Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Message To Obama

(Tree of Hope from the lobby of the Apollo Theater)

I'm sitting here listening to Obama talking about education and I am thinking how totally clueless he is when it comes to this topic.


He's talking about the need for higher education and pushing all Americans to get at least one year of either college or vocational training. He wants America to increase the number of Americans with college degrees.


I wish I could give him this message:


President Obama,

Going to college is a great thing. Getting kids to graduate from high school is something we all should strive to do. But, we have to start making these high school diplomas mean something. Right now, kids are sitting in classes they are not capable of passing. Be realistic, not everyone is college material and has the mental facilities to succeed in academic areas. Regardless, these are the subjects the kids today are being forced to take to get a diploma.

As a teacher, I strive to do the best for my students daily. But, I am also realistic. I know that there are certain things my students cannot master and because of this I cannot teach on as high a level as I would like to. I have to water down the topics and hopefully teach enough to get them to pass the state regents exams. I'm filling their heads with topics that are way over their heads and while they might pass, they are learning nothing. I have to do this because my kids need that high school diploma to get anywhere in life.

You also talk majestically of charter schools. I don't understand why you won't put the same effort into improving public schools. In New York City high schools there are 34 students in each class. In my very overcrowded school, there are kids who arrive at 7:15 AM and others that do not leave until after 5:00 PM. We have classes that meet in substandard trailers. We have class rooms with no windows or ventilation. We have two rooms made where there was once one. The walls between them are so thin that the sound of chalk on the black board is disruptive in the adjoining room. Tutoring takes place in the hallways and often kids cannot even get to tutoring because there is no time for it during the day. Public school teachers are hard working, caring people working in some of the worst conditions around. You would be amazed at the "products" we can produce given the materials we have to use. We need your help. Vouchers and charter schools are not going to do it.

I know I am rambling here, but I can't help it. I voted for you. I sent money to your campaign. I believed in the change that you were promising. I still want to believe but your education policy is scaring me. Please, talk to teachers and visit schools. Visit the public schools and see what is really going on. Ask us. We'll tell you what we need.

9 comments:

Kate said...

/signed

Anonymous said...

Amen

Anonymous said...

I hate to be cynical but it appears that lost in the Obama-mania was/is the simple fact that he is a politician. Folks wanted to believe differently...they really really did. Politicians often promise one thing or appear to stand for one thing and deliver another. How did so many otherwise grounded people forget this?

Bonnie said...

I hope you sent this letter...

Chaz said...

Ramble on. My sentiments exactly. I hope you send this letter to Obama and all the NYC newspapers.

Jen said...

I'm with Bonnie & Chaz. I hope you send this letter.

Miss Eyre said...

Totally send it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about NY, but in Ohio... the local public schools still get the local money while the fed. state money for each charter school students goes to the charter school. Here's the thing though. The money that the charter school gets is LESS than the local money the public school gets for a kid that they don't even have to educate. Therefore, leaving more money to spread around for the students that are at that school.

http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/othercolumns/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1233999221282560.xml&coll=2

Justin said...

/signed as well

I teach in one of those sub-standard trailers, where the students laugh not because of what's going on in my classroom, but because of what is overheard through the walls next door. Or where when it rains outside, it rains just as hard inside. :T

I never understood the idea of vouchers and charter schools. It's supposed to provide equity (or something?) to students who would otherwise end up sub-standard schools. Why spend extra money on these providing only a few students with alternatives when all they need to do is adequately fund the public school? Something about creating competition or whatnot... I really don't know and if someone could explain it, I'd appreciate it.

Anyway, I like this quote...
"The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize." ~Franklin D. Roosevelt