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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Debate Dance Over Education: Obama and McCain

Education Got My Goat
Nadene Goldfoot
I watched the debate tonight between Obama and McCain, the last chance for them to speak before the public and share their differing views before we vote, and I'm frustrated with both of them over their inept background about education.

I've been a teacher in the school system in the states for over 22 years, mainly teaching in Oregon, but I've taught in Idaho, Alaska and Israel as well. Your students are like cards you are dealt in a card game. You don't always get a good hand. Today you receive children that have either both parents working or are children of a working mother. Very few have the benefit of a loving mother at home seeing to all their needs, including education. As the children get older, they seem to have less respect for teachers and are harder to handle. Learning for many is not their goal at school; social connections are more important. Unless they know their parent's feelings about their education and what is expected of them, and what is not acceptable as far as their behavior goes, they are just attending aimlessly.

I've never known any of my peers that haven't given 100% of their abilities to be an excellent teacher. It's a matter of pride. We helped each other to improve. We have wanted our students to do as well as possible. We haven't been of the same ilk as some teachers I remember in high school who simply wrote something on the board for us to copy and then scooted out of the room. I had excellent elementary school teachers and sought for excellence, also. I'm not for any special monetary rewards for some teachers. It's up to a good principal to weed out poor teachers, and they have a chance to do that in the teacher's first 3 years. Experience and education should remain the reason for upgrades in pay, such as our system is working under now. So, gentlemen; take heed.

I get so mad hearing both McCain and Obama saying things like they would get people in to teach that don't have to bother with certification to teach! That is so ridiculous! In fact, I've seen people at very high levels in their field not being able to get across one fact in a school setting! Teaching is part acting, part entertaining, part being a policeman and part being a person full of all sorts of information. McCain would get soldiers into the classroom to teach after their service, without any training. Sorry, but that simply is a waste of our money. I believe I heard Obama say he wasn't very popular with the educators, and I have to agree with them.

The one thing I liked that Obama mentioned was that parents had to take on responsiblity to improve their children's education. I wondered at the time how he would put that across. It hasn't been working so far, unless there's a substantial reward system in the works that I don't know about, as he didn't elaborate on that. It should be a given that families that excell in reading and learning in the home would produce like children. What do we do about families that never read a thing, that spend their time with 6 packs as their intellectual outlet?

I taught in Alaska in a very posh neighborhood, where parents had quite a social life. They couldn't manage to always be on time in the morning to help their children get ready for school, being they were partying the night before, so I wound up combing little girls' hair to help them feel presentable. Neglected children aren't always in the poorest schools. These children were equally neglected, and almost for the very same reasons. In Oregon I taught children who also had a parent or two who imbibed too much. Their breakfast consisted of a coke, a bottle, that is. Often we had a police car at our school for reasons I never learned, but someone was in trouble.

Times had changed from when I was a little girl with a mother at home full time only worrying about cleaning the house and putting meals on the table. She joined the PTA and was there for all the meetings, and that became a social outlet for her. Besides that, she became a Brownie leader, so there she was in my school again, keeping an eye on me as well. She and my teachers talked to each other, and both knew what was going on.

So, Barak, you have said a mouthful with getting parents involved. I wish you well and wonder how it can be done. Perhaps children who receive a GPA in Elementary School can be rewarded somehow with points towards a scholarship for college. It would have to be tangible. Perhaps good GPA's could receive a morning at a movie theater as a reward; something the children would like, or a time at the roller rinks or ice rinks.

Other than education, I didn't go bananas over anything else that was debated. Each person had his turn to perform his dance, and it did seem to go better than previously. They seem to be informed about other issues quite well. The question remains if all of the voters have done their homework on the issues.

Reference October 15, 2008 Debate: Obama and McCain 6pm. TV

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