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Candidate says teaching more trades important in county schools

January 01, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Teaching more trades, treating teachers better and providing more discipline head up retired teacher William H. Staley's goals if elected to the Washington County Board of Education.

Staley, 59, of Cearfoss, is one of 16 people to file for four seats coming open on the School Board. A primary election will be held March 2. Eight candidates will advance to the general election, to be held Nov. 2.

Staley was a welding teacher at the Technical High School for 24 years before he split his days between teaching at that school and at Williamsport High School, he said. He said he was forced to retire last year because the program, which his father had taught before him, was cut.

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"I'd like to see us give all the children an opportunity to learn a trade of some kind, something that they can go to work with," he said.

The county school system is set up "strictly on sending kids to college," he said.

Staley said county statistics show that only a small portion of students go on to complete a four-year degree and only a small portion of the jobs available to high school graduates in the county require a college diploma.

He said there aren't enough people with training entering the work force after graduating from high school. On the other hand, he said, those who graduate from high school with higher level courses under their belts have to take remedial courses in college.

"Students in Washington County are learning how to take tests, that's one thing they're getting good at," he said.

Staley said that leads him to be concerned that teachers are taking on too much of the burden of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which is designed to close the achievement gap between schools and make sure all students are academically proficient.

"Teachers have to have some input into what goes on around here," he said.

Teachers in this county are more stressed than their counterparts in neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia, he said, but they all are under the same pressure from the federal act.

"Everyone is dissatisfied. They're afraid to open their mouth. You used to be able to go to the principal with a problem, but now principals are afraid to open their mouths out of fear that they'll get sent back to the classroom," he said.

And they're also dealing with children who are behaving worse, he said.

"When you have a problem with a kid, you need the administration's backing," he said.

Staley is a member of the Longmeadow Lions Club, the Masonic Lodge, the American Legion, the Shriners, the Elks Club and Grace United Methodist Church.

"I'm here to represent 100 percent of the children, 100 percent of the businesses and 100 percent of the parents," he said.

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