Creativity Begins With Choice

Creativity in the classroom begins with innovative educational choices.

(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.

(Blogging for Patch is easy. If you have a passion to express yourself on any topic under the sun, contact editor .)


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Fran April 23, 2012 at 03:38 PM
You have Arnie Duncan, the Education Secretary, who is a big advocate for charter schools. Last I checked, there are many school choices already, there are public schools, charter schools, religious schools, private schools, and you can home school also. If the issue is that important to you, then the sacrifices should be easy. When there's barely enough $ to keep the lights on in public schools, you want to undermine the entire public education system, by taking more money away from it.
Jim Faison April 24, 2012 at 06:50 PM
I am often told 'You can't learn anything in High School' when I explain that I get alot of jobs by knowing Spanish. The mechanical drawing and typing (keyboard) skills I learned in high school, here in the Bay Area get me interviews, jobs and more income than my UCB degree, or being an Army Vet, or other experiences. Marilyn is correct, and I will help her to win this primary as she must, as only the top two vote getters will reach the November ballot!!! We voters were fooled in believing that 'there is a savings' by limiting third party candidates for office!! -Jim
Mark Irons April 24, 2012 at 11:17 PM
What's with the introduction of the term "government school"? Something wrong with the age old term "public school"? The switch makes me suspicious of an agenda which is tilted toward "choice" for various options at the expense of the public systems and one which touts rhetoric of all things private (sector) as inherently more efficient than anything government, and also somehow more "fair", or equitable. Charters like many other options have advantages and disadvantages. Flexibility from union requirements like seniority only go so far to improve quality of education without deeper systemic reforms. Linda Darling Hammond ( http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/education-secretary-duncan/why-obama-duncan-should-read-l.html) was the head of Obama's transition team at Department of Ed., but he opted to appoint Arnie Duncan , who by comparison is an empty suit and is virtually a front man for the real Secretaries of Education, billionaires ( Gates, Eli Broad and Walmart heirs) whose hobby it is to tinker in education with their money, having dubious effect on any actual reform, instead funding splashy pet projects which make people feel better about "choice", but often seem to be phantom magic bullets solutions. The idea that so called "competition" makes public schools better by having to compete is a red herring and huge distraction from really reforming public systems. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2010/03/facing_up_to_our_ignorance.2.html
Jim Faison April 26, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Government Schools differentiates itself from Public Schools, which are not Private Schools or Home Schools. Various programs are offered for 'behavior' and 'upgrading basic skills' if you feel your child 'falling behind' Couldn't someone buy one, or try their child in one, and observe how it differs from what is taught in 'gov't schools'? If it involves parental involvement or setting limits, the 'entitlement generation' is not ready for individual resposibility, which goes back to Marilyn's main argument.
Jane J April 28, 2012 at 06:39 AM
Concurrence with Government policies is a mandate in public schools. An acquaint- ance who teaches locally, complained to me " that there were so many policies ! " I assumed that each one too, had a representative who qualified for a pay ck . Superfluous nonsense calls for Dr.Marilyn Singleton's Diet. Recipes for Success Trim the Fat, and increase the nutrition !


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