"Utah — for all of its love of children and commitment to families and
contributions to the national and world economies —"Huh?!
Thank you, Ms. Gochnour, for bringing this issue to light. Having been a
resident of Utah I know somewhat of what you speak. We left Utah 25 years ago
but it sounds as though things have not changed for the better in regard to this
issue. My son was displaying behavioral problems in his third grade class. The
only resource his teacher could offer was a suggestion to hold him back for a
year and suggested that we might want to wait until a time when we moved to a
new school, to avoid embarrassment. But when we actually made plans to move
later that spring she backed off and said he would be fine. But just two weeks
into our new life here in Virginia we got a call from the school administration
and together we took action to help my son using the excellent resources
available in our school district. An interesting note was that in grade school
and high school his worst subject was English. But with the schools help and
his hard work he graduated from a top University and is now working as a
journalist. Early intervention is the key.
There are vast resources spent on at risk students, but to no avail. By junior
high, there are students who simply refuse to do anything at school except
disrupt. Unless you are willing to pay them to behave at school, I doubt you get
them to graduate.Perhaps better intervention younger would help, but
the resources spent in secondary schools are not so much too little, as too
The students who refuse to work and insist on misbehaving do so because they
have learned that there are no heavy consequences to their choices. They act up
and refuse to do their school work in elementary school, and guess what happens;
they move on to the next grade just like all of their peers. Never mind that
they didn't master the concepts they were supposed to learn in that grade.
Social advancement has caused major problems in our public schools. When
students learn early in life that their are big consequences to their choices,
they will continue behaving the way they do. Imagine the difference
in our schools if the true stakeholders were suddenly expected to be accountable
for their own behaviors and learning.
I don't know what the solutions are necessarily but I know this, sticking
at-risk kids in with a rookie 23 year-old teacher who has 35-40 students
won't provide an answer either.
Howard is right. The youngest teachers get the biggest classes full of the
worst behavior problems. If we really want to tackle this we would need to
limit 1st grade classes to around 20 students. Of course this would cost money
and when it comes to education in Utah, we don't put our money into the
classroom. We have beautiful 6 lane highways for the school bus to drive on but
we can't get a 1st grade classroom with 20 students.