That’s Right Nate

Thoughts from a right thinker.

A Teacher Speaks on Obama’s Education Reform

with 6 comments

Nate Peele: I’m here with Tony Federko who is a Chicago Public Schools teacher.  I wanted to get his thoughts on Obama’s proposal to extend the school year and school day.

Tony Federko: Thank you Mr. Peele, but when you asked if we could have a conference, I expected that you wanted to talk about your daughter Emily.

NP: Well, she’s doing fine–isn’t she?  She loves your class and I think she’s really learning a lot so far this year.

TF: Yes, but…

NP: Good, now how do you agree with the liberals or conservatives on education?

TF: I don’t really see a difference honestly.   Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton are currently promoting the President’s education reforms.

NP: Really?  I wasn’t aware of that.   What do you think of the President’s idea to expand the school year?  He says we’re falling behind other countries because we don’t spend enough time in school.

TF: He’s wrong.  Don’t get me wrong I voted for him…

NP: Oh really?

TF: Anyway, Obama said that he wants our children to go to school as much as they do in Korea.   An American eighth-grader gets about 1,150 instructional hours per year while a South Korean would get 923.  Our kids have more instructional time than Taiwan, The Phillipines, and Japan who score higher than us on aptitude tests.

NP: Right, because we have teacher’s unions.

TF: Most of those countries do too.  The difference is we have a third world rate of child poverty and a third world medical system where children are forced to go to school sick and malnourished.   We also count everybody on our tests, but they only count citizens.   We do better on these tests than most developed countries like Germany and England.

NP: Germany and England are socialist countries you know.  Still, education reform is a good thing.   Don’t we need to run schools like a business?

TF: Business isn’t doing too well right now.  Maybe we should run businesses more like schools.   If we wanted to run it like a successful business, we’d start with the employees who are in the trenches everyday.  Instead, reform seems to stem from corporations who want a chance at all the money in education.

NP: Liberals are like that with social programs.

TF: It isn’t just liberals.  The very people who attack the Heritage Foundations of the world on Health Care and demand a public option are the same people joining forces with the Heritage Foundation on education to push for more charter schools.   Charter schools do the same thing insurance companies do and do not always take the students with pre-existing conditions like behavioral issues or learning disabilities.  Despite all that, test data shows that the charters don’t do as well as the regular schools at educating kids.

NP: Don’t you think that the school day should be longer?   I’d love to have a job like yours where I get out at 3:00

TF: Before we talk about adding more hours to the school day, maybe we could talk about paying teachers for the hours they already work.   Georgia has started furloughing teachers and states like California are hemorrhaging jobs.  I work a 10 hour day of which I get paid for 6 hours and 15 minutes.   Even if I was paid for an 8 hour day, they couldn’t afford it.  You know I always tell people who say they’d love my job, that they should go to school and become teachers–or go to a charter school where you wouldn’t even have to take education classes to teach.

NP: I think I’d be a great teacher.   I have a way with kids you know.   Don’t you think we need to have tougher standards for teachers though?

TF: With charters, we’re actually making the standards lower, but here’s the problem.   If you have 1000 apply for 1000 job openings, you can’t be selective.  In the wealthy school districts and the schools where they have new computers and good security they can hire good teachers.   In inner city schools some good teachers are working hard, but sometimes they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

NP: So how would you improve schools?

TF: First, I’d pay teachers more for working at those inner city schools.   Then, I’d try and reduce class size.   People who say that it doesn’t make a difference haven’t taught.  I’d give teachers more preparation time because many of us work almost as many unpaid hours as paid hours.   I’d keep tenure because  due process is important in this type of job, but I would make it easier to terminate somebody who was obviously not doing their job.  I’d focus more on public education and only allow charters that did creative or experimental curriculum that could be studied and possibly implemented in the public schools.  Doing those things would give you a better pool of candidates for teaching jobs.  Then comes the next two big steps:

I’d search out successful people in business, sports, the arts, you name it and I’d ask them what was it in school that helped make them successful and I’d try and reproduce it.   Everything is so geared for tests now and I don’t believe those are the most important things.   Then, I’d pass very strong health reform with a public option and I’d make childhood poverty a major focus.

NP: So is it too late to get my daughter transferred to another class?

TF: I’m afraid so.

NP: OK, well thanks.


Written by thatsrightnate

September 28, 2009 at 7:31 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Some very valid points presented in a fun way. Good job.

    Lela Willey

    September 28, 2009 at 10:25 pm

  2. Nate, these communist teachers seem very dangerous. Have you ever thought about homeschooling Emily? I think it’d be safer for her. And if you spent more time with her she would definitely become anorexic, and then she’d lose weight. It’s a win-win situation, really.
    I hope Cecily agrees, though I never know if beauty pageant participants favor anorexia or bulimia.


    September 29, 2009 at 11:38 pm

  3. Believe me, I’ve fought that argument with my ex more than once.

    Lela, thank you for the comments.


    September 30, 2009 at 10:16 am

  4. Lola, I’ve missed you! We pageant girls favor self-restraint in all things. We also want Brazil to get the Olympics. I don’t think they’ve ever been held in a third world country before. It says a lot about world peace that the organizers are considering Rio. Imagine all the native handicrafts you’ll be able to sell to the touristas!


    September 30, 2009 at 1:31 pm

  5. Speaking of Brazil, I’d like to verify if Brazilian waxing is really practiced in Brazil, or if it is really a misnomer like hamburgers, french fries and Panama hats.


    October 1, 2009 at 10:01 am

  6. Bishop, Brazilian waxing is really practiced in Brazil. Not by me, though. Waxing hurts like hell, and I imagine that waxing in a sensitive area hurts even more. No, thanks. I’m a feminist.


    October 1, 2009 at 12:29 pm

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