2002-12-14 / Letters

Can Schools Be Improved?

Can Schools Be Improved?

Dear Editor;

Once again Howie Schwach has hit the bulls eye. The Federal, so-called No Child Left Behind policy concerning school transfers is, as Schwach correctly implies, doomed to failure. Allowing students from failing schools to transfer to better schools will not solve anything. Schwach's statement that a successful school is the result of successful students is well known among all dedicated teachers, but it is a fact that is not recognized, willingly or otherwise, by those who run the education system, and they will never face up to it!

There are common misconceptions that "all students are equal" or "any student can learn." Any student (I use 'student' sparingly) not willing to accept responsibility, who has no interest in school or what it offers, and/or is a social misfit does not belong in a classroom. The mere fact that we do not have such students contradicts the beliefs that all students are equal and are willing to learn.

Over the years we have seen our mayors at odds with the educational system. Each new chancellor is going to overhaul the system and make it better. The last chancellor was a banker (if he did such a good job, why change it?) and the present one a former Justice Department Anti-Trust Attorney (to his credit, though, Klein has asked for $200 million from private funds to study the school system with input from, among others, educators). Neither one had or has any education background to speak of, yet they will solve the problems - I sincerely hope so, but I will not hold my breath too long.

The advisory Panel for Educational Policy consists of people who also have, except for one former superintendent, no education experience. Would anyone drive over a bridge, which was constructed according to plans drawn up by a group of people who have no engineering experience? How about undergoing a surgical procedure dictated by a non-medical group of people? Education should be no different. Unless and until you have been in the classroom having active years of experience with teaching all types of students and dealing with the incessant paper work, and politically correct procedures, you cannot, in no way; shape or form, come up with a program of education that would improve it - you know nothing about it.

There is no company that will build its products with inferior components. Such material is sent back or utilized in some other way. And that is the problem. In the public school it is expected that a good product will be the result and; fortunately, for the most part we are successful. But the public school must accept all components: the good, and the bad. State laws mandate that all kids up to 21 years of age are entitled to a public education, so the public school must also accept the bad components thrown out of private and parochial schools, which do not want to damage their reputations.

Look again at who is presently running the system and some of the students it has to deal with. Couple this with voucher programs and charter schools - paid for by public funds better funneled into the traditional public schools, unfounded mandates, incessant politically correct paperwork for teachers, apathetic parents/guardians, unrealistic programs, etc. Can anyone honestly say that under such circumstances our public school system can be improved?

STEVE YAEGER


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