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To James C. Valkenburg:
What a wonderful message!  You're right on about functionalists! And
you're also right on about the fact that giving "the rich something to
spend their money on" and offering "a pool of people to do the menial,
dirty jobs no one really wants to do" is just an excuse to do nothing.

You wrote that the problems we face are "societal, familial, and
individual" and that we can't solve one section without addressing them
all.  That's why we can't just sit in classrooms and faculty/staff
meetings, or even spout off on this list and deplore what's going on.  We
need to make our students aware that, together, we CAN change society, the
family, and ourselves as individuals. It's one thing to hype "a kinder,
gentler America."  It's quite another thing to make sure we all,
politicians and businesses included, make it happen.

You also mentioned the problems of labeling perspectives as, for example,
"leftist" and the fact that labeling only "allows the root
problem--poverty--to continue."  You went on to say:

> And if we ignore that problem, it will eventually rise up to bite us on
> the posterior.  The move of big corporations to the "developing"
> countries of the world is based on taking advantage of the
> impoverishment found there.  It is so much more profitable to pay fifty
> cents a day than a real living wage.  But that adds to the reduction of
> assets here and increases the potential for the continuation or
> diminution of the status quo.

The riots in Los Angeles and elsewhere are a precursor of problems rising
up "to bite us on the posterior" if we don't pay attention.

And economically, we can't continue justify the motives of big
corporations' move to "developing countries" as some sort of altruistic
desire to "help" the people of those countries.  The bottom line IS the
bottom line, and if we really want to show these folks how full of it they
are, we can quit buying their products and form our own lobbying groups!
We can request that our government focus on solving the problems of
poverty, homelessness, job training & placement, and inadequate education
and health care before they subsidize businesses and foreign countries.

We can start as individuals by doing everything we can to help stamp
out classism, racism, sexism, and all the other obnoxious "-isms" by
respecting our students and earning their respect by not judging them too
harshly. We can't afford to keep judging people by the color of their skin
or the manner of their dress or whether or not they have tattoos and/or
body piercing or weird (to us) hair styles!  Neither can we afford to keep
holding their previous lack of success in education against them.

I've been giving "Student Success" seminars all week, and in each
class I ask for a show of hands of people who have had bad experiences in
education before.  Big show of hands.  Then I ask how many people
registered for this class (English, Math, whatever class I'm presenting
in) with the intention of failing.  No hands at all.  I can't imagine why
an educator would think that a student would sign up for class, buy the
books and show up on the first day, expecting to fail!  If they develop
that attitude during the class, some dynamic is missing from the process.
Too often we are willing to assign the "blame" to the "unmotivated"
student.

Each term, we have a number of classes that do not "make" because students
don't want to take that class with a certain teacher.  Other classes make
but have an enormous attrition rate (Start with 28, end up with 6), and of
those who remain in class, less than a third get credit!  This, to me, is
inexcusable!  We ask for our students' commitment on the first day of
class, but how many teachers talk about their OWN commitment to their
students?  How many teachers have I known who are lax about showing up
for office hours, using them as an extended lunch break or time to do
their own office work rather than meeting with students?  We talk about
motivation; but how many unmotivated teachers have I heard who refuse to
learn technology or change the way they've taught class for the last
hundred years?  We talk about attitude, but how many teachers have I
heard who gripe about every facit of their job?  We talk about respect,
but how many teachers have I heard moaning and groaning in the halls
and in the faculty lounge about how "stupid" their students are?  How
many teachers take time to greet their students, by name, in the halls?
Education is a two way street.

I do NOT mean to imply that any of the above problems is widespread where
I work. It is not, but it does occur, and I cringe every time I hear it.
James V. is right.  We do need to talk more about "accountability," while
bearing in mind that each of us is accountable!

Peggy Keller
English Instructional Technician
Assistance Centers for Education
Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute
525 Buena Vista Se
Albuquerque, NM
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