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April 26, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Reforming doesn’t mean scapegoating

Another view?

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Regarding education reform:

A child learns from his experiences, not from what we tell him. His experiences are gleaned from interacting and negotiating the environment in which he functions.

Schools are but a tiny element. A child is in school for 180 days each year and at home for the rest of the 365 days. He is home for 133 hours each week and only in school 35 hours, even less when he is absent.

Education reforms have been rehashed for centuries now, engendering idiotic laws and reauthorizations of the same idiotic laws — all focused on “reforming” schools.

If we really are serious about reforms, shouldn’t we focus on the total environment?

Isn’t it about time to correct our myopic visions to see the need to reconceptualize education based on present, and if it isn’t too much to ask, future contexts?

Blaming unions, passing right-to-work laws, and overall apathy toward the only true advocates for children are really idiotic.

When did logic go out of style?

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  1. Oh you missed it! Fourth paragraph: The total environment.

    Learning begins when life begins. Start with the pregnant mother, the family where the child grows up, his immediate environment, his community, society.

    We have been reforming schools with 'cures," but failing in "preventions."

    By the time a child begins Kindergarten at five years old, if he has not been given the chance to experience that which is necessary to facilitate learning, he already has lost five years worth. He will spend his early years catching up and he will if he has the motivation.

    Let's look at families. A child comes home to am empty house. Is there food? Is there someone to read to him, to help with homework, to supervise him? Most children only have TVs or computer games. Where are the parents? There's one topic for a good debate.

    Let us look at his community. Las Vegas! Here's a child who has been suspended from school for "mooning" his classmates. Then while driving along the freeway with his Mom saw an advertisement on a humunguous billboard touting, "no ifs, ands, and you know what." Try explaining that to a five-year old. There's another topic for debate.

    Please get away from a juvenile approach of attacking someone for bringing up a topic and let us spend our energies continuing the dialogue on topics that matter. We really cannot ignore it. The consequences are dire. We see it in the news every day.

    Yes, it is difficult, but aren't we supposed to have the most advanced minds in the world who invented the most advanced technology, weaponry, and space technology?

    Surely, we can spare a little of that sophistication for our children. We can do better than simply supplying them with electronic babysitters.

  2. The message I get from this letter is this: Teachers get yearly salaries. So students should attend school all year round. Then, the students will have a full school year experience, every year of their academic life.

    Tell me letter writer, why is my logic out of style?


  3. Carmine:

    Please do not think the world revolves around your logic.

    The topic here is about reforms and where the focus should begin.

    Is it really impossible to engage people to think beyond themselves? Please.

    Why does it always begin with ... (Tell). (logic) My...

    It is not about you. It is about our children!

  4. If we pay teachers full time yearly salaries, why do students go to school part time during the year?

    If I understand your letter's point [and perhaps I don't so I'm asking you to clarify not obfuscate], you are commenting that students' limited school year experience is the cause for their poor performance. I deduct therefore that one solution, [which Future rightly said you did not provide] is to allow students to attend school all year round. If not [a solution], then why not? And what is the solution? Other than complaining?


  5. "@Carmine D.

    Ok, even if we look at year round school, there is a major flaw in your logic. A child is in school 7 hours per day. What happens during the other 17?" @Tanker 1975

    Not my logic. The letter writer's.

    I put the responsibility for academic achievement of students squarely on parental/guardian involvement. It's a basic truism that students excel academically and achieve at higher levels when parents/guardians take an active role in their edcuational progress.


  6. "Carmine :

    Do you really think teachers are paid for the summer months they are not in session?" @ Jeffery

    It's my understanding that most jurisdictions in the US give public school teachers an option. Teachers can collect their yearly salaries over the 12 month calendar year or the school year, at their choice.


  7. "According to a 2006 study done by the National Education Association, 50% of teachers leave the profession within five years because of poor working conditions and low salaries. Yet, according to the 2006 General Social Survey, teaching ranks among the Top 10 most gratifying jobs with 69% of teachers reporting they were very satisfied with their jobs. A low salary should not be the reason stop molding young minds and influencing lives for the betterment of our society."


  8. Whistle while you work:

    School principals and teachers rank in the top 10 most satisfying careers with salaries averaging $83,000 and $53,000 respectively.


  9. "@Carmine,

    Teachers are NOT paid an annual salary. I am paid for 184 days." @ Tanker 1975


  10. Carmine, teacher's do not get extra pay when they are not working during the summer months.They take a shorter pay check for 12 months so as to not have the summer months with no income.

    You knew exactly what Jeff meant when he said,"Do you really think teachers are paid for the summer months they are not in session".

  11. The PARENT is the child's first and lifelong teacher. That PARENT takes the most critical formative years of their child and SHOULD BE developing a solid foundation for lifelong learning for THEIR child.

    Now, enter teen pregnacy, children having children, social deviants and fugitives having children, without concern for their futures. Having actual work experience with Alternative Education and Correctional Education, permits me to interject these caveats to our reality. Having a functional life is important to child development in critical years. My own experiences tell me that by third grade, children are pretty well "set" in their ability and functuality levels towards lifelong success. Research bears out my observations. School districts are oblidged to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on "remedial" education with marginal successes, which, given the child's home envioronment, may not be sustainable due to lack of parental/home involvement/motivation with and for that child.

    The fact is that it takes a great deal of energy and effort and expense to "catch up" a child who is deficient. Public schools must take all (except expells) who enter their doors. The fact the CCSD added MORE Title 1 Schools classifications tells us the story of young children already missing the boat in life with a firm foundation begun with their parents at home. So yes, part of education's problems begin with the outside of school home environment.

    Since I had worked a program where students attended school all year, excepting holidays, I can attest to the effectiveness of such programs. They are, of course, MORE EXPENSIVE to run. They are effective, and it does take a teacher who can handle the expectations, standards, and pace to do it. I have had no problems with it.

    Hopefully, this coming Nevada State Legislation in 2013, our Lawmakers will put enforcement teeth in the yearly discussed and signed, PARENT/TEACHER/STUDENT INVOLVEMENT ACCORD. Otherwise, it continues to be useless lip-service at millions of taxpayer's dollars expense.

    While we hold educators accountable, we also must hold the children and their parents accountable, to be fair. There needs to be balance for all things to work together for the good of all involved.

    Blessings and Peace,

  12. YOU do NOT get to decide how anybody lives. But then again, we should not encourage people to be parents when they really shouldn't be. We need to stop doing that via our tax and welfare laws. We must be responsible adults in our communities by treating others well--by showing common courtesy and neighborliness. Doesn't mean we have to take care of them. Just be open to their lifestyles and choices. Saying Hello to the weird guy next door. Stop belittling the single woman across the street. Say something when the guys at work ridicule someone. Do SOMETHING about YOUR kids--do you KNOW how much bullying they are doing? What are their attitudes towards the kids that are NOT their friends? Teachers have their roles as do parents AND as every body else has a role. Would you be willing to talk to that weird neighbor if he had a problem or asked your opinion? Would you look at how it works for him, not how you'd want it to work for you? Do the same thing with kids, all kids. Doesn't take money or funding. It takes human-ness.

  13. What is their attitude towards the kids who are NOT their friends?

  14. What a crock! "Progressives" get the kids at their most vulnerable stages in life (their formative years) and fill their head with leftist propaganda and Augustine says that doesn't weigh heavily on their future behavior and thinking? Wow! And she's a teacher? No wonder we wind up with so many wimps dependent on others to do their thinking for them. They are told by those on the left that they are unable to do for themselves and are "entitled" to government "assistance" to survive so often they believe it. That's why we wind up with so many parasites taking and not giving. 47 million on food stamps; children having children; drug and alcohol abuse rampant; "poverty" at its greatest level despite trillions having been wasted on its "war;" housing subsidies, child care subsidies. Hell, you name it and the government will "provide" it and for "FREE!" And the slide into mediocrity moves at a greater speed each day along with the national debt. Who cares? Centainly not the left! They encourage it!

  15. Jerry, they're just insisting on more money, more money, more money for themselves. There is no way ANY program can replace being wanted by your parents. Further, the parents usually have no idea what they were getting into. The "educators" who post here generally don't have enough intelligence to comprehend what they read yet they think they know best what to do and how to do it. Perhaps the best idea is that once people who shouldn't be parents (or don't want to be) are encouraged to stop after the first kid. As they've pointed out, we've been doing this K-12 with additional programs for generations and they still have no clue how to do it right. Get back to basics of reading, writing, arithmetic. If they ever get that figured out, let's discuss equity, reality, life. For all the "good" vocabularies yet no comprehension....

  16. Tanker 1975 et al:

    Using the CCSD starting salary, lowest, of $34,688 and the 184 days in the work year, your figure, the daily pay is $188. Not too shabby and it leaves 181 days in the year to supplement CCSD teachers' salary or further your education with an advanced degree.


  17. "You knew exactly what Jeff meant" @ Samspeaks

    I never had a course in mind reading. That's why I corrected you when you posted recently that Leon Panetta was currently the Director of the CIA.

    I forget now what your excuse was for being wrong. Perhaps you can refresh my memory. It's not as good as it use to be.


  18. Teachers unions have dug in against the high profile issue of school reform. And as a result have fared worse in approval ratings [less than 49 percent] than their public/private union counterparts.


  19. Carmine,
    Perhaps you can stay on the topic of conversation instead of trying to change the subject.

    I forgot for a moment that you are up to your old tricks. By changing the subject in trying to get us to answer your nonsense about something else. Try something different for a change,and stay on the topic. I also forgot your excuse for being wrong about the election outcome.If I remember correctly you predicted Romney 310 electoral votes, all the swing states,and 53% of the popular vote.You were pretty close on your predication,except you picked the wrong candidate.

  20. My aren't we impressed with ourselves, Ms. Nancy. The "only true advocates for children." And you think we should pay you even more for your self-absorbed aggrandizing? Get practical. You've sacrificed to killed off enough of our kids.

  21. Most, but not all of the problems we have in education are directly related to our society. The society that doesn't value education like it did when I was a boy. The society where kids have sex very early. The society where people hook up and have kids with zero thought about the consequences. The society where people bail on relationships at the first sign of trouble. The society where broken homes are quite normal. The society where parents are too busy following their own dreams to be involved with their children's education. The society where we glorify violence and fame. The society where too many cover up life issues with alcohol and or drugs.

    I could go on but why? Most of the problems our education system has cannot be solved with money. Should teachers be paid more? Yes I think they should. Should we have fewer and lower paid administrators? Yes? Should a teaching credential mean that a person is an 'expert' in subject matter as well as being able to teach? Yes.


  22. Once again, I am disappointed at the comments here. I did not talk about more money, I did not talk about anything but:

    Let's look at our families.

    Let's look at our communities.

    Let's look at our society.

    We spend millions, billions even in 'solutions-reforms' but never in prevention. We spend billions for prisons. We spend billions in many other financial dealings between the government and outside agencies - all of them wasteful, but we cannot spend on rebuilding families; providing children safe haven to grow up wholesome?

    I am trying to get people to advocate for children, and you people hurl personal attacks?

    The world is uglier than I ever think it is. What a sad state of affairs.

    If you cannot contribute anything constructive, please turn off your venom. You really are showing how juvenile you are!

  23. Nancy: look in the mirror.

  24. Here is a link to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report on teacher work hours compared to the private sector.


  25. samspeaks:

    There is a difference between a "prediction" and a wrong statement or misfact. Predicting a Romney win, which many did, is a prediction. Posting that Panetta is the current Director CIA is a misfact. The former is understandable, the latter is ....what was the excuse you used?


  26. Carmine,At least I'm man enough to say I made a mistake,something you can't do and won't ever do.There's is no mileage for you on my little mistake.But you said you couldn't wait to tell us off after Romney wins the election.Talk about having cake on your face.Try using something that has substance in it.

  27. "Please cite your source on teachers approval rating." @ Tanker 1975

    Reread my post. I stated "teachers unions."

    "Friday, June 8, 2012
    Teacher unions are unpopular
    According to a new survey conducted on behalf of Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance and the journal Education Next, only 22 percent of Americans think teacher unions have a positive effect on schools."


  28. And another source Tanker 1975:

    "The Most Hated Group In America: Teachers Unions

    Joe Weisenthal|September 24, 2010|

    The famous videos of Chris Christie sparring with public school teachers are an early sign that the most hated class in America is the public school teachers unions.

    Read more:


  29. "Carmine,At least I'm man enough to say I made a mistake," @ samspeaks

    Pretty soon you'll be Superman!


  30. Carmine,

    Pretty soon you'll be Superman!

    At least I know I'm a man of my word.

  31. The first reform should be to restore corporal punishment in schools.

    Second, stop "social promotion."

    Teach kids that actions carry consequences real life consequences.

  32. Thank you 'mykids' whoever you are.

    I am fully aware of the banality of comments from some people here, but I wrote this letter in hopes that some intelligent suggestions will rise out of the muck that usually bubble up from the depths.

    The state of society right now cannot get any worse. When children become victims, we cannot get any lower than that. Sometimes, from desperation creativity blossoms. Who knows, maybe some spark will ignite ideas. We'll never know.

  33. Mykids,
    You are correct in what you say about Carmine and myself(Sam).We are acting like kids,I will try and clean up my side and move on.

  34. Tanker and those with good ideas:

    We know what will truly reform education. What we need to talk about is HOW.

    These are the givens of what helps a student succeed:

    Families that are supportive of their children
    Teachers who are effective
    A curriculum that is flexible allowing for differentiation based on multiple intelligencies
    A community that supports and provides an environment that enhances student learning through experiences as they negotiate it.
    A society that respects the value of education for the preservation of the human race.
    A government that values education and strengthens its worth through sensible legislation.

    The reality however, is the forces of power and greed are much too entrenched in our collective psyche that excising it requires Byzantine operations.

    We need leaders who can withstand the pressures and the lure of the very same forces they are supposed to fight.

    Once again I invoke. HOW?

  35. Mykids:

    The Moderators do a good job keeping the threads on topic and removing posts that don't. Follow your own advice: Contribute opinions and add to the debate.


  36. "I do agree with Ms. Augustin about parent involvement. My wife and I stayed very involved with our childrens education, and as I grew up my parents demanded that I did well in school. One poster here did make a valid point.
    To Ms. Augustin: If I teach my child about conservativism, and religion, and they have a teacher who is very progressive, has their own agenda about marriage or religious beliefs, how do we as parents handle the difference? How do you handle it when you don't agree with a parents take on society?" @ Chuck333

    Excellent points Chuck. We teach our children and students to follow the golden rule. Then they get out into the real world and must compete and contend with those who don't. How do we level the playing field for our children and students so thay are prepared? And more importantly not negatively influenced by their environment and these people when they encounter them? What is the answer?


  37. "Thanks Carmine just no answer from the teacher. Guess she has no answer." @ Chuck333

    Silence speaks volumes.


  38. Ref 3:26 a.m.: You said it so well even if I'm on a somewhat different thread. Teachers are NOT in charge of what we teach our kids. The parents and community are. We hire the administrators and teachers to follow the policy WE SET. Educators have NOT BEEN LISTENING especially in CCSD. We want our kids to get the basic education and then some. Until an educator can perform in the basics, I'm just not interested in her opinion AND I demand that she perform well in our policy or she's out of work. I do not want K-12 ignoring education and fixating on food drives to send groceries home with illegals.
    We don't pay teachers or principals to spend time on social work and finding housing solutions for the displaced--WE PAY DHHS for that.

  39. "Until an educator can perform in the basics, " @ Roslenda

    We entrust our most precious possessions, our children, with teachers we know absolutely nothing about. I am an advocate for testing teachers, psychologically and for technical proficiency in their subject area of expertise, throughout their teaching careers. Just as other professions do. Will teachers unions ever let that happen? Don't hold your breath.


  40. Tanker: D of Ed does NOT enact the legislation. DOE doe NOT test teachers. DOE is an administrative arm only. I should know.

  41. "What other testing would you suggest?" @ Tanker 1975

    Reread my post. Psychological test. Proficiency tests in their major. Not once when they get their degree, every 3-5 years of their careers.

    BTW, all volunteers in the Catholic Church who work with/around children are required to pass a background check [including FBI] that goes back 15 years in time. It's the least that should be done. I suggest this be done every 5 years too during teacher careers.


  42. And Tanker 1975 I might add WRT volunteers in the Catholic Church, they MUST complete a monthly on-line reading and series of related questions to keep their status current and active. Monthly! If they miss 3 or more, they MUST make them up else they are dropped from the Diocese and parish rolls as qualified volunteers to perform service. Volunteers. That means they don't get paid like teachers do.


  43. PS Tanker 1975: If a volunteer moves from one diocese to another AND it's been more than 5 years since the background check and fingerprinting, they have to undergo the background check/fingerprinting again if they want to continue to volunteer in the Church ministries. Volunteers! As in no pay for service.


  44. Let me whisper here that victim Nancy Lanza is believed to have volunteered at Sandy Hook Elementary and that her son may have thought she cared more for those kids than him--how twisted for people to care more for other people's kids than to address the needs of their own children--PERHAPS unfortunately that "society" endorses this--as I've mentioned, it does appear that the mother was trying to force her son into being a macho all-American stereotype rather than the person he was. And bullying in grade school seems to have been an issue. I also see that some school districts are finally aware that all those windows are means of entry / assault.
    Sandy Hook ES was built in 1956 and still very serviceable. Future building designs might have smaller, higher windows. (Carmine you do grow on us.)

  45. "@Carmine. What type of psychological test? Who would pay for it? Who would be qualified to administer it. What are the purposes of the test?"

    There are a multitude of tests in the universe to determine peoples' fitness for occupations. And they are not new.

    More years ago than I care to remember, the US Army administered tests to its recruits to determine what they were best suited to do BESIDES carry a gun and kill people. There was a test that used a made up language, alphabet, and grammar rules to test the ability to learn and teach foreign languages. There were tests,both mental and personality, to determine if the the person had the traits conducive to be an Officer.

    BTW, the Army also used a "Pro-pay" test it administered every 3 years to its troops to ensure they maintained their proficiency in their military occupational specialty. You COULDN"T GET A PROMOTION OR A PAY RAISE unless you passed the pro-pay test.

    Please don't ask/tell me there isn't a test to determine the teachers' fit for the classrooms and children. I don't believe it. Cost is a different issue. But not an issue if it means the best for students.


  46. (Carmine you do grow on us.) @ Roslenda

    It's my Myers Briggs "INTP" personality. ;-)


  47. "Does the background check requirements also apply to priests? I would suggest that trying to compare volunteers with the Catholic Church to teachers is like comparing apples and oranges." @ Tanker 1975

    The point is, and you missed it, if the Church can do it for PRIESTS AND volunteers who work in and around children, the educational systems can. The difference and at issue is WILL AND UNIONS. It has been since 2000. 12 years now and counting.


  48. I'm sorry, but idiocy of most of these comments is just plain sickening!!!!!

  49. Ignore the idiocy. These people are miserable and I guess have nothing else to do with their lives but spread their misery.

    I will keep on hoping some intelligent suggestions will come through.

  50. There are many reforms and changes that will improve educational systems, teachers, and student achievements nationwide. But unless and until we reform the educational mindset and stop bowing down to the self-serving interests of teacher unions and local governing authorities, there's no hope that we ever will. And we will inevitably take the same easy way out that hasn't worked: Throw more money at it.

  51. "There is a segment of the worlds population that gets great joy from having power to fire other people" @ Jeffery

    Et al:

    How many incompetent teachers do you know have been fired? And what does it take to fire them?
    I can count the ones I'm aware of on one hand with fingers left over. I have the advantage of having lifelong family and friends in educational systems around the country. It took years and an Act of Congress. Most retired after becoming eligible, or resigned voluntarily, in the years' long process to get rid of them.


  52. The intricate and seemingly arduous process of firing an ineffective teacher is the result of failed policies. Failed policies are the results of failed leadership. Failed leadership is a result of political machinations. Political machinations are a result of an indifferent society.

    Teachers are easily fired when there are clear evidences of crime. It is when there are no clear-cut evidences of wrongdoing, or the definition of wrongdoing itself is not clear that make firing a teacher arduous.

    Take teacher evaluation. Highly effective, effective, ineffective, and grossly ineffective, are greatly subject to debate. Current proposals take 50% from required state tests. The other 50% are taken from evaluations by administrators, parents, colleagues, and other district personnel. It is this part that makes the process contentious, primarily because it is based on subjective observations. Objectivity can never be absolute because we all operate from differing frames of references. This is where lawyers have their 'loopholes' to go in.

    Then there are the professional expectations based on fidelity of implementation of commercial curricula and programs. Do you blame a teacher whose students fail to pass mandated tests even with fidelity of implementation? There are many teachable moments that can enhance learning tremendously that are being neglected to comply with fidelity of program implementation. And, how do you rate teachers of PE, music, or art?

    It is of course understandable teachers and their unions become scapegoats, however, we must also examine the environment that set the stage for the domino that begin the process of failure.

  53. Those days are gone--the days when we accepted anything and everything "educators" said. They, the educators, have not delivered, have not performed even minimally. Sure some to many teachers do good work. Sure, many do NOT. We're spending a fortune each and every day on K-12 and we're 51st. Our kids can't read, write, or calculate. They don't graduate. Adjacent Arizona gets many more graduates who can read and write for multi-millions less each year. Yet some of the teachers think the problem is an attitude problem by those of us who've said NO MORE NONSENSE. Teach or get out.

  54. Would you please read the LVSun policy for posters. It is NOT OK to denigrate those who don't agree with you. If you are unable to explain why you disagree, work on your means of expression--and keep in mind your inability to communicate is PART OF THE PROBLEM--we're not teaching in K-12.

  55. Teachers, bureaucratic local authorities, teachers unions and bureaucratic rating rules and regulations for teachers are all part of the failed academic environment. All need a ground up scrubbing to reform and enhance the learning environment. The fact that it [the environment] doesn't change, and refuses to change, is the primary reason for the status quo.


  56. .."and keep in mind your inability to communicate is PART OF THE PROBLEM--we're not teaching in K-12." @ Roslenda

    I have found from personal experience that some teachers have a condescending attitude toward adults especially with whom they have differing opinions related to education. I opine it is a learned personality trait after years of teaching children [K-8] in classrooms. Many adults have expressed this same conclusion to me.


  57. Roslenda et al:

    I am an advocate for home schooling. I think many schools hold good students back with redundancy of curriculum by always teaching to the slowest learners in the class. I believe matriculating exceptional students [quick learners] to higher levels of education should be based in large part on test scores rather than standard time and days spent in classrooms.