To the editor:
When Clark County School District students bomb a math test, why do we assume teachers aren’t doing their jobs (Thursday Review-Journal)? A dentist might do great work, but if a kid goes home and binges on sugar and never brushes his teeth, whose fault is it if the kid gets cavities? Parents control the health at home, as they do the work ethic and attitude.
Do people not realize that teachers cannot control the final results of their work, that student achievement is ultimately a matter of the students’ choices to attend school, pay attention, do homework, study and avoid things outside of school that would hamper their learning? Valley students have an abysmal record in those areas, and their parents let it happen.
Trying to teach the most basic math to a teenager now is like trying to teach Shakespeare to someone who just got off the boat from China: There’s such a huge lack of necessary background that the whole enterprise becomes hopeless.
Our entertainment-heavy and entitlement-minded society has finally bred a generation that is essentially incapable of the concrete thinking needed to process arithmetic computation. A 90 percent fail rate couldn’t possibly be the fault of incompetent teaching; if math instructors were consciously trying to fail the entire student body, more than 10 percent of students, if they had any kind of initiative, would still pass.
Rather than credit the Clark County School District with an effective conspiracy of poor teaching, let’s admit that this staggering failure can only be explained by a loss of prerequisite ability in our children. The parents of Clark County are reaping what they have sown.
NORTH LAS VEGAS
To the editor:
Thirty-three years ago, I came to Nevada to teach mathematics in a public school classroom for the Clark County School District after that school year had already begun. I came at a time when there was a shortage of teachers, into a middle school classroom that was taught mathematics by a substitute teacher who was a physical education major.
This substitute teacher did the best she could, but admitted to me she had no idea what she was doing. The instruction given to the students was so poor I had to start the teaching year over from the beginning, when we were almost at the end of the first semester.
Today, we are still facing an even more severe shortage of teachers in the Clark County School District.
Not only has the teaching situation not improved, it is much worse than when I started teaching here so many years ago. Classrooms are unsupported and crowded with unruly students. The administration demands that we substitute valuable instruction time with practice for mandated testing.
It is no wonder that the Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II testing results were so poor (Thursday Review-Journal).
This fall, the Clark County School District would like you to approve a new bond issue to build new schools when the district is still incapable of filling many existing classrooms with qualified teachers. Wouldn’t it make far more sense to find ways to hire and keep qualified teachers in our current classrooms? What is the point in building more academically empty buildings with robot teaching geared toward testing? How much longer are we expected to live in this state of stupid?
A fighting chance
To the editor:
Thursday’s article on the stratospheric failure rate of local high school students on math tests may have been shocking, but it was no surprise to many teachers. Of several mystifying aspects of teaching, number one for me is the bizarre American practice of placing kids into classes by age rather than skills.
This turns public education into baby-sitting. Another major problem is a lack of vocational training for students who cannot or will not ever succeed in academics. At the risk of causing myself trouble for calling a spade a spade, I’ll toss out the notion that no matter how many times we hear the current feel-good, ed-fad idea that “all students should go to college,” it’s not true.
Students, teachers and parents alike are frustrated when kids fail so resoundingly. The structure of the education system needs to change, but it will take a sea change, and it will have costs. However, if done correctly once, it should help turn the system around.
Then, if only we could remove chronically disruptive students and get the rest to do some homework, we might have a fighting chance.
To the editor:
Why isn’t there a street named after Elvis Presley in Las Vegas? Frank Sinatra has one. Dean Martin has one. Wayne Newton has one. Heck, even Mel Torme has one.
Now that plans are in the works for an Elvis-themed resort on the Strip (Thursday Review-Journal), now would be the perfect time to honor the entertainer perhaps most associated with Las Vegas. It’s time for an Elvis Presley Boulevard in Las Vegas.