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Focus on schools

November 23, 2013

This week is American Education Week, and that means it is a good time to focus on our public schools’ successes, and recognize the challenges that they – and our students – fac....

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Dec-03-13 11:40 AM

ToTexas:Most of the items on your list are decisions made by the district administrators and the school boards, not by the teachers or the support professionals, so do not fault them for those decisions. Secondly, many of the comments listed here are critical of the current curriculum that is a "one size fits all" model. Those decisions are made by state and federal legislators and education department staff who have never worked in a public school in their lives. No Child Left Behind is a prime example as well as the recent switch in PA to a Common Core Curriculum. Teachers can no longer be creative and teach their subjects because they have to teach to the standardized tests that are both supposed to be the measure of the student's and the teacher's success. We do need to change the way our children are taught, but put the blame where it needs to be. Blame the bureaucrats and legislators that pass these ridiculous laws and regulations that prevent them from doing their job

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Nov-24-13 4:12 AM

Nobud, I forgot about that part if it. Our son received speech therapy for several years in elementary, as suggested by the school.

You asked for suggestions to the problem. My suggestion is going back to ability based classrooms where the kids get the time and attention they need.

I believe one of the reasons they did away from ability based classes was a 'politically correct' thing. They didn't want the 'special education' students to feel slighted or they thought they might have their feeling hurt being in the special ed classes. But the effects of trying to educate them in the same classroom with the brightest and best results in everyone being cheated out of the best education they, themselves, could obtain.

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Nov-23-13 7:51 PM

We spend more and more on schools and get less and less in return. Part of the problem is the vast increase in kids identified as disabled in some manner. My wife has been a Special Education teacher for nearly 30 years and the amount of time, paperwork and support staff is staggering. Schools, according to the law, are to provide a free and appropriate education. The word that causes the problem is appropriate. This is not to say in any way that special needs kids should be shelved or short changed. But, we need to understand the massive amounts of money spent per student on these kids. These kids are entitled to free professional services such as speech therapy, OT, PT and many more. They also receive free transportation to and from. They also are entitled to professionals in the home. Our education system has many great teachers. The system is a mess. We need to figure out how to fix it so that all the kids can benefit. But, that is above my pay grade. Any ideas?

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Nov-23-13 6:55 PM

"I don't know that using electronics and electronic classroom material (IE eBooks) is a bad idea and indeed may be a cost savings."--MikeKerstetter


I agree if/when done properly. Even had science chemistry lab on my earlier list which I support. Video monitors can be helpful as long as they aren't only used for playing "Top Gun" or other entertainment. My list was a mixed list waiting for comment from the LTE writer.

I teach pre-K children at church. I use the DVD player and video monitor. I also bring in my iPad and AppleTV to stream Bible story videos so the children can watch them. These account for about 10 minutes out of a 75 minute schedule. Also use a centers concept where the children can play crafts, coloring, picture story books, puzzles, shape recognition, alphabet, colors, kitchen area with utensils, fake food, dolls, electric drill with different bits, magformers, cars/trucks, railroad tracks, globe, lots of personal face-face time and hugs

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Nov-23-13 6:37 PM

"you might add critical thinking to your list."--underwood


I agree. Cause and effects, analyzing, problem solving, hypothesis and testing, logic are important.

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Nov-23-13 2:14 PM

ToTEXASfromPA-"Buy iPads and laptops?"

Tex, I don't know that using electronics and electronic classroom material (IE eBooks) is a bad idea and indeed may be a cost savings. Our don't have them, but I'm told Montgomery does and from talking to a coworker who has children there, they can be linked to a projector and used for instruction. eBooks are a lot cheaper than a traditional book and given that they are changed so often, it's not inconceivable that the use of them saves money, even with the purchase of iPads (or tablets).

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Nov-23-13 2:06 PM

One thing I forgot to add about our son is that, had he been subject to the ability based classes during his first years of school, I think he would have excelled much beyond where he is at now in 11th grade. They continually moved on before he knew what he was doing and it just compounded the problem. And, again, despite contacting the teachers, guidance counselor and principles and explaining the problem, very little extra help was offered or given.

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Nov-23-13 2:00 PM

JohnZook-"Throw in demands by the Teachers Union, very good pensions and health care..."

Salaries take the most money from a School Districts budget. You have to pay people to stay. Health care also takes up some money, but most school employees also a paying more of their health care costs, higher deductibles and copays. Pension costs aren't the money drain you think it is. The districts pay less toward the pension than the employees do, and most of the money paid out to the retirees is from the return on investments, somewhere around 70%.

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Nov-23-13 1:52 PM

radioactive-"Sounds like Mike Kerstetter has been in the trenches and speaks from experience, the rest of you apparently think you know without knowing."

I've never been a teacher or school employee. My 'experience' comes from my daughter who, somewhere in middle school, switched from ability based classes in Warrior Run to mixed ability classes. Her first weeks of most classes were horrible for her. She was 'learning' things she learned 2 years prior and was bored to tears. There was no challenge even through her grades were perfect. She excelled in High School where she took AP and Honors classes and was able to cut one semester off of her college load.

My son, on the other hand, has floundered in most classes and is hard pressed to get the extra help he needs. He's no dummy, be he just doesn't 'get it' like our daughter did, and it's caused him to have an 'I don't care, as long as I pass' attitude.

Our system needs refocusing.

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Nov-23-13 12:37 PM

Education is awash in wasteful spending.

This nation averages about $11,000 per student and our children are falling behind those of other nations.

Much of the blame is on parents.

But another share is the constant meddling with the education system from Washington DC and politicians who want curriculums taught that benefit contributors.

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Nov-23-13 11:12 AM

Oooops Mr. Censor..... s*u*c*k..

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Nov-23-13 11:11 AM

Tex, took the words right outta my mouth. All these vice, vice vice, asst, para, principals, directors, administrators, and yes the numerous secretaries*****up a lot of funding. Throw in demands by the Teachers Union, very good pensions and health care..... and how much goes to the student?! As the song goes,"Who's zoomin' who?"

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Nov-23-13 10:37 AM

radioactive, Slow down there. I said better teachers and better students are the two ways to improve educations. In your one post you agreed with that, even though you didn't see that you were agreeing with it. Better students start at home. No amount of government spending on schools will help that. As far as getting better teachers, we need to get rid of the ideas that don't work. The more we 'modernize' teaching methods the less the kids learn. Maybe it's time to admit that some of the new teaching methods are not better than the old ones and get rid of them. New and improved is not one word. Sometimes new is worse and when it is we have to go back. In the private sector, that is how things are done, but in government when the new doesn't work we just throw more taxpayer dollars at it to make it work. Some things don't work no matter how much money you spend on them.

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Nov-23-13 10:27 AM

Gee hopeforfuture did you not get an education?

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Nov-23-13 10:25 AM

You still have not explain how education has a price tag. By the way those lovely benefits have a price also. That is why many call education an investment worth making.

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Nov-23-13 10:20 AM


Entitlement greed?

Then is no one entitled to an education?---

They can get as much education as they want! But why do I have to pay for it? Then on top of that after they get the higher education the teacher gets a high salary that again I have to pay for with my property tax dollars.

I say teachers are no better than the average union worker with their hand in the money pot.

Teachers if you want more education Pay for it yourself.

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Nov-23-13 10:16 AM

Tex, you might add critical thinking to your list.

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Nov-23-13 10:12 AM

Entitlement greed?

Then is no one entitled to an education?

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Nov-23-13 9:53 AM

"Can't buy it! Want to explain why every aspect of education has a price tag to it." -CMReeder


Most aspects of education do cost money. Even teaching people how to properly inject h.e.r.o.i.n in their body is education.

What taxpayers should expect is a high benefit to cost ratio for teaching people how to read, write, and speak with a breadth and depth of vocabulary to communicate, teaching a high level of mathematical skills to solve problems that assist in developing a society, teaching a high level of science to understand how creation works and then utilize it to benefit mankind without causing too much damage, learn history and political science to benefit future generations in decision making, learn music and the arts to enrich the soul and be a more complete person, learn cooperation and working together that benefit all while still allowing individuality to exceed to ones potential, learn moral principles, and learn to work.

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Nov-23-13 9:20 AM

Can't buy it!

Want to explain why every aspect of education has a price tag to it.

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Nov-23-13 9:08 AM

Another person who writes a letter basically saying, "give me more money!" There is no data, let me repeat that, NO DATA that shows that more money equals better education. In fact the little data that there is shows some correlation to the opposite, but I believe that is just a coincidence. The states that spend the most per student have some of the lowest test scores and the state with the lowest spending per student is near the top. So you can see that more money does not mean a better education. There are two things that make for better education, better teachers and better students. Money can't buy either.

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Nov-23-13 9:07 AM

I think this LTE is absolutely spot on.

Just think if we would have spent more money on Shaman's education he might have been an intelligent , logically thinking productive member of society." - Premier


...And, YOUR development might-NOT have been fully-arrested in Jr. High!!!

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Nov-23-13 8:40 AM

The money spend on education is wasted in so many was that the children never have a chance at actual learning. One other perk not mentioned in the letter from Tex is the free education the teachers can get after they have their teaching positions.

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Nov-23-13 8:05 AM

Okay M. Sandy Worden, Paraprofessional, Blossburg Elementary School, President, Southern Tioga Education Support Professional Association, what would you do with the money?

Build more buildings?

Get new uniforms for the athletic teams?

Pay more money to attract better coaches so the football, basketball, volleyball, and softball programs will have more wins?

Install an all weather track around the football field?

Hire more administrators to fill out the mountain of paperwork needed to satisfy federal and state education board requirements?

Add security personnel to patrol the halls?

Pay for buildings and daycare for teenage mothers?

Buy iPads and laptops?

Buy video monitors for the classroom?

Take a bus trip to Clyde Peelings Reptile Land?

Install a fully equipped science and chemistry lab?

Put a teachers assistant in each classroom?

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Nov-23-13 7:43 AM

Good letter.

Too bad the right stoops in their agreement.

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