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Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

Posted August 27, 2008 12:00 AM by Jaxy

As I walk along the corridors of the high school from which I graduated two years ago, I can see how much things have changed. When the bell rings, there are more stragglers roaming the halls than in the seats of many classrooms. Go into any one of these classrooms and there is a distinct possibility that at least one of the students won't have a pencil. Another won't have a notebook or a binder or even a simple piece of paper to take notes on.

As the teacher launches the lesson of the day, the chorus of crosstalk is extremely disrespectful. As much as the teacher will try to stifle these side conversations, students will show even more disrespect. When the teacher turns away, they whip out their cell phones and start texting one another.

Nowadays, a phrase used in schools is 'you have to earn my respect.' It used to be that people were given the benefit of the doubt - respected and trusted until deceived. What could have changed to make this shift in respect?

Teenagers go through school not caring about whether they learn something academic. They just want to get through high school and get on with the rest of life. Some kids will strive while in school to learn as much as they can and become as smart as they can. But most will put education on the back burner. Education is not a priority for these students.

I think that some of the change in educational values has to do with the changing nature of family structure. It isn't the parents' fault if a family needs both parents to work in order to make ends meet. Still, these parents tend not to best utilize the time they do have with their kids. I am not trying to point fingers, but I do see more families spending time in front of the television than playing sports or educational games. Sports and board games provide a source for face-to-face human interaction and bonding while television requires none of those.

Both educational and family values have declined in priority among kids. Is this an ongoing trend? Would a more united family structure affect educational values? Does education and family structure need to change for a better community?

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#1

Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/27/2008 8:06 AM

It does seem that there is more and more focus on schools raising kids, as well as educating them.

There also seems to be a growing disconnect between teachers and parents in some communities where the latter also has little respect for the former.

Not totally sure as to why that is.

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#17
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 10:55 AM

Perhaps the reason why there is a disconnect between students in middle school and high school with the teachers and their studies has to do with the psychological changes occurring in the teenage years. The need for independence by teenagers far outdistances their desire to conform and learn in a classroom setting. This later condition which is being "forced" on them by the teachers and society interferes with their natural yen for independence. Perhaps a move in education circles towards short apprentiseship programs or co-op programs during high-school years would instill the desire to go back to school to learn. I believe that most teens don't have a clue what to expect when they arrive at graduation and they realize in HS that something is going to change and they don't know what to do about it. If they see first hand that school work gives them the option to succeed or not, they will start considering their studies as a means to that goal. Unfortunately, preaching to them is like talking to a wall, so they have to learn by experience (or observation) which is what apprentiseships do.

I am on the board of trustees for an experimental school in which such opportunities are "required" for graduation. We have a very high success rate with our program.

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#18
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 11:03 AM

I like the sound of your apprenticeship program well enough to vote you a GA for that post! Any more info on how it works would be welcome (hint, hint!).

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#19
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 4:57 PM

This apprentiseship program is part of an overall effort of the Old Stone Foundation Center for Education in Cleveland, OH. The Cleveland Municipal School District is currently on the Academic Watch List of the State of Ohio because it has failed to achieve the state governmental standards for schools.

Currently, the program is targeted at girls who have had to leave school because of pregnancy and motherhood; however, there are plans to expand it to cover boys who drop out of school. The girls are provided with child care at the school and transportation to and from the school (one board member is CEO of the Cleveland transportation system) as part of the program.

There is a wide range of entering educational levels in the program and the students are tested to define where they will fit in. The educators are hired by the foundation from the ranks of the Cleveland School system and are highly motivated to help the students. [Note that a number of the students entering the program have only a 4th grade education equivalency, so getting them up to speed to pass the GED (high school diploma equivalency) is not entirely practical, but any education they can get helps them in life. The programs to aid the students are too numerous to mention here, but some are outlined at their website at:

www.oldstonefoundation.org

Basically, the apprentiseship program is supported by local industry and there are numerous CEO's on the board (why I was selected for the board I have no idea, as I am just a retired engineering volunteer). With these industrialists and business leaders (including bankers, transportation administrators, hospital administrators, etc.) there are a lot of connections to businesses where the students can find areas that interest them. Many of these businesses also have a shadow program so the students can get a look at the business prior to apprentising. The foundation works with the businesses to get the students placed in these positions for a given period. The students are paid a nominal amount by the businesses for their work, but it is the experience they get that counts (and they get to put it on their resumes which helps job prospects).

Btw, the 24 member board usually has nearly full attendence at the meetings, which goes to the level of commitment of these business leaders. The foundation has been the recipient of numerous awards from the State of Ohio Department of Education for excellence. I am firmly convinced that the business community must be committed and get involved if thses students are to be made productive members of society. Too many fall through the cracks because of the shift away from traditional values that has occurred in our society. Also, where the students demonstrate they are willing to work hard and have the desire, the board has made available the opportunity for a number of these students to get scholarships to the local colleges and junior colleges (again through college administrators that sit on the board).

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#20
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 5:06 PM

What a wonderful sounding program! That should be emulated in every city in the nation. I don't know of any school district in the country that is so on top of things that no students would benefit. Somebody, everywhere, needs the help, and lots of them would be willing to participate, I'll bet.

I think I can see why YOU are on the board - are you one of several representational engineers?

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#21
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/29/2008 3:53 PM

Unfortunately, I am the only engineer on the board. I was recommended to serve on the board of the Foundation by one of the founding fathers (an acquaintance); I believe I was selected because the above gentleman was aware of my involvement in 3rd-world water well drilling activities and other volunteer efforts. He previously owned a medium sized coal company which he sold to Consol Coal Company; he was on their Consol's board. The Old Stone Foundation Center for Education is his passion, and he and a few of his friends made the initial contacts with the school board and the CEOs to bring it all together.

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#23
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/29/2008 4:20 PM

"...the only engineer on the board..."

Which is why you are ON the board. My suspicions are confirmed. They needed an engineer, and they picked the best representation available.

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#2

Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/27/2008 10:11 AM

When I was in high school I absolutely hated being there (except in English classes). 90% of the time I was unreachable because I just didn't care, and I wasn't alone - the rest of my classmates didn't care too much either. Teachers would ask questions and nobody would answer. Nobody wanted to step-up and lead discussions, ask questions, or really participate at all. But when I got to college I learned the value of participation, and took initiative to speak quite often.

When I thought about HS while in college I always said that I wished I could go back, even if for just a week. I would do the readings, ask questions, answer questions - basically, all the things that few do in HS.

Although my parents and I valued education, I pushed it aside in high school for things that I deemed more important - in my case, cheerleading. Regardless, my parents pushed my brother and I to do our very best. With their support, I graduated from HS with a regents diploma and an average GPA. Did I strive for greatness in my time there? No, but that was my choice. Without my parents support, I would have tried even less.

Although adolesence is hard, with a good family base a student can be pushed to try harder. Schools are not built to be daycare centers, they are built to inform and educate. For me, learning became more of a value once I was away from the HS environment; but it doesn't have to be/is this way for everyone. Although I have said this many (too many?) times on CR4, change must occur in the home. It's easy to try and be a child's best friend, but what they really need is a strong, supportive, sometimes strict parent.

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#3

Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/27/2008 11:01 AM

Ha! Try going back to a Primary School left behind 42 years ago, and see the difference now. Even nostalgia isn't what it used to be....

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#4
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/27/2008 11:15 AM

There was a program when I was in school when high school seniors would have breakfast at their elementary (primary) school.

I hadn't stepped foot in the building since I left, and I was amazed. Not only was it smaller and more crowded in appearance, but some of the magic was long gone.

One of my classmates and I used to ride these toys when we were in kindergarten (a blue train and a red biplane) and chase each other around the room. We found the room and the toys. I couldn't believe how small they were.

And that is really the shock about going back and why it ruins nostalgia. You have to accept how small of world you really lived in when you were younger because of everything you didn't know (and in the case of teens, even though you thought you knew).

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#5
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/27/2008 11:20 AM

I had a similar experience with my elementary school. As cheerleaders we would host "cheer clinics" for the elementary kids, who would then cheer with us at halftime. I couldn't believe how small chairs and water fountains were! The saddest part was going into the library - where I spent more than my fair share of time as a little kid - and realizing the the once massive bookshelves were my height!

*sigh, nostaglia*

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#22
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/29/2008 4:00 PM

I also have a similar experience with returning to my elementary school. I often wonder how my mother-in-law, who served as principal at 2 elementary schools simultaneously managed in such cramped quarters, although I remember principal's offices as being "cavernous" when I attended there.

It serves to remind me that "We just can never go back home."

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#7
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/27/2008 1:12 PM

I suggest leaving high school and never going back. It is too hard to blend in again. I have went back a handful of times and being reminded of how your good friends in high school no longer are good friends. It is hard to see how people change.

I never had breakfast with my elementary teachers, but I do remember them with a lot of respect... After all, they had to deal with me at peak energy

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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/27/2008 1:28 PM

they had to deal with me at peak energy

A frightening scenario, indeed.

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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/27/2008 11:26 AM

Maybe that is why it happens then, to get back on point.

Teachers were the smartest, most respected people I knew when I was a little kid. They, like the buildings they work in, loss some of the glitz and glamor as I grew older and realized that they were human, too.

The more they were like me, the less perfect they were.

And to use your analogy, Sharkles, I bet in HS, many of them were "your height".

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#9
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/27/2008 5:15 PM

Teachers definitely do have "glitz and glamor" to kids. What changed that for me was working many hours at a grocery store. In doing so I saw a lot of my teachers - former and current. Suddenly, teachers became real people in my eyes. They had families, ate the same food, and did the same kinds of things that everyone else I knew did.

It was realizing that they were "my height" changed my attitude for the better. Instead of being untouchable, superhuman beings, they were something that I could become if I wanted to (at the time I thought I wanted to be a HS teacher).

Elementary school teachers still held the magic for me, even when I saw them years later. I had too many happy memories as a kid to let them be ruined. Besides, when I talked to them, I knew that they still saw me as a little girl. Knowing that let me keep the illusion alive.

However, I realize that seeing people as "human" will not necessarily make everyone have more respect towards school and educators. I think it could go either way - kids can either appreciate people more for being "human", or they might think of it as another reason to disrespect authority.

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#10

Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 12:36 AM

I have several frineds who own businesses from septic tanks cleaner, roofers, mechanics to lawyers, doctors, accountants, electricial contractors.

When my kids were young I wanted them to get a feel for all kinds of work the nastiest to the cleanest.

So I ask my friends to take my kids at different times and give them a job for a week or two in the summer. The oldest hated cleaning in the operating room but loved laying out materials and double checking the materials in planning the next days work on a construction job.

Youngest hates pumping septic tanks but the easy and fast money they make interested him but he loves rebuilding engines.

Giving my kids exposure to a lot of different jobs when they are young under careful supervision works great for me. I t got their attention to what they could end up doing if they do not apply themselves.

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#13
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 9:37 AM

I think that that was a wonderful idea. I know that hands-on approaches to teaching families what they don't want to end up doing can be the most effective way to light a fire under their bums in education. I never had to get that lesson that way though.

My father always told me how smart I was and how I am going to do better than him. We always talked about me inventing stupid inventions and being a sports star. He taught me that things that seem unattainable become within reach as long as I continue to educate myself. This taught me to have an undying thirst for learning that I can't seem to quench. I found that my father pushing me to do better than himself gave me the drive to succeed and the value of education.

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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 10:05 AM

I agree, it was a great idea! I had the fortune to work with my Dad for 5 years in the grocery business. While I knew it wasn't going to be something that I was going to be in for the long-haul, all the jobs I did there taught me important lessons about work ethic and people.

Like Jaxy, my parents told me that I could do whatever I wanted to be. They stuck by me when I wanted to be a choregrapher, a teacher, an award-winning novelist, an editor, and college professor. When I decided that I really wanted to write for a living, they encouraged me to take-on internships. At 20-something I am still working towards some of my dreams, but I am thankful that my parents taught me that if I work towards something with enough determination then I can attain it.

I'm always glad to hear that other parents are as enouraging as mine were/are. In threads like this - where values come into question - it makes me sad to realize that not everyone has a support system that goes out of their way to teach their children valuable lessons about ethics, working, and education.

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#11

Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 7:17 AM

Family structure has already changed - and that is likely part (most?) of the problem. Education has changed too - with more emphasis on "self esteem" and less on "self improvement". However, teachers at least receive training in how to be an effective teacher (they may not all assimilate it, but that's another matter). Parents become such without the benefit of much in the way of preparation. Used to be, emulation of one's own upbringing was sufficient for most purposes. But our culture has moved away from the extended family model of decades past, into a model where not only are there not generations raising the young, there are often only two, or worse yet one, overworked, underappreciated, young adult(s) making do as best they can.

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#12
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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 9:33 AM

I completely agree with you, but does the family structure change have a direct effect on what happens in schools? I tend to agree that while the families are changing, it is impacting the education of the young adults.

It is really hard for just one or two people to instill the values necessary for a self-fulfilling life. With an extended family, it seems to help a little with teaching kids values of not just respect, but education as well. In extended families, it seems that the parents are very concerned with having their student be better off than they were and they instill the value of education. But there are the parents who don't care if their daughter or son do better than them or not, and those are the parents that need to learn how to raise the self-esteem on their own child, it is not the teachers problem.

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Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 10:45 AM

"...does the family structure change have a direct effect on what happens in schools..."

I think it does. If the kids don't get a grounding at home from the family, the school system becomes less relevant to the kids, and their education suffers. I had learned to read, write, and do some math before the age of five, so Kindergarten was a breeze (except for episodes of boredom brought on by "see Spot, see Spot run") for me. And I kept on staying ahead of the curve. I had a thirst for learning that is not quenched to this day. I consider myself a lifelong "student". I pity those who do not have the background to instill and encourage this. And while I was the true "baby of the family" (the youngest grandchild on both sides of the family), I was fortunate enough to know all four of my Grandparents. Everyone I was related to, even my cousins, expected the young (especially me, the youngest) to learn something!

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#15

Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

08/28/2008 10:33 AM

Great topic.

Family role is critical, and probably best predictor of academic success.

However i remember seeing a study that looked at factors of academic success and the only correlation that the researchers could find was the presence of books in the home...

As we home schooled, I obviousl y have a different view of the problem.

However I would submit for this discussion that it is the usurpation of the family's role in shaping values (what is nice to have, what is good, what is needed) by electronic mediua TV- Cable, internet, and the overwhelming contact hours by just as ignorant peers rather than adults with material to share that is driving this issue. When parental tastes are "alien" and "peer consensus " diktates (spelling intentional)"abercrombie " as de minimus standard, the inmates are running the asylum.

Our oldest was 7 before she found out that the TV worked with out a video tape. She missed a heck of a lot of commercials and stupid programming. That was 7 years free of "what I want is what i saw on TV."

GArbage in, Garbage out. and that applies to time with peers instead of time in proximity with adults who can share and help influence values and tastes.

milo

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#24

Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

09/22/2008 2:26 AM

There have been many changes in the past 30 years which have reduced the sense of worth of teenagers.

When I was at school, it was normal for kids of 12 to do a paper round, or help delivering milk before going to school - that was stopped by government legislation which was further extended to all under 16s to the stage that virtually no employers will allow U16s to work, even for a few hours at the weekend.

Part-time jobs give employers more flexibility, but at the expense of not giving full-time work to those who will not go to university - hence the increasing numbers of families feeling that work is not worth while (especially here in the UK where the Welfare State ensures a minimum standard - often above the minimum wage equivalent).

We always hear of the worst from schools and youths, but not nearly so much of the better - and more numerous - events.

In Edinburgh, there are schools in deprived areas where they teach to the minimum standard, and the smarter kids are left to vegetate/find other ways to amuse themselves while the teachers concentrate on bringing the less able/willing pupils to the minimum standard. One of my children was seen as a "good average" at one school, but when moved to the other side of the city was far behind the bottom of the class. He caught up quickly, and has now graduated from Uni.

In my days at school, pupils walked as not all parents had cars, and usually only one parent worked full-time. Now, most families with two parents are either holding down 2full-time jobs, or none... I am the only breadwinner in our family, and it is not easy to make ends meet with 3 children stil at home.

How much of the conversation which goes on in class is due to the pupils not meeting their friends until they arrive at the school gate, where we used to walk to school together?

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#25

Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

09/22/2008 8:24 PM

As a former teacher I have been in the trenches. But before that I was a student and I remember that too. Since I turned 5 before the middle of the school year I began first grade at age 4, walking in autumn leaves, winter snow and spring rain for about 3/4 of a mile to the one-room schoolhouse. All 8 grades in one room. A wood stove to take off the winter chill, but we still wore our heavy sweaters. Water from a pump operated by hand and 2 little buildings out back as restrooms. The teacher was Mrs. Bock, who had also taught my father in the same school. There were two of us in my grade, about 35 in the school.

All the lower grades liked to listen to the lessons of the upper grades and answer for them when they couldn't answer a question, much to their chagrin. It was the best school I ever went to, even without AC, Audio-visuals and computers. Our gym was an old apple tree and some playground equipment. Discipline was sitting in the corner, in the cloakroom or a quickly cut switch from the hedge. To me the teacher was like a grandmother.

We moved in 5th grade and suddenly I was one of 30-some students and the terminology used by the teacher was like a foreign language. I did not do well because I did not know what the teacher was asking. In junior high I discovered the library and became a nerd. High school was little different, but I was bored by the make-work of homework, since I could read the text, listen in class and still make 90%+ on the tests without it. Of course not doing the homework ensured that I graduated with a 'C' average. After a couple of years I realized that I needed to go to college and they were short of teachers so I became a teacher.

As a teacher I have seen students from all levels of ability and family background jammed into one classroom. About 1/3 of the parents and students were illiterate. They were farm workers and general laborers and most of the parents had been taken out of school as children to help support the family. Then there was a group whose parents had some education, but had dropped out of school to get jobs, raise children and they felt they were doing OK. Then there were a few whose parents had finished high school or college who really could learn. There were few who did better than their parents because the parents were generally apathetic.

Discipline has become, "You can't tell me what to do, you're not my [mama/papa]!", 'Touch me and I'll report you for abuse!" Because schools are generally funded on average daily attendance, the administration wants warm bodies in the classrooms, so you can't even get rid of the troublemakers that prevent the rest from learning. Then when the principals office becomes a revolving door the problem students have even less respect for a teacher's authority. Add to this the fact that after the huge amount of tax money that is raised for education, parents are expected to come up with an additional $100-200 or more in "fees" per child. They can't afford the school supplies, won't buy them or the students refuse to bring them to class and are allowed to get away with it so as to provide another warm body.

Notice that government schools are known for social promotions and graduating illiterates from high school based on attendance. Some are trying to have special classes and such, but they are too involved with mass education and do not adequately serve those students at the top or bottom.

Vocational/life training for some should begin in the 7th year and by the 10th yr it should be plain who should be tracked toward a 2-4 yr college and who needs to learn how to do a job. So the last 3 years at least should be some combination of work and study for the non-college-bound students. Plus no student should be allowed to quit school until they have completed 12 years or turned 21 even if they have to complete school behind bars and fences. Being allowed to quit school at 16 is archaic and feeds into the teenage rebellion years when no one can tell them anything.

While merit pay for teachers may have some good points it is not a cure-all. Try to make a steel suitable for timing chains from all kinds of scrap steel. GIGO. Get to pick your scrap and success in different products can be achieved. Government schools tend to put all kinds of students into the same class and expect uniform results.

Since the education of every child benefits all of society, then it follows that society should pay for the education of every child. That also means that with some variation due to age, grade level and ability/handicaps all children should be equally entitled to have their education paid for by society on a equal basis. It is also not justice to deprive a child of that money for education based on which school he attends, a government school or another type of school, nor to spend less for the children of wealthier parents. There is no place for class warfare in education.

Reforming the system to be more responsive to the needs of the students will be blocked by those who support the status quo and defend their political stance which favors government indoctrination schools and fears the freedom of thought from schools they cannot control. Big Brother wants your children too.

__________________
No technology is so obsolete that it won't work. A stone knife still can kill you as dead as a laser.
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Anonymous Poster
#26

Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

10/07/2008 2:00 PM

Pretty much, this is really true. I honestly think that most kids in highschool wouldn't dissagree, they just wouldn't really care. =]

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Anonymous Poster
#27

Re: Back to School: Teaching Students About the Value of Education

10/07/2008 2:01 PM

students really don't care.

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