Saturday, August 22, 2009

Change in LarCoDems speaker: education the topic of Aug. 25 meeting

Dave Lerner, communications director of the Laramie County Democratic Party, sends news that there's been a change in speakers for the meeting on Aug. 25. Instead of Dr. Brent Sherard, director of the Wyoming Department of Health, the LarCoDems speakers will be Kathryn Valido, president of the Wyoming Education Association to talk about a variety of education issues. Coincidentally, the new school year begins the next day in Laramie County.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 25, at the IBEW Hall, 810 Fremont Ave., Cheyenne. FMI:

While the topic of education is not as fiery as health care reform, there are a number of crucial issues. Before I pose some possible questions, let me say that I'm a union member and that both of my kids attended public schools. So, I've been on the side of public school teachers all of my life. But my personal dealings with schools on behalf of my kids revealed some flaws in the system.

So, some questions:

1. At UW and other U.S. universities, are students being trained for the schools of tomorrow or the schools of yesterday? If they're being trained for the schools of today, they're being trained for the schools of yesterday. No, we don't know what the school of tomorrow will look like. But technology and globalization and charter schools and magnet schools and home schooling and the needs of a new century will make them entirely different places. Are we ready?
2. Once we train effective and innovative teachers, why do we put them into buildings that look like prisons? McCormick Junior High in Cheyenne looks like the women's prison in Lusk. And vice versa.
3. When will the education establishment fully integrate the arts into the curriculum? Electives are fine, but we need creative thinkers in the 21st century and the arts are the best way to nurture them.
4. Should teachers be unionized? This is a tough one for me, the union guy. And teachers' unions are a big right-wing target, which makes me instantly suspicious. But this system protects bad teachers and doesn't provide enough incentives for the good ones. Maybe merit pay isn't such a bad thing?

That's a good start. Do you have questions you'd like to ask the head of the state's teachers' union? Come to the Aug. 25 meeting.

P.S.: No yelling and screaming. No signs showing teachers with a Hitler mustache. Fair warning.

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