This column and the next few are by far the most challenging I have undertaken since the Daily News offered me the opportunity to write weekly about education. The use of technology to help educate our young people is intriguing, controversial, confusing and difficult to explain. I am well aware of that, but I am determined to try to help parents and the public better understand this complicated issue.
Wow! Have we got stuff coming down the pike. How about proposed legislation to allow off-road vehicles to travel on the shoulder of Michigan roads? There’s plenty to consider here, but given the obvious distractions of texting and talking while driving, let’s not throw another obstacle into traffic while we play with our mechanical and technological toys.
The current issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine arrived in my mailbox this week. It contained the results of the 45th annual Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll of the public’s attitudes toward the public schools.
With warm, sunny days turning to crisp cool nights — not without a few exceptions — fall is rapidly asserting itself. The leaves are turning, even falling, and soon anticipated colors will emerge. There’ll be raking required, because here there is no endless summer. Fall’s ultimate unleaving means work for us. So we rake.
These are times when Americans are looking for consistency, stability and a sense of cooperation and collaboration in government at any and all levels. Closer to home, our neighbors, the citizens and taxpayers of Michigan, are looking to our Legislature for decisions relative to what are arguably the two most critical issues facing our state’s future: health care and education.
As state representative, I spend a majority of my time in the 70th House District. It is extremely important that I meet with residents in the communities throughout Montcalm and Gratiot counties and listen to their concerns and ideas.
While legislators struggle with how to evaluate and grade the performance of your public schools, teachers and administrators continue to show up every day with a single goal of educating the students under their care. They need to be concerned about the grade they receive whether it is a color or a letter or some other method because so much hangs in the balance. But they will still invest most of their time trying to find the best way to make students successful.
Enter a public school in the fall and there is a beehive of activity with students and staff buzzing around in organized chaos working together, learning, discovering and creating knowledge. But just as a dormant honeybee hive in the winter contains worker bees huddling, shivering and rotating, what appears to be a quiet school in the summer contains staff ordering, cleaning and organizing for a new school year.
When school is in session, I love to drive by playgrounds during recess time and watch the children at play. Sadly, today the pressure to push academics has caused critics to argue that this time could be better used in the classroom. Unfortunately, there are many schools throughout the country that are doing away with this activity in an effort to increase instructional time and test scores.
The days are becoming shorter and although the current heat wave doesn’t suggest it, the nights will get crisper, the leaves will eventually turn and the autumn of the year will be upon us. For some that means apple cider, wagon rides, playing in the leaf pile and long walks in the woods. It also means the start of another school year with all that it brings and, of course, the return of high school football as our local champions carry the banner for their communities across the state.