Simple fixes needed for what ails educationDon't like...

LETTERS

November 21, 1999

Simple fixes needed for what ails education

Don't like public schools? Try this.

Schools are not producing. Parents blame teachers.

Teachers blame administrators, who hand out extra time consuming duties. Teachers blame parents.

Enough already. There's enough blame for everyone to receive a generous slice.

Our one greatest resource is children. Let's straighten out this education mess, beginning with elementary schools.

Do we have bad teachers? You bet.

Do we have excellent teachers? Ditto above.

The best schools have the best teachers. Why? Because the parents speak out.

If we are to give every child a chance, reason tells us to reverse the teacher situation.

This could be done by giving each teacher a base pay, dependent upon years in the system, and a bonus for good results.

To arrive at the proper bonus, in elementary schools, the base pay would be multiplied by a reasonable coefficient, created in the following manner:

Give reading and math evaluations (tests) in September and May.

Add the years of teacher service, the number of pupils in the class, the number of pupils with social problems strong enough to warrant special administrative or guidance councelor attention.

Multiply this by the class average of achievement in reading and math (or arithmetic).

Divide this by the estimated average family income of the parents, or maybe a scale income number.

Divide by the average class I.Q. Teachers could refine the above equation over a period of time, and with the approval of administration, adjust the coefficient scale to a reasonable bonus level.

Administrators, let the teacher teach. Period. It is the duty of administrators to allow and reward achievement.

And now for parents: To drive a car, to have a job with responsibility, to do any thing rewarding, one must know something about something.

But to make an offspring, there are no requirements above the shoulders.

So let's give the parents some help.

Schools should offer some structure to parents. A good program for after school hours should involve:

When to turn off and on the TV. No TV at mealtime. Let's discuss family and school.

When to play.

When to do homework.

When to eat.

When not to eat.

When to have a quiet time.

When to retire.

Along with a behavioral structure, schools should offer such advice as reading together at home a few minutes each day orally.

Pronounce each consonant and vowel that should be audibilized.

Correct oral reading helps reading, spelling and speech skills.

Discuss respect for others, based not only on appearance and fad actions of the time, but respect for what a person has below the surface.

Perhaps a meeting between parents and teachers in September to discuss these dos and don'ts would help.

Even something to take home, and put on the refrigerator to tie it all together.

Let's stop wasting our most valuable resource. Give all children a chance.

They might surprise us.

Charles Johnston, Pasadena

Insist on an elected school board

This year, the Anne Arundel County Council passed a resolution asking the state delegates to give us an elected school board.

In a recent survey, 75 percent of county citizens favored an elected school board.

More than 90 percent of the counties in the United States have elected school boards.

When will democracy come to Anne Arundel County?

As citizens, we can vote for the president, senators, congressmen and state representatives. But the Anne Arundel delegation believes the school board, which spends more than half the county taxes and directly affects the lives of many in the county, must be appointed by a politician.

It seems that a majority of the delegation is not willing to give up their influence, or do not have faith in the people of this county, or both.

Here is where the beauty of democracy lies. If an elected official loses touch with the people he represents, they can remove him from office, and they know that.

So, when does democracy come to Anne Arundel County? When we insist on it.

Richard S. Zipper, Crofton

Crosses helped teens share their pain

I am writing to thank you and Linell Smith for the wonderful coverage on Camp Blazes outreach to the community using the Columbine crosses (Coming to terms with Columbine, Nov. 7).

We had so many people who stopped by just because they had seen the articles and pictures. We have also had several phone calls to compliment the wonderful article. I wish we could have recorded all the compliments and positive feedback we received. Camp Blaze focuses on developing programs in response to at-risk teen behavior, addressing the concerns of parents, providing a healthy and positive atmosphere, involving community organizations and, most important, impacting the lives of our children.

This project was the most powerful activity used to address the concerns of problems with our teen-agers that we have implemented in the past 10 years. The project helped to bridge the gap of hurt and confusion in todays culture by helping our teens (and their parents) know when and where to turn for help.

Many heartfelt stories were from teens who had lost friends to car accidents, suicide, drug involvement or were hurting from the divorce of their parents. Our teens are yearning for someone to listen and understand their world. The memorial of Columbine was the most effective tool we have ever used. Teens felt understood. We created an awareness of the many positive community organizations and business who are involved in families lives. I have never seen such an outpouring of community support with teens so eager to be part of an activity. We estimate almost 200 attended during the four days. We look forward to using these crosses as part of an impact program for different events, youth groups and organizations.

Cheryl Carnwath, Arnold

The writer is president of Camp Blaze, Inc.

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