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« McBride Gets Milwaukee and 'Tosa Right | Main | Baseball Hall of Fame Shuts Out Worthy Veterans »

February 27, 2007


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Thomas J. Mertz

I'm a product of the Evanston Public Schools. I don't think I crossed paths with Ms Soglin, but she reminds me of many of the teachers who shaped my faith in public education. I'm proud to share the connection.


While it is true that children are indeed different in many ways; however, it is equally true that children are the same in many ways. What exactly is wrong with identifying those similarities and teaching to them?

It is the content of instruction that disctates about 90% of what must be taught. Content, and the nature of content, doesn't change according to the interests of children, nor according to any other characteristic of children. If we were trying to teach a gorilla to read, the nature of reading wouldn't change. Obviously, when it comes to the nature of content, differences among learners don't have much to do with anything.


I too am a product of Evanston public schools and if Madison can take a lesson from that system, it would be good I believe. I didn't have Audrey as a teacher but from what I do recall, the teachers were excellent and key to the quality of the system. I can't speak for the classes intended for less well-prepared students but most of the teachers I had were top-notch.

I do not recall a lot of hand-holding, however. My impression of MMSD is that the goal is to have excellent teachers use their sparse time helping the poor students instead of pushing the good students to excel. From what I recall in my education, poor students were given a reasonable chance, then, if they didn't keep up, sent down to the minors (easier classes).

I really think that teachers should teach students at a level they feel students are capable of. If some students can't handle that level then they should be in an easier class. The level shouldn't be adjusted to the lowest capability in the class nor should the teacher have to waste valuable time trying to bring poor students up to speed.

So, yes, classrooms should be segregated by skill level and drive to learn. Maybe that results in race and socioeconomic segregation as well; maybe not. Education in our great country is free so regardless of a student's race or poverty level, he can study and learn as well as the next student. If he doesn't want to take advantage of this free and ultimately inalienable gift, then his lack of drive should not affect the students who do want to.

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