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February 14, 2013

NEWS AND TRIBUNE LETTERS — For Feb. 14

A rebuttal to educator’s column

 

Greater Clark County Schools’ Assistant Superintendent Travis Haire is a good man and a solid educator. Recently, he wrote a guest column to the News and Tribune offering an upbeat glimpse of some positive plans and programs for our local school system’s second semester.

As a former teacher in the system, I would like to provide some analysis of what he has said. I want to precede my comments by noting that they are not directed at Mr. Haire personally. He is doing the job he has been hired to do.

First, Mr. Haire notes that the IMPACT initiative will “... ensure (that) every student succeeds.” OK. I’ll just note that is a beautiful example of hyperbole. Would your paper be willing to verify this statement at the end of this current semester? Maybe, just skip Mr. Haire’s proclamation and check on how things have been going with Charlestown’s “Computers For Everybody” program. By now, some verifiable results should be available.

Next, Mr. Haire touts the educational services available in the system’s Alternative to Out of School Suspension Program. He shares that students suspended for two or more days continue “... to receive educational services as well as counseling ...” On the surface, true. Realistically, little, if any, learning will take place when a student finds himself in a different environment for a few days.

As for the counseling, come on. At best, while suspended, the student is simply treading water. The conditions that have created the behaviors that have landed the individual in the Alternative Program can’t be alleviated with a couple of real good math lessons and the “You’re gonna end up in Hell if you keep this up” counseling efforts.

As for the online course work program for students who are “struggling academically or socially,” be aware that learning from a computer strips away group work, class discussions, teacher-guided interaction and social growth. If learning is reduced to simply finding the right answers (online learning) why not close down schools and do the whole thing by computers? Online learning is like looking at the tree in the winter without ever seeing the leaves. It’s not nearly as appealing and fulfilling when reduced down to its basic framework.

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