Lance Scranton: The reality of things
December 28, 2009
To the editor:
The Editorial Board is correct in assessing a "perceived" lack of educational prowess in our school system.
However, the reality is much more difficult to discover than a poll or public opinion measure.
I have been a teacher at Moffat County High School for 12 years, and what I have experienced during my tenure is an extremely caring, passionate and supportive community.
If the supposed success of our school system is based on the number of students who go on to college, then I completely disagree with such a smug measure of our "prowess."
Enrolling in college does not automatically lead to success; just as punishing students by not allowing participation in sports will lead to better grades.
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College is but one avenue through which our students achieve success, just as sports are one of the main reasons many kids stay in school.
Some high school students tell me they are "too dumb" to go to college, so I spend time explaining that, "it's not how smart you are, but how you are smart that really matters."
Find out what you have a passion (intelligence) for and do what is necessary to live out your passion (for some it means college, but not all).
We should ask three revealing questions to determine why our schools are "perceived" (by some) as lackluster:
- What is really going on in our schools? We should have some kind of teacher-liaison at school board meetings to provide a sense of the actual issues that teachers face on a day-to-day basis.
- How are we teaching? We present many, many lessons to students in many, many classes each day — to what effect? I hear many learned people talk about quality over quantity, but quantity always seems to be the measure we use.
- What is the function of our schools? Is it really about teaching and learning? If I were able to simply teach to the level I know students are capable of, test scores would be off the charts. However, teaching is about so much more than classroom instruction these days. Ask me how many layers of student issues and problems I have to get through (each period, each day) just to begin delivering a lesson!
A free and appropriate education has to mean something, but it can't mean everything. If we believe in everything, then it is difficult to stand for anything.
Many school districts have fallen prey to progressive attitudes and secularist tactics inherent in public education.
As I have interacted with Dr. Joe Petrone, I believe he will begin to address some of this, "quantity over quality" and "change for change sake" attitude that once dominated our district leadership.
For this, I am hopeful and willing to believe that "perceptions" will improve.