N.M. needs respectable education

By Lynn Moncusa: Comments from the Canyon

Noting that our state ranks 49 and 50 (worst in the nation) in math and reading certainly caused this woman from Ima to pause one more time. Both the student and teacher in me became a little chagrined and rather embarrassed.

I don’t necessarily believe in ranking by test scores, but we need some kind of measure to let us know where we stand, and those scores must be almost too low to measure these days. They seem to show that more than a little change is needed in our approach to education if we want to have a respectable ranking. At this point, we might ask what can be done or even if we want something done to dig us out of the cellar.

We are told that more money will improve teachers, showing one more time that we tend to think that money will solve all problems. We are told that better buildings will improve education, thus showing that money will solve all problems. Well, we are a poor state and might as well give up if we think money will solve all problems.

I really don’t know what our ranking has been throughout our state’s history, but it has probably been a little low as we are thought to be in the hinterlands and have probably paid little attention to our standing since many people don’t even know we are in the United States. We really need to return the idea of teaching and learning instead of focusing on money and fancy surroundings.

Many of us are aware that few high school or college graduates could pass the tests for eighth grade graduation given during the early part of last century. Many of us never had Latin and would be disqualified on the spot. The in depth questions about history would leave a lot of us behind.

We wouldn’t be able to solve the difficult math and science problems with the use of calculators. Questions about the best literature that has ever been written would leave many of us in the dust. Just imagine what would happen were we to try to pass the grammar and spellings sections of that eight grade test. Writing an essay that would be scored on knowledge and presentation would be overwhelming.

The people who passed those exams in our part of the county had attended schools in dugouts, shells of houses and outside during good weather. They had been taught by teachers who were paid little more than room and board by parents who interested in seeing that their children learned the three R’s and much more. In those days, the teachers were in charge of their classrooms and didn’t put up with nonsense from either students or parents. They taught and students learned in spite of their surroundings, their lack of textbooks or any other of the luxuries we have now.

Discipline and respect were demanded and commanded.
Too many teachers today aren’t permitted to demand or command because they fear they might upset the parents who would then upset the administrators who would then fire them. What a disaster! I’ll admit that some teachers can’t really demand respect because they have neither self-respect or respect for others and that makes me a little more than ill. We can but hope they are in the minority.

Let us hope that one day teachers will be permitted to teach and students will have the opportunity to learn no matter what their surroundings or what the pay. A good dose of pride in profession will help to dig us out of the cellar. Just maybe we could rise to being 48 in order to be in the contiguous states!