Comments about ‘Letters: We should end compulsory education’

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Published: Wednesday, July 24 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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RanchHand
Huntsville, UT

Ben, the problem today is that nobody wants to be the "kid's nanny, cop, detective, case worker, mediator, judge or secretary.". Not even the parents. If you're not willing to step up, who will?

Whether you believe it or not, those kids you're chasing down actually do learn something in your classroom and the classrooms of your peers. They NEED you. Don't give up on them and please don't shirk your responsibility to them. You did choose to be a teacher, did you not?

Midvaliean
MIDVALE, UT

Ben, you fail to understand the plight of youth. Growing up is a process. Perhaps you don't have the mettle to be a teacher. No one asked you to "chase" down marijuana smokers, you only need to teach the class to the best of your ability.
Kids make mistakes, sometimes big mistakes, that is a common theme since antiquity.

So Ben what happens in 20 years when they were not told to go to school, 40 years out? 60 years? I don't want to see that society.

Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

So all these pot-smoking, low esteem kids are lost causes and we should just lock them up in prisons now rather than later as they'll ultimately just turn to crime anyway to make ends meet. They have education systems in the prisons anyway. That's probably the better safety net as our legislature pours more money into prisons over schools...

Seriously, though, I really feel for the writer that neglect of our kids -- both among parents and legislators -- makes it hard to educate them, and with broken families, parents working multiple jobs away from homes to make ends meet, and the American Dream appearing to be only for the lucky and rich, kids aren't focused on education.

Good teachers really are needed to play a role in inspiring our kids to see the big picture and value the opportunities of their educations -- yet, as teachers are seen as "enemies" among conservatives, it will continue to be difficult to attract inspiring people to be final backstop to prevent poverty, hopelessness, and possible imprisonment.

Gildas
LOGAN, UT

I tend to agree; education is expensive and it seems like much of the time we are throwing money down a sinkhole. Yet if we did eject those who didn't want to learn the question should be addressed as to how the lazy, rebellious and addicted students indicated will employ their newly found time and freedom.

I agree that teachers should not be babysitters and social workers but I think we need to think about the likely unintended effects of eliminating many problem children for the schools and be prepared for them. Maybe we should also concentrate on teaching useful subjects, create a more free economy with elected authorities minding their own business, and have better and younger graduates.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

Of course kids don't recognize the true value of education. And yes, we need to do a lot better is making education a priority. But that begins with our state legislature and inside the home.

Getting rid of mandatory education is a completely wrong path. If you hate funding food stamps now just wait 10 years after you get rid of mandatory education.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

While I agree that teachers should not be the "kid's nanny, cop, detective, case worker, mediator, judge or secretary", teaching can include overlap with several of those roles.

It would be lovely of course to teach in an environment where all came ready and eager to learn. Such utopias tend not to exist.

Kids need mentors. Someone not only to teach them but to excite them about learning. Also, to model for them good choices and to sometimes be a sounding board for them. Those are all great roles that teachers should embrace.

As for making education non-compulsory. Think carefully. If education is not obligatory then neither is state support for it. Are we sure we are asking for what we truly want?

FreedomFighter41
Orem, UT

What an odd letter from someone who wrote this to the Dnews on June 28, 2011:

"Clearly the teaching of moral character in homes is most important. Yet teachers can help, as can policemen, judges, employers, writers and so forth. Honesty, fidelity, self-restraint, kindness, obedience and hard work are a few of the elements of moral character, without which our families and communities are chaotic. As teachers prepare lesson plans, they can look for ways to teach students how to live, not simply what to know.
By doing so, students will be influenced to make the best decisions possible. Those decisions can then help them to avoid prisons, impress employers and add to the ranks of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. Teachers — and other public employees — salaries come from taxes."

Why the sudden change of heart?

Sounds like this school year has been rough, huh? Ben, we all go through rough times. Don't lose sight of those countless students who DO value education.. There's just no need to change the entire system for a minority of students who probably wouldn't value education no matter what anyone did to it.

Battle on!

CHS 85
Sandy, UT

I guess in Ben's world he only has to teach and deal with the easy kids. Any additional effort to reach the ones who really need to be reached is just too much for him.

Perhaps Ben has chosen the wrong career path or he needs to teach in a private school.

Darrel
Eagle Mountain, UT

Education is an investment. Kids aren't known for seeing the big picture and working for it, sometimes they need to be told what to do, part and parcel of growing up.

The writer complains about having "reporting signs of abuse to counselors; diffusing a parent's verbal abuse of a son or daughter;" Removing compulsory attendance won't make these types of abuse go away. I am glad we have teachers that report these things. In too many cases that may be the only thing that saves a child.

Removing compulsory attendance will not fix education. In fact it will only make it worse. If you feel your child is not getting the education they need, look for an alternative school like a charter school, or maybe even home school; but not educating them is never the answer. It offers very little short term gain, if any, but promises huge long term cost.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

So we have conservatives who now want to do away with compulsory education. We have other conservatives who want to abolish child labor laws. I can see where this is going. "Let's get the ten year olds back to work in the coal mines where they belong. Education is a waste for the lower social orders anyway."

Another question, if education is not compulsory, then does the state need to fund it?

FreedomFighter41
Orem, UT

What an odd letter from someone who wrote this to the Dnews on June 28, 2011:

"Clearly the teaching of moral character in homes is most important. Yet teachers can help, as can policemen, judges, employers, writers and so forth. Honesty, fidelity, self-restraint, kindness, obedience and hard work are a few of the elements of moral character, without which our families and communities are chaotic. As teachers prepare lesson plans, they can look for ways to teach students how to live, not simply what to know.
By doing so, students will be influenced to make the best decisions possible. Those decisions can then help them to avoid prisons, impress employers and add to the ranks of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. Teachers — and other public employees — salaries come from taxes."

Why the sudden change of heart?

Sounds like this school year has been rough, huh? Ben, we all go through rough times. Don't lose sight of those countless students who DO value education.. There's just no need to change the entire system for a minority of students who probably wouldn't value education no matter what anyone did to it.

Battle on!

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

It is to our misfortune that we must hire people to teach our children who think that teaching is standing in front of the class and pumping out propaganda.

FreedomFighter41
Orem, UT

Why do I get the impression that this is just a create way for folks like osmond, buddies with Sen Stephensen, to reinstate public vouchers? To essentially divert money from public education and redistribute it to private schools?

"Another question, if education is not compulsory, then does the state need to fund it?"

Roland got it!

If public education can no longer be compulsory then a case can be made to get rid of public education funding. then, it sets us on a slipperly slope leading us to each family funding it's own education. Essentially, it would break down Stephensen's main competition for his schools. Stephensen stands to gain millions by this. How much does Osmond stand to gain I wonder?

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"....As a teacher, I find myself chasing down students smoking joints; questioning students about stolen electronic devices; reporting signs of abuse to counselors; diffusing a parent's verbal abuse of a son or daughter; assessing the facts to determine honesty in a project or exam; and constantly reminding students of due dates...."
_____________________________

My own job has its share of unpleasant aspects. Just because this former teacher's job was not all fun and games is not a valid argument against compulsory eduction. It's a reason why dedicated teachers deserve greater appreciation than they generally receive.

GK Willington
Salt Lake City, UT

To Ben W...

"I am not your kid's nanny, cop, detective, case worker, mediator, judge or secretary."

My parents were career educators and they always tried to focus on the 'lost sheep'. What annoyed them was the parents who expected nothing more than someplace to store their kids for a period of time & meddling incompetent bureaucrats in the district offices.

I agree w/ Freedom fighter & Roland about 'funding'. As far back as the 80's, my parents knew that expecting the state legislature to do anything positive was a lost cause.

You think things are bad now (recent op ed on the communication skills of youth) then just wait because if education isn't compulsory; how many people will let Glenn Beck "enlighten" their offspring?

Henderson
Orem, UT

I just recently finished my student teaching in the spring. I have had a few interviews, none of which have worked out. So I continue to work at My restaurant job (which i like and it pays the bills for now... But it certainly is NOT the career path I desire). I would love to be in Ben's position.

I taught classes in the Social Sciences. If you think kids just crawled and jumped over each other to learn about history or how our government works, then you have another thing coming! However, I loved it. I considered it a challenge to myself each and every day to come up with a lesson that would captive student interest and inspire them to learn. That was my duty. My responsibility. To be creative and innovative. And I wasn't even paid a single penny for my time as it was student teaching.

Those bright kids who value education will excel no matter who teaches him. Mr. Watkins seems to only want these students. Meanwhile, I loved to see how I could change and influence those "bad" students. That is where the real reward comes.

Henderson
Orem, UT

Continued from above

So instead of Mr. Watkins complaining and focusing on the cons, why not change your perception and see these kids experimenting around with drugs, booze, sex, etc as opportunities? You can save that student! You can help him achieve!

Getting rid of compulsory wont improve education. It will have dire consequences on our society. We not only need better parents, but better educators as well. Playing a movie, using power point for 80+ mins, and teaching the exact same way for 30+ years just doesn't work.

Mr. Watkins, if you no longer have the fire, then please retire.. There are those of us who would love to be in your position. Many who would love to "deal" with your problems. But, unfortunately, haven't been given the chance. You folks probably have my résumé. Give me a chance!

Oak
Highland, UT

Why don't parents parent? Because once the state takes that authority from a parent, they are absolved of responsibility. If you want parents to parent again, give them back the authority and responsibility so they are empowered. If their child doesn't want to go to school, it's not the state's job to call the child a criminal and force him/her to school, it's then the parent's job to teach the child (perhaps with the help of concerned family and neighbors) the value of an education. If the child doesn't see the value, he/she won't learn. You can't teach someone who refuses to learn and you only hinder those who are there to learn. Removing compulsory education will help children become self-motivated just like we expect of them in college. It's not going to introduce child labor and sweat shops. It's going to open up new paths in education as educators innovate to provide a reason for those children to be in school.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

The mere fact that Oak Norton, who accused Alpine School District of Communism, Gayle, and Howard Stephensen are supportive of ending compulsory education speaks volumes to me. They have been trying to privatize public education for years. Just follow the money folks, and you'll see why these folks are so eager to redistribute your hard earned tax dollars and give it to already rich private school benefactors. They disguise their assault on public education as "empowering parents."

Don't be fooled.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

First, I have to agree with Henderson that if Mr. Watkins has lost his passion he should retire, stat!

I take this letter somewhat personally because at one time I was one of those kids he thinks is a lost cause. I’ll spare everyone the history other than to say it was a few inspiring adults who cared and took the time to see something of value that helped me change direction which culminated in graduating college and having a rewarding career and family life.

If all my teachers had been “Mr. Watkins’” and the system would have allowed me to opt out of education when I was immature & misguided, it’s doubtful my life would look anything like it does today.

Mr. Watkins is no doubt frustrated and perhaps burned out, but his loss of perspective is clouding his judgment. Please do yourself (and the kids under your charge) a favor and switch careers… everyone will be better off.

PS – and if it makes you feel better, I will apologize on behalf of all the “losers” who are causing you so much grief.

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