2016-09-01 / Opinion


Do Business Principles Work in Schools?

To the Editor:

In 1983, shortly after I purchased a home and settled in Middletown, the report on American education, “A Nation at Risk,” was released. In easily understood language, the report said: “…If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” Strong words, and unfortunately still more true than not.

The report cited many problems, but central to the report’s discussion was curricula and teaching, or to use the words from the report – Content, Standards and Expectations, Time, Teaching, Leadership and Fiscal Support. Notably, the report did not recommend national standards and testing, only testing that directly helped the student and teacher, and curricula developed by teachers and other nongovernmental groups.

Much has happened in education since that report. We continue to look for solutions: vouchers, choice, charter schools, testing for graduation, national testing, an acronym soup of quick fix initiatives, and most recently the application of “business principles.” And our ideological and political perspectives often predispose us to see one “magic bullet” as the solution.

Beginning with “No Child Left Behind” and extended by the “Race to the Top,” we are now engaged in an educational experiment, using the tools of business: measurement, accountability with personal consequences, restructuring, and reorganization. These sound good but have, I think, resulted in teachers and administrators overburdened with tests and testing, rigid adherence to a curriculum timeline, and teaching to the test.

Our teachers now spend at least 20 percent of their classroom time on tests and test preparation; tests that are aimed not at educating the student through quizzes and exams, feedback and correction, but which measure only “performance.” The test regime has consequences for funding and access to resources, but does little to engage the student in the educational process.

Middletown aligned our local standards with national (core) standards as required by the R.I. Department of Education, producing Middletown’s “Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Guidelines.” The guidelines do make national standards local, but mostly ensure that what is taught, the curricula created by our teachers, aligns with national testing. Yet the question remains: Will the aligned standards and curricula improve the education of Middletown’s students? Maybe Winston Churchill had it right: “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing… after they have exhausted all other possibilities.”

As a candidate for the Middletown School Committee I believe I can bring a fresh perspective to the important questions facing Middletown’s school system and especially how to ensure that our teachers have the time and resources to educate today’s students so they become the critical thinkers and engaged citizenry of tomorrow.

Richard P. Adams

Vote Rom for Senate

To the Editor:

As an almost lifelong resident of Aquidneck Island (56 years), I would like to introduce you to Richard A. Rom, candidate for Senate District 12. A first-time aspirant for any office, Richard is a 12-year resident of Tiverton who lived in Portsmouth for 22 years. This retired engineer worked at Raytheon for 28 years. Tired of all of the corruption in, and mismanagement of, our state, he decided to throw his hat into the political ring. He is ready to tackle all of the issues plaguing Rhode Island and roll up his sleeves and get to work.

I have known Richard for more than 20 years and can attest that he is a man of integrity, honesty, respect, manners, character, morals and ethics. He is determined to make change. Richard’s grassroots campaign has him riding his bike throughout the district, in the same manner of June Gibbs, our very well-respected senator for many years, in an effort to meet as many voters as possible. In a world where instant messaging, tweets and texting are the norm, what a refreshing way to meet people! Please take this opportunity to find out where he stands on the issues and hear his plan to “fix” our state. Check out his website at romforsenate.org.

I encourage you to vote for Richard Rom in the primary on Tuesday, Sept. 13, and, again, in the general election in November. I have every confidence that he will be a refreshing change at the Statehouse. He will fight for you!

Claire (Silvia) Pimentel
Savannah, Georgia

$100 Linda Finn Honesty Challenge

To the Editor:

For years Linda Finn and Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, the extremist gun-control lobby she helped found, have conducted a dishonest campaign to eliminate the Second Amendment right of citizens to protect themselves and their families with legally owned firearms.

Their false statements about the AR-15 modern sporting rifle is just one example of the mountain of misinformation she and her group peddle. Finn is running for representative for House District 72 (large portions of Portsmouth and Middletown) to continue her radical attack on our Second Amendment rights.

My challenge to her: I will send $100 to Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence if any – any – of the following claims she and her group make about the AR-15 are true:

  • The AR-15 is a weapon of war. False: This rifle is not used by the U.S. military. Civilians use it for competition, hunting and home protection.
  • The AR-15 is extraordinarily lethal. False: The round used in the majority of these rifles is among the least powerful available. It fires a small .22 caliber bullet with far less energy than the ammunition used by U.S. forces in World War I, World War II and Korea.
  • "AR" stands for "assault rifle." False: It is for ArmaLite Rifle, the company that developed it.
  • The AR-15 is not suitable for home defense. False: Because of its compact size, accuracy and reliability, many experts consider the AR-15 excellent for home protection.
  • The AR-15 fires faster than other semiautomatic rifles. False: It does not fire more rapidly than other semiautomatics, which have been available to civilians for well over 100 years. Each shot requires the separate squeeze of the trigger. The AR-15 is not a fully automatic rifle, which fires continuously until the trigger is released.
  • AR-15s are flooding our inner cities. False: By far the weapons of choice for street gangs, drug dealers and other criminals are handguns that are illegally acquired.

If the AR-15 is such a dangerous killing machine, how come repeated studies – including those by the federal government – found no increase in the homicide rate after the 10-year ban on AR-15s ended in 2004? This firearm accounts for less than 1 percent of homicides nationwide. Yet gun controllers would have us believe that banning AR-15s would make us far safer when the facts show it won’t.

Nothing Finn says in her deceitful campaign to pass laws against the right of law-abiding citizens to own firearms can be trusted.

Mindless gun-control campaigns driven by fear, ignorance and lies will not produce effective measures to make us safer. And those who lead them should not be elected to office.

My facts are easily verified at numerous reputable websites. Who is telling the truth? Ms. Finn, there is $100 waiting for you if you are.

Bill Welch

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