. I want to know about my children’s hurdles before it’s too late for me to do anything about them. If I find out my child is failing halfway through the year and it could have been prevented in the first month of school, I would do something about it if I knew about it.

The communication between parents and teachers is faulty, and in my case it’s on the teacher’s end. As a parent I also don’t feel that my child should be held accountable to communicate the teacher’s concerns to me. As “children” they should not be left to handle adult responsibilities. When has any child reported to their parents that their teacher is unhappy with their performance? If a child thinks they may be reprimanded at home for something they did in school the message tends to get garbled when it gets home or it gets lost altogether somewhere between the classroom and the bus ride to the front door. I strongly feel that if a teacher needs to communicate something to me it should be in writing in a sealed envelope or over the telephone, not passed through a child.

So what happened to our teachers? Are they not getting paid enough? Is the school understaffed? I doubt it considering all the aides available. Maybe the teachers just aren’t interested in teaching anymore. Maybe they got tired of their job and decided not to put any effort into it. Have they been handed too many projects or deadlines to efficiently get it finished in the school year? Maybe we need a longer school day or a less demanding curriculum. I feel my children deserve a well-rounded education built around his or her individual needs. I’m thinking extra help if they need it. Teachers that care about them and urge them to reach their goals. Not teachers that put them down and hurt their self esteem.

These children are going to be our leaders some day. We need teachers that dare our children to be better than they think they can be. Dare them to be different. Individuality is what makes our children become doctors or veterinarians, teachers or scientists, artists or authors, soldiers or clergymen, civil service professionals or politicians. If we all learned the same and thought the same we would all be the same and what a boring world that would be.

Diana Misner,
Margaretville