February 11, 2014 Updated: February 11, 2014 at 11:51 am
Shared responsibilities in schools
We read the letter to the editor from Kim Seiler with great interest. We agree with almost everything she says. We are grandfriends with District 11. We spend many hours every week with first and second graders, and 9th and 10th graders. In our opinion, there are only three things wrong with education in District 11: parents who don't help their children succeed in school, money that has been regularly cut from school budgets, and excessive testing that reduces instructional time.
That's right, parents. You have a significant responsibility in whether your child succeeds in school. The teacher is responsible for helping you teach your child. You are responsible for helping your child with homework. You are responsible for emphasizing that education is important, and your child must work hard at it. Got that parents? You are responsible. The teachers are your employees, bringing special skills that you do not have, but you are responsible.
The Colorado Legislature is responsible for adequately funding our schools. Greateducation.org says Colorado is 43rd in per pupil spending adjusted for regional cost differences. Colorado is 40th in median student-teacher ratio in elementary schools, a crucial measure for success. We have 30 children in two second-grade classrooms, which is unacceptable. Colorado is 44th in teacher salaries. Is that how we attract and retain top teachers? Our state Legislature has failed our children miserably.
We don't, however, agree that Common Core and some testing are misplaced. The Common Core requires that teachers teach the skills that children will need to succeed as adults. That's good.
Colorado must test our children to verify that state funds are being well spent. School districts that don't perform must be reformed. Unfortunately, state testing takes too much time and is poorly designed. Schools must have end-of-year tests to verify that each teacher is passing along students that are prepared for the next year of instruction. Most schools don't do this. Teachers must periodically test their students to identify the ones that need additional instruction. Every teacher does this. How many hours are wasted on state and federal testing mandates? Nobody has figured that out.
If you want to help, call District 11 volunteer services at 520-2202. Visit http://www.d11.org/Volunteers/Pages/default.aspx to see the opportunities that you have to influence the future of the United States. Offer your time to help the kids who need your help. We do!
Donald Holliday, Stephanie Cardwell
Letter should be required reading
Kim Seiler's letter to the editor titled "Teaching is no longer possible" should be required reading for all parents, teachers, and administrators. She was able to state the problem so clearly as to why teaching has become an impossible job. If this community and this country cares about children and education, we will take the concerns she raises seriously and address them. We must support teachers, not make their jobs impossible. We must care about all students, not just the children in wealthy school districts, not just the gifted learners, not just the struggling learners, all learners.
Schools are struggling to figure out ways to help students but they are restricted by legislation and finances. We must let educators make the policy for our children and we must fund our schools to provide them with the resources they need. Thank you, Kim, for a heartfelt, sincere, knowledgeable letter. I can only hope your plea for help will be heard and taken to heart.
Fellow educator in Colorado Springs
Making the tough decisions
In response to Jennifer Fisher's letter criticizing District 12's superintendent on Friday Feb. 7 - I am in total agreement with Cheyenne Mountain District 12's superintendent calling for a two-hour delay on snowy, icy days and canceling school when he feels it is warranted. The safety of our students, teachers, and staff should be the deciding factor when the superintendent makes the decision to delay or cancel school.
Jennifer, you said that, "Most parents I know are responsible intelligent people who can look at a weather report, plan for the drive, and pull out the coats, . . . etc." Unfortunately, District 12 doesn't have school buses - so it isn't parents who are driving most of the high school students to school - we have many 16- 17- and 18 year-old students on the road in the morning driving themselves to high school. It's a good idea to delay school for two hours in this case so that the roads can be plowed and the people who have to go to work can get there before our teenage drivers drive to school.
When the superintendent decides the roads are not safe for students, teachers, and staff to get to school, I applaud him for making the tough decision to delay or close the schools!
Parents have responsibility to take care of their children at home. When school is canceled or delayed, use that time or day to teach your child at home. A little "home schooling" never hurt anyone. It just might help your child get ahead.
As a university- and military-trained safety officer and safety investigator and former chief of safety at Peterson AFB, I've investigated military and civilian aircraft and automobile accidents and written many reports on the causes of them. I've had to talk with the surviving family members. It's very sad to report, but many times the accidents were caused by inexperience and inattention on the part of the vehicle operators - whether it was an aircraft or an automobile. Let's let our superintendent do his job without second-guessing him and criticizing him for doing what he thinks is best to keep our kids safe and alive.