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Tuesday, Sep. 30, 2014

No simple solution ahead for schools

Monday, January 14, 2002

One of the major social challenges ahead will center on failing schools. There's absolutely no doubt this topic will plague society in the years in the future. And here's why. As immigration increases, schools will be forced to teach students with no academic background and limited English skills. And as inner city schools continue to struggle for funding because of diminished property values, the challenge for teachers and administrators will be virtually impossible.

Most of these problems, at least initially, will surface first in the urban areas. But rest assured, the rural areas too will one by one face similar problems. Even education experts who look far into the future can't seem to come up with a solution. Everyone agrees it will take more of your money to educate those in the lowest category of achievement. But dollars alone will not work.

Los Angeles school officials this week took a drastic step by removing principals and teachers in four schools that were woefully inadequate. Poor teaching, weak leadership and buildings marred by graffiti were cited by district officials in making the move.

One math teacher who complained of the move said she was forced to use much of her classroom time to teach English instead of math. The schools had some of the lowest literacy rates in the state.

But it should be pointed out that removing teachers and principals may be a needed step in this instance but it most certainly will not solve the problem. Leadership alone is simply part of the problem. Take a highly talented, successful football coach and put him in an underfunded program where the players will not respond and he will fail. And often, fail miserably.

Until there is an atmosphere for learning and until students arrive at the school door ready to learn, the problem always will exist. And the reality is that some students will never adapt to a learning environment for a variety of reasons. Increasingly in some segments of the population, learning is all but frowned upon. And that's a fact.

I have to commend the LA officials for their bold move but I doubt seriously if it will have the impact they desire. The best teachers and principals equipped with the best facilities and learning tools possible cannot and will not "impose" education on those who have no interest. The best hope is to identify and isolate those students who have a thirst for knowledge and give them the opportunity to learn away from their peers who shun education. But social activists tell us that this idea is discriminatory because it treats students differently.

Well, the hard, cold truth is that some want to learn and improve their lot in life and others don't. If you have a better idea you'd better speak up and speak up now!



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