Improve education — whatever it takes

To the Editor:

I am one who attended the June 2 meeting. Because of my reduced mobility, I sat near the podium. I could hear each person address the board. There is merit in much that was said.

The gist was that even though we have new schools and many of our graduates have done very well, there is much to be done. Some thought that a new superintendent would do a better job than our incumbent. That’s possible, but only if many other persons do a better job. Who are they? Our legislators, our municipal government leaders, our property owners, our voters, our parents, the children, and the public at large. In other words, everybody.

The problem is that there are too many students not doing well because the environment in which they were born and now live is not conducive to scholarship. We have families in which both parents work in jobs that don’t pay well or limited hours and the children are not encouraged to study hard because they have no incentive to excel. We have the problems of low expectations where one may work diligently for years and never see any improvement in heir social or economic positions, and the educational level is such that no one ever told that they could aspire to college or the professions. Seemingly, there are teaching staff who are forlorn of any progress.

In a recent letter to the Piqua Daily Call, Mr. Jaqua discussed the disparity in the family incomes in Piqua, Sidney and Troy. He’s right — there is big gap and it must be closed. That is the job of every employer, city official, the Chamber of Commerce and citizen or person of influence our in community. We’re all in this together, folks.

Barbara Bush has advocated teaching reading through a program called Reading is Fundamental. She is absolutely right. Our legislators have required that third graders pass a reading test before going on. That is all very well. Much more must be done. One group “defines fairness in education as meeting all student needs and offering additional funding for high-poverty schools to provide smaller class sizes and extra staff to address the needs of low income students.” (Dayton Daily News, quoting the Education Law Center report.)

My experience with my children and in my own life suggests that we should be tutoring in the three R’s, i.e., Readin’, ‘Ritin’ and ‘Rithmatic. Forget the “new math.” One ought to be able say the alphabet, count to 100 and do the times tables by the end of the second grade. And the easiest way to learn them is by rote. It works.

Let’s quit quibbling and do it. Whatever it takes.

— Benjamin E. Hiser