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As Long as We Remember...

July 26, 2012

Educating Our Children Problems and Solutions

Joan Marie Aquilino

The recent debates about the Board of Education elections have reached a new low. Why, you may ask. Well, I ask myself the same thing.


After being a part of this process for well over 20 years, I can see it’s gotten to a boiling point. It’s reflective of the entire United States.


Many of us are just fed up and beyond tolerance for the constant cry of more money. It seems the only way anything can be gotten, done, finished or started is to pour more money into the problem. The cry of “being for the children and their education” is falling on deaf ears because it’s nothing but a guilt laden talking point that is untrue.


I’ve always preached that our youth and elderly are the most important aspect of our society and where our attention needs to focus. Just throwing money at problems has proven not to be productive.


Huge sums of money are being spent on education, but it’s never enough. I don’t believe we are spending our tax money well, and I’m praying that the vast majority of the voting public feel the same.


Schools and teachers are inundated with huge amounts of unfunded mandates, thrust upon them by state and federal governments, which are both so far removed from the everyday life of education that their disappearance wouldn’t affect our children at all.


No one knows better what is happening with our children than the teachers and parents. We need to find a way to allow teachers to move our children’s education forward without the time and financial restraints of mandates. The only way that will happen is if we put into Board of Education seats those who will fight back, do the right thing.


We can no longer allow the status quo to rule this downhill spiral that is both a determent and financial unsustainable burden. We need individuals who aren’t afraid to raise their voices in support of both children and teachers. You can get rid of every administrator, building, and mandate, but if you don’t have teachers, you won’t have education.


Group think doesn’t work. I want to hear and support voices which give us solutions and don’t just drink the Kool-Aid handed to them. I need to see someone who can look at the situation with clear and open eyes and be willing to literally stand up and say this isn’t working and the reasons why.


It’s not going to be easy and the unions, Parent-Teachers Associations – even the local public school system – will resist because they are all afraid of change; and, yes, their own job security will come into question. Habit is a dangerous and difficult thing to break, but now it’s no longer healthy or viable and needs to end. A slow and methodical process it will certainly be, but a change of direction is vital to our children’s sustainable education.


People who are not bilingual – and only speak union – are not going to help before we go bust. “Apple” candidates are status quo and not capable of presenting solutions. They don’t have the tools or knowledge to do things differently; they know only one way.


Seeing as the same plea for raises happens every year, don’t you think if you want them you need to do things differently? If union-speak is so good, why all the complaining? If you want better then it’s time you have the courage to improve the lives and education of your children and teachers. The “Apple” candidates are the ‘same ole same ole” and won’t improve anything for our teachers and children. The “Apple” type of governing is not sustainable and wastes precious resources that are needed in the actual classroom with teachers and students. It has a track record. Just look.


Change can be scary, enlightening and empowering. It just has to be done with careful and thoughtful movements. We didn’t get to this place overnight, and we won’t recover overnight.


Teachers, if you want to see raises, then stop doing the same thing over and over again and find a new way. Stop begging and start offering solutions, the first of which would be to elect leaders who actually lead. You need to assess the situation without fear of reprisal from your union. Scary, I know; but if you know how to teach children, then you already know how to stand on your own two feet and speak for yourself, Just Do It! Stop with the group chatter.


What do you have to lose? You won’t be fired if you have the courage to stand up politely, quit the union and give yourself a raise. One problem solved.


You – who are in the classrooms for good and honorable reasons – will rise, and those with less honorable intentions will eventually fall by the wayside to be replaced with more honorable ones. The teaching profession will elevate itself to the place so many claim it should be now. Respected and deserving of high salaries instead of being diluted and minimized by quantity over quality. We have excellent quality, but quantity is smothering it.


After 13 years of education in the Frederick County Public School system, our students should be leaving with the imprint of all teachers instead of just, at best, three or four standouts. All teachers should be stand outs. You don’t need to be drowning in the quagmire of ‘system’ mandates, requirements, etc. You need to be teaching, teaching full days, teaching all aspects of our county, state, and world and not just ‘key points’ that are the flavor of the moment. Our children deserve well-rounded, full studies covering it all.


Our teachers deserve the support and respect of our community and parents which will allow them to teach in a safe and encouraging environment, not one taken up with ‘other stuff’. They are given 180 days to teach, give them 180 full days, not bits and pieces, dribs and drabs of time filled with fluff and place holders. For God’s sake, we need to allow them every moment of that time.


Parents, get your tails into the classroom, support your children and your teachers. Allow teachers the privilege of teaching without unnecessary distractions.


All I can leave you with is that my votes won’t be wasted on “Apple” candidates who can’t think or speak for themselves. When challenged, they have no answers other than pre-scripted talking points. No robots for me. I want individuals who stand out and up for our children and teachers. I want answers not rhetoric. Nothing less will do.


. . . . .'til next time . . .


As always, I’d love to hear from you; so, let me know what’s on your mind by emailing, or contacting me directly at


“Just Joan” saying, be safe and “don’t believe everything you think.”


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