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Lewiston High School, Lewiston ME
My school, it does alright.
No I'm not asking for help on a paper on education reform, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this assignment I got for AP Government class. Assistance would also be awesome as I would send you a high five over the internet.

Just kidding (or am I). Seriously though, this is what I was assigned:

"Select a current public policy issue, research both sides of the issue, and summarize your findings in your essay. Next, take a position on the issue and defend that position. Also include in your essay how civic participation (voter participation, voter registration, lobbying, membership in interest groups, etc) affects the policy issue you chose and how it can influence the decision making process. Conclude your assessment by explaining which level government would be best to solve the issue."
I talked to a family friend who teaches, and read up on multiple arguments on the opposing viewpoints in context website. I've come down to some basic details:

* Private schools: Offer "better" education, but also take rich and influential parents away from public schools. This leads them to disapprove of paying taxes for an institution which they do not use (which is understandable), the same goes for middle class families using charter schools.

* More funding: Schools need more money to afford a better teaching environment, this involves hiring more teachers, decreasing class sizes, and making a more engaging academic atmosphere (field trips, labs, guest speakers, better technology, etc).

* A focus on younger kids: The teacher I talked about told me this, and as heartbroken as it makes me feel, I agree with it: "The focus on making a productive student out of a child should be early on, as in if they aren't on the standard by sixth grade then you might as well give up." Personally, I feel that it isn't the teacher's fault that a fourth grader can't read Magic School Bus or that a high school junior struggles with reading Goosebumps books, it's the fact that the parent(s) never read to the kids when they were younger, or never tried hard to teach them to read. If parents never teach their kids early on how to read and write well, they will struggle in school and give up by the time they're teenagers. And don't you dare tell me otherwise, I grew up with these kids, and those examples are what I've seen over the years. To summarize, if some parents aren't going to teach their kids one on one to at least the standards of the schools they go to, then it is up to the teachers to fix that, which is why elementary schools should have tiny 10 on 1 classes.  

* The subjects covered in schools should be academic and useful: While I don't mind having to do conics even though I'm going to college for International Relations, I think elementary, middle and high schools should have curriculums for different types of skills.

 -Elementary school should teach kids the basics: reading, writing, math, science, history. It should help build a curiosity or hunger for knowledge; teaching healthy study and work habits as they progress through grades.

 -Middle school should teach kids advanced subjects, but also cover some "useful" subjects: Health education, basic civics, and career planning.

 -High schools should be more about living on your own, being a citizen, how to do taxes, apply for a job, etc. Stuff kids should be ready for once they graduate.
And no, this doesn't mean I hate my classes, I just feel that knowing how to do a W2 form is more important than making a fake letter to a character in a book you're not that interested in.


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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm Nicholas Burpee, and I approve of this message (7+ / 0-)

    High five!

  •  By some measures, private schools do not (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, NBurps, a2nite, RudiB

    outperform public schools, on the average.  Charter schools are public schools, they just do not have to follow as many rules, and again, only some outperform public schools.

    I would put $ in early childhood education and pre-school for all.  Having a standard vocabulary when starting Kindergarten really helps improve learning and reading early makes a huge difference.  And I put my time where my opinion is!

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 01:24:12 PM PDT

  •  If you're not interested in a character... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NBurps, dskoe need to read a different book.

    I hope you don't use that as part of your argument.  You have an interesting start to a good paper within the parameters of the assignment. Go deep, find out what's being said by both sides, look for corroborating research (it's there for both sides, but the one being paid for by industry lobbyists if far more likely to be biased).

    On the other hand, you're really onto something with the preschool, but the idea that sixth grade is a sort of cutoff point may be difficult to support.  Remember, you will be arguing/debating in this paper but it isn't only about your opinion.  You need to support that opinion with experts who write what you want to say.  Quote them, then paraphrase your own opinion to restate why you agree.

    I'm willing to discuss this with you some more if you wish.  

    Courtesy is owed. Respect is earned. Love is given. (Unknown author, found in Guide to Texas Etiquette by Kinky Friedman)

    by marykmusic on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 01:47:24 PM PDT

    •  My bad, I should have explained better (0+ / 0-)

      The character in a book thing was a classmate, I actually enjoy the book. Honestly I think he hates it because it's assigned reading.

      I'm going to find data (if there is any) for when most kids tend to give up in school. The sixth grade thing is the teacher's opinion.

      I appreciate the help greatly.

  •  Your scope of policy questions is really broad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NBurps, FloridaSNMOM

    So, I'm going to confine my comment to just one area that may be missing from your set up.

    We (Americans) don't get academic results (test scores) of, say, Finland, because we do not have the kind of welfare state that it and many other advanced countries have. As often as not, poor academic performance results from an accumulation of adverse experiences incurred by children and youth outside of school. Schools, as they currently operate, do a really good job for most (about 65%) students, so the political will to change the system is missing and probably will be for a long time to come. Our political leadership is by and large from the 65%. The policy changes that we do see currently are those motivated by a desire for private profit which can only be realized by the privatization of public education.

    I don't think I'll see significant positive change coming in my lifetime. Hopefully, you and a younger cohort will figure it out and be able to convince society before we go much farther down the wrong road,

    Did you ver notice how har it is totype accurately on an iPad?

    by RudiB on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 01:48:11 PM PDT

  •  I disagree with the whole vocational focus (0+ / 0-)

    for highschool in your proposal although I think there are some life skills that could be taught. I think young people need to know how to do some basic budgeting and acquire a few domestic skills.

    I am not sure you can compare doing a W2 form to reading literature and if you don't find it interesting perhaps you are reading the wrong thing. I admit being forced to read some serious time wasters as a teenager but I also got introduced to a few authors I really enjoyed who in turn introduced me to other authors. If you have good reading comprehension skills and an ability to critically look at a book those skills are transferable to some extent for the reading of basic forms and the filling out of job applications. Basic work skills don't require much of a worker, show up on time, act in a civil manner with co-workers, and pay attention.

    I have yet to meet very many people in their teens or 20's who are interested in health education especially when the information comes from teachers or older adults. I am just assuming when you are talking about health education you are thinking about nutrition/physiology/sex ed. I do health teaching all the time with patients at the hospital where I work, most of them don't listen.

    I agree with the more funding approach, I just don't know where you get it from.

    You have the basics of an interesting approach, just pick a direction and start researching. Hope it goes well.

  •  Your focus is too broad. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Which argument are you giving? Funding schools, early education, the importance of teaching reading, Charters/private schools/vouchers, or high school curriculum? In my opinion you could do an argument for or against any of these by themselves, trying to include all of them is going to make your paper too 'watered down' with less argument and too much explaining of various policies. Also, how long is this paper supposed to be?

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 03:09:46 PM PDT

  •  Filling out forms is a trivial thing. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you can read and can click a mouse, you can easily find out how to do it.
    High School is where you should be learning how to think and how to learn.

    “I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.” –Blaise Pascal

    by dskoe on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 03:20:52 PM PDT

  •  Charter schools (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are public schools, too, and funded by tax dollars. Whether or not the users are middle class.

    What's the question?

  •  You totally forgot art and music (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    two really essential subjects.

    I'm going to make a suggestion. I think it's great that you're interested in the topic, but from what you wrote, I think you would do well to gather some more depth of knowledge in the area and then ask some more specific questions, or pick a specific policy area to discuss. Some of your 'statements of fact' are not actually true in total. Private schools are actually quite uneven and all over the map in quality (and for that matter, in their student bodies).

    Here are some links for you:

    "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining American Education" by Diane Ravich

    Those are some easy ones. I'm sure other people here would have some excellent additions.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 05:13:50 PM PDT

  •  The US has a child poverty rate of ~25% (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Over half of American kids qualify for free and reduced lunch.

    On those international comparisons, all the similar countries have child poverty rates < 10%.

    You should read this:
    The Bracey Report on Public Education, 2009

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 05:17:05 PM PDT

  •  1st of all, your assigment is not about AP GOV, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    your assignment is about critical thought and critical analysis. I disagree with your analysis, but you are welcome to support it. Your argument concerning younger children failing to achieve accepted standards based solely upon parental dereliction is weak. It is narrow minded and thinly supported. It seems to me that if you are smart enough to leave an open invitation for help on a public forum, than you must be capable of more expanded thought and vision than you have presented. Think and cite reasons why this argument might be true, or why it might not be true. Come up with some real solutions. While there may be parents who do not help with homework, or education in general, discuss the reasons why, and how we, as a society,  can change there circumstance to improve parental involvement.  And lastly, discuss how parental involvement, and societal involvement, can have a positive and productive impact upon our youth and how that benefits us all. Good Luck on your paper.I am sure you will do well.

  •  Charter schools are controverial. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As slowbutsure mentioned above, they subsist on public money given to private schools. Many people object to this. I think this would be a pertinent, timely, narrowly focused subject for a paper. You could look into what happened to the public schools in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.

    The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. Mark Twain

    by BlueMississippi on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 07:58:45 PM PDT

  •  I'm starting to feel like this post was a mistake. (0+ / 0-)

    I'm getting 50% going with the topic, 25% asking me why I'm asking for help with my homework (I'm not, but the I'd like to know more), and another 25% tearing up my arguments because I have silly examples.

    Right now I'm not sure if it's constructive criticism or people just don't like kids on Daily Kos.

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