Sunday, November 27, 2005

Some Peoria Leadership In Denial?

I quote from a document dated 10/27/05 from Dr. Gerald Brookhart, Peoria County Regional Superintendent, “In the school year 2004 the Regional Office of Education had 458 people take the GED test, of which 266 passed and 219 failed”. I suspect almost all of these lacked proper counseling and dropped out thinking they didn’t need an education and realized late in the game that they do. Too bad that the system is failing to look after those who have no inclination to finish high school, let alone attend or finish college.

I quote from a document received from the Office of the Chief Judge, Tenth Judicial Circuit of Illinois, “2003 data – School areas and the percent of Juvenile probationers who reside in that area. Whether or not they attend school in that area is another issue”. 4.5% come from the area served by Richwoods, 16.6% come from the area served by Peoria Central, 30.8% come from the area served by Woodruff, and 31.3.% come from the area served by Manual.

In an article titled “Dunlap Aces Tri-County” appearing in the JS dated 11/20/05, statistics are shown that Peoria School District #150 has the highest average teacher salaries, the sixth highest administration salaries, the highest by far expenditure per student; $10,038, had the worst PSAE in 2004 by far and the worst PSAE in 2005 by far. As to academic status 150 was one of five area schools on the states “early warning” list.

Manual had the worst truancy rate of any area school by far, 34.5%; an average of 240 students absent each day; Peoria High and Woodruff had 2nd high truancy rate 11.6% each day.

I hear from the school board that the new truancy policy is working and fewer kids are seen on the street. A City Police Officer tells me that truants have quickly learned to stay off the street so they won’t be picked up. This system needs a year to work out but if results aren’t substantial, there are additional alternates to keep kids in schools. I have already blogged on one way; find it in my 3/26/05 archives and there is an article titled “Schools Get Tough on Tardy Students” appearing in the 11/17/05 issue of the WSJ telling how other schools area getting results.

A Manual lead teacher did not like the observations I made about the lack of discipline, the dress of some of the kids (and some teachers) and the teaching I observed in the classroom. She emailed me “Comments about 16,000 warrants (this figure from the floor of the City Council) and lawbreakers from schools or dropouts around the courthouse… that would be the Peoria High and Woodruff area, not Manual”. Sorry, read the statistics in the Journal Star.

The latest statistics I have for the Peoria County Juvenile Detention Center for the month of April 2005; it shows 84 African Americans; 22 Caucasians and 3 Hispanics, passed through the system with an average incarceration of approximately 23 days. The County paid for 1463 days of child care.

An article appearing in the WSJ on 11/08/93s and titled “The assault on Juvenile Crime” says “that throughout the country, district attorneys are naming juvenile crime as the number one crime problem and the reform of the juvenile justice system as their top priority”. Here it is almost 13 years later and little has changed.

The renowned black author Tom Sowell and a man called by many “America’s best intellect” was interviewed tonight by Fred Barnes on Fox TV. Dr. Sowell talks and writes about what has gone wrong in the black communities. Dr. Sowell says “Blacks were better off before Civil Rights and Affirmative Action and he is pessimistic about the future. He believes that values such as honesty and responsibility have greatly deteriorated and that many of the leaders of the black community have a strong feeling toward the rights of entitlement. (I add that blacks are not alone in “just give me the fish. I don’t want to work to catch it)”. We need thousands more black leaders like Dr. Sowell to help us out of worsening mess accelerated by Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society”.

Dr. Sowell believes in the ability of the individual to do better for their selves than to wait for someone to do it for them. An article dated 11/06/ 05 in the JS quotes Dorothy Rich, founder and president of the nonprofit Home and School Institute, Mega Skills Education Center in D.C. Mrs. Rich says “adults are doing what children need to do. I visited a kindergarten class the other day. I love to see children’s artwork. All I saw was the teacher work. Student accountability gets harder as kids move forward in the grades because they get so used to adults doing it”. I observed this at Manual and have observed this flaw at a few other schools I visited.

I believe that the whole country is in denial of what is going on outside the board room meetings, the country clubs and the martini luncheons. Our own “self-esteem” and the way we credit non-performers by passing them on and awarding them trophies for finishing last, may turn out to be our downfall. The highest priority is the ongoing problems in the public school systems, enrollment over 14,000 in our own School District #150 alone.

JS Business writer Paul Gordon says that the median wage has declined steadily in the past 25 years for those with a high school diploma or less. It stayed consistent for those with some college education and has grown by 16.4 per cent for those with a bachelor’s degree. Another article claims forty two per cent of the managers interviewed said it was difficult to find qualified candidates one year ago and 32 percent say it’s more challenging today. Eight-six percent believe it will be equally or more challenging a year from now.

Too many of us are criticizing “outsourcing” while not understanding why it is growing and will continue to grow.

An article in the 11/28/05issue of a prominent magazine titled “Get In, Show Up, Drop Out tries to learn why so many college students fail to graduate”. I’ll blog on this later.

Our denials of what is happening around us will not stop the pessimism of Dr. Sowell and many of us who think like he does. Our kids can have all the self-esteem in the world; but that won’t get them through school, keep them out of the juvenile courts or prepare them to handle life’s travails or prepare them to get and hold a good job.

Of course, we are doing most things right and we are the best country in the world. France thought they were doing most things right but they couldn’t see the recent troubles coming from their ivory towers.

These times call for strong and fully educated common sense leaders and it appears we may not have enough of them. Chavez, Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Mao and others stepped in while the elite were planning more enhancements and circuses and paying lip service or throwing money at what appeared to them to be small problems. One dictatorship or one uneducated culture can destroy what thousands have built in a lifetime.


pollypeoria said...

Excellent post, as usual, Merle.

Stormin' Norman said...

I gave up worrying about society's losers a long time ago. Money will always be power in our society, and if people can't learn to conform to society and its simple rules (e.g., go to school/get good job), then they'll spend their life behind bars separated from society...simple as that. I have no problem with my tax dollars going to build prisons, especially since I'll always fear (more than any Afghan or Iraqi) the (insert race here) woman on the south side giving birth to umpteen kids out of wedlock. This type of reproductive terrorist will bring down our way of life (or do personal harm to me) long before any external forces will...

Ron Douglas said...

Merle, it makes a lot of sense to me. Haven't looked at your Blog recently and I see what I've been missing.

Merle Widmer said...

Thanks, Polly and Ron. stormin', I agree but I keep trying to keep it from happening here.

Thanks all!