Educators need praise, not scolding

Friday, September 12, 2003

By Chris Warren

Your newspaper has kicked public schools while they're down. Your lengthy Sept. 6 editorial ends with a scolding of educators to quit "raging" against the federal unfunded No Child Left Behind law and to turn their "attention to low-achieving students and take them to the next level."

In this editorial, you admit that the 2014 goal of this law, "when all schools must have all students scoring at proficient or higher on annual assessments," is not a realistic one. Are you suggesting that educators put their time and energy and limited financial resources toward achieving an unrealistic goal?

The only educator quoted in the editorial is Dr. Rita Fisher. If you are labeling her valid explanation of why the Jackson School District did not meet the state's required progress goal on MAP testing as "raging," why did you agree with her explanation, calling it "true." Is she "raging" or helping the public understand test results?

On the front page of the Sept. 6 Southeast Missourian, you feature an article about textbook funding cuts that local school districts are experiencing. Wouldn't textbooks be one of the tools educators use to help students and "move them to the next level"? When you want to make improvements at your newspaper, do they usually require more money to implement? How ironic that public schools are told to make improvements, yet they are currently experiencing drastic budget cuts which eliminate some academic programs and teachers. Moving students "to the next level" becomes difficult without these essentials.

I have a challenge for the newspaper. I challenge you to dedicate one day a week to featuring public schools, teachers and students in your "Thumbs up" editorial, a bright spot in your newspaper. Look for the good in our schools and encourage our many dedicated educators to do better.

Your eye-opening articles on first-year teacher Jason Bandermann and his trials and tribulations in the classroom certainly prove that teachers have challenging roles today. Praise goes a long way in assisting progress, while criticism and scolding generally have negative effects.

Come on, try it. Educators need a pat on the back in these trying economic times for public schools.

Chris Warren is a Jackson resident.

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