I’ve been hard at work this week, and we have a double feature today! Scroll down for a second new story.
As you know, the Youngstown City Schools, in addition to being in the middle of a massive financial crisis, have also had dangerously low test scores for years.
People who don’t know about education (i.e. politicians) will point out that they’ll hold accountable schools, teachers, administrators, faculty et cetera when it comes to funding. The state department of education insists teachers must be “highly qualified”. Whenever a district fails, many will point their fingers at teachers first, saying they don’t do their job well enough, and that they need to be re-assessed or replaced, because a state report says the kids aren’t as smart as those in other communities.
A letter to the editor in today’s Vindicator paints a different picture. The full letter is here, but I’ll give you the gist: a life-long south side resident named Richard Giles points to his three sons and how the people of the Youngstown City Schools have served them well. His eldest son was a valedictorian at Wilson in 2003, recently completed his BA in chemistry from the College of Wooster, and will now work toward a Ph.D. in organic chemistry on a fellowship at USC; his second son (also a Wilson grad) received scholarships to YSU and is majoring in biotechnology; his third son will graduate from Chaney in 2009, and has received recognition from different events like State Science Day. By all accounts, they’ve all received a fine education comparable to one you might find in districts Ohio has previously declared “excellent”, like Boardman, Poland or Canfield.
But what about every other student in Youngstown?
This issue is a bit more personal for me. My mom taught in Youngstown up until a couple years ago, and while I may not have seen her in a classroom, outside of school I can say she did her job. She made lesson plans at home, she graded papers at home, she put a lot of things for her classes together at home. In short, she knew what she was doing, and after a while it annoyed and angered me when she talked about parents coming in, demanding to know why their kid was failing, and if anything could be done to bring their grade up.
It probably doesn’t cross their minds that their kids just don’t care; they’ve probably never thought for a second to hold their kids accountable. Just put blame on the educators.
And Mr. Giles points to this in his letter. “the parents and students also share that responsibilty,” he wrote, “it truly does ‘take a village to raise a child.'”
And with that statement, some personal effort, no matter where you live, can result in a good education. I had a buddy who shrugged off the emphasis of high school kids needing to find “a good college”, saying realistically, when you reallly think about it, that ANY college is a good college and give you exactly what you need for your career. It depends on the individual, and whether or not they want to apply themselves. And it’s the same at any level. Kids in Youngstown can have test scores comparable to any other district in Ohio if they put in effort, and people who don’t know about education should know that. I don’t claim to be any expert in the field, but I firmly believe what I say because that’s what I did (and still do) in school, and it served me fairly well.