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Old 10-15-2004, 11:33 AM   #1
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My Plan For The Education System

I want to talk about an issue that I feel isn't being talked about quite enough, and that is Education. Yeah, both candidates talk about it, but let's face it, Education is an area that no president can really have a big lasting impact on just by his/her own will. ANY president would need the congress and, perhaps more importantly, the teachers' union to all be in agreement to make any big changes. Because of that, Education is, imo, one of the toughest areas to make big changes in. I am 20 years old, and two years out of high school, but I could have kids in ten years, and they could be in high school in 20-25 years. And the sad fact of the matter is that, in their current state, I wouldn't want to send any kids of mine to public school. So I felt the need to put out what I think should be done with regards to the public education system, in an ideal world. I apologize for the length. I know it's pretty radical.

1.Cut athletics spending by 50%. Schools complain about not getting enough money, but they're spending WAY WAY WAY too much of it on new football jerseys, hockey sticks, new gym floors etc, that they just plain don't need. I'm not saying athletics are bad, I'm just saying everything has a place and a time, and high school should be for getting educated, and unfortunately high schools are putting far too much importance on sports. It's also not good because it indirectly encourages sexual behavior. Come on, you don't think cheerleaders become cheerleaders because they're overflowing with school spirit, do you?

2.All text books and workbooks would be digitized into interactive files on computers, that could be read from and written to. There would no more hard copies anymore. Each school system could have a central server from which all text books and work groups used in their schools could be downloaded. This would lighten the load students have to carry on their back, save school systems exorbatant amounts of money from not having to pay what they would for hard copies, and it would enable students to do quick searches throughout entire textbooks for specific information with the click of a button. Also, it would make updating text books and workbooks much easier, and as such they would be updated more often, and students would never have to learn from ten-year-old text books anymore. This ties in with #3.

3.Schools would hand out a laptop computer to each student on the first day of school each year, and teachers would tell their classes which textbooks and workbooks to download. Students would be renting their laptop for the school year. All books, assignments, reports, etc would be read/done on the laptop. Yes, this would cost money. Let's say a laptop is $1000, and let's say there are 3000 students in a high school. That's $3,000,000 per high school. Now, before you have a heart attack, hear me out. In this ideal world, schools would only have to buy new laptops every five years, so that means only $600,000 would have to be paid per year. $600,000 divided by 3000 students comes to $200 per student. So I figure, each student's parents can pay $50, and a third-party corperate sponser can pay the other $150 per student in exchange for tax breaks, something like that. I believe that computers and the internet in particular, are literally the future of the world. I believe that using them needs to stop being an optional thing and start being a required thing. I believe that in the coming years, knowing how to operate a computer and use it efficiently and competently will be as essential as knowing how to operate a telephone. And I think being required to use them all year long would do a better job of accomplishing this than some tacked-on elective course in computing.

4.With the money saved from the athletics spending cut and the digitization of text books and workbooks, several things could be done. One, each school system could provide central heating and air conditioning to all its schools. No more having to have five box fans out in a classroom in may just to have a chance at being comfortable. Two, cafeterias and other facilities could be significantly enlarged. I have yet to see a high school cafeteria that is big enough. Also, the saved money from the athletics spending cut and the book digitization, that is money saved EVERY year, and it will compound and add up. This could enable teacher income to be raised, which could in exchange force school systems to be more selective about who they hire. That would result in teachers recieving more money for their job, and it would raise the quality of teaching in high schools. That means no more football coaches teaching world history, or other scenarios like that. Coaches shouldn't teach classes. I am against that practice. Students won't learn anything about Ancient Egypt if they're just listening to a coach who isn't really knowledgable on the subject read from a book. They'd be better of sleeping than getting that kind of education. This can apply to any subject.

5.Abolish study hall. Teachers complain about not having enough time to teach. So give them this extra hour every day, which would otherwise be wasted. A little homework never hurt anyone. And kids don't do homework in study hall anyway. Giving students an hour every day to throw crumpled pieces of paper at each other is utterly pointless.

6.Abolish major testing. I don't think students learn much from big midterm and final exams. All these exams do is cause stress, worry, and sometimes even resentment in students. They cram and cram and hope to hold it in their head until the test is over, and they end up learning nothing. I really think that if a smaller, 10-question test were given after every chapter/section, students would learn infinitely more than they would by having to study 15 chapters for two 50-100 monster exams each education period. Teachers don't like this because it means more papers to grade. Well, that's why I think these 10-question tests should be written and taken on the laptops. Computer software could grade multiple choice, true/false, and fill in the blank questions, while teachers could grade short answer and essay questions in typed word documents.

7.NO MORE IN-SCHOOL PEP RALLIES! Every few months there is a day when all classes are shortened so that all students may be crowded into a gym for a pep rally. For what? To watch cheerleaders jump up and down? To collectively wish their team good luck? What bearing on education does this have? None. Certainly not enough to warrant cutting class short and having it during the school day. Also, the indirect encouragement of sexual behavior via cheerleaders and football players all together, doesn't help students any. If this must be done, do it after school hours.

8.Any girl under the age of 18 that gets pregnant should be kicked out of school, as should the father of said baby since he too is responsible. 16 year olds shouldn't be having sex. This isn't a religious thing, I'm not religious. I don't care if you have sex before you're married, I'm cool with that. But teenagers shouldn't be doing it, not in high school. I think if it were in black and white that if you are under 18 and you get pregant, you are out, that the number of teenage pregnancies would at least be dented.

9.Both evolution AND creationism should be taught, and the kids should be able to make up their own mind about it. No more adults trying to impose one belief or another. And teaching niether is a disservice to students. Give them the respect of being able to make up their own mind.

10.School days should go from 10AM to 4PM instead of the typical 8AM-3PM. Students will be more alert at 10 than at 8, and their learning will be enhanced. Their free time won't be effecteed because they'll be able to stay up later due to the 10AM start time.

11.Schools should be required to use more common sense with issue of guns and knives and other weapons. An example to explain what I mean by this. I recently read about a high school student, who had taken part in a re-enactment of a Civil War battle. So he had an outfit that included a fake gun. So he puts this stuff in his trunk afterwards and goes to school the next day. While he's in class, search dogs find the gun in his trunk. School gets hysterical, suspends student for a week. For a fake gun he couldn't have shot if he wanted to, that was OBVIOUSLY only there because it was part of a Civil War re-enactment. Come on. Common sense. Use it. Don't be so paranoid. Paranoia doesn't help anything. And there shouldn't be dogs and guards doing random uninitiated searches in the first place.

That's about it. I realize it's very radical and I realize it will never happen, ever. But that's why I said 'in an ideal world'. Anyway, whether or not you agree with anything I said, I think we could all agree that education isn't getting the attention it needs.
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Old 10-15-2004, 11:47 AM   #2
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Our county has a deal with apple and it started 4 years ago (my freshman year in HS) that each public student in a middle and high school gets a laptop. The goal was to have our textbooks on our laptops so we wouldn't have to worry about lugging them around from class to class, but that is yet to happen.

The contract is up next year, I'll be interested to see whether its renewed or not. Each classroom has wireless internet which is heavily monitored and the computer itself is very restricted. When we first got them there were zero restrictions, which meant playing Mario Bros during history class .

Now not only can we not install any software, we can't even change our background. But that's understandable, our privileges were abused. I personally enjoy the laptops, it keeps me organized and i can type much faster than I can write. But when glitches occur its f***ing annoying. Most people leave their laptops in their lockers or at home because they can't stand them.
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Old 10-15-2004, 11:51 AM   #3
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I agree with most of your points, particularly 6 and 11. With number 6 the teachers are forced to teach to tests, which really puts a cap on their abilities to explore into the curriculum. With number 11 their zero tolerance policy is sweeping and goes too far. I saw a story on the news about a straight A student who had been helping his grandmother move. A dinner knife was seen in the bed of his pickup truck and he was expelled for a year. Disgusting.
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Old 10-15-2004, 11:54 AM   #4
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Well aren't we living in an ideal(and very strange world).

1. You have to remember school athletics gives back and raises a lot of money for schools, so cutting back 50% may come back to haunt you. Plus your argument about sex is ridiculous so I won't even touch it.

2 and 3 ...way too many problems with this one. Low income students are going to be screwed. Laptops have problems all the time, students will be going home and having hardware issues and won't be able to study. Plus the wear and tear on these laptops won't probably be worth the money.

4. See above.

5. I never had study hall and teachers still complained.

6. I think this really depends on the subject matter. I've taken some finals that make sense to take and some that don't.

7. Our pep rallies were before and after school.

8. Are we living in a third world country?! Once again I won't even touch this.

9. I agree no one should impose their beliefs. I think only scientifically proven facts should be taught. Which neither of these are. Both theories can be thrown out there, but I wouldn't teach either.

10. Wow where do you go to school? We went 8 to 4...I think, oh I can't remember now. But anyways you're 10am doesn't coincide with a lot of parents schedules, you're going to have a lot of issues with this one.

11. Yeah that's wierd...
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Old 10-15-2004, 12:08 PM   #5
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1. agree

2. I bought all of my books in HS so that wasn't really an issue for me. Personally, I'm not to keen on doing EVERYTHING on the computer because I get such bad headaches from doing so much that way already, but it's an idea...

3. I like the laptop idea, but I don't think students need a $1000 one. You can get a perfectly decent laptop for internet, word processing - basic stuff - for more like $800.

4. I agree with the coach thing but I don't think that means that teachers can't coach. My school didn't really have this, but I think many small schools do.

5. I agree and disagree. When I went to school, we had the option of not taking study hall and just going home as long as a parent signed and we'd have enough credits to graduate. The way our study hall worked was that if you took one, it was usually the final period so you could go around to your teachers who were administering other study halls and get help with homework or have something explained to you that you didn't get in class. As a freshmen, this helped me a LOT and I saw my algebra and physical science teachers almost daily. As a junior and senior, I opted out of study hall (took elective classes for enough credits).

6. I don't think testing should be abolished, but there should be less emphasis placed on it. Also, sometimes you can earn the right to not take an exam. Like at my HS senior year, if you're GPA was a B or less and you improved, or if your GPA was better than a B and you maintained it or improved, you were exempt from finals.

7. sounds fine to me

8. also sounds ok to me

9. fine with me. I went to a Christian high school and we (or at least the Bio teachers I took) taught both.

10. sounds OK except for students that work at places that close at 5pm.

11. It really depends on the type of school and area the school is in, I think. We had a bomb threat where the polics came and the utility dogs went through, but besides a regular staff of security guards, my school never needed metal detectors, random locker searches, etc.
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Old 10-15-2004, 12:13 PM   #6
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I think one thing you're missing is some incentive for PARENT involvement. I never went to a public school and trust me, when you're paying $6000 per year PER KID plus the cost of lunches, books, sports clubs, supplies, etc, there's no WAY parents ignore how their kids are doing in school, what the classes are like, etc. I think public education is a great thing, but some people just don't realize how fucking easy they have it. Like my neighbors growing up - the shipped the kids out the door at 7am, the kids got free breakfast at school, free schooling including supplies, then they did sports after school so by the time they got home at 7pm, the parents basically had 12 hrs of glorified babysitting. I don't know, the public schools in my area are just a joke, it's really sad.
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Old 10-15-2004, 12:17 PM   #7
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Kerry says he will not abolish NCLB. TESTING is here to stay!

Textbooks are already being computerized.

Who is paying for the computers for kids who cannot afford it?

Good idead BTW
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Old 10-15-2004, 12:21 PM   #8
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its interesting, my high school is one of the best in the nation. the area i live in is upper-middle class, very white, and the parents are highly involved. as you move to either the city or the eastern part of the county the schools continue to degrade. it's really sad. if you want a black and white (literally) representation of the 2 americas, come to richmond and look at the schools. my school is 95% white and rich, city schools are 95% black and poor. you may think i'm making a generalization but i'm not. it's really sad.
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Old 10-15-2004, 12:49 PM   #9
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i like pep rallys

less class
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Old 10-15-2004, 12:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by StlElevation
i like pep rallys

less class
yeah i mean are we never allowed to have fun at school? EVER? come on most of us and the teachers work hard we deserve a little fun now and then.
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Old 10-15-2004, 12:58 PM   #11
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and you can't really cut athletic spending too much. new equipment is oft needed. what if a hockey players mask breaks because you didnt buy new equipment, and the kid takes a shot off the face and the mask shatters in his face?

or if a baseball players helmet cracks after getting drilled in the head?

i could go on. jerseys, ok. maybe they dont always need to have money spent on, and the school that i go to doesnt usually get new jerseys every year- unless you want to buy your own jersey at the end of the year if youre a senior.

study hall's are usually given when there is no class during the lunch period for some kids. at my school, all the underclassmen (juniors, soph, fresh), have to report either to their study hall or to the library to get whatever work done and TYPICALLY aren't allowed to talk in them. this is done to avoid having a mass number of kids in the cafeteria when kids have the period off, thats where they usually go. seniors (like me), at my school- not all- get off campus privledges for lunch and when we dont have class. we can go home, go to the mall..go where ever. or we can go to the library or the cafe. so by abolishing study hall, you'd be forcing kids to pick up another class...that they dont necesearily need or want.


i have tests after every chapter, and we have midterms and finals. just because midterms and finals exist doesnt mean that there arent other tests going on too. if you hold a B average at my school for whatever class youre in, then you dont have to take that classes final or midterm.

i dont know any pregnant girl in my school, but i dont think you can kick them out just because theyre pregnant.

my school day goes from 7:30-2:10...but i rather 8:30-3:10.
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Old 10-15-2004, 02:31 PM   #12
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ah being a senior rocks, doesn't it stl?
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Old 10-15-2004, 03:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by StlElevation
and you can't really cut athletic spending too much. new equipment is oft needed. what if a hockey players mask breaks because you didnt buy new equipment, and the kid takes a shot off the face and the mask shatters in his face?

Two words......club sports When I started gymnastics team as a freshman there were so many new people that we needed more competition leos (which are usually $50-$60) and warm-ups so we did a fundraiser. I actually made enough money and got some extra for myself!

When I was a senior I had class from 7:55am-12:55pm. Everyone else = 7:55am - 2:40pm. T'was beautiful.

My main concern is that a lot of public schools (not the few rich suburban ones, but the huge inner city ones) are often light years behind some of the private schools that aren't even all that good. Where I live, the many huge inner city schools are full of crime, violence, they have way too many students, they're passing kids who can't even write a halfway decent paper or even read. Their grading scale is laughable and still only half of the students graduate. The rich public schools of course are also free, but you have to be rich and white to fit in. There's one in particular I can't stand and for spring break, their students go to Europe! I heard of someone who couldn't afford the trip and basically you're a reject and those kids get to go to a local outlet mall instead. But even these prestigious public schools all score lower than the private school I went to and the two Catholic high schools. Of course compared to all the other regular public high schools, their students look like geniuses. There's gotta be some way to level the playing field....
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Old 10-15-2004, 04:00 PM   #14
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Just a comment re: people being more alert at 10 am.

Fabulous idea, except one day those kids will enter the workplace where nobody will give a shit as to how alert they are at 8 or 9.

Then again, I work in a place where I can show up at 8, 10, 11:30, 12, 2, whenever the hell I want. But that is rare.
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Old 10-15-2004, 04:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
My main concern is that a lot of public schools (not the few rich suburban ones, but the huge inner city ones) are often light years behind some of the private schools that aren't even all that good. Where I live, the many huge inner city schools are full of crime, violence, they have way too many students, they're passing kids who can't even write a halfway decent paper or even read. Their grading scale is laughable and still only half of the students graduate. The rich public schools of course are also free, but you have to be rich and white to fit in. There's one in particular I can't stand and for spring break, their students go to Europe! I heard of someone who couldn't afford the trip and basically you're a reject and those kids get to go to a local outlet mall instead. But even these prestigious public schools all score lower than the private school I went to and the two Catholic high schools. Of course compared to all the other regular public high schools, their students look like geniuses. There's gotta be some way to level the playing field....
That public school you're talking about sounds alot like mine.

It's VERY frustrating for me that my friends take our school so for granted. I spent 8 years in Kentucky public education, which is TERRIBLE. I had better grammar than my 8th grade english teacher. The only advanced course offered was math, and people were in the lower-middle class range. When I moved here to richmond we decided where to live based on the best public school, and as much as I love it there, I KNOW what poor education is like. I wish there was some way I could show my fellow students who have not been outside this area in terms of schooling how lucky they really are. I literally thank God every day that I came to such a good high school, but because of my poor educational background i'm having to catch up to my friends who had a strong foundation.
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Old 10-15-2004, 04:19 PM   #16
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Thank the Lord we moved from Kentucky. I would've had to go out of state for college because it has no good in-state schools. Virginia has a plethora of AMAZINGLY good in-state schools. UVA, VT, Mary Washington, William and Mary, now Christopher Newport is coming up, so is VCU, and James Madison. We're blessed.
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Old 10-15-2004, 04:32 PM   #17
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I have a son in public grade school in a fairly affluent area with good school, so needless to say, I think about the future a lot. My husband don't have a lot of money, and we work our tails off so we can live in the area we and my son can go to a decent public school - since private schooling is out of the financial equation. Even though one would think that a school in my area would be overflowing with extra cash, the district has to fray some of basic costs (as well as extra costs like field trips, guests, etc) with programs like school power and the pta. A lot of fund raising (it's not just bake sales anymore) takes place so as to buy extra supplies. I'm not talking about school t-shirts and pom poms for cheerleafers and extra slides on the playground, I'm talking about the basics like classroom supplies all the way to toilet paper. Our music teacher's salary is supplemented with the money school power and the pta raise and I think there is something seriously wrong when a music teacher cannot make enough money to support herself and have her job constantly be on the line because it might be cut. Anyway... enough of that.

You have great suggestions, but they are a little idealistic and at points drastic.

For what it's worth:

1.) Athletics: I was the furthest thing from sporty at my school. I was PE exempt because of a medical condition, so I was always the outsider looking in. I do agree that the emphasis on sports far outweighs other elective activities such as the arts and a lot of the time, athletics even trumped the academics. But to cut athletics in half means we are putting school athletes in physical danger, as StElevation pointed out. That would be too huge a liability. These kids need equipment and they need to be up to standard. Also, there is such a thing as school spirit, and athletics can really play this up as a means to get everyone, not just athletes, involved. For me, when there was a game, I was asked to make posters and banners. My school arranged school dances afterward so the music department (lost of kids were in bands) could have these sort of mini concerts. Our teams weren't the greatest but we all hada lot of fun. Another thing about athletics is that even though it's hip to go for the underdog and have an anti-jock mentality - team sports teach people to work together. I think that is an important lesson in itself. But that's just me.

2 & 3.) I'm old fashioned in that I like books and enjoyed taking them with me. But computers are the wave of the future, and I think eventually all textbooks will be on disc. Computers definitely have their advantages, like what's already been brought up but there are problems that come with the laptop idea. Wear and tear. Crashing. Lost or stolen. Hacking. Students using them for non curriculum activities like posting on U2 messageboards. And where would the funding initially come from and if the school districts were to make the switch from books to laptops, how will this affect "at risk" schools who are financially struggling as it is?

4.) Heating should be an absolute must. Fair housing says that if a home is without proper heating then it is inhabitable, and I believe the same should be said for schools. Not so with a/c. Air conditioning is actually a luxury, not a necessity but I'm from the old school of thought that the colder it is, the less likely you are to fall asleep. It would be nice for every school to keep an even 72 degrees year round, but how can this be attainable for the high risk schools that are struggling... even if their athletic department is slashed in half? Energy costs can be exhorbant, and they fluctuate...

As for coaches teaching classes. Again with the anti-jock mentality. Why can't a coach also teach, what's wrong with that so long as they are qualified? I've had good experiences and bad experiences with coaches teaching an academic course. The worst experience was that in one class, the only way a person could get extra credit was to go to a game and write a 3 page review. The most positive experience was a coach/teacher who actually enjoyed the academic class they were teaching, and they were enthusiastic. I really think this should be up to the schools to decide.

5.) I got a lot out of study hall. Then again, only students who maintained a certain gpa had the option of study hall or independant studies. There certainly wasn't a whole lot of spitballs flying around the library during my study hall!

6.) I don't agree with abolishing major testing, it's that way in college so I don't see why it shouldn't be that way in high school which is essentially there to prepare you for college. If students cram for an exam the night before because they haven't taken notes or bothered studying throughout the rest of the quarter/semester, then it's their fault they can't retain what was taught to them. I know it sounds harsh, but in high school especially the latter years, a student is expected to have some autonomy. They can choose to pay attention, or they can choose to slack off. Why should the schools spoon feed these students little bits at a time because they don't like preparing and reviewing for a major exam and it stresses them out.

7.) Pep rallies are supposed to be fun, and personally I enjoyed the break from classes. Everybody needs a break sometime. But I also think pep rallies could be given as a sort of cumulative reward. Like after major testing. The bigger the pep rally is, then better the whole school did on their major tests.

8.) I don't understand this type of thinking. With all due respect to those willing to go through with a pregnancy (I'm a pro-choicer, btw) shouldn't a community work to rid itself of stigmas often associated with teen pregnancy? Is denying a parent-to-be an education the way to foster a good start in a child's life, should they decide to keep the baby? What does it tell the baby, if we shun the parent-to-be - what kind of society is that? Denying kids of an education because of the consequences of having sex is not only backwards, but it's intrusive on a person's private life. Not to mention an aclu lawsuit waiting to happen. And we know schools can't afford that. I'm not all for teens having sex, but making pregnant teens "go away" is not getting to the root of the problem. *Schools and parents* need to come together and seek the root of the situation, work out a real solution to the teen pregnancy epidemic. It sounds ideal, but there are many people who feel that schools should offer sex ed on the premises, and there are many people who feel this is a matter best taught at home. It's obvious something's not right and in the end, the students suffer and so do their children and the cycle continues. Parents and schools *must* work together because neither can do it alone. They need to work out a means of teaching kids to be responsible, either through protection or abstinence.

9.) Why should creationism be taught in a public school? I won't even go there, so as not to spur yet another religious debate.

10.) What's wrong with having students get up early in the morning. Maybe they should be going to bed a little earlier if they can't be up and awake and fully ready to go by 8am. School is kind of like a 9-5 job for students. It's that way in the real word, and isn't high school preparation for not just college if students so wish, but the real world as well? How about students, like I was, that work an after-school job? must schools create this environment where we treat students with kid gloves so as not to upset their late-sleeping sensibilities. Again, I know it sounds harsh, but 10-4... that might work in senior year, but there needs to be a little tough love here. There needs to be responsibility, structure.

11.) Not really a whole lot to say, except that there should be exceptions and not everything is black and white.

I would like to hear dread and martha and any other teachers out there who know what it's like, to expand a little more on what would be good solutions to some of the problems in the public educational system.
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Old 10-15-2004, 04:35 PM   #18
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Can't edit my grammatical errors - man, I need to go back to school and either take a retake a typing class or English 101.
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Old 10-15-2004, 05:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by adam's_mistress
Can't edit my grammatical errors - man, I need to go back to school and either take a retake a typing class or English 101.
eh, it's the internet. typos can slide!
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Old 10-15-2004, 06:54 PM   #20
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In response to number 9.

Creation has no place in the science classroom. ID and all that is merely a wedge tactic by the creationist movement to force their beliefs on others. Essentially evolution by means of natural selection is science - Intelligent Design Creationism is theology.

Evolution is a scientific fact and the means of how it occurs is theory, Natural Selection is a much better theory than Intelligent Design therefore Evolution by means of Natural Selection is taught - deal with it.

Young Earth Creationism is Ignorance. Any God would not have endowed mankind with the faculties to uncover the universe and expect humanity to waste them. I implore you to go out and learn the amazing facts about the issue and you may find your appreciation for the "miracle of creation" is heightened by a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of life. Do not wallow in ignorance because you are told that ignorance is belief.
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