Stop apples-to-oranges school comparisons

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Since beginning my career in education more than 10 years ago, I realized early on this noble profession has its share of critics. I feel compelled to respond to The Augusta Chronicle's editorial July 24 titled "Far from adequate."

The Chronicle continually makes comparisons of Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School to other schools in Richmond County. I realize the staff at Davidson encourages its students to strive toward excellence, but the assumption that other schools in Richmond County are "unable to reach" any acceptable level of adequacy is unfounded.

When speaking to people who advocate the school system running as a business, I often use the anecdotal story of the blueberry farmer. This farmer realizes he must plant and produce wonderful blueberries to have a profitable crop. When selecting the blueberries to be sold, he must discard any that are not of the best quality.

LIKE THIS FARMER, Davidson selects the best students through a selection process examining indicators of past academic success. I commend Davidson and other magnet schools for the job they are doing. I must, however, inform you public schools in Richmond County cannot select who comes through our doors. We willingly take every child as they are, and attempt to create an environment in which he or she can learn.

This talk of inadequate schools has made some teachers and school administrators question their ability to reach those some say cannot be reached. I have conversed with teachers from schools where every child comes to school ready to learn. I have, on the other hand, seen children come to school from homes where they are physically, mentally and sometimes sexually abused. If Abraham Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of needs is any indicator of future success, the job teachers do every day is commendable.

Since the early years of the Reagan administration and the publishing of A Nation at Risk, the prominent 1983 study on education, the public school system's reputation has taken a political beating. We cannot continue to compare schools with different missions; we must find solutions to our problems by realizing some of the things that we have done do not work. We must also require all stakeholders in public education be held accountable.

WE MUST ALSO begin to realize the faulty concept of No Child Left Behind. Will all children learn to read? No. I have watched children with mild to moderate intellectual deficits attempt to take the state mandated Criterion Referenced Competency Test. I have watched these children cry out in frustration. Is there something wrong with this? Yes. Are all aspects of No Child Left Behind bad? No.

While I commend The Augusta Chronicle for facilitating discussions about the future of Richmond County schools, I ask that all interested parties come together in a spirit of brotherhood and work to correct those things that are wrong with public education. Comparisons are too simple. We must begin to find solutions by thinking outside the box.

(The writer, a Williston, S.C., resident, is a seventh-grade language arts teacher at East Augusta Middle School. He also is a doctoral candidate at South Carolina State University, where he is studying how crime in Augusta affects education in Richmond County schools.)

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patriciathomas 07/29/07 - 07:57 am
The "one size fits all"

The "one size fits all" concept of teaching was instituted in around 1970 and the ability to educate has suffered ever since. If a child has trouble grasping various concepts, group him with others that learn at the same speed. If he has discipline problems place him in a separate institution with others with the same problem. I'm sure Richmond County has a "school full" of those that need a firmer hand. These concepts don't have to be instituted on a county wide level, school by school would do,but they would solve a lot of problems if they were addressed. The new superintendent has a tough job ahead.

Carleton Duvall
Carleton Duvall 07/29/07 - 08:07 am
I am so far impressed with

I am so far impressed with our new school superintendent. Maybe he will bring some semblance of order to our school system. It won't be done overnight, though, and I hope people will give him a chance to succeed.

Rozzie2003 07/29/07 - 12:06 pm
I agree with you scoobydo1. I

I agree with you scoobydo1. I am also impressed with him and hope the board of education won't run him away.
For all the critics of our school system, go and vist the schools sometimes. You will find that a lot of teaching and lerning are being conducted.

gibsonfamily 07/29/07 - 04:59 pm
Well stated, Mr. Milligan. I

Well stated, Mr. Milligan. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Many in our field won't speak out in fear of some type of retaliation. Please remember that the job does not rest solely on the shoulders of one man. I do pray that each decision that is placed before him is weighed very carefully and acted on very confidently with the interest of the students, teachers, and parents in mind.
Have a safe, eventful school year for all involved in Education.

Calisandpiper 07/30/07 - 08:45 am
The above post was submitted

The above post was submitted by Calisandpiper, Where did the gibsonfamily come from? Please correct this error.

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