Gov. George Deukmejian's State of the State address calls for a "commitment to learning." I have taught in California's public schools for the past 16 years and I have been working to fulfill my part of this commitment. I have continued my own education, attending night classes, summer school and conferences so that I may bring fresh approaches and motivational techniques to my students.
These methods, however, work only with those students who attend class. On any given day, at least 20% of my seniors choose not to attend school. Many are working; many are enjoying ski trips or perfect beach conditions. They return to school with excuses signed by their parents. Parents must commit to sending their children to school.
The Carnegie Commission stresses the importance of meaningful homework assignments. Homework benefits student learning only if it is done. Many students choose not to do homework. Students must make a commitment to learning.
Though my English classes range in size between 35 and 38 students, I am committed to teaching my students how to write. At least twice a week I grade and write comments on 150-200 essays. School boards and districts must commit to decreasing class sizes.
I have made my commitment to learning, but many times I feel that I am alone. If the state is to experience success in implementing a high-performance curriculum, the governor must acknowledge the fact that a commitment from educators is not enough. Students, parents, school boards, administrators and the state Legislature must share in this commitment.
If the California Commission on Educational Quality is indeed planning to develop an "innovative system to assure that schools are doing their job," I would hope that this same innovative assessment system would assure that students, parents, school boards and the Legislature are, in fact, all doing their jobs.
CATHERINE E. THOMAS