Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Shouldn't Kids Learn How to Spell?
I'll add here that I have no idea why any sane person would ever want to run for a school board. There's no pay. No matter what you do, one faction or the other will blast you. You can't really trust administrators, who flood you with paper after paper to hide their real agenda. You can't really trust the usual taxpayer and "concerned citizen" groups, either, because most of them want you to screw the kids now that theirs are out of school.
So I don't do school boards.
Ronnie DelBacco and Frank Pintabone are in a contentious race for an open seat on Easton's south side. The Express Times has an excellent article spelling out the philosophies of these candidates.
Ronnie has sent me an essay on the "lost art of good public speaking," in which he points out that elementary schools in Easton no longer grades spelling, at least after fourth grade. I don't care much for school board races, but who can argue with the importance of good spelling?
You can make the best argument in the world, but if it is full of spelling errors, it will just rurn most people off. At least those who can spell.
A program such as the PA Orators being held at Shiloh Chapel and reported on by Patch.com (see link below) would be a fantastic addition to the public school curriculum. As mentioned by one reader, Chauncey Howell, public schools did have such classes and/or lessons at one time. However, like most traditional teaching methods many have been abandoned or replaced with “feel good, as long as you try, psycho-babble” type lessons. Cursive handwriting is another example of a lost art scarcely taught in schools anymore. I’m not opposed to new, tested, and proven methods of teaching but traditional skills are still very much a part of our technologically advanced society and need to be reaffirmed as standard lessons for every child. Spell Check has replaced the dictionary. 411 has replaced the phone book. Bar Code scanning has replaced the card catalog. Texting has replaced personal conversation. This very dissertation being composed by me on a PC has replaced the outline, draft, and final copy method of writing. And not to be forgotten, posting has replaced public speaking. To state the ironically obvious, this will be posted, not spoken.
I am a candidate for the EASD School Board in Region 2 and have a child currently in fifth grade. I was surprised to learn from a teacher that they “no longer formatively grade spelling”. That's correct; spelling receives no grade in our fifth grade classrooms. I am in possession of a letter from Dr. Roberts pathetically trying to explain how our school district is following the recommendations of a national Middle School Association and that traditional lessons are all in effect bundled into each story. Still, spelling receives no grade. Teachers need the support of parents to reinforce their “educational mission” of teaching our children the necessary skills, such as spelling, that they’ll need as adults.
In the EASD we have a well paid PHD administrator explaining away the need to grade spelling based on an outside entity's idea of what our children here should be learning. One must then question what other traditional skills have been sacrificed at the behest of an unknown and unseen national association? This is madness. First, we should be deciding within our own school district what is taught. Second, why do we pay our administrators such lucrative salaries to simply accept the recommendations of national or federal associations? Any citizen tax payer with NO college education can do that. Still, we continue to fork over our hard earned dollars to fund the salaries of PHD administrators who simply rely on the research of others. This alone is reason enough to re-evaluate the size and pay scale of our district’s administration. Third, how can we expect students to succeed if we don’t require the most basic skills, like spelling, to be mastered at each grade level? I suppose the next time honored tradition to go will be the Spelling Bee.
The lost art of good public speaking is sadly just another symptom of the educational deficit plaguing the Easton Area School District and proven by our consistent failure to meet state standards. If elected I plan to call for a full review of the curriculum at every grade level to ensure our children are learning what we parents, teachers, and community leaders decide is important for their success and education, NOT what a national association says. I will call for a full review of the district’s administrative positions, salaries, and supporting staff. We tax payers deserve better for our money. I will strongly encourage my peers to join me in refusing unfunded mandates (No Child Left Behind for example) and any national or federal demands for teaching standards, lessons, or curricular programs which we in the EASD have not decided upon ourselves. I’ll direct you to our constitution’s 10th Amendment for proof that this action is both correct and necessary. I will petition our state legislature to take this battle to congress on our behalf whenever such situations arise and demand our states’ rights be recognized under said 10th amendment. These three agenda items cannot be paced into any order of importance but must be addressed simultaneously with fearless and steadfast commitment by the school board on behalf of the citizen tax payers funding this educational system.