Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Educators need to speak up soon

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Principals and teachers should not be berated because of the failure of our own system, which is not because of their teaching.

Years ago, children could not attend school unless they spoke English — my mother was one of those children.

We tend to forget why people come to our great country.

They come here to become citizens, but some are ignorant of the fact that they must learn and teach their young children English.

I blame our country and the pandering it does to non-English speaking people. It keeps them down by printing things in their native language.

How will these people get jobs? How will their children graduate?

The principals and teachers know this, but I don’t understand why they accept being berated, having their schools taken over because of low grades and graduations. It’s not their fault, and yet it is because they are afraid to speak up for fear of being labeled as prejudiced.

Something needs to be done or we will find that we are now the foreigners in our own country; don’t look now, but we already are. And I’m not prejudiced. How do I know all this? Because I worked for the Clark County School District for more than 10 years.

Instead of moving forward, we are moving backward.

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  1. Author makes an excellent point on the language barrier and academic achievement. I know many teachers in CCSD who say the same exact thing. Kudos to Governor Brian Sandoval for saying in his state of the State address that a primary goal of Nevada's education is to ensure all children can read and write English by the third grade.

    Carmine D

  2. PART 1 of 2
    Thank you Mamie, for speaking up and sharing your own personal, life experience as well. Your example sheds some light on the massive issue our country and education in our country faces, with precious few people willing to tackle the issue.

    You stated,"The principals and teachers know this, but I don't understand why they accept being berated, having their schools taken over because of low grades and graduations. It's not their fault, and yet it is because they are afraid to speak up for fear of being labeled as prejudiced."

    After living in Nevada for over ten years, and having a child finish his education here in Nevada, and being an educator myself, I have experienced this dilema a bit differently. Those who realize a wrong and speak out, automatically become objects of others' focus, and oft times, ridicule, making that courageous individual a target of misplaced hatred. It is safe to say that most educators now working in the system, are extremely frustrated with the way things are going, daily experience the sense of helplessness, and even have a sense of themselves being victims of the public backlash to a deteriorating public school system that lacks adequate funding year after year.

    If one speaks up, they become a target: of being talked about, which includes gossip, distorted repetitions of positions, and some will even shun that speaker. It gets personal at times, and one has to develop a thick skin towards those who differ.

    Then it becomes the BLAME GAME, of which you have to ask the chicken and the egg question of which came FIRST. Kids aren't learning and who is to blame?

    PARENTS are a child's first and lifelong teacher. Many children are coming to school without both parents, or even having one birth parent. If these parents lack skills, it absolutely affects their children.

    Yet when you bring up the parent's role, or the role of the home on a child's academic and/or social performance, educators, counselors, and psychologists throw their hands up in the air and say nothing can be done about THAT.

    THAT is a big part of the problem! Who is to blame?

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  3. PART 2 of 2
    Who is to blame for THAT problem?

    Lawmakers REFUSE to deal with THAT problem, for decades now. And we all know the results from not dealing with THAT integral factor in a child's life. Also, Lawmakers refuse to adequately fund Nevada's infrastructure, and education, is a part of the Nevada infrastructure.

    Today's Lawmakers are consumed with worrying about campaign election or reelection funding resources (think lobbyists who are backed by special interested industries), pleasing ALEC promoters, and keeping their own political party happy. Lawmakers have their priorities, and the little guy American Citizen barely makes a noise.

    Aside from those receiving Special Education services, the children who come into our classrooms rarely come prepared. These children don't read at home, nor practice skills learned in school at home, and as many will testify, fewer yet, ever complete homework assignments. It is damn sad to have to do homework in the classroom at school, because there is no priority in the home to do it at home. This is the new America, welcome to it.

    Educators are faced with having to teach all children in their classroom, regardless of their situation or circumstances, spreading their energies and resources thin, when what should happen, is to focus on teaching those children who truly are there ready to learn. Private schools have that ability while public schools do not. Taxpayers are wasting millions of dollars on trying to reach and serve everyone, when only a few are truly prepared to receive instructional services. This needs to change. Parents refuse to accept responsibility for anything other than giving birth to these children (so they can get their tax deduction or welfare checks).

    Solution: Place those who are not ready to learn in designated classrooms that can focus their time, energies, and funding on getting them up to speed, ready to function at grade level. Until we, the educators (with the support of Lawmakers), do this, we will continue to have the miserable results we have been getting for years.

    It's not prejudice, it's good, old fashioned commonsense and prudence. Thank you.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  4. Commenter Teacher stated at 8:35 a.m. the following truths, "Stop blaming teachers for low test scores in a system that pushes students forward when they are non-proficient, even if their teachers would like them held back. Stop blaming teachers for low test scores of lazy students. Stop blaming teachers for low test scores of students who are frequently absent. Stop blaming teachers for low test scores of students who don't do homework. Stop blaming teachers for low test scores of students who simply do not care if they get an education.

    But there are those who still will. It's not an issue of rationality; it's an issue of vitriol.

    It's also an issue of money and politics: Call the teachers bad and the schools failing, buy the politicians, allow people to use public money for private schooling, allow the government to give big grants to slick education salespeople, open a for-profit education business, and listen to the ignorant and nasty continue to blame teachers. Then laugh heartily."

    Follow the money trail.....

    Education is a BILLION dollar business, and as long as education is viewed as needing fixing, those in the educational industries, as publishing, testing, consulting, etc., will continue to receive RECORD PROFITS, while our children are used as their pawns, and teachers must constantly bend to every wind of program that prevails in the educational air. WHO funds these educational businesses? The LAWMAKERS with taxpayer dollars, of course! There should be some real screaming going on, where is it?

    Those in the educational trenches in our public classrooms, get the most scrutiny and blame, while educational upper management administration or administrators, get to be the punishers of teachers (who are only following THEIR marching orders) on behalf of the Lawmakers. The blame has to follow the money trail, every time.

    Isn't it time for the taxpaying public to demand a positive return on taxpayer investment dollars? You must start accountability on those MOST responsible and to blame: the Lawmakers and the parents.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  5. For me, it is important to bring forward out of the "untrusted" comments (most post this way to maintain their private identity), Commenter Teacher's perspective, as well as those as Tanker1975. It is difficult to speak out without suffering some form of reprisal from those who must disagree (due to their own positions in the organization), or those who have differing opinions and operate on a good guy/bad guy basis, or ulterior motives.

    Commenter Teacher, continues at 8:57 a.m., to provide much needed enlightenment into the plight of very dedicated public servants in education. Below is Teacher's post contiued:

    "I would like to add another perspective to Star's. Why don't teachers speak up more? It's not just the reaction Star mentioned, which is true, but it's also this one: All of a sudden you have administrators in your room frequently and for long periods, writing down all sorts of negative things on your observation forms, and then giving you poor evaluations. Teacher bullying is rampant.

    Contrary to popular belief, yes, teachers certainly can lose their jobs. It just takes administrators putting in the time. An administrator who likes you will write down positive things; an administrator who doesn't writes down negative things. Any teacher can be dinged for all sorts of things, because the job is literally impossible. Observations/evaluations are very, very subjective.

    And it is being made easier, through legislation, to get rid of teachers. You will soon see more of a revolving door.

    But they don't even have to go so far as to make you lose your job. They can give you all sorts of directives to follow that add hours and hours to a job that already requires long hours. (Long hours is another aspect of the job that the nasty and ignorant will not acknowledge.)

    ...Slavish work for pay that never increases; a system being put in place to make it pretty easy to get rid of you - which you can bet will happen once you get to a certain salary level; the previously-mentioned subjective evaluations; being whipped to do the impossible and being bad-mouthed by society when you can't; subjected to being harassed, abused, and disrespected if you speak your mind, no matter if you are generally good and respected teacher; being told you have to work more, more, more for no more pay to help students, while students themselves can be lazy, absent, unconcerned, disruptive and/or massively undisciplined; having to put up with abuse and harassment by parents; being made to teach with scripted programs, but having low student test scores blamed on you, not the scripted programs or the students..."

    To my fellow educators, thank you for taking courage, coming forward, and speaking out. May others be inspired to believe that what they have to say is equally important and MUST be said!

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  6. To MarcJeric32: Are the "unions" sending children to school without command of the English language,hungry, preoccupied with technological gadgets/video gaming, not doing homework, emotionally neglected, not practicing skills with things as math fact flash cards, or reading for pleasure and comprehension?

    Your argument is weak, MarcJeric32. This is more about individual responsibility, it is not as simplistic as you propose. Unions are far from perfect, but they have served a purpose on this planet to thwart exploitation of greedy employers on labor. We have child labor laws to end the abuse of using children in dangerous and abusive workplaces. I assume you rather reinstitute such practices. Thank you.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  7. Amen, Star!
    Very astute observations.

    If I may add...

    Decades ago, society decided that 'school district' meant something entirely different than it used to.

    'School districts' became parents, food services, medical practitioners, care-givers and a veritable laundry list of Social Services.

    Additionally, 'ADMIN' became BLOATED like a giant, voracious SOW.

    Parents became 'too busy' to raise their own children and demanded more and more AND MORE out of the local schools.

    The amount of resources now allocated from the general fund to NON-TRADITIONAL endeavors has sucked the 'classroom' and it's teachers BONE DRY.

    We need a re-boot, but not in the sense that we hear about these days from 'reformers'.
    We constantly strive to 'identify problems in the system that affect student achievement'...

    we test like there's no tomorrow; we blame teachers for parent's failures; we hire consultants and specialists and appoint untold numbers of (former) classroom teachers to non-classroom related duties and then 'pretend' they're helpful and impactful and part of a solution; we point accusing fingers in every direction but the genuinely obvious ones...

    Why?
    Because we're beholden to the squeaky wheels...AND
    so that adults can look good in the eyes of other adults.
    "See! We're improving!"
    Smoke & mirrors.

  8. I grew up with many, many LEGAL immigrants who did NOT speak English until they learned their a b c 's. That's when their parents learned English too. There were no special programs and they were NOT bared from attending. Class size was 33-35 per teacher. After attendance was taken, if you didn't want to stay in class (high school) you could leave. Very few left because the kids wanted to learn. OK, we were not enamored with the details of world history, and some didn't like the finer points of calculus. There were few discipline problems because students could leave anytime they wanted to.
    Further, Ms. Glorioso does not explain how she "knows" that it's not the teachers or principals. Perhaps educators are too concerned with themselves to bother focusing on reading, writing, rithmetic.