Friday, April 23, 2010

Teaching Johnny to Read - or Not

Education seems to be all over the news this week.  The Detroit School Board won a decision in court to prevent the Emergency Financial Manager from doing pretty much anything.  Here is a man who has uncovered millions of dollars wasted in the system and the school board wants to put a stop to any changes for the betterment of education. 

Earlier this week, students at Warren Lincoln High School (my alma mater) protested the firing of their Principal.  Apparently, while the students and parents support him, the school board wanted him gone.  And the school board and administration will not discuss the matter.  Shouldn't this be public information?  I also heard through sources that the Warren Police threatened to arrest students who did not leave the high school property.  Gee.  I thought that was public property.  If the students were respectful, what was the problem? 

Though I have known many school officials over the years, I do not personally know any of the members of either of these school boards.  They may all be experts in the field of education.  My experience with elected officials also tells me that they may all know 'zip' when it comes to education.  One always hopes that the school administrators are qualified individuals and are more interested in the students' welfare than their own personal motives, certainly the case with Mr. Bobb in Detroit, but sometimes they are at odds with the wishes of the community they serve.

Moving from the local to the state level, we have pending legislation to encourage teachers to retire by changing benefits.  While I have personally known teachers who should have retired long before I (or even my children) ended up in their classroom, some of these old-timers are the best. 

I thank my lucky stars every day for Gertrude Bassett, my fifth and sixth grade teacher, who told me I could be anything I wanted if I worked as hard as I could.  She, along with other fine teachers I had, made a huge difference in my life, leading to that fully-paid four-year scholarship to college.  By the time I got to her classroom, she was a grandmother.  Good thing they weren't booting out the experienced educators in favor of new, cheaper models when I was in school.

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