Archive for Wednesday, May 8, 2002

Letters: education alternatives, tireless teacher

May 8, 2002

Education alternatives
To the editor:

The creation of alternative schools for at-risk students has been in existence for several decades. The learning community formed using this education model is key. Common-bond learning communities can be the focal point bridging the complex balance of environment and forces needed to meet the needs of emerging generations. Perchance today's problem-plagued standard high schools could use new models for their delivery of educational services. While not the only gauge with regard to obtaining a high school diploma, reading and math skills are a litmus test and a common thread.

Decades ago, futurists Toffler and Naisbitt predicted the break-up of the standardized, bureaucratized, factory-model school system. They indicated that if the changes did not come from within the school systems, they would surely come from outside of them.

The innovation that has come from within the school system is that of the alternative school. (Source

Forward-thinking school districts have realized the economic loss involved in the dropout pandemic and have established separate educational programs for at-risk students. Clearly, the $30,000 estimated cost of establishing an alternative classroom for Tonganoxie Junior High School is microcosmic with respect to the cumulative economic consequence and opportunity costs associated with the lack of a high school diploma or equivalent.

There are numerous avenues that need to be explored. Stifling further conversation with regard to modifying the traditional format will certainly exacerbate the issue. The public needs to give voice to their will. Survey and poll the public. Be proactive. Form a task force comprised of an intergenerational, diverse representation of the community. Research existing programs. Search for a solution moving from disjuncture to common good. Command accountability. Embrace change, as it is inevitable.

Before making insolent judgments and statements with regard to the unmet needs in the area, please answer the Partnership for Children's No. 1 question, "Is it good for the children?"

Toward this end, plausibly traditional schools are failing some of the students instead of students who are failing in those schools.

"No child left behind."

April Dohle,

Tireless teacher
To the editor:

Kudos to Steve Harrell, forensics and debate instructor for Tonganoxie High School. This teacher gives great dedication and many extra hours to the speech and forensics program in the high school. This program has become well-known statewide and a number of his students during the years have gone on to national competitions and done well. Without his dedication and willingness to work the extra evenings and weekends required, this success would not be possible.

Along with this, Mr. Harrell has devoted another extra evening so grandparents, parents and friends could see these students perform at home. As he said, to me, "We don't have any home games, so tonight is for you to be able to see these great kids perform."

I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say, "Thank you, Mr. Harrell, for all your work and the scheduling of this extra night for the kids to perform at home for us!"

Ken Mahoney,

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