Friday, January 27, 2012

Who is involved in your child’s education?

Our nation's youth is our nation future. Our current education system has been failing our children. Who is at fault for your child?

What do parents say they want for their children? A decent education is at the top of the list for most parents. It only seems natural that one would want their child to do well in life and, as most do, that comes through education. How can one help what kind of education their child receives? After all the parents are not in the classroom. Plus, there are so many factors that are involved in the quality of education our children receive. Parents play a huge role in our nation’s youth and their development but, teachers, administrators, school boards, and even politicians play a role in our children’s future. That is a lot of people who have their hand in our children’s education. So before we go writing the youth off as being “lazy” and “stupid”, allow us to remember one thing…stupid is, as stupid does.

As parents many of us have become a custom to allowing the DOE (Dept. of Education) to raise our children. Who better to guide our nation’s youth, correct? Plus, who could not use a free babysitter during the day? Well, as it turns out, the daytime babysitter has a much higher cost then most of us are aware. For starters, the babysitter is not free by any means. School and property taxes pay for that babysitter and most people have no idea what they pay for these services. I know times are harder now, than almost any other time, in most of our lives. Part of being a parent is to make sure our children are secure and develop into responsible adults. We accomplish much of this through the child’s education so, why would we not put forth an effort to secure their education? There are many factors that go into the public school systems and plenty of faults to go around but, parents are the foundation of which our youth builds from.

The first thing anyone can do to be proactive in their child’s educational development is stop expecting the schools to parent or raise your children. Although, many resort to calling teachers, babysitters, they are not. They are supposed to be getting paid (by you through tax dollars) to teach and educate your children. You could do our school teachers a favor by teaching your children manners, respect, and, at least, basic social skills. You are the parent and your children are your responsibility so, please be proactive in your child’s development. Our children have a natural desire to follow the path of someone…who will that someone be? It should be you…the parent. I think it goes without saying, what the other options they could follow are. It is time for American mommy and daddy’s to be parents and get involved with their children and do their part in the educational development.

As everyone expected, the teacher has their hand in the fault jar of cookies too. I deem it to be obvious teachers have an impact, if not the largest of all, on our children’s education. This is the first place many parents place the blame. I do not know that “blaming” the teacher first is fair but, certainly an investigation into your child’s education, starts with the one’s in charge of delivering the education. If you think there is an issue with your child’s teachers do not, attack them in the blame game. You should give teachers benefit of doubt (after all, they are the adult in the situation) and then if there becomes a pattern, research this teacher. You may find that this teacher is doing nothing incorrect at all and your time to be a parent is calling again. You might also look into to this teacher's test scores and find that they have not been getting results out of the students.

Now before I get a bunch of emails saying the test scores do not mean anything from teachers; allow me to touch on that for a moment. I will be the first to say we must change, reform, or get rid of the current system in which we evaluate teachers but, almost every time I mention test score results, I hear, “those test scores do not mean anything, you do not understand how tough teachers have it”. To that I ask, what about the teachers with average or even above average scores? Perhaps there are some (as we have seen in the news) that “fudge” the numbers in their favor but, are all of them liars and cheats? I doubt it, just as I doubt every teacher with poor test scores, is a bad teacher.

There are however, many teachers who do view themselves as babysitters and come to work just to collect a check (perhaps their parents forgot to teach them about integrity). These teachers we need to weed out of our education systems (public and private). Most of these kinds of teachers tend to, not take a personal interest in educating our youth but, use the system as a secure income once they have been tenured. This is a disgrace to our nation. We want our nation to prosper but, we need people to make it prosper, and we have teachers not helping our children develop a prosperous education. So now our children may have a solid foundation starting with the parents but, the first floor is not stable and cannot with stand the pressures from the floors above.

We need the people to understand just how important these teachers are to our children and our nation’s future. We must separate federal government from our public school systems because, aimlessly throwing money around, will not fix a problem they created and they cannot find. This also means changing the evaluation system for teachers. The first thing we should do is honor those who have and continue to excel in educating our youth by, recognizing them for their excellence. Now, if we pay attention to the good teacher’s we have to take notice to the bad teachers. I know this argument differs with school district to district but, pay teachers what they deserve like any other profession. Effective teachers are worth more to those who pay their salaries than ineffective teachers. Those who are just working in the profession to collect a paycheck will be replaced with teachers that truly are passionate about educating our youth. The evaluation of teachers would have to be accurate and precise so, administrators would be required to be more proactive with the teachers not, just a school spokesperson. This would work toward building a more productive school environment for our children and our nation’s future.

Our next involvement in the education of our children, the administration, tends to control the educational climate of your school district in more than just one way. As one can imagine the evaluation process of administrators must be adjusted, as the teacher would be. Principals need to be more concerned about the integrity and level of education being provided to the students of their school and less concerned about making “friends” with the superintendent. Morale has a trickle down affect on people. If the principal has a negative attitude about school dealings it will in return be passed on to the staff and then, you guessed it, to the children. If the children and teachers, generally, have a negative attitude, just how many positive results can one school produce in that atmosphere? Well, let us not forget, it is a trickle down system. Superintendents have much to do with the actions of the school principals (most bosses do). As the saying goes… the cycle continues. Morale and pressures from the school board transcends on the superintendent. Perhaps the superintendent accepted their position and holds it with integrity and accepts nothing less from their administration. Now imagine if the superintendent either was personal friends with board members or sought out interest of board members and not the best interest of the children. This could be dangerous, if the superintendent felt overly safe in their position, due to a relationship, they may not put forth the extra effort to create the best possible learning atmosphere. Likewise, if the superintendents felt their job was in jeopardy with the board perhaps, they would lean more towards sufficing a board members interest over the best interest of the students. Administrations are like little governments, some of them will abuse the system if we allow them the opportunity. Administrators too, play a part in building on the infrastructure of our children.

School board and politicians I will address together as they are one in the same anyway. In order for one to be able to detect if your local board members are doing the best possible job in the best interest of the students, is to go to board meetings. Different boards will have different kinds of members, some great, some corrupt, some with their own motives, some because they have kids and care. It normally does not take long, once sitting in a board meeting, to figure out whose vote other board members will follow. It is even easier when they have relatives on the board with them. Not only do we need people who care about the children we need people who are competent enough to put plans into action and continue to be responsible for and with the finances and personnel duties. If the board is reckless or does not care, so will the administration, as will the teachers, and result in the children representing that exact kind of learning environment. Trickle…trickles…

Now this is where you as a parent, have the opportunity to help, mold a better learning environment for your children. School board members are elected by the people of the school district (that would be you) and therefore have to listen to you. They do not always truly listen or follow through with what they tell you but, in return you and the people of your community can vote them out of these positions when their seats become available. It may be a trickle down system but, inside a circle sometimes the trickle comes all the way back around to land on you. Anyone on any level of this system who is not being productive has the opportunity to be struck down by there own doing. The education system should be one area where we exhibit integrity, and now is the time to see to it. So with that in mind keep a watch on what is taking place with your local school boards. Watch the money they spend, salaries they approve, furloughs they hand out, curriculums they adopt or create, and most of all, make sure they have the interest of the children first and foremost. We all play a part in educating our future.

So, who is involved in your child’s education?


Public education has outlived its usefulness

During the last decade, those advocating for school choice have made real inroads into breaking the government’s stranglehold on education.

In 1999, 349,000 children attended the nation’s 1,542 charter schools. Today, that figure has ballooned to 2.05 million. Additionally, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reports that the waiting list to get into one of the nation’s 5,637 charter schools could fill almost 5,000 more schools.

Nearly 200,000 children are attending private schools as a result of 34 school voucher and other similar private school choice programs in 19 states. According to the Friedman Foundation of Educational Choice, 130 private school choice bills were introduced in statehouses across the country last year.

Home schooling has also doubled in the last 10 years with about 1.5 million families nationwide choosing to educate their own children compared to 850,000 in 1999, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Unfortunately, there is still a long road to travel. That is why this week has been named National School Choice Week.

Government school officials across the country claim they want school choice but then they challenge it and complain about it every chance they get.

The fact remains, most private schools outperform most government schools and for less money.

I have heard all the arguments why this is true, i.e., private schools get to choose their students, parents who send their children to private schools are often more involved, etc.

In reality, it is a whole host of reasons, including federal and state regulations that hamper the efficient education of children.

When school officials are confronted with this, their only argument, which is silly even on its face, is that the private schools should have to suffer under the same restrictions as the government schools.

In other words, let’s bring all schools down to the lowest common denominator.

What this shows is that most of these government school officials don’t really care about education; they only care about government education.

Government education is a 19th century innovation that has outlived its usefulness, if it had any.

If we are going to have a government education system, then it should be a school of last resort. The real goal of all professional educators should be to get the government out of the business of education.

Still, if we are going to have compulsory education and we want the government to pay for it, there is probably a better way than building these education camps — which are more like prisons in some urban districts — where the Constitution prevents the government from properly controlling and educating the children sent there.

Historian Robert Wright postulated that it would have been cheaper if the federal government had purchased and freed all the slaves than fight the Civil War.

I suspect a similar idea would be true in the education arena. That is, it would be cheaper if the government paid to send children to private schools rather than run its own school systems.

A few seconds with a calculator seems to bear this out. There are 55.5 million school-age children in the United States. A $5,000 voucher for each child, which would cover tuition at the vast majority of private schools in the United States, would cost $277.5 billion. There are other factors that would come into play, of course, but you get the picture.

In fact, we could double that voucher to $10,000 and still spend less than we are today.

In the 2008-09 school year, as a nation we spent $604.86 billion on primary and secondary government education, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of that amount, $311.89 billion went to the salaries and benefits of the government schools’ union workers. We obviously cannot afford that. At the end of the 2009 fiscal year, government school systems had a combined debt of $399.12 billion.

The fact remains that the United States spends more per pupil than any other nation in the world, with the possible exception of Switzerland. Yet, our students are routinely surpassed by children in nations that spend less.

Clearly, something is wrong. For more than 150 years we have let the government educate our children. Now it is time to try something new.


One in three top British companies can't fill graduate vacancies: Too many leave university without the right skills, say bosses

One in three top companies left graduate jobs unfilled last year amid complaints about the quality of recruits, a report warns today. Rising numbers of employers failed to meet recruitment targets, citing university-leavers’ skills as a problem.

The shortfall comes despite rising unemployment and the fact that it is estimated there are at least 48 applications per graduate vacancy. One graduate in six now obtains a first – double the figure from a decade ago – while almost half get a respectable 2:1.

But a study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters turns the spotlight on the quality of graduates entering the job market.

One accountancy employer has already been forced to downgrade some graduate positions to target school-leavers because they are deemed ‘stronger’.

With graduate vacancies predicted to fall by 1.2 per cent in 2011-12, the AGR yesterday warned students they would need more than just a good degree to land plum jobs.

Chief executive Carl Gilleard said they needed ‘transferable skills’ such as the ability to work in teams and communicate well, and urged them to spend more time on their applications, covering basics such as spell-checking letters.

The association surveyed more than 200 members – including Marks & Spencer, Ernst & Young, GCHQ, John Lewis, the Bank of England, Grant Thornton and Procter & Gamble – about graduate recruitment last November.

Graduate vacancies increased by 1.7 per cent in 2010-11 but some companies still had problems recruiting due to a ‘lack of applicants or poor-quality applications’. Similar problems are anticipated for 2011-12.

Around 32.2 per cent of employers failed to fill all graduate vacancies in the 2010-11, a 6.2 percentage point increase on 2009-10.

Two-fifths (40.6 per cent) could not fill up to five per cent of their vacancies. A ‘lack of the right applicants’ was one of the reasons, with employers ‘highlighting that applicants’ skill levels often did not meet their requirements’.

An employer from the public sector said: ‘When we’ve got a starting point of around 1,000 applications I’d be really surprised if I couldn’t fill six vacancies, whereas if I was looking for 30 I might struggle a bit.’

The AGR report says: ‘This was more problematic for an employer from an engineering and industrial company who reported that they were struggling to recruit skilled engineering graduates.

‘They explained that whilst they receive good international applications, they experience difficulties achieving security clearance at the right level to employ them and so there is an urgent need for more skilled British engineering graduates to remedy this situation.’

An accountancy employer added: ‘Graduates are perhaps spending less time on their applications.

‘If I had one key message to get across it would be yes, there’s competition, but just make sure that every single application they submit is the best they can possibly do.’

Another employer pointed out that some ‘school-leavers were stronger than graduates’ so it had converted a number of positions.

The report said some industries were beginning to suffer ‘in light of the inflexibility of the work-life balance’, with a number of companies failing to meet recruitment targets because graduates wanted a job that ‘allows them to have a life’.

The report comes as official figures yesterday raised fears that Britain could be facing a double-dip recession. Growth figures slowed by 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011. Unemployment recently rose to a 17-year high of 2.68million.


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