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peaceloveunderstanding

Education and our country's future

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More than 50 percent of students at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks.
What are some examples of these complex tasks?

[The students can't] interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

This is certainly not good news as we are shifting to a knowledge and information based economy.

http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/01/19/D8F7UO204.html

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Invest in schools! It's the wisest investment a country can make in its future.

Minnesota's per pupil funding is almost 10% lower in real terms than it was in 1990. Dismal increases in the '90s and a freeze on per pupil funding in the last few years has left schools $1bn short of where they were in 1990 in Minnesota.

The results were disastrous. With insurance premiums through the roof after 9/11 and double digit increases in transportation costs each year, less and less money has been available where we need it most: The class room.

Between 1999/2000 and 2003/04, my local school district cut $7.2 million out of its $45 million annual budget. This resulted in a reduction of 100 teachers. The teaching staff in our local schools went from 400 to 300 in 4 years! Class sizes jumped from 21 for 5th graders in 2000 to 32 in 2004.

In all we lost 2 of our 7 elementary schools, 100 teachers, school buses were not replaced, and fees rose substantially.

My district was not alone. Some districts were so strapped for cash, they proposed moving to a 4 day school week with a longer school day to save on transportation costs. Some schools have resorted to turning off the heat when no one is in the building, having some students learn in the dark, and making kids walk 2 miles to school each morning, even when it's below 0*F outside.

Class sizes in Minneapolis remain around 30-35 students to a teacher.

It's so ridiculous and unnecessary! This was all done so that our beloved governor, Tim Pawlenty, could hold his "no new taxes" pledge. And while Jesse Ventura set up the foundation for our budget crisis in schools, he did do one thing right: He extended the levy referendum limits.

Every school district in Minnesota responded to budget crises by approving levy referendems: Calling for a rise in property taxes so districts could have the money necessary to continue educating children.

And people wonder why children are not prepared for the world? We've been short changing their education!

Minnesota is now projected to have a $1bn surplus in the next budget cycle. Democrats have proposed putting most of that back into education while using the remainder to pay back cities and counties for the cuts they suffered in the last years. Republicans have proposed using the money to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings and give people a tax refund... The team has threatened to leave if they don't get a new stadium. Screw 'em... let 'em leave. A child's education is more important than a flashy stadium in the suburbs.

We need to fund our schools properly, bringing class sizes down to between 15-20 with tougher standards. Sure. Raise expectations. But make damned sure that the children have the resources necessary to succeed.

Tax rebates to buy your McDonalds and lipstick don't equal a quality education.

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While properly funding our schools is the first place to start, something tells me that our "uneducated America" problem is more than just lack of funding. I think our country's cultural and social way of life has become a barrier to quality education. We live in a society where incorrect grammar can pass off as song lyrics, ridiculously stupid people can become celebrities, and where any old fad can pass off as "brilliant [insert artform here].

This is the difficult task: changing people's minds and priorities, to live in a society that is conducive to thinking. Sounds like utopia, doesn't it?

OK, I'll step off my soapbox, lol.

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It's not so much "incorrect grammar" passing off as song lyrics... it's teaching children to know the difference between correct and incorrect grammar so they can appreciate both.

German has many dialects and often many words are completely different or changed enough. For example, the Germans say "Januar" while the Bavarian Germans and Austrians say J

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SnowGuy,

I noticed you making very broad and sweeping generalizations about Democrats, Republicans and how they feel about funding across Minnesota.

I can't speak for the entire state, but in my district the Democrats keep yelling that we need to throw more money at the schools. There was a big scandal about this last year because the district went and bought two astro-turf fields for the high schools. Money that should've been spent on students in the classrooms. Throwing money at the problem doesn't fix it -- instead the district made a completely irresponsible decision. And if that wasn't bad enough, they decided to close 2 elementary schools despite public outcry about the district's completely decadent spending. Not to mention a huge glut of income from a land sale that could've once again be used to keep the schools open or invest more money in the classrooms.

And what did I hear from the local Republicans about this issue? That our schools need to be held accountable for their actions. That money should be focused on the classrooms of our children, not astroturf fields, flatscreen televisions, etc.

I have heard nothing of Republicans proposing this money be tossed at new stadiums.

Democrats always seem to think that you throw more money at it, and it will go away. Instead, the money seems to go towards ridiculous expenditures that aren't directly benefitting children in the classroom. So when Republicans call for accountability in the way schools spend their money, the Democrats immediately start screaming that all Republicans ever want to do is cut, cut, cut.

We can't let rampant spending go on forever. Where the schools spend money should be carefully scrutinized with a fine tooth comb. Republicans are proposing fiscal responsibility; maximizing the money in the classroom and minimizing the waste spending.

I will make it clear that I don't like Pawlenty, but as a whole we need to be more accountable for their expenditures. Democrats always seem to get their undies in a bunch everytime the word accountability is brought up, but it needs to happen. You can't just toss money at a problem to make it go away, and that's been quite clear in my school district, as well as across the state. It's time to take a look to see where the money is actually going.

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I totally agree that schools need to be accountable for the money that they get. But you won't make them become more accountable by threatening their funding levels.

But I just get sick of so many republicans out there going "give me everything for nothing. I want results without paying for it" while screaming at democrats for "spending, spending, spending."

What Minnesota has done over the past few years is to maintain income tax levels as is while allowing taxes that unfairly target the poor soar. The cigarette health "fee" affects the poor the most becuase poor people smoke more. Farmers and resorters, which do not make a lot of money in the first place, are being put out of business by soaring heating costs and huge property tax increases. Poor people are constantly getting nickled and dimed when doing things like getting their tabs replaced or renewing their drivers license.

The same applies to school districts. Republicans scream "accountability" as if schools' misfortunes are their own fault and then they turn to one or two examples to "prove" how evil and money hungry our schools are. The facts speak for themselves:

Insurance costs have soared since 9/11.

Increased fuel costs with heating buildings and driving hte buses have affected poorer, less dense, larger, rural districts. My district has 5500 kids and is 900 sq. miles. That's a lot of bus miles for a district of 5500. The 70% proposal by Pawlenty will not be attainable in my district without cutting bus service drastically.

Declining enrollment hurts districts more than growing enrollment helps. Look at it this way. If you have 100 students it is typical to have 4 teachers. But the next year you have 90 students. It would be nice to keep 4 teachers, but with rising fuel costs and insurance premiums rising, you have to cut one teacher. Now you have 3 teachers for 90 students. Class sizes go from 25 to 30.

This affects poorer rural districts where enrollments are declining.

We need to have accountability in our schools.. but I believe you attain that by electing responsible school boards, not having the governor legislate and boss school districts around. Accountibility should make sure students are learning and succeeding and we should be providing the funds necessary to do that... not just tell them that they need to do more and make things better with less money.

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Today, we don't teach kids to think critically. We take media hype for Gospel and run with it. We're a spoonfed, plastic society, from politics to religion to education and everything in between.

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