Letter: Trust essential in educating children

To the editor:

It seems that every article I read concerning education, especially public education, causes me anxiety. First, they are often negative; second, they try to analyze education as if business or manufacturing principles apply. Teaching is not a business, and teachers and students are not repeatable parts of some product.

The major corruption of schools has been distrust. Teachers have found little reason to accept what school boards have told them about their budgets in the past. Parents’ faith that the school their child is attending meets the standards set by politicians driven by some ideology of party pandering.

Isolated incidents of corruption or moral turpitude cause concerned parents to wonder then about all who come in contact with children. More could be said about all of these and other examples of corrosion to the fabric of trust vital to education.

But let me just add that my observation over the years is that nearly everyone has something at stake in the education of our citizenry and many think the formula for success lies in religion, some political ideology, or any of a number of other solutions, but an overall atmosphere of trust in the sincerity of others involved in the process is essential.

As President (Ronald) Reagan is credited with saying, “Trust but verify.” Get involved with your child’s school or at least with your child. Keep in mind also that there is no single model of a good teacher. There is, of course, the occasional incompetent teacher.

Remember that the “hard” teacher you disliked as a student often is appreciated later as the one who helped you cope with the rigors of life.

One last thing. A single test or battery of tests is no match in assessing a child’s potential or a school or teacher’s merit compared to the day-to-day appraisal by teachers and staff at the school the child spends many hours through the school year interacting with adults and peers.

Don Thompson