Las Vegas Sun

May 6, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Teachers put in unfair situations

Another view?

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Regarding the letter to the editor, “Stop complaining, start teaching”:

I don’t know where Kathi Mentlik went to school when she says that anyone over 40 knows that elementary schools had more than 30 students in a class. I’m 73 and I went to 12 different schools in four different countries and never had 30 students in any class I attended.

I had great teachers. All but one of the schools in a foreign country were military-dependent schools.

Teachers wanted the experience of teaching overseas so they had an opportunity for travel, and the government had its pick of top applicants.

The biggest change since I went to school is less discipline at home to teach kids boundaries and good behavior. You put 30 of today’s kids into a classroom and you get pandemonium where no teacher can do their best.

I saw the start of this 40 years ago when my children were in grade school, and I volunteered to assist at school.

Our school had the largest number of children from single-parent homes in our school district.

Divorce and single parenthood have been big factors in the way children are brought up, and this is seldom mentioned as a cause of today’s school problems. I blame parents and the way they live their lives for the mess the schools are in. Don’t blame the teachers.

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  1. Thank you, Ms. Romero.

  2. I would have to agree that if you objectively compared students and teachers today with those 40 years ago, you'd find students have changed much more than teachers and not for the better.

    The purpose of teachers is to educate not to correct the ills created by poor or distracted parenting and neglect. Teachers may have the last crack at correcting these ills but they are not responsible for everything that happens and has happened at home.

  3. I enjoyed the article and agree in part. But where I disagree is using dependent schools around the world as a basis for comparison with schools at home. You can't. The US Defense agencies run the system of dependent schools overseas. While the author may think they are good, other military dependents who went through them do not. For a lot of reasons. Not just due to educational standards, loosely structured curriculums and the transient teachers but the long bus rides and distances to and from schools which took up hours of the day. That may have changed now, but for the age of the letter writer, it was surely true then.

    Carmine D

  4. I would also add that these dependent students had the advantage of at least one military parent and/or spouse who took an active role in their children's academic progress. Something that is sorely lacking today with children who are not achieving academically.

    Carmine D

  5. The downward trend in public "education" began with the advent of "progressives" taking over. The past 5 decades have seen a steady decline in how students are "instructed" in the basics and a steep incline in how they are "indoctrinated." Foolish programs, those that should be undertaken on students own time if they so desire, waste valuable time better spent on the 3 "R's." Graduation rates have also steadily declined until, today, 55% is considered acceptable. If any private business was only 55% successful in satisfying its customer base, it would have died a merciful death long ago. So it should be with public "education." It's a waste of taxpayer funds and, more importantly, cheats the very "customers' it is supposed to be serving: the students who will suffer greatly as they grow older and venture out into the real world. The conversation should not be about the "poor" teachers and what they have to "put up with." They can always move on if they don't like what they are tasked to do! It should be about the students and the lousy environment they have been stuck in for years.

  6. Here is a common scene at a public school- disciplining a behavioral child, and the final analysis of conversation with administrators vs. teachers is this : Administrator, "We can't do anything about the child's home, so what can WE do for this child here?"

    A PARENT is their child's first and lifelong teacher.

    When children come to our public schools neglected, hungry, without prescribed glasses, ill, emotionally traumatized, tired, without proper clothing, without having completed assigned homework, how, can we make teachers responsible for this? Yet, everyday, there is a rather large percentage in each CCSD classroom of children who arrive at school with unresolved problems they carry from their homes. And we expect these affected children to behave and learn in spite of their plight. Clearly, their "first and lifelong teacher" is not doing their job, failing to properly care for their offspring. So the world expects the classroom teacher to pick up the pieces of these affected children and make them all better. Notice I didn't say administrators.

    Although teachers are committed to the foundations of education as reading, writing, and arithmetic, they are hard pressed to insure every child in their class will perform at their best on any given day. They can make the lesson engaging and fun, but the hard work comes in the practicing until one has it right, and few students have such resolve in their lives when their own world is so challenging.

    We need to stop promoting ill prepared students. If they lack the skills, such children need to be channeled to a classroom where the focus is learning those academic skills (and hopefully wake up their parent to the fact THEY (the parent) need to support their child). Doing this, will provide the type of aggressive and rigorous learning environment for those children who have their skills down and can thrive in a faster paced, high energy, demanding educational program.

    When you have a classroom with a high percentage of LOW functioning students, what do you expect?
    Private schools can pick and choose who attends their schools, but public school cannot. I can only speak for myself, but I expect ALL my students to graduate, and they are taught those skills to get them there consistently. Past students contact me and provide valuable input on the job I have done, and they inform me that I had prepared them extremely well and they are doing well because of it.

    But the current system has been making it increasingly harder to do that. Parent involvement is at an all time LOW, just like their child's school performance. Wonder if they are connected? Hummm, low involvement parent = low performing student, hummm.

    Blessings and Peace,

  7. Jerry blames the increasing negative outcomes in public education in the past 50 years on progressives, on instruction and on indoctrination. There is certainly no doubt that graduation rates have declined and that test scores have slumped......except that they haven't when compared by equal measures. Fifty years ago most states allowed students to leave school at 15 or 16 to work. Kids who are now required to attend until age 18 or graduation yet have no inclination to do so are counted as dropouts. Back then they were learning trades, working in ag or otherwise getting on with their lives. Test scores are significantly harder to measure as kids of fifty years ago were not bombarded with proficiency tests of one sort or another every quarter.

    Public schools, in the past fifty years, have also added many more groups of students who were not generally in the student population at that time. Special ed students come to mind as does a large class of minority students....remember when all those black kids went uneducated or poorly educated at their "separate but equal" schools? If you went to school in the Central Valley or the Willamette or Yakima, how many Hispanic kids went to your school? Native American kids were routinely shipped off to "Indian" schools to be stripped of their native language and culture.

    I taught for 4 years in CCSD and 4 more years in other settings. My own education was overseas at Catholic boarding schools. The top 75% of CCSD students can easily hold their own with students of 50 years ago, much better in many cases. The bottom 25% are getting the opportunity for a decent education, something that many did not have in the past.

  8. Whoever said life is fair? Decent to good teachers are all but guaranteed lifetime employment--something the rest of us don't get. Teachers have good working conditions: indoors, heated/cooled, good hours, 7-hour days, 184-day years. Teachers get to interact with people all day. Oh yes, there are expectations that they teach and do it reasonably well. Those who can and actually do are very welcome. Those unhappy with this life can move it on down the road.

  9. Pisces 5:01. Think you're onto something. Teachers would have us believe that they shoulder the entire world of students and that, therefore, teachers want to be paid as if they were CEO's. Let's get the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic. There is nothing wrong with being "concerned" about students with seemingly "bad" home life, but we do NOT pay you for that. If you are moved enough to offer help, do so--offer your own help on your own time. Otherwise, leave it to CPS, DHHS, parents, relatives, churches and the village.

  10. There is no reason to get wordy about teachers these days or schools. Whether it's in Las Vegas or elsewhere, there is only ONE problem. Parents don't parent anymore. My parents taught me how to behave well before I entered my first school. Teachers and administrators fight a losing battle every day. And they will continue to lose. The solution is with the parents, not the schools.