Published: April 21, 2014
Being asked to do the impossible
I am writing in response a letter a while back titled "Teaching is no longer possible."
To back up what Kim Seiler has said, research shows that the number one indicator of a child's academic success is parental involvement. When you look at the numbers, which I will share below, it is not possible to close the gap that so many children today come to school with. Schools and teachers are being asked to do the impossible and without the understanding of knowledge of what they're truly up against, the public expects the impossible too.
Here is some of the data/research found in The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.
A 4-year-old child from a professional family will have heard 45 million words, 26 million words in a working-class family, and 13 million words in a welfare family. All three of these children show up for kindergarten on the same day, but one will have heard 32 million fewer words. To close this gap, the teacher would have to speak 10 words a second for 900 hours. This language heard at home is one of the top indicators of success, along with books in the home and children being read aloud to.
While doctrine blames teachers for low reading scores, research shows that the seeds of reading and school success are sown in the home, long before a child ever arrives at school. In this specific study, found in Trelease's book, 21 classes of kindergartners were examined for children who displayed either high or low interest in books. Those students' home environments were then examined in detail. The numbers reinforce the adage "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Therefore, you change the tree if you want different apples.
We're pushing children to read at younger and younger ages. There should be no rush to have a child reading at ages 4 and 5 but since our politicians are the ones making laws about Common Core and Standardized Testing, it's clear they aren't up on the research. Finland boasts the highest reading scores in the world and they don't teach children to read until age 7. They also do no standardized testing. They have 15 minutes of recess for every 45 minutes kids are in class. They have no national curriculum.
The United States is headed in the wrong direction, and fast. Teachers spend half of their time completing tasks that are not in the child's best interest. In fact, it's just the opposite. The amount of time and energy teachers spend on paperwork, standardized report cards, data, testing, meetings, evaluations, and so on, is out of control.
The public gets results from TCAP and statewide school ranking published online as well as awards schools receive. All of these things are deceiving. The public is told that your neighborhood school is not closing the gap between minority students and white students.
What they aren't told. that gap isn't closeable once the kids start school. Until something is done to change the families and the homes these low-performing kids are coming from, the schools won't make up that difference. The education in this country is based on history, not on research. We aren't doing what's best for kids, we're just doing what we've always done.
Ruth Baxter, Colorado Springs
City of (pothole dodging) champions
Lately, there has been a lot of controversy about getting the money to fix potholes. If our city leaders have trouble with pothole fixing money, why would they want to embark on a costly project such as "City for Champions"? Luke 14:28 speaks to starting to build without first counting the costs to see if one has the resources to finish. If "City for Champions" cannot be completed with increasing taxes, then I hope our city leaders will consider that there are not sufficient resources to complete such a project.
In the meantime, we will just have to keep getting better at dodging potholes.
Billy Hill, Colorado Springs
Ah, the good old days
Wasn't it just a few short years ago when the city had a pothole hotline? All you had to do was call the hotline and tell them where the pothole was. It was usually fixed within a few days. Ah, the good old days. Of course, that was before we voted this group of "think they know it all" bureaucrats in to City Council. And running the city comes to a screeching halt!
Read back on their campaign platforms and you will see they have not kept their word on much of what they said they stood for before being elected. Hey, we're all used to that at the national level, but this City Council has brought big-time politics to Colorado Springs.
I can't wait, as they say, to vote the bums out!
Patrick Boyle, Colorado Springs
Reflecting on the FEMA money
The April 18 front page article about the travails of FEMA and the homeless in Colorado Springs would probably infuriate most taxpayers.
Reflecting about the distribution of disaster funds to the homeless, I am inclined to think it is no more of a waste than other government philanthropy and actually helped folks in need.
Remember First Solar? Cost to the tax payers was $1.2 billion. Solyndra only cost the taxpayers $535 million directly and over $80 million in transferable tax credits. Evergreen Solar, supported by a Denver poltroon was a better deal, as only $25 million was wasted.
FEMA has been described by the conservative press as a parking place for political hacks the administration wants unseen. The liberal press describes FEMA as the greatest government agency created.
Considering FEMA's trailer fiasco in New Orleans and the $2,000 cash cards that were used for face-lifts, gambling and jewelry purchases, FEMA money to folks truly in need is not a bad deal.
At least dollars went where needed and not to the pockets of administration political cronies.
Denny Modlin, Colorado Springs