May 21, 2008: School issues brought to light

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To The Editor:
I would like to respond to Diana Misner’s letter concerning problems with public schools. I have heard nearly the same kind of things from virtually every parent that I have talked to about education. Your problems are not unique. The recent problem with 2nd graders at MCS is a good example of this.
Any competent teacher could have handled this without getting police involved. I have done such things myself both in school and out. Obviously things were going on before this that the teacher should have focused on and responded to. Any elementary teacher who ignores the social and emotional climate in the classroom in favor of academic instruction is not doing their job.
But why blame the teacher? I asked an elementary teacher from MCS about this incident and was told that they could not answer my questions because the administration had not told them who was involved or what the issues were.
Last year a science teacher from Roxbury took some students on a hike. I was not there of course, but what I have found out about this leads me to believe that his intentions were good and his actions were justified by the situation. It is possible that this was an example of what an exceptional teacher is likely to do for his students. The school administration called the police and had him arrested, charging him with kidnapping children.
No teacher who values his or her career or job will focus on sound educational practice with examples like this to go by. There have always been both good and bad teachers in schools, but the current wave of problems must first be addressed to school administrators and officials who determine state educational policy.
“No child left behind” is a federally sponsored program that gives out money to schools based on test scores of students from that school. National experts on education have condemned it as unsound. The majority of senior teachers have taken a stand against it. Parents have gone to court over it. It has proven a failure even by the standards of those people who are behind it, but the people who are behind it don’t care.
Remember that this program came from the same administration that invaded Iraq, even though 75 percent of Americans were against it. This same administration is likely to see what is unfolding in our public schools now as a great success. Unfortunately this leaves parents all alone. Probably the only constructive thing you can do is to try and find educational opportunities somewhere else.

Thomas Clark,
Margaretville