Students need more incentive
I read with interest The Herald's "York County students gain in science and English, fall back in math," with the comments of state Superintendent of Education Jim Rex. The key issue with the superintendent is whether the teachers are covering specific materials that students master before taking these tests.
I devoted much of my professional life to teaching. I fathered two public school teachers. One left administration for the love of teaching. Both were voted teachers of the year. It would be more interesting to pick Rex's brain. What "specific materials" would be key to student progress and better grades?
Generally, money has not been a factor in education. U.S. government, states and communities continue to throw more money into the education hopper without achieving the commensurate byproduct of other nations with far less input. I believe Rex should focus more on litany of non-educational duties foisted on teachers by principals, stressed for better state exam results and personal recognition. Rex's goal should include teacher time while being crucified by zealous parents, because students have received a failing grade. Rex may finally arrive at the root cause already familiar to teachers -- lack of pupil incentive. I have observed this phenomenon in other youth, and I personally suffered its consequences.
At 15, I dropped out of eighth grade for employment, so characteristic of 1920. At 17, I became head stock boy with a staff of six. At 18, I worked an as assistant to an engineer in heavy industry. Among other duties, I made cooling radiators, helped construct the Savoy Marchette flying boat for Canada, all at 40 cents an hour without hope of ever achieving an engineer's salary, perks and prestige.
I traveled to Penn State listed on the engineer's sheepskin behind his desk. I learned I would need 15 credit units equivalent to high school, then I had to take the entrance exam, IQ test and finally registration. I returned to my job. I studied nightly. I took state board exams quarterly. Returned to Penn State to sweat blood with chemistry I had never studied. Rudiments of math and science added to my ordeal. Despite the failure of some classmates with better preparation, it never occurred to me to give up and return to a more familiar job. With an extra class load, I graduated (1935) in 3 1/2 years.
I was offered a stipend by a genetics professor to grade his students' exams -- salary, free tuition plus other perks. I decided to earn MS and PhD sheepskins of my own during the 10 years of America's greatest Depression, with later perks never dreamed.
I believe Jim Rex would achieve accolades if he devised a course or method for instilling motivation to those students who now don't give a damn about state exams.
Easy way to save education dollars
In these tough economic times, everyone is talking about how the public school system can make do with less money. For York County, there is a simple answer that would help the county save education dollars.
Merge the four county school districts into one countywide district. This would cut administrative costs drastically. This would have the advantage of not interrupting the educational process in the classroom. The schools would continue as they are, but we would have only one (instead of four) district administration.
This is not a new idea. It has been talked about for many years, but we never needed to implement it, so nothing was done. Now, we need to do something.
Our school boards and district superintendents have served us well in the past. This proposed merger is not in any sense a criticism of anything they have done. However, in our current crisis, four districts are just too expensive, especially when one could do the job.
Obama isn't true to Christian ideals
I am a little confused about President Obama. I am a Christian and did not vote for him because my salvation is more important than risking it on voting for a political party that goes against the commandments in the Bible and Jesus. All the supporters of the president say he is a good Christian.
How can that be when one of the first things he does in office is sign a bill for financing international abortions? He is for all different kinds of social programs, Satan's failed economic foundation, to enslave us to the government. I don't know about other Christians, but my Jesus said he would supply all my needs not the government. Christians, don't be blinded by people who talk the talk but do not walk the walk.