Tag Archives: principles of behavior

Boards Of Education

28 Aug


The public schools system is a social institution. One could even say that it is socialism in one of its most basic forms. Communities are empowered as a group to work together to provide for the education of all of the children within their town, city or district. Their local efforts are overseen, evaluated and financially bolstered by the county, state and federal governments. It is this public school system, conceived and founded over 200 years ago, which has directly contributed to and been responsible for this country’s rise in leadership, stature and dominance throughout the world.

The system is a good one and it still works in both practice and theory but it does have an Achilles heal and the chink in its armor that could bring about its untimely demise does not lie within its teachers, employees, administrators, tax base or children. Any problem the system has can be found in the same place where all business models ultimately find their problems and that is within its management and leadership. The public schools in America are businesses; Make no mistake about that, but unlike a typical business whose success is measured in profits the public schools’ success is measured by the success of its children. Businesses make money important. Schools make children important and that fundamental difference must never be forgotten.

The CEO of a business must be concerned with the company’s expenses as they relate to its profits but the CEO of a public school system must be concerned with the system’s expenses only as they relate to the successful learning of its children. As a parent, is cost your first concern when it comes to the well being of your child? Or is it your child’s well being that is your first concern?

So, who is the CEO of the public schools? The Board of Education is, and the Board of Education is a publicly elected body chosen by the school district’s voting age citizens. Their function is to oversee the public schools and make sure that those schools are serving the needs and best interests of their children. They hire a superintendent who acts as a liaison between the BOE and their management personnel and the public school teachers, administrators and staff.

This all sounds well and good but the question that I now ask is this. What qualifications does a person need to possess in order to become a local BOE member and oversee the day to day business of operating the local public school system? The answer? None! Except that of being a citizen of voting age who resides within the district. Is this how you would choose someone to oversee your business? Would you simply look for volunteers and then have your neighborhood vote? Or would you require or even demand that your CEO and board of directors have superior knowledge and expertise concerning your particular business, its products, consumer base etc.?

While we assume that citizens who run for their local BOE have the best interest of the children in mind, it is after all only an assumption and not a requirement. BOE members do not even have to have children in the public schools. They don’t even have to have had children or like them for that matter. And they can even act like children (which they often do) they just can’t be children.

Now I’m not suggesting that we let children run the public schools. What I am suggesting is that public school board members be required to have children who are in those public schools which they oversee. This will guarantee that they have a stake in the company, a reason to assure its success and a reason to keep close tabs on its daily operation and well being. Might a board of education such as I propose spend more money on its public schools, since that’s where its children are? Yes! Absolutely! If you starve your business of capital what do you think will happen to it? It will fail just like many of our public schools are failing now. And those that are failing are failing because they are in school districts where there is the most poverty and the greater likelihood that their BOE members do not have a stake in the public schools because those members no longer have school age children or no longer send their children to the “poor, old, run down” public schools and because they were most likely selected by an electorate that has no money or who no longer wishes to spend money on “those” kids who aren’t “ours”.

We all know that voter turnout in our representative, democratic system is often low and it’s even lower during school elections and still lower in areas of poverty (among voters who are poor) so the poorer a child is, the less likely that child will be represented by a public school BOE member who has a direct stake or interest in that child’s future success.

This is the flaw in our age old system. It does not address nor does it offer a safeguard for the problem of: What if the elected public school board has little or no relation to the children it is entrusted to oversee?

What if Ebenezer Scrooge and his ilk were elected to and held the majority on your town’s BOE? Would they have the best interests of your children in mind? Would they be required to? Would they most likely raise the budget or look for ways to cut spending? Would their interests lie with the welfare of your children or with the welfare of their businesses? In a country who values all of its children, should we allow their education this option? Are there no work houses? Are there no orphanages?

Until Scrooge was visited by his 3 angels and was foretold the bleakness and despair of a future bereft of love and generosity for all of his neighbors great and small, Tiny Tim was a casualty of Scrooge’s enterprise, an unavoidable bi product of wealth, an unwelcome after thought.

We must all listen to the angels of our better nature and take note of what will be the bleakest of futures for our country if we don’t love and care for all of our nations’ children equally. We must repair our current educational system by requiring board of education members to be representative of the children and families of those who attend the public schools. Each elected member must not only be an upstanding and educated citizen of his community but also a parent whose children attend that community’s public schools.

We cannot continue to build a better and stronger nation if our motto is going to be “God Bless Me.” Like Tiny Tim, the poor, crippled child who had to rely on the love and generosity of his family and community for his wellness and well being, our motto must be “God bless us, Everyone!”

Parents: How to Make Your Children Successful Students (In 3 easy steps)

19 Aug

Now that you know what the experts say works when preparing your children for school and a proper public education, here are three more important tips about how to raise your children to be successful students. I have gleaned these very simple and basic but most important principles of behavior from my 50 years of experience in the classroom as both a student and teacher.

So Please, Please, PLEASE teach your children these three most simple and most basic principles of behavior before you even think of sending them off to the public schools?

  1. Before you send your children to school teach them how to sit still.

Do whatever it takes because this is the most important skill in education. Seriously! If you can sit still, you can learn. If you can master the art of sitting still you can do almost anything and teachers, principals and guidance counselors will love you. If you can’t sit still, let’s face it, there isn’t much you can do or will be good for later in life except maybe night watchman at the chair factory. Nobody likes a kid who can’t sit still. Those children create chaos. They steal the show. They become the focus of all attention. They’re annoying. And if they’ve pooped their pants they stink up the joint. (You remember him don’t you?) Sit still and you control your environment. You blend in. Your demeanor says, “I’m here and I’m ready to learn!” You’re in the group and you only stink up a few desks nearby.

So practice with your children. Sit together. Go to places where sitting still is required. Sit at dinner. Sit in front of the TV. Stand on long lines together. Go to grandma’s house and make them sit there for a while. Then tell them that because they sat so well they can go out and play and skip grandma’s dry cheese sandwiches and tea. Ha! Now they’re practicing recess and gratitude! See how easy it is?

Say things to your children like, “Sit!” “Sit down young man!” “Did I say sit young lady?!” “Just sit there till your father gets home!” (Warning: only say this if you know that father is coming home) “Sit right there until we’re finished with desert.” “If you don’t sit still that man with the razor is likely to shave your head off with your hair too!” (This I remember from my very first haircut…and I sat very still.)

Be bold. Be imaginative. And practice with your children. Let them see that you have mastered this important skill by sitting with them from time to time. Show off by sitting with your husband through that entire ballgame or by sitting with your wife through that entire birthing process! Attention Parents! You can never start early enough! Now sit!

  1. Listen! Teach your children to listen! The ability to listen is the

second most important skill for a child to learn before attending school. Why not the first you ask? Because while listening is a higher order skill than sitting (just ask any dog) a child who sits but can’t listen is much better than a child who listens but cannot sit. (Think mine fields!) I’ll bet you can remember that classmate who sat in your class for 12 years and who graduated still dumb as a post. How did he do it? He could sit still! But, that classmate who could listen but not sit? I’ll bet you remember him and are thinking right now, whatever happened to that guy?… or where’d she go? They couldn’t sit still! So they went!

Anyway, back to listening: important skill #2. After all you don’t just want a graduate, you want a productive, intelligent member of society right? Not to mention someone with enough intelligence to be able to get out of your house! So teach them to listen! How? Talk to them! While they are sitting! Ask them questions then YOU listen for the answers. Ahh…setting an example. Teaching by doing. How simple! Did you know that the typical parent spends less than 15 minutes per day talking to his or her children?  That’s 91 hours and 15 minutes per year or 456 hours and 15 minutes in the 5 years leading up to Kindergarten. That’s 19 days! (And 15 minutes!)

So, the average parents conceive and birth a child and then talk to their son or daughter for the equivalent of only 19 days out of their first 5 years of life before sending them off to school?!!? Thanks a lot mom and dad! Kids can’t learn to listen unless you talk to them and have conversations! So parents, start talking to your children! And listen to what they have to say!

3. Teach your children to be respectful. The ability to be respectful and the knowledge of what it means to be respectful is the third most important skill that your child must possess if he or she is going to be a successful learner. Why is this skill third? Because if they can already sit and listen then they are already being respectful. Now it is time to teach them to be aware of what showing respect to others actually means. The best way to do this is by you showing respect to your children and to your spouse and to your friends and to everyone, in front of your children…and your spouse and your friends and everyone.

Don’t just demand respect from your children. This never works because they don’t know what it is. They’re just kids. You must demonstrate this all important skill and practice it with them. Children need to be made aware and to understand that adults are not just big children. Children need to know that an adult is someone who they are expected to become and that childhood is just a short grace period that we have afforded to them on their way to a place where people sit still, listen and behave with respect towards others…just like you do. So remember parents: sit still, listen and be respectful. Teach your children to behave like adults and their teachers will teach them the rest.

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