LETTER: School rankings garner criticism

I believe anyone who cares about the community he lives in at one time or another learns something that is so irritating he can’t forget about it. This time for me it’s our children’s education or lack thereof.

For such a large state, and to hear Austin brag about being the richest, most intelligent, most moral state in the union, to be seventh from the bottom in SAT test scores is not only unbelievable but also unacceptable.

Why are we there? Our students are poorly educated because we have not been able to attract or retain the most highly qualified teachers, also because as smart as our legislators claim to be they have not been able to find a method to equitably and adequately finance our schools.

In addition, our state government also makes poor decisions, like an across-the-board $5,000 raise to attract better teachers. No matter how long employed, no matter the subject they teach, no matter their competence, no matter the degree they hold, everyone gets the same raise. How non-competitive and ineffective is that? Oh goody, business as usual and nonperformance gets a reward.

Add to that requiring our students to study for a non-nationally recognized test, not just take the SATs to find out what they have learned. Or, how about the wonderful policy of having to take a bad weather day off from classroom instruction because it’s mandated, even if the weather is fine and they could have taken advantage of the additional class time. Wow — that blows my mind.

Our state and local administrators also seem to be out of touch with reality. Right now, nationally there is a growing concern about cellphones in the classroom. Rutgers.edu states, “When students are allowed to use phones, tablets, or other devices for non-academic purposes during classroom lectures, they perform worse in end-of-term exams ….”

Oxford Education lists the following as problematical when cellphones are in a classroom: distractions and interruptions, cyber-bullying, cheating and disconnection from face-to-face activities. Clearly there should be no cellphones in any classroom.

A check with a Sharyland school board member confirms that not only are cellphones allowed into the building and classrooms, but their use is at the discretion of the teacher. You might as well say “discretion of the student.”

This policy exists while many school boards are considering banning cellphones from the classroom completely.

Again, it’s your children’s future and your and my tax dollars. Don’t you think you should get involved, form an effective parent-teacher association, attend school board meetings, and yes, raise hell till your children get the education they deserve and our school tax dollars go down?

Oh yes, teachers, you got your money; can we expect to start moving up the performance scale to say, just average?

Ned Sheats, Mission

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