Solutions to public education woes start at home, not school
Solutions to public education woes start at home, not school
The State Education Department’s efforts to improve student educational outcomes have failed miserably, and will continue to fail, for one glaringly simple reason: These “educational experts” have completely ignored Step One in the scientific method of problem solving, correctly identifying the causes of the problem. This flaw is fatal.
Sara Foss was spot on in her Nov. 10 column, “NYS students deserve equal foundation.” She stated, “Sensible people might wonder at the state’s magical thinking. How will making school harder help students who are already struggling to pass? The short answer is that it won’t.” Thank you, Sara!
State Ed mandated the Common Core curriculum in our schools with absolutely no research, no empirical data, not even a rationale to demonstrate that it will improve student outcomes. That is because it won’t.
We have been force-fed for years a series of “red herrings” to improve student performance, namely more tests, harder tests, more Regents requirements, and now Common Core. As a teacher who worked with inner-city kids for 34 years, I find this shameful, fraudulent and alarming. Many millions of taxpayer dollars have been squandered while students, parents and teachers have been forced to implement a feckless series of programs doomed to failure. How tragic for our students.
So, what are the real causes of student underachievement in our schools? In my view, the problems are rooted in families, poverty and urban culture.
Clearly, the greatest student underachievement occurs in urban schools or, more accurately, urban communities. The problems begin and flourish long before kids even step foot into a school. Children who are unloved, angry and neglected — not nurtured and trained at home — who have poor role models will not do well in school. These are most often inner-city kids.
Children who are loved, nurtured, valued, trained and given healthy values and direction — usually in suburban communities — will succeed. It’s that simple, and research abounds to support this premise.
The ability and talent of teachers in a particular school, the organization of the grade levels, the curriculum — certainly the difficulty of the tests and curriculum — are virtually irrelevant to student underachievement. The problems do not originate inside the schools — nor do the solutions.
If all of the millions of dollars wasted by State Ed were poured into early childhood intervention, Head Start, assistance for struggling single mothers, social workers in urban communities, after-school programs for urban kids, and even direct intervention for inner-city families in need of help, we would begin the process of improving student educational outcomes. There is no “quick fix” or magic bullet. It has to start in families and communities, not inside school buildings.
Kudos to all of the involved parents rebelling against Common Core. We desperately need a new direction. Our children deserve better, and it won’t come from State Ed.
The writer is a retired public schoolteacher.
It’s going to take time to revitalize Amsterdam
Dan Weaver hit the nail on the head in his Nov. 17 Viewpoint, “Amsterdam must make revitalizing downtown a top priority.”
Mr. Weaver indicated that Mayor Ann Thane, the community and economic development director [Robert von Hassel] and the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency have taken considerable interest and effort in focusing in revitalizing downtown, which is a long-term and costly effort. Mr. Weaver further stated that he was not sure the public and the current Common Council recognizes the importance of a revitalized downtown and is concerned that the incoming Common Council will not emphasize the resurrection of downtown.
Mr. Weaver presented a realistic vision of a revitalized Amsterdam downtown. He also pointed out Mayor Thane’s “emphasis on beautification has helped, in spite of critics who somehow believe that if we emphasize beauty, we must of necessity neglect finances, when there is no reason we can’t do both.”
The mayor has also presented an achievable plan to revitalize downtown over time. We require a long-term, united commitment toward this end, with more vigorous support of local business leaders, political leaders and the community at large. I am disappointed with the many naysayers, local radio talk show hosts (who no longer reside in the city), who support and encourage much negativity. I am extremely disappointed that local business leaders who own property downtown are not more active in leading downtown’s resurgence. We must put greater pressure on state government to assist us in this vision.
Amsterdam is a small city with a big heart. Given time, patience and unity of purpose, we can rebuild.
Michael J. Orapello
Mandate marriage, like health insurance
There was an article in the Financial Times this week, “The Obama presidency is not over, but it is failing.” I’d like to offer some advice for Mr. Obama to help him regain some standing with the American people.
He needs to reach out to the majority of Americans who believe that marriage between a man and a woman is a stabilizing force for the nation, economically and otherwise. He would solidify his shaky standing with the right and center of the country if he did something so bold. He needs to come out in support of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) with a twist: Require all men to be married by age 30. He can get the federal government to launch a website for this registration or he can hire “Match.com” or “Christian Mingle.com” to run the new site.
Then the president can go out on the campaign trail and tell us why it is important for each American to have a spouse. And, when he says: “If you are married and you like your wife, — you can keep her” that will really seal the deal and save his legacy.
Oswald’s message was clear, but we ignored it
The one lesson we seem not to have learned from Nov. 22, 1963 is that a punk with a gun can cause enormous damage.
OK noise limits on all loud machines
The state law [approved Nov. 13] limiting noise from snowmobiles is long overdue. Now let’s have some enforcement on the excessive noise from motorcycles and pick-up trucks.
How about not passing them at New York state vehicle inspections if they are over the limit?
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