Local teacher weighs in for Obama campaign
June 13, 2012
At a glance …
• Sunset Elementary School teacher Cheryl Arnett was invited to speak Tuesday morning during a conference call with President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
• The call followed remarks Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made Friday at a campaign rally in Iowa.
• The Obama campaign contends Romney intends to cut jobs for firefighters, police officers and teachers.
• Arnett: Teaching critical thinking and problem-solving skills is vital in light of new technology.
“Children are growing up right now with so much technology and access to information that in the classroom, we must inspire them. We have to motivate them to learn and to apply things.”
— Cheryl Arnett, Sunset Elementary School first- and second-grade teacher, about recent changes in education
A local teacher offered her view Tuesday about the Republican presidential frontrunner's recent comments about public sector jobs.
"I guess I should have been surprised when Mitt Romney said that the path to economic prosperity is to cut teacher jobs, but honestly, I wasn't shocked," said Cheryl Arnett, a Sunset Elementary School first- and second-grade teacher.
She and Mark Ferrandino, Colorado House of Representatives minority leader, were invited to weigh in on education during a conference call Tuesday with President Barack Obama’s campaign staff.
The call was in response to comments Romney made Friday during a campaign rally in Iowa.
Romney, who visited Craig last month on the campaign trail, criticized the president's job creation plan, saying, "(Obama) says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers," ABCnews.com reported.
"Did he not get the message in Wisconsin?" the website quoted Romney as saying in reference to a failed recall election last week to oust Republican Gov. Scott Walker. "The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people." Romney's remarks drew fire from Ferrandino, D-Denver.
"I don't know about you, but I definitely don't want a president whose economic plan is to fire thousands of hard-working Coloradans," he said during the call. "That's bad for our kids, it's bad for our business and it's bad for our economy."
Arnett spoke of her participation in a May 29 roundtable discussion with Romney before his campaign rally later that morning in downtown Craig.
She considered it an "honor" to participate in the discussion and had intended to speak to Romney about the need to teach problem solving, critical thinking and creativity.
But she left feeling rebuffed by the Republican candidate, a sentiment she elaborated on in a column published on the huffingtonpost.com and in the Craig Daily Press.
"He asked no questions, but instead lectured me,” she said. "Gov. Romney lost any hope he might have had for my vote that day."
Aside from casting her ballot at election time, "I'm not a real politically active person," the veteran teacher said after the call. Education is one of her driving passions, and it's also rapidly changing, she said.
When she was a student, "you went to school to learn information," Arnett said. "But now, if you think about it, any information you want is available in seconds, at the tip of your finger, on the computer."
From her perspective, the task of education now is to help students evaluate and use the information available to them.
"Children are growing up right now with so much technology and access to information that in the classroom, we must inspire them," she said. "We have to motivate them to learn and to apply things."
Arnett sees promising signs at the local level. Curriculum realignment in the Moffat County School District is a step in the right direction, as is collaboration between teachers, parents and the community, particularly through recently formed grassroots education groups.
"I think Moffat County is on the right track," she said.
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