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Dec. 20, 1996

By Mac McKinnon

Try to teach too much

and you teach very little

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I'm a little puzzled by all the ballyhoo over public education in this

I hear one report that says this country has a higher percentage of
high-school graduates than any other in the world. Of course, you hear
reports that many diplomas are given whether they are deserved or not.

A group of educators have gotten together to protest all of the bad
publicity public schools have received. My question has always been: "If
our schools are so bad, why is this country leading all others
continuously in just about every area?"

Of course, most of that leading is done by a small percentage of
people. That's the way it has always been and I suspect that's the way
it'll always be.

In spite of what our constitution says, all people are not created
equal. They are created equal in the eyes of the law but that's the only
place equality exists. And that's not entirely true because you can only
be equal if you are well read enough to know your rights. And,
unfortunately, most people aren't that well read.

As I've always said, education begins at home and parents have to
supplement what is learned at school. There's just not enough time for
schools to provide everything needed by students. Plus, discipline
begins at home. A child with behaviour problems is going to have a
difficult time learning.

Problems in education have been blamed on many things including poorly
prepared teachers and lack of dedication to the job. Teaching - like all
professions - has its problems. Some people just want a pay check and,
as in all other professions, that kind of motivation is not adequate.

One of the problems in education is that it is almost impossible to
fire teachers who aren't doing the job. That's because of powerful
teacher organizations. That saw cuts both ways, as those groups keep
administrators off the backs of teachers who are doing a good job but
fall out of favor with administrators.

Another problem said to be at fault is television. However, the Third
International Mathematics and Science Study, the 41-country measure of
student progress, has a number of surprises that some American educators
have suspected for some time.

One, for instance, according to a report in U.S. News & World Report,
is that Japanese eighth graders watch about as much television as do
kids in America. They spend less time in math and science classes than
do U.S. students and their math and science teachers assign far less
homework than do teachers in America.

But once again, the U.S. ranks midway down the achievement lists - a
bit better than average in science, a bit worse in math while Japan
scores near the top.

According to the news magazine, the study looks at many factors.
American eighth graders lag in math in part because they are being
taught what kids elsewhere learn in the seventh grade. An Education
Department summary finds that math and science teaching the United
States suffers from "splintered visions," with more topics tackled than
in other nations but with less attention to what's important. American's
curricula, textbooks and teaching, researchers conclude, are a "mile
wide and an inch deep."

That's food for thought.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mac McKinnon is editor and publisher of the Pecos
Enterprise. His column appears on Wednesday and Friday.


Homeless face bleak Christmas season

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Dear Editor:
This poem was run in your newspaper a few years ago in Peggy's corner.
She had entered an excerpt of it. I was hoping that it may be possible
to enter it all, hoping that readers may see the terrible problem about
the homeless. There are even homeless here in our community, and it just
tears my heart out when I see a homeless family cold and hungry with
nowhere to go.

This poem is a true story about an encounter I had one night when I
found a homeless family out by the truck stop a few years ago. I did my
best to help them with food, shelter and warm clothes.

I pray that someone who reads this will be touched in some way and help
the next homeless family they see, instead of drive by and stare. It is
a growing problem and I only wish that someday down the road we can
conquer the problem. I see people every day that complain about no money
and what are they going to get this one or that one for Christmas; what
are they going to fix for Christmas dinner, ham or turkey. The way I
look at it, as long as they have a roof over their head and actually
have something on the table, they are a lot better off than many
families I have seen. This season is not about who gets the most
expensive gift. I thought it was a celebration of the birth of our Lord
Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season!

God bless.

Mindy Allgood

I was taking a drive one cold December night
When my friend and I saw a disturbing sight.
Right across from the local truck stop we found
Two adults and a child asleep on the ground.

As I went to awake them, they were hungry and cold.
As we sat down in the cafe, here's the story they told.
He said, "I never thought debts could get so out of hand;
To make ends meet the wife and I sold our wedding band.
I thought we could make it til the job I had fell.
Now my family and I live in a life of hell.
We never know where we will get our next meal.
Those who have homes don't know how we feel.
My daughter and wife, they cry all the time;
Cause from day to day we don't have a dime.
We don't ask for pity; we don't expect sorrow;
We just want a home and food for tomorrow.
The homeless, they sleep in a makeshift bed;
Their hopes and dreams are already dead.
But we make the best out of each passing day;
Even though people snub us and turn us away.
It does no good to say we will work for food.
People just laugh and they are awful rude.
What's wrong with the world - can't they hear us crying?
Don't they care that the homeless are hungry and dying?
--By M.J. Allgood
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Copyright 1996 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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