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Taking education for granted

April 12, 2007, 7:31 am

Whenever you hear someone talk about how public schools are underfunded, and what we really need is more money, ask them what they plan to do with that money. It might end up being something like this:

Two grants will help Pike Township Schools teachers learn innovative and more effective approaches to teaching math and science.

The district received a $338,000 grant for science and a $296,800 grant for math, both from the Indiana Department of Education.

The science grant will sponsor programs for 90 teachers over three years, said Kathy Sharpe, director of programs and staff development for Pike Township Schools.

Teachers in Grades K-9 will attend summer science camps, go to monthly workshops, travel to learning conferences and participate in online teaching courses.[...]

The math grant will allow 75 teachers in Grades 4-9 to attend a math camp and math teaching courses over the next three years.

An emphasis will be on teaching students to write about mathematics, which could increase comprehension.

The goal is to improve elementary students’ performance in math. Pike Schools got a failing mark on the recently released Adequate Yearly Progress report, part of the state’s effort to enforce benchmarks of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

“The state believes we can do better and we need to get our children ready,” Sharpe said.

Great, but ready for what? I’ve got students right now, in my college math courses, that can’t add fractions, can’t multiply signed numbers, can’t solve simple linear equations, and do not realize that there’s a difference between the square root and the fourth root. A lack of innovation is not the problem here.

Possibly the #1 enemy of quality education today are government-sponsored education grants and the things they fund. These conferences, camps, etc. tend far too often to become self-congratulatory closed systems which merely provide resume fodder for the organizers and a day off from school for the participants.

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