Frustration felt on all sides of the educational 'gap' issue

Opinion

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It is easy to understand Teresa Burke's frustration from the events she portrayed in her letter [Too much denial and deception from OPRF administrators, Viewpoints, Sept. 7]. The other side of the problem offers the high school even more frustration. It would be my estimate that 70 percent of administration's time is spent dealing with the discipline and "gap" problems that we keep reading about. When you spend all day on a problem and then get called in to listen to it all over again without a reasonable chance to rebut, that is also frustration.

This problem is nationwide, and if you happen to believe that Bill Cosby and Clarence Page have a handle on the problem, then the solution is going to be painful for those who believe that the school alone can do the job. The parents of many of these young people are not taking any parental responsibility. We all know that. If these children do not get a reasonable start in their early childhood, then how will they catch up with normal teaching methods and standard school time?

Also, peer pressure is often very hard on young black males who are working hard to do a good job. In some interviews with successful black students at the high school that you reported on several months ago; they indicated that there is a group that have no interest in education. They are only going through the motions, and are very disruptive. All this causes teachers to retire early and only makes the problem worse in trying to replace talented teachers.

Young people who are "drowning" in school because the work load is beyond their ability often rebel. Probably most of us would too, given their situation.

How can we help them? Without discipline, there can't be any education. Do we identify those young people who are far behind grade level and offer a special school routine? Don't we have to do that in the grammar school? What about the children who come to first grade with no previous training, do not know their numbers or colors, etc. and have hardly ever seen a book? Any idea how disruptive that can be in a first grade class?

The high school has the problem, but in most cases, it is almost too late to catch up that "gap." Consider the young people who come from a foreign country with a foreign language, and in several years they are often excelling. They work at school and many hours after school, and that spells success. We have to inspire our children who are part of this "gap" to work hard. They can do the work, but not without strong parental support, good study habits, extra study hours and discipline.

We have to work to get future children on the right road to educational success. Tearing apart the best public high school in miles is not the answer. If you walked the school halls, you would see what they are up against?#34;both children and teachers. When I was growing up, my parents instilled in me a respect for school, and the teacher was always right, even when wrong. Today, there is little respect for any authority. We are all paying for that.

Wednesday Journal has a sister publication about parenting [Chicago Parent]. Interesting that they are so quick to print articles that portray all that's wrong with our school systems, but never seem to do the kind of reporting about the good things happening at our schools, perhaps with suggestions on how to improve in certain areas. There are plenty of talented educators in the villages who truly understand the problem and could offer some solutions. Let us break the mold and get to the heart of the problem!

Jack Flynn
River Forest

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