Yesterday was my first day of class. I accepted a teaching position with one of the local colleges. It is an English as a Second Language (ESL) class. I would like to make mention of my observation. This ESL class is a six hour class, on a Saturday, for the next four months. The ESL classes are free, at least for the college that I am working with. The students are quite grateful for these Free classes. The students are Motivated. They Want to Learn. They have jobs, they have families, but they remain Motivated and Dedicated to learning to speak English – better.
Last semester, there was one student in particular that is indelibly etched in my mind. This student, a Hispanic male, started his day, six days a week, leaving Houston at approximately 4:30am, driving to Southeast Texas, specifically, Port Arthur, Texas to work construction. Stay with me! He then returned to Houston, specifically, Tomball all the way from Port Arthur, Texas for my ESL class. The class, then, was three days a week, 6pm-9pm. He did this – consistently for Four months.
I am once again, convinced that if we put our minds to something, we can do it. I don’t care what it is. There is an argument against extending the school day, the school semester and raising Teacher salaries. Is there anything wrong with this idea? My humble answer is Nothing! As an educator, I am going to tell you the truth behind this crazy argument about Not extending the school day or school semester for our kids and/or providing a fair salary to our teachers. America is falling quickly behind other countries in terms of graduate rates and academic achievement. This is a most urgent matter. I applaud President Obama for his ideas about extending the school day and/or the semester or both. I applaud Oprah for having a genuine love for teachers and understanding the need for higher salaries for our teachers. If you have Not heard, Dropout Rates in our country are Epidemic. We continue to fall behind our foreign competitors. I deal with American students, adult students, who are reading at a 5th and 6th grade level and some are lower. Yet, there are foreign students who have come to America and read and speak English – Better than many Americans. This should be a concern for all Americans. Nevertheless, there are those who do Not want longer school days nor semesters nor higher salaries for our teachers. My response – We need longer days, longer semesters, and higher pay for Teachers. Period! Case-Closed!