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Teachers are key, not new buildings E-mail
Friday, 04 April 2014 09:55

By Starley Craig, Liberal


It seems to me Liberal citizens can get very enthusiastic about projects that seem very good at first glance. I remember going to meetings about a city recreation center where there were unbridled dreams about all the different kinds of floors that would be needed to see that all activities would be furnished with correct materials underfoot; matting for wrestling, dancing floors, basketball court flooring, indoor tennis flooring, etc., until the realization that all the floors were all but a small part of an enormously expensive project that we could not afford.

Perhaps some of the school project suffers from the “unbridled committee’s dreams” that happens when a lot of people get to spend a lot of other people’s money

I asked what the current teacher-pupil ratio was in Liberal. It is low. Actually, they didn’t know for sure, but it seemed to be about 23 to 1.

When I taught here for more than 22 years, it was a rare year I didn’t have 37 or more students in a class.

The idea that buildings make a school system better isn’t true. There are things that do – and a decent plant is certainly one of them – but ultimately, what makes it work is:

A) Who is in front of the class,

B) A strong administration that prevents chronically disruptive students from staying in the classroom and,

C) Parents who have a “financial,” vested interest in seeing that their children put forth an effort to learn.

When Liberal’s students have problems academically, we lower standards. We purchase pre-packaged programs from companies at outrageously large sums (guaranteed to prevent discipline problems, advance reading levels, make kids feel good about themselves and so on) only to junk them a couple of years later when they don’t work. I’d think pretty carefully about buying the whole ball of wax if we don’t really need it to educate.

Tech equipment and buildings ill not give you what you want. Wages are stagnant in this $9-an-hour town. Taxes and costs of everything will rise. Our city taxes already use 51 percent on education. We cannot continue to build, build, build and buy, buy, buy equipment hoping we can raise the level of achievement. Less and less costs are levied on those whose children go to Liberal’s schools, and more and more business owners and longtime residents.

Take another look at two more football fields, two more tracks, two more junior highs and all the rest of it – then consider a smaller plan geared to academics first and remember: Who says “Good morning, class!” is the one that matters.

PS: I can’t resist a

last word.” How many sixth graders do we have in Liberal’s schools? If the graduation class for that group is smaller, it’s not the buildings.

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