Local educator ‘Sick and Tired and Scared to Death’
Vern Thompson wants $90 billion.That’s roughly how much the federal government budgets for the department of education. Thompson, a longtime teacher who now lives in New Castle and works as an education consultant, says the department of education is a complete waste of funding. In fact, that’s mainly what his new publication, “I’m Sick and Tired and Scared to Death,” is about.”All I’m trying to do is get people to think about the aim of education,” said Thompson.Thompson, who began writing the book when the department of education’s budget was $74 billion, contends that the funds would be better spent by individual states and state programs than by the federal government.What’s there to fix, one might ask? Plenty, says Thompson.”I substituted up and down the valley for the last 30 years, and I was impressed with the fact that we were teaching English as a second language and letting the kids speak Spanish,” Thompson said.”I have a problem with that,” Thompson said.Thompson believes there should be much more stress placed on basics like English and mathematics, which is another area Thompson sees deficiencies in.”Kids don’t know units. Tens, hundreds, thousands, they don’t know them,” said Thompson.”The whole idea of the book is to get back to some basic things,” Thompson said.The problem, as Thompson sees it, is there’s a lack of focus in schools, especially on the part of many administrators and professional educators.One of Thompson’s first experiences as a professional teacher was in Brighton, where he taught middle school. After a few months in his new position, he asked the school principal to stop by and evaluate his performance in the classroom.”He came in for maybe five minutes, looked around the room, and left,” said Thompson. Afterwards, “(the principal) said, you keep a nice quiet classroom, and I like how you keep your shades at the same level, because when people drive by it looks real nice.””These are the things that have me frustrated,” Thompson said.”We don’t understand what we’re doing in teaching, we really don’t,” said Thompson.Thompson believes that if the states had directly increased funding to the tune of education’s federal budget, they could afford to hire more motivated and competent teachers as well as administrators.”If we had $74 billion spread out across the states, we could hire enough qualified teachers,” said Thompson.That’s another one of his thumping points – qualification. For Thompson, there’s a big difference between being certified to teach and being qualified.”You can become certified as a teacher and be a pedophile, but you wouldn’t be qualified,” Thompson said.Being qualified, however, isn’t necessarily something one can be taught. Thompson describes it as able to “deal with the minds of the kids,” and when asked, he’ll recite any number of stories about inept teachers who don’t understand how to effectively relate to kids.Thompson’s work is filled with such stories. It’s available to download for $7.95 online, at http://www.educatingwithpurpose.com. A hard copy costs $13.95, and can be ordered at the Web site.
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The Forest Service plans to replace the Carbondale Aspen-Sopris ranger district station with a newer, larger facility.