1. What is the #1 issue facing schools today?
The #1 issue, I feel, is all the bureaucratic nonsense that nail teachers to the wall – not allowing them to be creative. The pressure put on teachers to “teach to the test” is what caused me to take an early retirement. In conjunction with that is the lack of administrative support when there is a problem with a student. Lack of teacher respect, bullying, and other issues compound the problem.
2. What can be done to resolve that issue?
I strongly believe that teachers have to continue their fight with teacher union activism, sending a clear message that they deserve better.
3. Should kids that need extra help be mainstreamed into regular classrooms?
No, I think it does more harm than good. While they are out of their regular class, they are missing the kind of instruction they really need. When they enter the regular classroom, everyone knows why they are there. I believe that regular classroom teachers can collaborate with special needs teachers to combine classes on a regular basis for some special instruction. I used to do this all the time and worked marvelously well.
4. How does that affect a. their learning in the classroom and b. the learning of other kids in the classroom?
I don’t think that much real learning does take place. Behavior problems do disrupt other kids and resentment on their part builds up.
5. There are a lot people who feel it is now better to put kids into private schools, what is your opinion? Can public schools still do the job well?
If one can afford to place one’s child in private school, then – yes, it would be better. Home schooling has increased significantly in the last few years. My own daughter home-schooled both her boys. Now, at age 14 and 16, they are both in college.
In the city where I live, home schooling is very big because the public school system here leaves much to be desired.
6. If parents could do one thing to help their kids succeed in school, what would that be?
Ah! If only people would heed my words! They must be willing to do what I did when my 2 children were growing up.
So, in a nutshell, here it is:
-One TV, record player, telephone in the house – nothing ever in their rooms!
-Dinner together every night with conversation about their day.
-Earning TV time by signing up for chores. Eventually, I allowed them to trade their TV time credits into cash.
-Making sure that they read quality books and show interest in the world around them by engaging in some kind of volunteer work.
*** I must have done something right because both my children are successful adults. They both have Master’s degrees and do interesting work in their respective fields.
7. Based on your experience, what is the a. most negative change you have seen in schools and b. the most positive change you have seen over the years?
The most negative change, as far as I’m concerned, is the emphasis put on assessment tests. Frankly, I can’t say that I’ve seen positive change.
8. How are the rookie teachers today different that when you began your career?
I think rookie teachers are savvier and they have the ability to network with other teachers worldwide through the many groups on the Internet – something we didn’t have years ago. They have instant access to oodles of information that took hours to research years ago.
9. Why did you write this book?
I wrote the book back in the early 90’s when I took a leave of absence from my teaching position. I wrote it because I felt it would be therapeutic for me to record some of my experiences but I didn’t want it to be a memoir. I had just finished a very bad year at the school where I was assigned and I seriously considered quitting altogether. Fortunately, I decided on a leave of absence without pay and went to stay with a dear friend in Maine where I had done the best teaching of my entire career. I actually trashed the book after I finished writing it, figuring that it had helped relieve some of the tension. My friend, however, retrieved it saying, “You are NOT throwing this away!” So I shelved it and went on to other writing projects which resulted in 2 other published works – non-fiction: What Happens Next? A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits…and More
Entering the Age of Elegance: A Rite of Passage & Practical Guide for the Modern Maturing Woman
I had always wanted to write fiction and I figured that the experiences I had had through the years, especially as a union activist, could lend credibility to the story. The characters are not real people that I ever knew or worked with although some of their characteristics could be considered a composite of several different people I encountered in my 35 years of teaching. Some people have asked if I’m Vera or Deidre and I must admit that there is probably a little of me in both of them. JJ
When writing fiction, an author must really get inside that character’s skin – think, talk, and act like they would. This is especially challenging when the character is male and you’re a female author. Some of the language at times may be a bit coarse. I don’t use that kind of language personally but I know that some friends will read the book and exclaim,” Chloe wrote that?!?
Most people aren’t going to sit down to read a heavy document explaining the ills of education but a novel that portrays those very ills can be a real eye-opener!*******About the Author:
Chloe Jon Paul, M.Ed., is a retired educator and writer of several published articles and a previous book entitled “What Happens Next: A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits” and More… State representative for the National Family Caregivers Association’s caregiver community action network 2006-2008; Advisory board member: MD, Healthcare Commission and the Interagency Commission for Aging Services: Maryland Dept. of Aging; Hospice and homeless shelter volunteer.