I was dismayed to see the Deseret News lend its support to the 200-day school year as proposed by the State Board of Education. Too often it is true that common sense is inversely proportional to the level of education one receives.
Any student with a desire for education can tell us that the reason for lagging educational results is not due to the school year being 20-30 days too short, but rather to the intolerable environment that we have created in our school system. The classrooms are unbearably hot; the system is too heavily laden with incompetent administrators, principals and teachers; there are too many students who are a clear danger to other students; and still others that have no desire for an education and exhibit only contempt for those who would teach them.The problem will not go away by insisting on a 180- or 200-day school year. Students and teachers alike burn out in such an environment. Lengthening the school year will only make conditions worse, until the real problems are addressed and resolved. When will administrators and government officials awake to the fact that the trend in the world is away from heavy-handed government and toward decentralization?
The solution to these problems is a common sense approach to education.
First, make our high schools places for students motivated by learning. At the conclusion of junior high/middle/intermediate school, students who do not show that motivation would enter trade schools where they would be thoroughly tested to determine at what trades they would most likely succeed. Trouble-makers/gang members, etc., would not be tolerated but would be sent to correctional schools. Teachers and students must feel safe and free to teach and learn.
Second, allow school districts/schools, within reasonable parameters, to compete under methodologies that principals, teachers, parents and students decide upon. Results would be carefully analyzed and evaluated to determine if they are achieving the desired goals.
Third, bite the bullet and fire incompetent administrators, principals and teachers. It is ludicrous to pay these people for 30 to 40 years and then grant them retirement pensions at taxpayer expense.
Fourth, reward teachers with incentive pay for exceptional results.
Fifth, give serious consideration to abolishing the State Board of Education as one unneeded layer of government, or pare it down to an advisory panel.
Why do we take it? Why do we allow our children to be abused by the system? How did we get here from there? We are the voters and the citizenry. Let's stand up and be counted and tell the bureaucrats that we are not going to stand for it any longer - that our schools will become suitable places for learning of knowledge and ethical behavior. We must insist that our legislators be committed to overturning a broken system and demand that they fix it. We must pay for it, but I, for one, resent pouring money into a corrupted, worn-out system.
Kenneth J. Brown
Salt Lake City