Improve schools;abolish kindergarten
Roy Lunsford chose to salute kindergarten teachers because one had taught his grandson that if we get too old we’ll die. Do we really need to pay people to impart that “lesson?” Or couldn’t the family do it far better? No matter how much wisdom and expertise a teacher has, she is still saddled with two or even three dozen other children to share it with along with yours. And those other children are adept at sliding in between your child and the teacher. They can’t help it. Yours may even find them more fascinating than the teacher.
Where did the notion originate that 5-year-olds should be packed off to school to spend all day among strangers? It’s neither productive nor efficient, and we need to change it. Now that we have public libraries, family cars, computers, television and the Internet, almost anyone can learn anything at home in the loving nest of the family. Research on home education proves that it’s better to keep children at home longer. (For more on this, please read Raymond Moore.) Let’s begin improving education by eliminating kindergarten. State law doesn’t even require it! Our children will thank us.
MARCIA BRACY YIAPAN, Nampa
Change approach;focus on learning
School reform should be about learning, not reshuffling the chairs and just doing something different.
Today’s school system, with its one size fits all approach and expectation that every child progress at the same rate, will not change by increasing technology, merit pay, online or blended learning, charter schools, vouchers and other supposed remedies.
Research identifies lack of reading skills as the major factor in causing dropouts, usually beginning with inadequate progress in primary grades.
We know that almost every child can learn given time and incentive. Mastery learning and continuous progress assure that every learner masters concepts, skills and facts before advancing to the next level.
Implementing genuine mastery learning requires a paradigm shift in classroom organization. Roles and responsibilities change. Some classroom duties can be performed by teacher aides, volunteers, interns and/or beginning teachers, freeing the master teacher for planning and complex instructional tasks.
Certainly we want to incorporate technology into the classroom, but teachers need training, time to plan, to evaluate. And the classroom must be a positive rather than punitive environment, best done by attracting positive, talented young people into the profession.
Our focus should be on learning. Unfortunately, the current rhetoric treats symptoms, not causes.
LILBURN E. WESCHE, Ed.D., professor of education emeritus,
Northwest Nazarene University
Expand school choiceoptions for parents
Now that he has left Declo’s one elementary school, what is to become of the boy whose face was scribbled on for punishment? The closest charter schools are 50 miles away, while online schooling and homeschooling require parental oversight.
Meanwhile, there is a Catholic school only 10 miles away.
The Legislature should create tax credit tuition scholarship programs to make that school, and all private schools, accessible to more Idahoans. This would both improve education for all and save taxpayer money.
Individuals and corporations that donate to nonprofit scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) would receive dollar-for-dollar income tax credit. The SGOs would then distribute means-tested scholarships. The income tax foregone by the state/amount of each scholarship would be less than the state’s per-pupil cost. For example, if Idaho spends $5,000 per child, and a $2,000 tax credit/scholarship meant a child transferred from public to private school, the state would save $3,000.
Where scholarships and vouchers have enabled substantial numbers of transfers from public to private schools, educational outcomes have improved for all; competition causes public schools to step it up.
Instead of top-down education dictates, let’s try education reform through freedom. Urge the Idaho Legislature to expand school choice.
BRIANA LECLAIRE, Meridian
System is responsible
It is the law that parents have to send their children to school, also to pay taxes to support the law, through teachers and equipment.
Employment of teachers is not just for “employed welfare,” as the teachers have a vital responsible purpose and a function for the continuity of themselves and the nation. The education system demands payment for the child that goes to school, then because there is a charge then the education system is responsible for the life, health and welfare, and a safe environment for the children while child is in hands of the education system.
JOHN WEST, Emmett
It’s a matter of choice
In response to Helen Gray's question (Dec. 1, page L7), “is it wrong to believe that eternal life is for everyone?” The answer is no, that is not wrong, because everyone does have eternal life. Some of us will go to heaven and have eternal life there, but only those of us who love and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. Why die? Choose life!
RONALD JAMES RICHARD, Emmett