Letters to the editor 2/23

February 24, 2003
(Page 3 of 6)

Who is to pay for that requirement? The teacher or the school system? Furthermore, the names of the "unqualified" teachers have to be posted. That will bode well for a teacher's reputation and morale, won't it?

A second area requires that if a school fails to show "adequate yearly progress" over two years a child may go to a different school, one that is performing better. There are progressively more serious actions for schools that continue not to show progress. If "adequate yearly progress" is not made over a three-year period then the parents are entitled to have their children enrolled in special tutoring programs at the school system's expense.

What does that mean? It means that if my child is not making adequate progress in the school that he/she attends over a three-year period then I can remove my child and send him/her to a tutorial program at the expense of the local school system or move that child to a school that is performing at the proper level. Thus there is the unfunded mandate and entitlement that this law creates for a local school district of having to pay for a tutorial program and/or moving that child to an adequately performing school.


It can be foreseen that enrollment will increase at well-performing schools and reduced at less than adequate schools. There is a ramification here for teacher classloads. There is a need here for this legislation to have considered the improvement of all schools and not just create the ability to move children among schools. Incidentally, overcrowded classrooms contribute to low performance.

Finally, students must show progress in tested areas each year including reading, language arts, mathematics and science. All students will be proficient by the year 2014. Good idea, right? In an opinion article in The Herald-Mail as recently as Jan. 30 entitled "Teaching reading is a job that ought to start at home" the importance of parents reading to their children was discussed.

The fact is that in many homes parents do not support the importance of reading by reading to their children. The fact is that many parents do not exercise their responsibility to prepare youngsters for the education process by preparing them to read, learn basic colors, learn their numbers, and socialize them for their education experience with others. Therein lies a significant element in the responsibility of educating children - parental responsibility.

Yet nowhere in the federal law is there any mention of parental responsibility to and for the early educational development of their children and to actively participate in reinforcing the educational process at home.

It talks of parents' rights, but nowhere did I find any forthright statements about parental responsibility to teach children those rudimentary elements that will prepare them to succeed.

An article in the Parade Magazine of Sunday, June 30, 2002, illustrates that it is both parental and child responsibility that produce results. Ray and Rose Chavez raised five children and every one of them graduated from Harvard University. The article went on to ask: "Can you prepare your children for a top school? The Chavez's answered affirmatively and advised that they: Restricted TV and bought books and encyclopedias, played classical music and read to their children.

The Baltimore Sun on Feb. 7, 2003, carried and article entitled "Report cards for parents proposed in Lebanon, Pa." Discussed in this article is a proposal for parents to be given report cards on how involved they are in the education of their children. I think that is a marvelous idea.

Ever been in a classroom? You'll find students at varying levels of proficiency and ability, discipline problems that exhaust a teacher, little ability to effectively control that behavior, parents who are more interested in blaming the teachers or the system than holding the child responsible for their behavior.

School systems are so results-driven that the focus has shifted on to the test results instead of considering the totality of the process that prepares the child for the test. Yet all children will show progress or lose federal funding! This requirement almost seems as if it considers a student a passive receptacle on which the lid can be screwed off and the knowledge poured in.

The trouble here is that when kids don't perform we automatically blame the teachers and/or the system. We also have a tendency to believe that the answer simply lies in more money.

I submit to you that it is not just more money or the establishment measurement standards without due consideration of all that it takes in the educational environment to achieve those standards. I would advocate that we should be more concerned first with insisting on a level of discipline and seriousness of purpose within the classroom conducive to learning for every student.

The Herald-Mail Articles