August 22, 2008

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

ONE PARENT’S CRY: Why does the current educational product produce so many job applicants that cannot write a letter, or, perform simple math tasks??

A Response to Susan J. Hobart MS. Ed Opinion "One Teacher’s Cry: Why I Hate No Child Left Behind" on 8/8/08.

As an employer and parent of two public school graduates I continually experience job applicants or junior employees who cannot write or edit a resume or compose a straight forward business letter. In addition simple formulae and arithmetic, not mathematics, embedded in Microsoft Excel, or, bill paying software are not understood by many community college or 4 year college graduates. When I read self serving articles by public school teachers such as yourself blaming “No Child Left Behind”, or, other federal and state government micromanagement attempts I get angry!

In small business America due to the continued growth of government regulation all of us in industry have to deal with contradictory and barely functional rules, forms and hastily crafted government regulations since both Washington and Sacramento are out of touch with your business and mine. My point is: “Why should education be any different”?

You as teachers and your powerful labor unions need to stop whining and improve your product first. We all have to deal with well intentioned poorly designed government regulations such as No Child Left Behind. Try reading Sarbannes Oxley regulations some day without getting a migraine headache.

The following are some unsolicited suggestions from a parent and business person who cares desperately about improvement of our educational product. First, I have four years experience on a school board, two Masters degrees in Finance and Accounting and forty years experience contracting to the Federal government so I have a good feel for your world of education.

1) I agree with you that local control of school budgets and policy making is a great objective. I wish I could help here. The state governments are too intrusive here.

2) DO NOT as you say take time to “address the economic and social issues many children face”. Focus on teaching the students you are given! Let the many other well financed government and private agencies focus on those issues. That is not your job!!

3) Focus on teaching useful curriculum such as writing and speaking the written word in clear sentences. Focus on arithmetic and math concepts that are useful and applied to real world problems e.g. one’s weekly cash flow budget is something all companies do monthly, or, how to balance a checkbook, or master simple three variable equations such as hours time pay rate equals gross payroll dollars. Please do not let us hear you are focusing on womens’ studies or TV game shows.

4) Consider and push for curriculum changes that would allow a “separate track”, as they do in the United Kingdom, beginning in middle school whereby students who “test in” can learn auto repair and repair center management, computer repair and business management, or air conditioning repair and office management skills. Stop forcing all students into what you call the “one size fits all” college prep curriculum. Not all students can capture higher math and language.

5) Please spend less time and money on your teachers’ union activities and the related expensive television and radio media buys to beg for more money, again. That money would be better spent on professional development for teachers, particularly in math and science training. You need to be more forceful with your union bosses and redirect their spending of your money to the top priority—our educational product.

6) Take control of your classrooms! Research and implement better ways to get chronic act-out students out of the classroom so the students who want to learn can do so without distraction. More discipline would be useful.

I respect what you do but I believe like the rest of us in a valuable enterprise you need to stop whining about the government and focus on your ed product. We all need you to succeed. Best wishes.

J. Otis Benton
Past President and Treasurer Stella Maris Academy school board

Stakeholders Committees and the Lack of Community Inclusion

During the spring and summer of 2007, there were attempts to form a “community inclusive” Barrio Logan Community Planning Group. However, without the support of the local Councilperson for a Barrio Logan Community Planning Group, it seemed there was no way for this group to be constructed nor sanctioned by our City Council.

The Stakeholders Committee: The community has had no real input nor method to refuse the apparently already drawn-up and in print “plans.” Where did these plans come from, who paid to make the color presentations, power points, maps, drawings, and displays? These plans, being presented at the Stakeholders Committee meetings by The City Planning Department as the community plan ‘ideal.’ Nevertheless, the community did no form nor contributes these plans, how could they when it is clear that these plans were already forum well before the first Stakeholders Committee meeting? Does our City Council, those who “are the real drivers of redevelopment in our City” really think to bypass Council Policy 600-05, Council Policy 600-09 (community planning committee), and Council Policy 600-24? As I read these policies, I see no allowance for anything other than a community-planning group, I see no method or allowance for a Stakeholder Committee – exactly where do these policies allow the city council to overlay a Stakeholder Committee in the place of a Community Planning Group?

The existing populations of Barrio Logan will likely become the next victims of redevelopment-gentrification. The seemingly economically/natural resource un-sustainable City of Villages plan are invading the once unique and diverse Barrios of South West/East San Diego. Wages and benefits realized of a service industry job - will not cover the cost of living in San Diego; extended families in, and community of, our Barrio will likely become “outdated” then “updated” and finally “redeveloped.” I am no City Planning Professional, but I have seen the post-development/redevelopment effects upon pre-redevelopment/development populations. I do not believe it is right, fair, nor just - that people be pushed from their neighborhoods to try to find housing in an ever more critical housing environment.

Gregory Morales
President MAPA San Diego

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