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April 18, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Stop complaining, start teaching

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My concern is with the Clark County School District. Anyone over the age of 40 remembers that classroom sizes in elementary school always had at least 30 students and the teachers had no problem with teaching and control.

I don’t know why they are crying now about class sizes, because all the teachers do is put each kid in front of a computer and turn them loose. Why bother having teachers at all?

Also, back then, classes had parents or college students learning to be teachers help in the classrooms.

Stop the whining and go back to the “good old days” and teach the kids with your minds and hands.

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  1. This letter shows there are deficiencies one can expect to experience from being in a class of 30 students in "the good old days".

  2. I agree with you Jeff. However, we also must look closely at what causes the child to fail. Those must be removed and mitigated otherwise, the child will be forever catching up.

    Simply retaining a child is not sufficient. He is already at a disadvantage. There must be laser-like interventions targeting the very specific deficiencies causing the failure. Some of these deficiencies require time and some require little miracles.

  3. Didn't I recently hear the former Clark County School District Superintendent, Dwight Jones who makes $340,000 per year, say class size is not a deal breaker for learning?


  4. I urge any of you proposing to 'reform' schools to spend at least a grading cycle (nine weeks) with a teacher. Come to my classroom, if you are that concerned. Shadow me everyday. After that, write your recommendation. This way, you will have 'empirical evidence' to back you up.

    For now, I would refrain from commenting lest....

  5. Is this letter sarcasm or an exercise in free association?

  6. Decades ago children behaved in school. Their parents taught them how to behave at home -- growing up. In other words parents parented. It was much easier for teachers to teach back then. Their were some exceptions though. Those kids were expelled from school.

    Moral of this story? We can learn from the past.

  7. Go visit your neighborhood school for a day, or better, a week. Get first hand experience.

    As Commenter Tanker1975 noted, "In "the good old days" students didn't have cell phones and ipods. Parents cared about what the student was doing in school. Students cared about their education. Special needs students were in separate classrooms away from general education students. Students were tracked into college and non-college programs of study. Standardized testing was done once per year to measure progress. No Child Left Behind, which mandates all students are proficient and at grade level didn't exist. School discipline was effective and supported by parents. If you got in trouble in school, you got in even more trouble at home. Teachers planned lessons to meet the needs of their students, and were not forced to follow some pacing guide that said on this date you must teach this even if the students weren't ready.

    Are those the "good old days" you remember?"

    I remember those "good old days" well. Education today and the "good old days" are very different. Special needs students were serviced at separate facilities, not in the regular ed classrooms in the past. We need to really look at how appropriate it is to place some of these students in a regular ed classroom where they disrupt day in, day out, and are NON-productive/NOT thriving.

    Precious few classrooms have computers for each student, usually there are 3-5 in each classroom, and half of those are working properly. Many young children tend to zone out and lose attention to presecribed educational programs, so engagement with technology depends on the child. There are children who do not respond nor learn from computers, and they do require direct instruction in order to progress. Online classroom education would be best served on a case by case evaluation of each student, with continuous monitoring.

    To Kathi Mentlik, I have taught large classes in the past. You need to understand that it can work under the right conditions, and very few Nevada public schools possess such nurturing conditions. It does work when you have parent involvement, as that is KEY. Teachers are supported, and class performance are superb. Good luck finding that at all the schools here in Las Vegas.

    Blessings and Peace,

  8. I'm over 50 and never attended a class greater than 25 students did you grow up overseas ? I think your shilling for stingy corporate creeps- stop complaining and pay some taxes.

  9. My time in K-12 spans from the late 50s to 1971 when I graduated high school. During that time there were some definite changes being made in the school district's thoughts on how a child should be educated.

    Specifically, allowing corporal punishment, having "A" and "B" groups in classes, and holding children back for failure basically disappeared.

    Many of those teaching today are the product of the "kinder, gentler" philosophy that was being put in place in the late 60s and throughout the 70s. Some might be the second-generation if they finished their training after 2000.

    We are now seeing the result of a loss of discipline not just in the children, but in the system itself which stems from those early changes.

  10. Jeff:

    It cost about $10,000 to retain a child. This is hidden expense because the child simply stays in the same grade. It simply increases the number of children who will be in that grade level. Last year, we retained over 20 first graders, increasing our class loads to 22-24 per teacher. These are 6-7-year olds who are just learning to read.

    Most of these children are ELL, some are cognitively challenged, some have not learned structure, some have only TVs and computer games for babysitters thus having woefull deficits in attention. There are about four or five who are 'ready' to learn how to read. Instead of spending that $10,000 to retain a child, we should opt for intensive intervention to make that child catch up.

    After the age of three, if a child did not have any literacy experiences, that child is already behind. When he comes to Kindergarten at five, he, in effect is already five years behind.

    For that child to succeed, intensive intervention must begin there. But, we have upwards to 35 in Kindergarten and now 22 and upwards in first grade.

    Retention is NOT an answer. Better education policies are.

  11. ASadTeacher,

    I would much rather pay the $10,000 to retain a child at the elementary school level than pay the $50,000 or more to put them in prison when they are a teen or young adult.

  12. You are missing the point boftx. If you don't get it, here it is.

    Retention costs billions of dollars in one single year all over the United States. The 10,000 is only for one child. Let us spend that money on preventive measures instead of cures. We do not have to retain any child if we mitigate deficiencies at a very early age. We can also spend some of that money to teach parents how to help their children at home and educate them on what to do to help them succeed at home and in life.

    We can also spend some of that in restrucuturing our curriculum to teach parenting skills as early as middle school, all the way to high school, even in college.

    Too many become parents without any clue about the responsibilities that go along with becoming one. We require licenses to cut hair, do nails, drive a car, etc. yet ANYONE can have a child and shirks responsibilities without as much as a pat on the wrist.

    I stay after school to tutor children for free because I know they won't make it if I don't. I talked to their parents and there is not much hope there. Not only do I have to teach them how to read, I have to help them with homework, how to be organized, how to be responsible with their school work, how to respect school materials and property, and how to work hard.

    If I only teach them how to read, teaching would be a breeze. But in these times, teaching academics is only the tip of the iceberg. This generation is so deficient in many respects, sometimes I wonder if schools can even meet what they need to get ready for the world.

    Blaming teachers and schools for low graduation rates is really myopic. The social ills that plague us are deeper and more serious.

    If we want to reform education, we must look at where it begins and where it happens and it's not just schools.

  13. Thank you Kathi. I too am fed up with the cries for more money for teachers, not for student needs. The budgets include funds for EVERYTHING but teachers and THEIR ARBITRATORS have taken it all. I was in public K-12 with 33-35 students per class--baby boom 10-15 years after end of WWII. I was also among MANY ELL'S who were LEGAL immigrants, wanted to learn English, wanted to be PART OF OUR CULTURE, wanted to be Americans, didn't want to change this nation into Mexico. ELL's did NOT get any extra funding but ELL's did d**n well because they were motivated. It is disgusting that we spend $12,000 to $16,000 per student per year--we spend more than $1,000 per student per year MORE THAN ARIZONA where they get graduates who can read and write and where they have more ELL's than Vegas. If "educators" can't figure out how to provide K-12, cut back to basics with larger class sizes--teach reading, writing, arithmetic. END TENURE.

  14. FYI: You math whizzes, not: CCSD / Nevada spends more for K-12 BECAUSE we overpay teachers compared to Arizona, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico....and Nevada is LOW cost of living.

  15. Tanker, et al:

    Let us focus on the issue. Please do not get sidetracked by ignorant comments.

    Education policies are individual states' decision and based on different principles, fiscal, and political climate.

    People spouting false claims and ignorant comments do nothing but spread contempt to divert us from focusing on more intelligent and logical discussions. Their claims to have knowledge of education were based on working as a janitor in a school, in a Department of Ed office, having a teacher for a girlfriend, or a neighbor who is a teacher.

    We know who we are, our abilities and capabilities, and what we do everyday. It is vital that we keep telling the public these truths and not get the discourse bogged down by responding to idiotic comments.

    Thank you for caring enough to let the truth be heard. PRESS ON.

  16. To those who comment about reforming education, please educate yourself of the issues. Choose any school. Shadow a teacher for a few weeks. It has to be a few weeks because you need to observe the process of assessments, grading, preparing progress reports, conferencing with parents and administrators, planning lessons, preparation of materials, delivery of lessons, interventions, grading of papers, tutoring, attending meetings, facilitating extra-curricular activities, playground and lunchroom duties, cleaning your own classroom, and buying supplies with your own money.

    After that, you may write any way you want. Then at least you have something to back you up.

    You think you're up to it? Scared?

  17. Sadness: Get over the self-importance of K-12 teachers. We do NOT need to have constant class room experience to know you're NOT doing the job. I echo Jeff that "not retaining kids not ready for the next grade level is LIKE THROWING A KID (WHO) CAN'T SWIM, (INTO A POOL.)

  18. Heads still in the sand, huh. Many of us were/are in K12 education and have SERIOUS CONCERNS ABOUT WHAT'S NOT going on--lack of classroom educational activity while many teachers network, do THEIR paperwork and "research", and yes, some time is put into paperwork/administration--you know, the paperwork you CLAIM IS DONE ON YOUR OWN TIME. OK, let's again point out that many teachers and administrators are doing WHAT THEY CAN--but that just isn't adequate. Inadequate staff must be replaced.