Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Teachers and Education

Mostly when I think about school, I remember being in the student lounge at Galena Park High School at lunch time. I almost never ate in the cafeteria and usually bought a hamburger for lunch and stood around in a group of my friends talking. It was a fun social time, breaking up the day between classes.

I got almost all of my formal education in Texas, although I did takes some advanced college placement courses while I was in the army. I had about 10 credits for advanced placement that I never actually used for my college degree.

I remember some of my teachers that had an influence on me. At Jackson Jr. High in Pasadena I remember two English teachers: One was Dr. Bottrell and the other was Mrs. Morton. There was also a math teacher at Jackson, but I cannot remember her name – too bad – she inspired me. In high school, Mr. Osborne taught biology. Mr. Beiberstein taught algebra, Mrs. Perry taught me English. I remember Mr. Pemberton for art class. I do not remember all my teachers, but I do remember some who were important to me at an impressionable time. I would not consider myself a good student and I should have been. My fault and my loss, because I did not apply myself more.

When I think about education I think about teachers that inspire students. The time I spent in grades 1-12, all my teachers were focused on the students. It was rare for a teacher to take a day off – they were with us every school day. I think I was lucky to be educated in Texas in the 50’s and 60’s.

Now when I hear about education it’s about a teacher’s strike, teachers skipping school to protest elected officials or unruly students abusing teachers and their classmates. There are a few stories about private schools with excellent curricula and effective teaching techniques, but not nearly enough of these stories.

I read about State Boards of Education arguing about the content of text books. History books are always good for an argument. Some want a religious slant, some want more minority stories, some want to alter history to change a political narrative, some want to teach social justice. Adults trying to indoctrinate children to change our culture is dangerous.

Our education system is failing the children of our country. The more involved the federal government gets in education, the more it costs and the less effective it becomes. Our students rank about 30th in quality of education and we spend more per student than any other country.

Our presidential candidates are fighting over who pays for college when someone needs to focus on getting students prepared to go to college. For social reasons we have young people graduating from college who read on a third grade level. This is asinine.

Children need to be taught the truth about the history of our country, without a political slant. Parents should be more involved and have an opportunity to choose a school that best meets the needs of their child. Teachers need to be inspiring. Teachers should be memorable to the students. Ineffective teachers need to be weeded out and excellent teachers should be rewarded.

The future of this country depends on what elementary school children hear at school.

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