9.29.2005

I Love It When Someone Makes Me Think

Sociologist Andrew Cherlin (I have no idea who he is) made this statement in last week's Newsweek that focused on poverty: "We have a moral obligation to provide every American with a decent life."

25 comments:

Condoleesa said...

Having been to a laundromat recently I would have to agree. I do think however people need to take some responsibility for their situations. I come from a very poor family. Growing up my father was a school teacher and my mother didn't work. There were 4 kids in a house that had 1 bathroom and was about 1500 sqft. We all turned out pretty good (well the others did anyway) Somehow we need to spend more on education and we need to motivate under privledged kids to work in school. As it is their ticket out is usually sports. Wouldn't it be better if it was education?

fluff said...

Condoleesa,
I have to agree with much you say. In the early 70's I was a high school teacher(history and government)....not in Texas....and my salary was just over $6,000 per year. After my second year of teaching I was offered a job at a major airline. So I became a ticket agent for an airline and my salary increased by 75%..to over $10,000 yearly. Paltry sums today....but this was over 30 years ago. I was tickled at the time and eventually retired after having spent 30 yrs. with the same airline. But so many many times during this tenure I often thought how convoluted our society/economy was that a person could make so much more money doing a mundane thing like I was doing than those who were charged with the responsibility of educating, and in some cases, care-giving, our youth. Obviously, my concern didn't lead me back to being an educator but my point is, as your's was, more money needs to be spent on education. Poverty begets poverty, dropout parents usually don't encourage their children to pursue higher education. It's an ugly cycle.
I sometimes have occasion to pass thru small towns in Wise and other similarly populated counties and am dumbstruck at the proliferation of sports accolades painted on some towns water towers.......AA football champs 1983....basketball A champs 1994, etc....which is all fine and good...I'm a huge sports fan myself. I would just love however, to see a water tower which proclaimed "Math team Blue ribbon 19994-1998" or "Science class tops in state three consecutive years."
I'm getting tired of typing but I would ask....Does anybody else feel this way? Where do we go from here?

Anonymous said...

12:45 Am - I could not agree with

you more. The public schools are

obsessed with sports, as is our

American society.

It has been that way for a long

time.

How many football coaches does it

take these days for a "winning"

team? And look at our Wise County

teams right now. Are they blowing

us away with wins?

I have no idea how to turn our

schools back to the priorities of

education.

Getting teacher salaries up would

be one incentive.

Hope to hear more on this subject

here.

Anonymous said...

condolessa - your comment about your mother not "working". Oh my, but she did. Of course, your meaning was likely that she didn't work outside the home.

And in matters of education, home schooling is more popular today than ever. It is sort of a throwback to the days when mom was home all day.

Can't blame some of these moms when they look at the public schools.

Sports are priorities now. Parents are intimidated (first hand experience here) if they don't get those kids to after school practices.

It has gotten stupid. Public education is sending the message that sports is more important than academics.

We should rebel against this. But how?

Anonymous said...

I do see some improvement, at least in the Decatur schools (and I believe other schools are doing what I am about to describe). When I went to school in Decatur (many, many moons ago), about the only recognition you got for something other than sports, is if you were valedictorian, or salutatorian of your class. Nowadays, I am somewhat gratified to attend a rather lengthy annual awards ceremony the Decatur High School has for ACADEMIC achievements and awards!! It is nice to see some kids get recognition and encouragement in this area. I do agree there is still too much hoopla made about sports in our country, though. And we all know what lousy role models many professional athletes make nowadays!

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher at one of our Wise county schools. This year, we had to schedule our academic class schedule around band so that band could meet in the middle of the day. Before you get on the band's case, you must understand why they had to meet in the middle of the day. Our athletics groups meet both in the morning and in the evening. Either our administration did not want our kids to choose or our coaches did not want to give up their precious athletic time, but now many of our students must attend split classes to accomodate the extra curricular classes. For example, students will attend half of one class first period and not attend the second half of the same class until last period. This indicates to me that academics is second behind extra curricular (no big surprise to me), but this just seems very blatent. I cannot agree more with your points. We have pep rallies and send-offs for sports teams, but never do anything special for academic achievements. I wish I knew what the answer was, but I agree that we (academic teachers and parents) need to do something. An interesting group that is taking shape is called "No Texas Teacher Left Behind." They represent some really good reformation in education. Their website is:

www.notexasteacherleftbehind.com/

Check it out!! Something must be done.

Anonymous said...

While I was typing, anon. 9:30 posted that Decatur had an "Academic Awards Ceremony". My school does that,too, but it is only once a year. Look in the local paper and you'll find an "Athlete of the week" (usually from Northwest ISD for some strange reason; Note that Northwest is only partially in Wise Co.) There are pictures of athletes signing with universities, full page "Stories about Story" as if he's some big hero to the community, and the town is decorated in Blue and White ribbons that are left to litter the community all year. Give me a break!! No matter what you say, enough is not being done locally (or statewide) to support academics. Our school districts and school boards want to tout their desire to excel in academics, but only if we can get our football team to win first.

Anon. 9:33

Anonymous said...

anon 9:33 - good points!!

I appreciate these viewpoints. Our teachers in the public schools have my highest respect. How they do their jobs day in and day out, trying to satisfy mandates that are oftentimes unreasonable and at such pitiful salaries - is it any wonder that many of the younger teachers just go someplace else.

It's going to take a huge amount of work to turn our educational system back to academics.

Bridgeport had a good start with the math/science teams. It took one person who gave of his time and expertise in math/science to get this going.

Building bigger and better athletic facilities while our teachers crowd into tiny rooms is outrageous.

Something must be done about that too!

Thanks for the website!

Anonymous said...

Everyone has a valid point that sports and other extra activities are placed before education. But for a majority of kids sports and band are the only source of motivation to complete the work in the class room. If you don't pass then you can't participate. I believe that it needs to start with the parents. If they don't accept failing grades then their kids would not be failures. When a child earns a failing grade it is always the teacher's fault or the child is being treated unfairly. Not to mention the student probably got to turn in late work and other exceptions. Teachers are paid plenty for what they do and the fact that they only work about 9 months. That doesn't mean that there job is not the most important out there. Athletics places a positive attitude in kids and teaches them alot more than to be competitive.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the fact that band/sports are motivators. I want to keep them both, but just don't want them prioritized over academics.

And I would separate band from sports. Music is an academic, though it is likely not viewed as such in the public schools. The complexities of music have been proven to enhance intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Condoleesa - I don't always agree with you, but you are dead on here. Maybe it is because we had similar backgrouds - father a teacher, 3 kids, smaller than 1500 sf home, 2 college graduates with no financial support from family whatsoever, and me w/o college degree.

Education has GOT to be the ticket out and sports has got to be downplayed in our school system, at least to the point of other extra curricular activities. If our government doesn't put it's priorities there, then we will continue to pay high $$$ for prisons, law inforcement, welfare, etc.

Equally as important, we have to, as a society, be more accepting, understanding, and compassionate with every child and their personal background - working with each individual to find his/her strenths and help them blossom, as well as help them with their weaknesses so each person can only be educated, but learn self-worth. It is at that point, that each person can contribute to society and live and work above poverty levels.

Unfortunately, not all parents or even educators for that matter offer the unconditional love and support needed for children to develop and learn as they should. It is within everyone's power to step in and help our fellow man - whether it be volunteering, mentoring, tutoring, etc.

The first thing we can all do is be kind to each other no matter what race, religion, or social class you come from. We should teach our children to be kind and when children or even teachers and anyone else are unkind (mean, hitting, name calling, de-moralizing, etc.) to others, they should be held accountable and punished.

Everyone in this world has the same basic need before anything else - to be accepted for who they are and to matter. Poverty, crime, hunger, and everything else will take care of itself if everyone could just put this as a priority.

Anonymous said...

Why do we all seem to agree that academics and teachers are slighted while athletics and coaches are high-lighted but the school districts and administrations continue the practice? Why can't we revolt, organize a march or somehow get their attention? I suppose the "booster" clubs would just organize bigger, louder events.

Folks, we're in a very much more competitive world now. Having a bunch of former athletes won't stand up to other countries masses of highly qualified engineers and scientists.

Anonymous said...

Band is not now or has ever been anywhere near viewed as high as sports. It is definitely proven that students who participated in the arts score higher on their academic tests in math and science.

One of my favorite movies is "Mr. Holland's Opus" and my favorite line in it is when the principal says to the band director, Richard Dryfess that the school board wants to teach Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic - Dryfess's response is "Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want, Gene. Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about.".

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:53, I take great offense to the statement that you made regarding teacher pay. What you may not consider is the fact that our job does not end at 3:45 P.M. each day. I'm on the job from 7-4 with only about 25 minutes for lunch. I spend at least two hours each night grading students' papers, typing tests, planning lessons, etc and several weekend hours doing the same. I spend many days of my summer attending workshops and training so that I can hone my skills to help my students succeed. I suggest that you take the reigns of an elementary or middle shool class of 25 students and see how long you can last. There is more to teaching than just punching in a time card for 8 hours a day. FYI, we work 10 months of the year officially. Add in the 12 hour plus days, and I'm sure that it would equal out to that of other professionals. Why shouldn't we be paid, insured, and offered the same retirement benefits of others? Do I want you to feel sorry for me? No, just give us some respect!!

Anonymous said...

In response to 'teacher salaries' - having worked in the education system, many teachers work up into the night preparing for the next day, week, grading papers, etc. and many get phone calls at home from parents. Hour for Hour, many teachers work 12 months in 9+ months. Their salary per hour is no where near their private sector college grad's salary.

On the other hand, there are many teachers who flat shouldn't be teachers - many who are lazy and have no business attempting to teach our kids and are way overpaid even on the lowest end of the payscale.

Coaches are the highest paid and most coaches graduate to administrators. No wonder our school system is so screwed up. One way for you and I to do something about it is to attend our local school board meetings, get on their agenda before the meetings, and speak out. Call the press before you do too. Just make valid arguements before you do.

Condoleesa said...

anon 10:48

I agree with you on teacher pay. We just don't pay them enough for the job we expect them to do.

Anonymous said...

For almost 15 years I worked in public ed. Don't hand me this crap about sports being the only thing that keeps kids in school. If every student who succeeds academicly were given the opportunities and recognition that the sports kids receive, there wouldn't be enough teachers to handle all the UIL participants. And how many academic kids that were arrested and quit school would be readmitted with open arms like the one in Alvord? Only because the coach thinks he is the key to a playoff team. And I understand Alvord High School doesn't even have a meet the teacher night. I am told by others if you want to meet with a teacher at AHS, you have to take off work to see them, that as a rule they don't stick around much after regular school hours. And give me a break about the thousands of dollars spent paying coaches for allhe time they put in after regular school hours. There is not an coach alive who puts in more hours from Aug. to May than a good English or Math teacher. The change starts in the home, but as long as "old Coaches" are the principals and supts., nothing will change.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:48

It is not that I don't have a respect for what you teachers do and the long hours you put in. I have several family members who teach and I hear all of the complaints. You may put in long hours but in my line of work I do not get two weeks for Christmas, 3 days for Thanksgiving, Spring break and all of the other misc. days. I know just b/c the kids are out of school doesn't mean the teachers aren't working. The pay averages out to at least a year round job 40 hours a week. Yes coaches make more than standard teachers but for the most part they put in more hours than the standard teachers.

I consider teaching to be very important for the future of our country. But the people who choose the field know what pay they will receive and make that decision anyway. Yes you deserve health insurance but teachers are not the only ones who pay extremely high rates. The academic problem does not stem from teachers being under payed or not having adequate insurance. Once again it begins with parents not having expectations for their children when it comes to grades. If I were to fail a class in school I was grounded for the entire six weeks. It happened only once in 8th grade in an advanced math class. Athletics is not the problem and or the fact academics isn't a priority. No one is held accountable at home.

Since you are a teacher, how many times do you have to listen to parents claim that their child is being treated unfairly or some other BS. When in reality they had plenty of class time to get the work done.

Condoleesa said...

I got a "C" on my first Algebra test and got grounded for 6 weeks.

Anonymous said...

wow - some of these comments should be printed out and sent to every school board AND newspaper in Wise County.

Great posts!

Condoleesa said...

I have a confession to make.


I don't live in Wise County.

(And I feel left out.)

Anonymous said...

Condoleesa - as I've said many times before to those folks who think this is "their" blog and a "Wise County" blog - they are sadly mistaken.

I am glad you are interested and contribute. You are welcome to post any time and I encourage you and everyone else no matter where you are from to do the same.

There is a bigger issue here than that of Wise County schools. It just needs to start somewhere.

Condoleesa said...

Actually, I think it is Barry's blog and that is why I read it. I read his Musings for years and thought most were funny and insightful.

I do feel kinda left out by not being from Wise County. I have only been to Matties twice and only to Decatur about 6 times. Funny thing is, is that I grew up in a town very similar in Ohio.

On a side note:
Not to hijack Barry's blog I do wish someone would read mine. I have some good stuff too.

Anonymous said...

I am a recent college graduate and plan to begin teaching next fall. I know the pay isn't wonderful, academics does not receive the proper recognition and sports receives a bit too much. But I still want to teach. Less than perfect working conditions should be tolerable when weighed against the possibility of making a difference in the life of even one student. Let that become the "vicious cycle". We improve the lives and minds of as many students as we can, and they in turn, will enrich and improve our societies in the long run...sounds worth it to me.

Anonymous said...

Honey, you're young and fresh out of college - wait until you experience school politics and try to have a family on just your salary and provide for your kids like everyone else and then see if you say the same thing.