Guest Column: Let’s keep our heads in the sunshine

By Dan Sears

Where in the world do our educational critics develop their supposed system failure cures?

Article after article puts all of the blame on the teacher for low or failing grades. Again, in the Jan. 1, 2011, Register Star, there are two articles denigrating school teachers! One is from our local County Board Member L.C. Wilson, and the other is from an Indianapolis paper, quoting the governor.

Everyone has their opinion, but remember, “figures can lie, and liars can figure,” so let’s present a few questions:

(1) Why would anyone spend four to five years studying (on their own), many living in borderline poverty, working one or more part-time jobs, going perhaps thousands of dollars in debt (plus what parents dig down for), for careers that will never really pay them in proportion to their responsibilities (or your perceived responsibilities)?

At what point did we eliminate parental responsibility? How many of these failing, disruptive characters were taught what a book was, how to count to 100 (or at least 10), be respectful of other people (and maybe more importantly…themselves), be totally aware that bad behavior is not tolerated at home, in public and least of all in school! These basic things should be tested before any child is admitted to any school!! Get over the idea that a teacher is a babysitter… that is the parental part of the equation!!

The governor of Indiana questions “if 99 percent of teachers grade out as effective, why do 25 percent of students fail statewide exams?” And “why do we allow an internal survey to grade this effectiveness?”

(1) I agree, 99 percent is rather high, but again, who’s doing the figuring? What basis do they use? Long ago, politicians (of which I’m sure the governor is one) figured out that it is safer for them to allow the fox to watch the chicken coop! Who makes up their ethics committee? Certainly not impartial politicians! Perhaps we need to go back to an “appointed” school board, so there is some basis for responsibility (the mayor) rather than many “politicians” who are elected, with way too many personal, multiple agendas!

(2) Who makes up that 25 percent? What investigation was made to let us know what makes up this percentage? Does this number reflect the poorly prepared (parental failure) when they entered school?

(3) What makes us think that a lone teacher, who has been stripped of disciplinary authority, can handle that 25 percent in their classroom, and not ignore the 75 percent who want to learn? Again, where are the parents?

Perhaps the parents need to be assessed some type of fine for disruptive children, or children who do not come to class prepared. And let’s add a further penalty for parents who do not respond in a positive manner (if they do respond) to school pleas for assistance.

I did not notice what credentials (other than political) that Mr. Wilson brought to the question of “shaping up our schools”?

He appears to question the right of past educators (who have literally been in the trenches) to question the administration’s tactics? Perhaps it is time to have an experienced “ethics committee” to oversee the politics of these gunslinger administrators. After all, if their tactics do not work here, they just move on to another, higher-paid position. Look at history!!

He says he believes “the superintendent has an open-door policy.” He does not know… but he believes? How factual is this? Is that why Mr. [Mark] Bonne (District 205 chief communications officer) is the superintendent’s personal spokesman? Is this because he is more articulate than our superintendent?

Sadly, there will always be differences in how people treat other people. You can see this within all facets of society. How did the Romans treat the early Christians? How did the Jews treat Jesus (cast him out)? How did some of the early Arabian, Greek and African chiefs contribute to slavery within their own societies? Stalin and Hitler were certainly not pillars of human kindness! Why are some present-day people robbing, killing and maiming people of their same ethnic background? Why were there signs posted in businesses: “Irish need not apply”? Why were many Swedish immigrants relegated to bell-hopping and maid services?

When Mr. Wilson can provide answers, and solutions, to these questions, then we will have progress…but we cannot just give and give because of an ethnic, or lack of parental guidance background.

Why did our school board hire a person who did not have their certifications in place? Who knows? And then hire someone else to handle the superintendent’s professional duties until that person got their act together? Is this a failure of our elected representatives to be aware of what they are doing?

Regarding Mr. Wilson’s statement, “we need to put more effort into educating all of our kids,” again, let’s talk apples and apples! If the parent doesn’t share (or care) in their child’s early upbringing, then with few exceptions, that child is lost to responsible society. What kind of specific effort does Mr. Wilson want instituted?

Regarding his question “how many educators have passed students who did not do the work, just to get rid of them?”

(1) What is a teacher supposed to do if the “student” disregards their personal responsibility, and that teacher is chastised by a disinterested parent?

(2) Perhaps we need to take a look into “no child left behind” thinking. If that individual came to work for me and refused to show up on time, left early, did poor-quality work, disrupted fellow workers and told me to get lost, when I tried to provide guidance, that person would be absolutely “passed”!!

(3) The lack of parental involvement means we are sending the message “you do not have to be a responsible citizen… so just do what you want!!”

What happened to personal pride and responsibility…where did the examples of caring (Eddie Gonzalez, Raymond Morgan, Luther Bedford, Eddie Roberson, Nolden Gentry) go to? We need them!

And please, please quit passing our parental responsibilities on to teachers. Remember, they, too, were once your children, and they did not always grow up in the best of environments. But no matter, they did their part. And they (as a group) do not deserve to be constantly put down!

As a parent, how involved are the screamers and shouters in their child’s responsible progress into society?

Dan Sears is a previous resident of Rockford with a long-time interest in education. He now lives in Roscoe.

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