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This is behind a classroom door a series of discussions produced by W when are you at. And the College of Education at Northern Illinois University and distributed by that I should all educational radio network. Our topic for this program is metropolis a small city or village. Where is the best place to educate your child. Here is the moderator Robert apt up Metropolis small city village. Where is the best place to educate my child. And of course this is critical isn't it it seems to me. That a person thinking of changing his occupation or changing the location of his job should think first of all the educational opportunity for his child. And Dr. Fox What's your reaction to this what kind of a tone you want to live him. I prefer a calm like Kelvin ice medium size town. However I think we have to look at the size of the school rather than just the size of the town.
What do you mean by the size of the school and you think bigger schools are better or smaller schools are better than the larger ones. Well I think it's it's difficult to tell but in general I think that a large school has many advantages. Like what. Well really top the lighted school has a chance for a broader curriculum. They also have usually larger budgets although this may not be true they may have a few We may have a large school with less money to spend per child than a small school. They have usually more broad facilities. However I want to bring up a point that we don't want to forget why we're talking about these schools that not too long ago. A small school study was made by Dr Pike region Nemec that stated that the small school they found out the small school can make some broad offerings you know. Well you mean by a small school
and also all these were school high schools with less than 100 students. Well Or how do they manage to teach Spanish and French in German for example I think this is a point that Fox is making. And you've got to have a school with an enrollment above a certain level. Before you can offer these things. This was an amazing thing about it and I'm glad you brought it up because it fits right in with the with the study. Actually in the foreign language they found one of the small schools where a teacher was teaching French one French two and Spanish one in the same class at the same time. Having a very few students in each one. Some would be studying while the others were resounds like the United Nations around the region. That's exactly right has just when they find out they found out that they were as well equipped as if they'd been in a class by themselves were only French one are Spanish one were taught what it called
long ago as study that. This was about six years ago. I would wonder what the emphasis now on spoken language audio language approach how you could do that with so many languages in one classroom. Well a bribe even easier to do now is the more you have the tapes and so on there you could have every student in a class could have a different language. But you know these little village schools and I don't want to deprecate them we have talked about it even one room rural schools is having tremendous advantages in teaching social interaction for example. And children teach each other and learn in the process. But the tiny school with only a few children and with teachers that may not be as qualified. Because salaries are lower in a small town. It takes industry doesn't it to give a good tax base. And I would think twice before I would go to a tiny town in terms of my children's education unless there happened to be a big power plant. I've known of
one school in Boulder Colorado where one room rural school had everything it wanted the best teacher the best equipment best everything because they happen to have a power plant located in their area. And this contributed enough taxes but generally speaking the teachers don't get paid as much. I think it is a rotation of teachers and. So you have to watch this. I think it be natural that the teachers the better qualified teachers are going to go where the salaries are higher. And I think it's a fair generalization to say that the larger the school the better the salary schedule as long as we're talking about very small schools as opposed to large schools. The suburban schools for example certainly are able to attract a better educated teacher and a better qualified teacher in terms of experience than the small community is that would be in the southern part of the state. Course states vary too and I suppose it's on the basis of their ability to
pay good salaries I recall our own experience teaching in Maine where I was shocked to find well-qualified teachers masters degrees in many years of experience earning less money than our beginnings were in the suburban area and suburbs pay well there's no question about it. And the suburbs have very good school systems. But we were we could go to the point of diminishing returns. The Metropolitan situation is terrible isn't it. Dr Nelson if you've been following this the schools only in large cities like Chicago Los Angeles New York particularly. Top the schools are. Have some problems in that in those large areas but they do have excellent teachers and they do have excellent facilities. I just problem seemed to be the social part of the of the school organization and by that I mean the types of students that make it up
the troubles they have among themselves the parents concerned that the teachers are being you know to see elective probably with students probably are. Are not giving the individual attention. And yet in some of in fact I could say that Chicago has been one of the leaders in education for many many years now I think you're right there's no question but what the large school district or city metropolitan school system does have some talent to carry unusual schools. But Dr. Nelson it seems to me. Not the major educational problem in this country it is providing a better than average education for children in the Deep City. Children who are down in the slum areas because we know of a lot of natural factors existing there teachers for example don't want to teach in those areas in the few
cases they think it's actually dangerous to their lives. I wonder if part of that has been due to they way we recruit teachers. I've read that up until World War 2 most teachers tended to come from middle class families and I think if also from rural areas and I think if you recruit a person who has grown up in a rural community in a middle class family it's quite unreasonable to expect them to go into the inner city and become a teacher. Now recently I think an attempt has been made to recruit teachers from larger cities who are familiar with the inner city. And that me eventually lead to a better type of teaching for the inner city child. However conditions I think do have to improve considerably before we can expect any career person to go into
the inner city and try to. Make it his whole career. Yeah in that particular area. I know it's a controversial idea but it's my opinion that we won't get good teachers into the inner city unless we pay them more. Now on a city like Chicago a teacher may start teaching in one of the schools in the culturally deprived area. In areas and then at first chance transfer out where one of those very good schools in Chicago can be located and where he can work there. And you can't blame the teacher too much. Perhaps conditions are better. The children perhaps faster learners and requiring less disciplinary control. And so there is this continuous circulation. Teachers AAB of the inner city to the better schools. Well we're talking about urban problems really rather then the selection of the school misses all pertinent.
I think what we're saying that perhaps the size of the city is not as important as the selection of the school and I don't think Cohen I'm that actor Conan then has a famous study of the high school. That indicated that the high school must have it at least a hundred graduating students for it to be of sufficient size to offer a comprehensive program. Frankly I think a hundred is rather small. When we were talking before about the qualifications of a teacher we could take two teachers with the same type of cough occasions and put one into a very small school in which he's required to teach the usual five classes at the high school level and he may be teaching two classes in a major field and the rest of his work in a minor field while in a larger high school the person has an opportunity to devote most of his teaching time if not all of it in the area in which he
majored. And I think it's quite unreasonable to expect a person especially at the senior high school level. To do a satisfactory job in an area in which he has only a semester or perhaps two semesters of college preparation. Dean Fox that's that's very true and it's very interesting to know about the size of the school and the preparation of the teachers but it's also interesting to note that that students who come from the smash schools are doing as well in college as those coming from the large schools. Now there is only one point in there that might make some difference it would be interesting to note how many mourning students would have gone to college perhaps if they if the students from the small schools would have been in large schools I'm saying in other words what I'm saying is that the small school students are amazingly well prepared.
There is a lot of personal attention sometimes that you don't get in the island schools may account for part of it maybe they are motivated better and each day wherever they are they put more into it. I think two of the U. There are studies such as E Your study for example that have no significant difference between the achievement levels of the individual who has taken any elective program at the high school level and those who have gone through the traditional academic program in other words it makes no difference what a person takes at the high school level so that a bright youngster living in a small community will still have a good chance to succeed at college level. However I think he is handicapped. In terms of the number of the electives that he is able to select from many schools in fact I'm a product of a very small high school myself
and we've probably had a choice of one or two electives each year now. If a person develops an interest for example in foreign language in a school I attended we could have taken German or Latin. And those are the only two languages offered and they were offered only for two years. Their school smaller than that simply do not offer horn languages. The bright youngster who continues on to college without the advantage of the specialized areas such as foreign language could make up that deficit at the college level. However I think he's handicapped in terms of people of the same ability who have had the opportunity to attend a larger school but at that point of decision I've been thinking here and as you've been talking Dr Fox we say let's imagine that a parent such as ourselves.
Has the decision to make Shall I go to New York City. Or Washington D.C. to live and work. Or should I go to a smaller community like their own community. Or should I perhaps even choose a somewhat smaller community than this one. And I think that this is an investigation that should be made first of all and I believe businessman and community leaders realize this. And they like to have good schools because it attracts good people. For example it's no secret that Washington D.C. schools are having such serious problems that you are almost forced to live outside of the district. And commute and find a decent school district for your youngsters. And furthermore I understand that in New York City. The average person this isn't just the wealthy person the average person who wants a reasonably good education for a child. I heard one man express it. He said All I
want for my child is a type of typical average education that I had when living in New York I have to send him to a private school. Unfortunately I think it's avoiding the problem. Certainly population trends indicate that we're moving to an urban society and it is true as you say that people were moving away from the cities and in many cases they're moving away from the cities until their children are grown and they're moving back into the cities to live in apartments and live in apartments and the idea is to give children a better opportunity for education. Unfortunately these are the people who have the most influence in cities or at least could have the most influence. They're wealthy enough to afford to move to suburban areas. This is not an age or a national problem. Yeah. QUESTION Yes and I think if the people refused to stay in the city and to face the problems of city
education it's. We're not going to solve the problem it's much easier simply to say well my children aren't attending our schools they're going to attend a private school they're going to get down to suburban school rather than let's see what we can do about improving a city school system. But when it comes right down to your child and to my child we're going to find the best school we can and if we have to commute 50 miles to work if the one in the city is not a good one I believe. Now sometimes it's exaggerated Sometimes the situation is not as severe as it appears to us. But still you make these decisions you investigate carefully. Actually I would like to know of the salary the average salary of the teachers before I went into a community and located there. I think this makes a difference. Now in a few cases teachers get very high salaries because the community is so undesirable. That's the only way they can get them. But on in on the hall the average salary that teachers are paid is a pretty good indication the quality of teachers. And I would want to look at the class size that
prevailed in the schools. There are some other things that you would want to look for while now we normally have to face these problems but we also have to pay for them. That's from a bend in the past year you know that they have spent more money on aid that we as Americans have spent more money on education than we have on alcohol and tobacco. You know how we complain about property taxes probably justifiably because there seems to be the center for getting all taxes. And yet it probably is the most important to actually be in the center and it's our it's the schools. I wonder however if we're putting too much emphasis upon money that if we had more money for a school system it would be better. I think that chances are it would be better. I think it it may be better but at the same time I think it is true that most of us would prefer to send our children to school in a smaller community rather than a city. But if the major purpose of sending a child to school is to prepare him for
becoming a good citizen a contributing citizen do as society and we're becoming an urban society. I wonder if we are cheating youngsters by taking them out of an urban society to give them their education an unrealistic education because it is entirely possible they only be spending their lives as adults in urban centers on aren't the advantages of children growing up with individuals who are from other national groups from other racial groups religious groups rather than simply to take them out to a smaller community where we have quite a homogeneous group of citizens. If if we're going to solve problems of the United States which today are largely urban problems it seems to me the earlier a child can be exposed to the people who are involved in those problems perhaps more realistic solutions. Our country will eventually develop.
Well somebody said that by 1975 85 percent of all our people will live in urban centers and there are a lot of things that are a hangover from the all agricultural days for example our three month summer vacation for children and stopping of school for that period of time is ridiculous in this Danny age. It was designed so that children could go home and help on the farm and there aren't many children doing that anymore I suspect. And so this is rapidly changing and should change. But I would also look for the the nature of the facilities in a school district or the particular school and decide accordingly. Course I'm Dr. Fox I'm talking from the viewpoint of a relatively selfish parent and all what you say is true I would like to have my children rub shoulders with people of various races in the various cultures. Still I want them to have a good solid education. I want them to be handled by teachers and
principals and other personnel who have skill and understanding child development and the learning process. Want to teach used to be able to administer tests and to make the proper recommendations as the children go on to higher levels. So that's a selfish parent speaking in the room. But but isn't it. Isn't it true that. These problems don't have to exist only in city schools they do exist. Not too long ago I was reading on his story go account of the development of urban education from the East Coast the West Coast of course and the East Coast we've had large cities school goes for a much longer period of time than the West Coast and the wealthy person in the East Coast. Traditionally scientists children to a private school and took little interest in developing good urban schools. His children did not attend there. He had little
contact with them. I think even today it's a safe generalization to say that most of our problems with poor urban education tend to be east of us rather than the West. California for example has some excellent schools located in large cities. San Francisco repeatedly wins awards for outstanding education and San Francisco. Certainly has the same type of urban problems that many other communities when we have God goes in between. How do you account for Chicago's problems. Well I think Chicago's problems changed drastically as a result of people coming into the Chicago area largely from the south and the people in the Chicago area taking the traditional method of dealing with this problem of simply moving to the suburban area. I think also in the state of Illinois
if I recall correctly were about forty six of them the support state support of public education K through 12. The state a go on oil traditionally has not supported public education were adapted and I want to have a top 5 him. Well do you guys work for about the third or fourth. Most populous state. Well this is the point I mentioned a few minutes ago the fact that we we need to pay for education if we're going to get it. I heard a prediction the other day that it gives me time to think it over back to serious chill. We had over a hundred teachers Drake's ish year there per year this past year and they are predicting this coming year that there will be three times that number are perhaps over 300 strikes or 300 strikes with with teachers who really don't want to strike. Well I think that's the point I think that when teachers strike they have to have a good reason. Now this may show my prejudice but it seems to me that people
who give their lives to society the way teachers do who enter a profession which doesn't pay well even at its best. And these individuals want just a fair wage and fair treatment. The situation that has prevailed in the state of Florida is horrifying and I can't help but believe that the conditions are such there that they must be corrected. It's unfortunate the teachers have to strike. We have always felt that this was somehow or other unprofessional. The irony is they're striking to improve the education of our children. Someone we should be more interested in. That's right. I think however in Florida that technically they're not striking me people are resigning their positions and of course we can't keep a person on a job if he prefers to resign. But again I think it's it's deplorable
when you have other citizens aware of a great need for improving education and without taking any action. You know why in Florida didn't the entire citizenry rise up at this last session and do something about it. Unfortunately. As I understand it it's become a political issue rather than simply an educational issue. However when we support education largely on the basis of local taxes I think people will protest. It's hard to imagine people voting to pay more money for education especially if their children aren't affected by that it or they don't even have children this is one of the wonderful one of the wonderful things in developing our nation we agreed long ago. That everybody whether he had children or didn't have children would contribute to the education of children.
But they're centering it on the property tax is probably not the best idea. Well people who live in large urban areas or who work in large urban areas and commute back and forth to a suburban area have very little concern about education in the urban area yet the urban areas are expected to raise enough tax money to support quality education within the city. And I think this is unrealistic. I think recently we've seen quite a change in many states toward a greater share of equalization our state support. And I think this is definitely going to have to continue if we're going to improve urban education. Well getting back to Mr. Jones who is thinking of moving to our particularly community particular community someplace how would he go about finding out about the schools. Dr. Nelson might write to some friends in the community Dean types
best thing though I believe he could do would be to drive to the town and look them over if he'd stop in and see the principals and superintendent of the schools All right into some of the schools right now they would be happy to tell him about the type of schools. I agree with Dr. Nelson I think it's almost. Easy to tell what type of school system you have simply by walking through the school buildings. That's right I'm going to feel don't you guess and I don't mean it with that the building is older or new it can be an old building but as you walk through you tell it that things are well organized. You can check in the office to find out what type of program is offered Prof cations of the teachers. After I do think the qualifications of the teachers perhaps would be the most single item in determining the quality of the school. Talking with the principal is imaginative. What's going on is there anything innovative in the school. How many of those students go on to
college. How many go directly into business. How many go on to junior colleges. Almost all of the information should be available that would help a person decide whether or not it's an appropriate school. Teachers and principals are so proud of their school's dean FOX So I agree with what you say too. They are more than happy to talk with parents about the type of school they have and show them around. So this is the way to do it get out and take a look really see what you're doing well and I do this before I committed myself to the job or moved my family there because it is important. He had Dean Fox's point that what are we seeking for our children are we seeking some kind of an artificial school situation that won't prevail after they grow up and as they enter a life and I choose their occupation are we being too demanding Are we being too particular and you know presented evidence that shows that the handicap of going
to a small school vs. a large woman is not as great as one might think. Then it probably depends on the individual child and the teacher he has. We could summarize this conversation I suppose by saying that the size of the community after all is probably not as important as the nature of the particular school or schools and the child will attend. And that we should do our best to provide a realistic education for our children even as we don't want to put them into a school where their conditions are really poor. And so that as we think about planning our youngsters future weenie when he think of the school as number one we research it a little bit before we make these other decisions. And then we enroll him and give that school support in the form of money in the form of attention.
We laid out to the teachers and the school to him that we can be making our full contribution to the school in the neighborhood behind the classroom door produced by WFIU in cooperation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Each week focuses its attention on one of the many challenging aspects of public school education. The program is moderated by Dr. Robert app top data at the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Today's guests were Dr. Raymond B Fox associate dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University and Dr. Robert F. Nelson head of the department of secondary education. Next week's topic will be a demand problem in elementary schools. Where are our men teachers. I'm Fred Pyle and this program is distributed by the national educational radio network.
Behind the Classroom Door
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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