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What a great link. It is amazing to see those television clips from so long ago.

This is a good example of how a great world's fair can inspire civic pride even fifty years later. Seattle certainly did it correctly half a century ago and the city continues to reap the benefits of the vision of the fair's planners and organizers.

What really kills me, however, is that those two women anchoring the news are far too young to even remember the Seattle World's Fair. They could have been discussing the construction of the Pyramids instead of the Space Needle. It is all ancient history to them.

It would certainly be interesting if next year's commemoration of Century 21 sparked a desire for another fair in Seattle.

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Thanks for the link - that was great

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"What really kills me, however, is that those two women anchoring the news are far too young to even remember the Seattle World's Fair. They could have been discussing the construction of the Pyramids instead of the Space Needle. It is all ancient history to them."

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Jim, I have agree with your statement about the two news anchors. It wouldn't surprise me if neither of them had even heard of the Seattle World's Fair until they were assigned to read this story.

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I have been teaching for thirty four years. There are days when it amazes me how young my students really are. I retired from high school teaching but continue to teach in a college where I have been an adjunct for nearly twenty years. Most of my students were born in the early 1990's. Reagan is ancient history to them. Mention President Ford, and many look confused. If I mention that I remember the day President Kennedy was shot, I might as well tell them I was in the forum when Brutus pulled a knife on his buddy Julius.

Time is an amazing concept. Those students are looking at me as I recall the 1960's in much the same way as I looked at my parents when they discussed the Depression or WW2.

The 50th anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair is next year. I still remember a little kid watching the Today Show as the first Fair visitors entered the grounds in April of 1962 and then asking my father if we could go to Seattle and see the Fair. He said we would go to the one in NYC instead. Fifty years.

That sure went fast.

Jim

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I have been teaching for thirty four years. There are days when it amazes me how young my students really are. I retired from high school teaching but continue to teach in a college where I have been an adjunct for nearly twenty years. Most of my students were born in the early 1990's. Reagan is ancient history to them. Mention President Ford, and many look confused. If I mention that I remember the day President Kennedy was shot, I might as well tell them I was in the forum when Brutus pulled a knife on his buddy Julius.

Time is an amazing concept. Those students are looking at me as I recall the 1960's in much the same way as I looked at my parents when they discussed the Depression or WW2.

The 50th anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair is next year. I still remember a little kid watching the Today Show as the first Fair visitors entered the grounds in April of 1962 and then asking my father if we could go to Seattle and see the Fair. He said we would go to the one in NYC instead. Fifty years.

That sure went fast.

Jim

When I was in high school, 1966-70, I had some knowledge of events that had occurred 50 years earlier. It seems that nowadays, so many kids of high school age have no clue what happened before they were born. Do history books used in high school not include events of the 1960-1980 time period?

On another note, a few months back I took a wonderful 1958 Brussels World's Fair map I bought on eBay to be framed to hang in my den. The young man, probably in his early 20s, assisting me at Aaron Brothers asked if the artwork was related to a world's fair. I was absolutely astounded that he had any knowledge of what a world's fair was and that he recognized the map as being that of a world's fair.

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Kid's today aren't dumb, just lack exposure.

I've heard a lot of blame for recent history shortcomings, on the change of academic approaches to teaching history, where they de-emphased timelines, they de-emphasized the relevance of emigration from Europe, all in the name of diversity, and that 'concepts are more important than dates'.

Therefore we end up with the sad spectacle of folks on Jay Leno who can't tell him the answer to the question 'In what year was the War of 1812 fought?' If you follow up by asking them who fought each other in that particular war, and what were they fighting over?--- you get a bunch of blank stares, and a weak response of 'does it really matter?'

My dad was a high school history teacher, and he resisted all that academic new wave thinking, insisting that he be able to teach it the right way with a lot of meaning, and timelines, and facts, and actually challenging the kids. And that's what he did right up until the day he retired in 1995. He has adults look him up all the time now, thanking him for what a great teacher he was. I'm not sure that the new wave teachers have kids coming back to them years later with thanks.

I have my kid in private school right now (4th grade), and a lot of the reason for enrolling him there is to avoid a lot of the garbage that's being taught in public schools, that prepares them for... well, not for much of anything except to give union teachers tenure..

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I spent half of my career in independent school (boarding schools in CT and MD). The other half has been spent in a public school in upstate NY. In short, the demands and standard of State Ed in NY are far more stringent than either of the two private schools where teachers met no expectations other than what the headmaster and/or trustees requested.

A major difference between the two types of schools is simply this: Private schools generally demand teachers be trained in their field of study. Public schools demand that their teacher be trained in educational techniques. I majored in two disciplines--English and history and earned an MA in psychology. This allowed me to know my material in both settings and NYS viewed the sociology and psychology classes (and the psych degree) to more than substitute for educational classes.

To say that public schools teach garbage and that our only purpose in public education is to give union teachers tenure is wrong. Dead wrong. And it is unfair to the millions of kids who are products of the system.

I have my share of concerns about public education and an equally fair share of concerns about private education. I saw more cases of abuse, unprofessional behavior and outright criminal behavior in private school than I could ever have imagined possible. Many of those teachers got away with such behavior for a variety of reasons that would never fly in a public school. Public schools are policed by strict state requirements and even background checks. The professional standards are much, much higher, at least in NYS, and that is solid fact.

In public school, I have had kids who come from homes with no running water or electricity. I have had kids who never miss school because it provides them with two meals a day. Many dream of becoming the first in their family to graduate from high school. I also had high quality students who went on to colleges such at Syracuse, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Colgate, Yale and all of the excellent SUNY schools. The list goes on. Often these kids shared a classroom. That is challenging teaching. In private schools, I had kids of great financial privilege who were far less motivated than the poorest kids I had in public school. I also had kids in private school who were just dumped there for a variety or reasons: parents were travelling, the kids was too difficult to manage and the list goes on.

The issue is not public vs private. It is a question of work ethics and real standards. I see too many young teachers who just are not willing to put in the time and effort to do the job right. Teaching is a vocation--not just a job. Whther one is teaching at a public school in rural upstate NY or in a top quality private school near DC which charges 40 grad a year in tuition, the teacher had better be well trained, highly motivated and willing to go the extra mile to reach out to his or her kids. This is what is missing in both settings as a new generation of teachers takes over. Many lack the drive, desire and work ethich to do those things.

I am concerned about the lack of historical knowledge in this nation today. However, it is not the total fault of schools. In a nation where more people vote for American Idol than for the president, we have a problem. It starts in the home. It starts with a nation's sense of priorities and values. Teachers can only work with the kids sent to them. This is how I approach every class I teach and always have.

to hammer me as teaching garbage so that I can receive tenure is ridiculous.

And for the record, I taught for 18 years in private school with no tenure and always was rehired and I taught for 15 years in public school and had tenure but maintained the best percentage of NYS Regents success in my district each of those years--some years reaching 100% success. And I often offered to teach classes of "youth at risk" because I loved watching those kids find success. I also teach at a SUNY college (with no tenure) and have done so for 19 years and I have always been rehired and have just been offered new courses for the fall term. I teach English and history and I demand my students learn the material and I teach with passion. I am proud to be a teacher. And I am also a proud product of a New York State public school.

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to hammer me as teaching garbage so that I can receive tenure is ridiculous.

Didn't mean to have any individuals in my crosshairs, and if it was taken that way I certainly apologize. There are, no doubt, some good teachers in our public schools. Bill Cotter's wife is a public school teacher too, and I think Eric is a school librarian. Good people all. But it seems that as an institution there is not a lot that encourages and nurtures 'the best cream to rise to the top'. Unions don't seem to want measures of teachers, instead going the traditional union route of seniority being the sole determination of the pecking order, rather than measures of teaching excellence. Read what's been going on in the L.A. Times about union opposition to value added measurements.

I agree about the difficult families that kids come from these days, that teachers have to deal with. My kid isn't going to a private boarding school or military academy, but a Christian elementary school. That tends to weed out the families who are problem families (drugs, alcoholism, etc), and who aren't really interested in supporting their kids' education. It also means the public schools get left with a much higher percentage of the bottom of the barrel families, because so many of the good families have fled the public school system. It's a downward spiral for public schools, which is difficult to reverse, until they start to *attract* parents to move their students out of private schools back to public.

I'm glad to hear that New York has a much better situation with their public schools than those states with which I've had experience in recent years. Maybe California can learn from New York. In the meantime, there is a wave of school voucher legislation that is sweeping the country (OTHER than states like California and New York).... under the theory that not only should parents be given options for their tax dollars, but maybe public schools would respond better if put in direct competition with private schools, leveling the playing field. (i.e. the basics of capitalism).

P.S.- I'd like to see the kids from my son's 4th grade private school class answer the history questions that Jay Leno typically poses to adults. The young adults on Leno would be put to shame.

Now back to the Space Needle in Seattle!

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Jim, you would have to see the dysfunctional mess called the Los Angeles Unified School District to see where some of the comments may be coming from. If a teacher does 5 years they get tenure and a job for life. The LA Times did a profile of the teacher evaluation process and found that many principals were just approving the teachers without really evaluating them, claiming they were overworked, or approving known problem teachers as it was too much of a hassle to fight the union and deal with them. As a result we have ended up with some real gems.

Now, that's not fair to the good teachers, of course, as I'm sure there are many good ones to every bad one. However, the Times did some profiles of some unbelievable teachers. Even when they are up for termination they end up with full pay for several years while the union and LAUSD do their turf war dances.

I cannot fathom why tenure exists in public schools. It's impossible for me to see how doing a job for 5 years entitles you to employment for life. I have to work hard every day to make sure I keep my job, so why doesn't every teacher?

By the way, my wife is a teacher. She looked into what teaching was like in the LAUSD and decided to teach in a private school. The pay was far less, and no tenure, but the experience a lot more gratifying.

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Bill, I agree with much of what you have written. I will add that the only time I saw unprofessional behavior on the part of school administrators was in private education. I taught for my first five years in a Catholic boarding school (all lay men and women) and for the next dozen years in an Episcopal boarding school. In both operations, I watched two remarkably inept headmasters target teachers they did not like and make their teaching experiences as miserable as possible. Then they fired them. I could chronicle the unprofessional behaviors I witnessed, but I am telling the truth. And both of these headmasters harbored some pretty disreputable teachers simply because they were old friends or for some other equally unprofessional reason. In one case, a headmaster harbored two very abusive instructors for reason I never understood. It eventually cost one his job and the jobs of the jerks he was protecting but it took eight years for the trustees to act.

For years, I figured this is how education worked. Then I made huge changes in my life and left that environment and moved to the public system in NYS. And I received the biggest shock of my career. Now I was dealing with administrators who were nothing but professional each and every day. There were strict rules as to what rights the district had and what rights teachers had. The support I received for professional development was excellent. The system, like any human operation, is flawed. But it is far better that either of the two highly regarded independent schools where I had worked.

I am no fan of tenure and I have never needed it--not one day. I did my job and did it well and my employers knew it. But in those private schools, I saw exactly what I described above and those targeted teachers were made miserable. And those two schools sold themselves on their Christian, caring environments. Nonsense.

I don't have an answer to all of this. I now teach in a SUNY college and have no tenure (I am a retired hs teacher and now serve as an adjunct at the college). I have been an adjunct for 19 years and I keep receiving new contracts for each new semester. I suppose that when I came to this site today and found a blanket statement about the public school garbage and self-serving teachers, I became upset. I do not come to this website to find political opinions. I come to escape all of that stuff.

Teachers can only work with the kids who walk into their classroom each day. They must juggle education, state demands, district demands, parental concerns, social issues, health issues and a list of other concerns each day.

I know a guy in my town who is on the school board for the local public school but sent all three of his kids to private boarding schools. What the hell is that?

We do our best. The system is flawed, but we do our best. That's it. I will shut up now.

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Jim, I also forgot to mention my mother is a retired public school teacher. My gripe isn't with teaching in general - it's that the LAUSD is so incredibly broken I gave up hope of getting my kids through it and sent them both to private school. In some cities I'm sure the schools are still good. Those cities are not LA.

Happily my kids enjoyed their school years and did well - my son had a perfect 2400 on his SAT, for example, and my daughter graduates from law school in three weeks - but I do know some people also got the shaft in private schools, so it can indeed happen there. I view that as the exception whereas issues in LAUSD are the rule.

I'm glad your own experiences went so well! Which SUNY are you at?

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I am an adjunct at Morrisville State College (SUNY). I retired from full time hs teaching after 32 years. This marks my 19th year as a SUNY adjunct. They keep offering me classes (English and history) and I love the teaching.

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