Letters (Mar. 27, 2013)

Funding does not equate to ?education?


I read with interest Bob Woelk?s column on government involvement in education (March 13). It seemed to me he was talking about both funding and regulation.

I taught school for several years and have been involved with schools for many years. I can assure you that the quality of the students? education has very little correlation to the money spent per student.

For example, I?ve known chemistry classes that only used chemicals that could be bought in any grocery store or brought from home. Basic physics was taught with things like a bicycle, a stick and a fulcrum, a string and a weight. Talk to these students a few years later and most will tell you how much they are using of what they learned.

I hired too many high school graduates from a conventional textbook approach. They didn?t have a clue about basic physics or how to apply it, and so wound up breaking things because of ignorance. Talk to store keepers who are frustrated they are with high school students or grads who cannot even make change.

I have known many wonderful, dedicated teachers who practiced what we had a principal tell us: ?At the start of school, the teacher?s first job is to find out where your students are, then teach from there.?

Take high school students. If they don?t know the multiplication tables or can?t read or can?t observe and connect their senses to their brain?that is where you start. No teacher should have more than one year?s experience?entirely too many have one year?s experience many times?because they have different students every year with different needs.

In fact, if you have three classes taking the same course, for example 10th-grade English) no two of them should be taught the same. Before you say that is too hard, let me take you back to the 1930s. We had an arithmetic book for fifth or sixth grade. If you would take 50 problems out of it and give them to high school juniors and seniors with nothing but a sheet of paper and a pencil studies show very few would score above 60 percent. At that time, that would have been an F.

On top of that, consider many of these students had either four or eight grades with maybe 40 or more students and one teacher in the room. Many of them had one or two years of training to be a teacher. Also consider this: Of the original astronauts, only a small percentage of them came from a high school with more than 12 seniors.

As for finances, I will bet my shirt that an efficiency expert could cut expenses by 10 to 20 percent in every department in any federal, state, county, city or school without reducing the quality of service.

Ted McIrvin













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