(Marilyn Singleton is a candidate for Congress, running against incumbent Rep. Barbara Lee, who , and fellow challenger Justin Jelincic, a San Leandro resident. This is Singleton's first blog for Patch.)
High school teacher Jerry Heverly's recent Patch article about really hit home.
My first encounter with the "but rules are rules" mentality was when my mother tried to enroll me in the neighborhood public school in Southeast San Diego. Because my birthday was in December, I didn't make the age cut-off. My mother said, "but she can read!" That didn't matter. So my mother took me down the street to the Catholic school which said that as long as I wasn't in diapers, I was good to go!
I had wonderful teachers who in the good ol' days could do what they had to do to keep students interested. Even some of the hoodlum types joined the Latin Club so they could go to the Saturnalia festival and Roman Banquet, where we dressed up in togas and ate with our hands and got to throw food in the cafeteria.
Most of these "bad kids" graduated and were prepared for some sort of job.
Now, every day 7,000 children drop out of high school. Clearly, Washington D.C.’s pouring more money into education since 1971 has not improved the product.
The national graduation rate was 77 percent in 1969 and was 69 percent in 2007, despite a 49 percent increase in spending. In Oakland, the drop out rate is a staggering 40 percent.
Currently, many government schools have fallen into “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Lowering academic standards for minority students is not the answer. This is crippling and degrading. As long as minority students are not required to compete on an objective scale of merit, they will never develop the skills necessary for real academic success.
The Department of Education in Washington, D.C. is not the most efficient captain of our education ship. A recent Government Accountability Office report showed that 10 federal agencies run more than 82 separate programs to improve teacher quality.
There are also many federal compliance rules that do not necessarily improve education - but the local districts have to follow them nonetheless.
We need to decrease the overhead. Washington takes its cut, then the state, then whatever is left goes to the kids. Keeping the money local gives us more power and influence.
Parents need the choice to opt out of a failing government school. We have to remove barriers to opening new charter schools, private schools, and home schooling co-ops, especially in the minority and economically depressed communities.
More educational choices would force government schools to compete for students interested in education and establish a culture of achievement. A culture of achievement promotes self-reliance, social responsibility, and leads to good jobs.
Thank you, Mrs. Reid, our Latin teacher, for always telling us to reach for the stars – in Latin, with an Italian accent, of course.
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