At one time part of the tenth grade curriculum involved teaching business letters - a skill which, no doubt, is no longer relevant, just like teaching cursive.
And for those who are in favor of not teaching cursive, I ask how can you sign a check? But then I have to remind myself that just like letters and cursive, checks will soon be a thing of the past.
In the initial business letter, each student was asked to order a toy for his sister's birthday. The toy was a Starter Train Set. The second letter was a letter of complaint. The train set arrived minus some of its parts and the student was concisely to state the problem and politely explain how he wished it to be resolved. It was stressed that brevity was important in letters of this kind.
My favorite letter, to the best of my memory, began with this: "Dear Starter Train Set, You people be ripping me off." After some explanation of the problem, the student then ended his letter politely with, "I be thanking you for my troubles."
These sentiments illustrate a problem we all have. We are all so busy thanking someone else for our problems that we are unable to accept any of the blame. In the 21st century, no one is responsible for anything.
Take the cheating scandal in the Atlanta School System. The teachers are not to blame because they were following orders. The administration is not to blame because they just said improve test scores, not cheat. The students are not to blame; the test is too difficult. The parents are not to blame because it is not their responsibility to educate their children; it is the responsibility of the schools.
And the amount of money this will ultimately cost the taxpayers of both Atlanta and Georgia is certainly ripping us off.
It has already been reported that the teachers on leave are still being paid while they are not working and other teachers are being paid to do their jobs. The teachers who did not resign, and not many did, will go to court to retain their jobs. That will be costly. Grant money that the Atlanta School System and its superintendent won for increased scores will have to be returned.
In Newton County, test scores improved, but still some schools failed AYP. Test scores need to be better. Instead of thanking schools for the troubles of students, do something about it. If you have a few hours a week, call a school and ask if they could use your skills as a volunteer for those hours. I am sure you have a talent they could use. If the PTA is having a fundraiser, try to purchase something. Support school sports teams and other extra-curricular activities. Buy plants from their green houses or attend a theater production. Take advantage of the school programs some grocery stores offer and register for a school in Newton County.
Until you improve education, you will not get industry and job growth, which will improve the economy and home sales. A good school system improves the quality of life and the worth of property for everyone living in the county, and it is a main factor in companies deciding to invest in a city or county.
Good schools need money, good teachers and involved parents and citizens. The more who volunteer, the better our schools will be.
Paula Travis is a Newton County resident and retired schoolteacher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.