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Staley says too many local graduates are unprepared

August 07, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - William H. Staley believes that only about 30 percent of Washington County Public Schools students are prepared after leaving high school.

That is the number of students who move on to a four-year college or university, he said.

"I just can't stand the fact that all of these kids are leaving school and all they're qualified to do is push carts around Wal-Mart," said Staley, 61.

Staley is one of 10 people running for three open seats on the Board of Education. The primary election is Sept. 12; the general election is Nov. 7.

Staley, a Cearfoss resident, made his first bid for a spot on the board in 2004. The lifelong Washington County resident said he is unhappy with the direction of the county's schools.

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"The only thing I see of a world-class educational system is the amount of money they're spending and the ability of our kids to take a standardized test," he said. "And they've gotten really good at it."

But children are still graduating unprepared for anything other than going to college, which Staley said is a mistake.

Staley taught subjects like welding for 25 years in the Washington County school system. He said taking away courses like welding, plumbing and carpentry is doing a disservice to students.

"We need to bring back the skills-trade classes," he said. "That's a lot of potential jobs, and we're not training anyone to do it."

Staley said he retired from teaching about six years ago. He also worked for 35 years in the building trades as a welder and plumber.

Staley said his wife, Jane, also a Washington County teacher, continued teaching for a few years after his retirement. His wife always worked about 40 to 50 hours a week, but after the federal No Child Left Behind legislation was passed, she was working more like 80 hours each week, he said.

"They just keep adding more and more, and not taking anything away," Staley said.

The load for teachers is too great, he said.

Staley said teachers are only teaching to mid-level students, leaving out those below and above grade-level. He said students used to be grouped by ability, and should be again.

"The teachers could teach to that ability," he said.

Staley said if elected, he will not be a rubber stamp and he will represent the desires of Washington County residents.

"I will represent the people who elected me," he said. "But the only way you're going to make a change is by starting at the top."

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