The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 19, 2013

Your View: Bad for schools, bad for kids

By David Turner
Special to The Globe

LAMAR, Mo. — I notice recent articles on the opinion page regarding schools, kids, learning and ideas.

One recent article spoke of hard work and communications as the methods to correct the awful schools in America and the dismal outcomes of their trying to teach children.

Too bad hard work and good results are not the same. One can work very hard and produce terrible results.

I have yet to read one article that addresses the question or dares to pose the question: When did the schools start to lose kids and the desire to learn?

The schools approach the lack of learning by providing special teachers in a special building for the nonlearners. The schools call them “at-risk” kids, but one never hears when these kids became “at risk.”

The casual observer can watch kids in kindergarten leave a school building at the end of the day and see little children clutching papers containing their work and a look on their face that tells the observer those kids are excited about what they did today and are going someplace to share their work with an adult. Perhaps a parent.

Somewhere in the course of moving up in the grades, the excitement leaves. If one were to ask a pupil what he or she learned today, the answer would probably be: “Nothing.” If one were to ask the same student if learning was fun, the answer would probably be: “No.”

Something happened. No one wants to talk about it. Many have taken the position that poor kids can’t learn. That’s not true. Many will tell you that new buildings will fix the problem. That’s not true either.

The latest idea is about the standards being the same everywhere. I wonder if putting a driver in a different auto makes him a better driver. I wonder if changing the standards in schools makes kids better learners. It sounds to me like putting the cart before the horse. It sounds to me like administrators have come to believe grades are the problem and the grading system is the problem, not the kids’ inability to make good grades.

Back to when were they lost and one idea based entirely on my driving a school bus for 10 years and being a substitute teacher for a few years.

The schools are losing the kids at about third grade. If that opinion is wrong, fine. Please, schools, tell me and the country you have no idea when the kids lost interest in learning or please tell me and the country what you plan to do to find the beginning of the problem, rather than continue a plan that graduates kids, or allows them to drop out, but teaches them too little, too late and wastes the taxpayer’s dollar.

This current system is bad for schools, bad for kids, bad for communities and bad for the country. The way to avoid poverty is education. The way to eliminate welfare is education. The way to develop good citizens is education. If you lose them, you can’t educate them.

The remedy should be applied where the mischief begins. Tell us, where does the mischief begin?

David Turner