Comments about ‘New movie 'Won't Back Down' makes the case for education reform’

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Published: Monday, Sept. 24 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

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Peter R
Provo, UT

The point is well taken, though, that our current reforms are not doing anything. For those blaming the teachers' unions, I'm all against big union abuses and such, but let's be honest; very little of the problem likely has to do with unions. In 1984, Benjamin Bloom conducted a meta-meta analysis and found a pretty large effect size for parental involvement. However, he also found a good effect size for teacher training, which is a lot easier to accomplish than trying to get parents to spend time tutoring their children and is something the schools have control over.

Peter R
Provo, UT

A lot of educational problems actually have little to do with instruction and a lot to do with social persuasions. The space race prompted many in the U.S. to want to become nuclear physicists, rocket scientists, and so forth. In many countries, doing well in math and science is a way out of poverty and up the social ladder. What we value as a country makes a big difference in what people want to do with their lives and in what we place value individually.

Just consider the following. When someone says, "I can't do math," what is the common response? (usually, it's some sort of agreement, or "me too" response). When someone says, "I can't read," what's the reaction? One is socially acceptable and the other is not. As a society, we're increasingly accepting that it's O.K. to not know how to "do math." That is where we need to start. Change that and we're truly on our way to improving our math and science scores.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

I think teachers would like more parents to:

--attend parent-teacher conferences and monitor their children's grades better.
--make sure their children come to school properly clothed, fed and rested.
--do more to keep children from using alcohol, drugs, engaging in pre-marital sex and other harmful behavior.
--stop abusing their children in any way (physically, emotionally and sexually).
--do more to save their marriages because study after study says divorce is hard on children and what is hard on children is hard on their education too.
--make sure their students know how to read BEFORE they enter school.
--take their children out of public school if they feel the system is this bad. Their negative attitude toward the school and teachers permeates through their children in their work ethic, respect for teachers and other adult authority figures in the school. Many do take their children out of school and I can live with it. Stop complaining and either get more involved to make it better or use that option as PLENTY of options exists including home school (See Killpack above).
--better instill honesty in their children as cheating is rampant in the schools. It starts with parenting.

Idaho Falls, ID

As a former Federal Programs Coordinator, Districts are spending millions of dollars on students who do not speak english. Then add technology costs that have been introduced over the past 25 years. Then add the cost of insurance which is paid to employees. You will see a significant cost increase to education. I personally have seen a reduction in pay for the past 5 years. Don't believe for a minute that teachers are getting the lions share of the cost of education. Millions are spent to teach non-english speakers to speak english and then they get the jobs because they have dual language.

CHS 85
Sandy, UT

Let me ask all you anti-union, anti-teacher folks a question.

How many districts in Utah actually have tenure?

How many districts do not have an agreed-to plan to discipline, train, and eliminate ineffective teachers?

I'll wait for your answers. The answer to both rhymes with zero.

The problem with ineffective teachers is INEFFECTIVE LEADERS who are too afraid to punish those who don't do their jobs. The rules are in place, they have been agreed to by both the teacher's organization and the districts. If leaders won't follow their agreed-to discipline plans, why is that the teacher's fault? Principals are not hired on their leadership abilities, but by the their "friendship" abilities and their management skills. Leadership and management are NOT the same thing.

LEADERSHIP, LEADERSHIP, LEADERSHIP is the answer to these problems!


Our education system is terrible in Utah because we hire the wrong adults. End of story.

one day...
South Jordan, UT

Simple....instead of giving the money to the union (or the school, which is the same)give the money to the children or kid, so the kid and parents can choose where they want to go for school, that will increase quality, competition and at the end of the day if one school don't offer good education and teacher they won't get any money! no more unions and lemon teachers!!!

162 S Marble Canyon Dr., UT

My father is a teacher, and not a member of a Union, because when he needed them they didn't protect him. A much bigger issue, is that as a teacher he has found little support from parents, administration, and even other teachers. My dad is a good teacher, and his students scores on national exams reflect that. But that is why his job is really difficult. Parents yelling at him for issuing homework when they had 'plans' with their children, the administration pressuring him to hand out grades for the sake of sports programs, the students smirking in satisfaction knowing that he can't do anything to make them work or study because HE (not them) is responsible if they fail, should you have to combat everyone to do your job? Our culture has abandoned our students. We all need to give more.

What if those parents spent as much effort supporting their child's education as they did fighting it? Parents CAN make that difference, they don't even need the school, it is a resource and was never meant to take their place. If your child's education is substandard, YOU improve it. Take some personal responsibility.

MiddleofNowhere, Utah

@ ManInTheMiddle,
Since you are so fast to cast stones at educators, why don't you do the job yourself . . . since you are so qualified?

Red Headed Stranger
Billy Bobs, TX

Howard Beal,

I do ALL of the things that you mention. (Although I resent the "stop abusing" phrase, I never have abused my son.) My wife attended all conferences and I left work to attend 90% of them. My wife accompanied my son to 11 of 13 field trips. The school district says that they want you involved, but when you do you quickly realize that when they want you to put papers in folders, not assist in teaching and observe. Even when you come with prepared with evidence and studies that the curricula they use doesn't work the school district employees blow you off.

The principal at my son's new charter school said after we talked about the math curricula at the public school said, "Oh now it makes sense why none of the kids who come here don't understand how to multiply or do fractions."

As a taxpayer, voter, citizen and daddy who is deeply concerned about the future of the Republic, I will continue to criticize and will not hold back.

Salt Lake City, Utah

It is amazing that so many on this board think that something magic can occur in a school. They think that teachers can magically create learning for every single student regardless of their ability, their motivation, their parental support, their living conditions. They also think that if that kids is on the rolls they should be learning whether they attend regularly or not, whether they put forth an effort or not. If those students are not learning whose to blame, not the administrator, not the parent, not the student, its the teacher and or the union, which only about 60% of the teachers even belong to anyway.

We have become a society that blames everyone else for problems and accepts no responsibility. Teachers and teachers unions have become the easy target. If we are truly interested in what leads to good education, it is parents, students teachers and administrators working together. It is not about parents telling teachers how to teach (red headed stranger) and throwing a fit if they don't agree with you regardless of what research you may think you have. It is not about finger pointing, it is about accountability for ALL stake holders.

USS Enterprise, UT

In reading the comments here, the solution is simple. Pull your kids from public schools.

They don't serve the kids very well. The kids at the school where my children went were going into 5th grade without knowing the multiplication tables up to 12x12.

If you look at the cirriculum at most schools, it reads like a padded resume. There is a lot of stuff in there, but most of it gets so little attention that they never master anything.

The other problem (my relatives who are teacher tell me) is that in elementary school teachers spend half their time transitioning from one activity to another. Half their day is wasted between subjects.

Again, why should we subject our kids to this? Why do we expect our kids to succeed when they are taught in institutions that are designed for failure?

Kearns, UT

Hmmm... I wonder how much certain people spend at work transitioning from one task to another.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Red Headed Stranger:

Don't take my comments too personally but teachers across America are asked to do more than teach curriculum. Many students come to school emotionally, physically and sexually abused. Many come after being up all night doing God knows what. Many are abusing drugs and alcohol. Too many are being shuffled around from parent to parent in joint custodial arrangements. Too many don't even live with either of the birth parents but live with grand parents and foster parents. Too many cheat in school because they say it is okay. Too many show no respect for teachers because their parents have no respect for teachers and other adult leaders in the school. I didn't even mentioned that scores of students don't even understand English.

You came down hard on teachers. While I applaud your efforts of you and your wife to involve yourself, your attitude might still be effecting your children and how the perceive teachers. I have had my own children in public, private and charter schools. The teachers in each environment I felt were doing the best they could. Each school had its advantages. But about every teacher was giving their all.


Your argument is a straw man argument. I never said I was qualified to teach, I simply said that we hire the wrong adults. Attack my claim, don't make up some fake claim.

I'll make the claim again -- Our schools are bad because we hire the wrong adults.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT


Who are the right adults? Is the state and districts going to pony up to hire better individuals? And besides most hiring committees have parents on them? Maybe if it was left up to teachers, maybe there would be better adults teaching? I'm curious on what your thinking is on this issue. I think you're so out to lunch on this one I don't even know where to start--if you aren't qualified to teach maybe you're equally non-qualified to speak on the matter on any level...

Salt Lake City, Utah

To all the teacher critics most of whom love the Romney's why not take Ann's advice and apply it to teaching school "Stop it. this is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring".


Howard -
Another misread - I never said I wasn't qualified to teach - when did I say that - perhaps we need new reading comprehension / logical fallacy teachers in the state.

If I were put in charge the first thing I would do is fire 10% of teachers and 20% of administrators. I would replace each fired teacher with 1.5 new teachers. I would not replace the administrators.

I would pay all teachers more (especially math and science teachers and new hires).

The next year I would reevaluate - perhaps cutting another 10% of teachers would be wise - perhaps a 5% cut would be wise - but certainly significant cuts would be made. I would hire enough teachers to get class size down to 20 students for k-6 classes. I would raise my property taxes to pay for it.

We all know there are some extraordinarily unfit teachers/administrators in the system. We made a huge mistake in entrusting them to teach our kids. We should recognize our mistake and correct it quickly.

On the other hand
Spanish Fork, UT

There's potential for tremendous harm in promoting a "teachers vs. parents" mentality, as this film appears to do. Parents and teachers should be partners, not adversaries. My children have never had a teacher or principal who wasn't happy to sit down with me, listen to my concerns, and explore possible solutions. There may be teachers out there who are lazy, apathetic union leaches, but the vast majority of teachers don't fall into that category. On the other hand, I think there are a fair number of lazy, apathetic parents who don't put a whole lot into the parent-teacher relationship (or the parent-student relationship) yet expect the teacher to magically turn their child into a bright, hard-working scholar. I don't expect those parents to be able to take over and run a school.

the truth
Holladay, UT

@On the other hand

No they should not be partners,

The parents are the bosses,
and the teachers are the employees.

The teachers serve the parents and communities that employ them.

Government involvement has forced itself in and replaced the parents and unions have replaced the teachers.

So not only is relationship wrong we have the wrong relationship.

Not only that, we have the liberalization of education where the basics are no longer the focus but time is now being spent teaching anything from sex education to pop liberal science and from cake decorating to diversity indoctrination from feel good math techniques to accepting bad grammar, and achievement and merit is looked down upon, no competition, no failing, etc.

On top of that, we have local environments and cultures that do not value education. anymore becoming pervasive, often because their cultural leaders are telling them they have no hope.

Local community leaders doing the hiring, and restoring proper parent teacher relationships is just a start, where parent recognize the teacher is the boss of the classroom not the child and giving teachers more disciplinarian control over their classrooms.

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