Dear Former Student

Dear Former Student,




You concluded with “Students come first , thought thats what schools were all about”. I might suggest you use “learners” in place of “students”, but overall, I could not agree more. Please ask your friends (both former and current students) to repeat this message until decision makers finally understand what you truly mean by this statement. I also wonder, what would happen if students (learners) were the decision makers?


I think Nicole Lafond also interviewed this student:

“I thought that was the schools’ goals, to have kids come first.”


So tell us, students, what is the purpose of school? What should school do?

3 Responses to “Dear Former Student”

  1. Rebecca Patterson Says:

    I think those are two different kids. One male, one female. I really don’t think school is for what kids want, it’s for what they need. Are they getting it? No. Start by editing the one written quote. Did this student graduate without learning basic punctuation? But their priorities are playing on the “home field” and off-street parking. Neither student has a working knowledge of the issues as to why people want to keep Central or replace it. Sounds like most voters…

  2. charlesdschultz Says:


    You are making a lot of assumptions there. My invitation is that students speak up, either to me personally or (better) to a wider public. Let’s avoid as many assumptions as we can.

    Who determines what kids need? You? ISBE? DOE? Pearson? And why can’t school be for what kids want? Do we even know what kids want? I asked my daughter a while ago and she said she wants to learn how to learn. It doesn’t get much more fundamental than that.

    Allow me to dream a little. I am dreaming of a land governed by a just, caring, perspicacious and authoritative body (whether it be a single person or a group). What kind of people would live in that land? What would their values be?

    Switching back to your comment, I would agree that most people (you said “voters”, which is very apropos) do not have a “working knowledge of the issues” surrounding Central, or even the facilities and schools in general. I personally believe that one of the reasons why this is true is that we in general, as a people (there are obviously exceptions), have not made it a priority to “teach” this knowledge. It is not a priority in our schools, and it is not a priority for any other kind of learning as one pursues “life”.

    Which makes me thankful that those who are passionate and opinionated share their voices and force a public conversation. Thus begins the education of the public. We could use some help having healthy but hearty disagreements, maybe exercising deliberation in such a way that is mutually beneficial.

    Personally, knowledge of and skills in using basic punctuation are way down on my list of priorities I think are essential to a successful society. Nearer to the top are things like caring for each other, listening to each other, walking in another’s shoes.

    But my question to you about what kids need is a serious one. What do kids need? Who gets to decide?

    • Rebecca Patterson Says:

      My frustration isn’t even about the punctuation, it’s that it’s a sign of educational failure. Students don’t know what they know in general, or what they need to know and how it will affect their lives. Say they want to go on to college, extra classes are going to slow them down which in turn makes them less likely to get a degree. On the other hand, it will affect job applications, promotions, etc. There are certain expectations of an “educated” person, aren’t there? It’s like an onion, with the layers. Each layer is itself more than one layer. Skills, knowledge, emotional intelligence. If some are left out for some students, how to you think they feel later in life when they try to “patch” what they missed?

      I’ve met the people who are looked down on because their punctuation is bad so they don’t get promoted, even if they don’t know it. I’ve known their bosses. The people who went back to school and had to take remedial classes and feel like less than because the schools didn’t teach them the first time around. They feel ashamed because of the school’s failure. Students who take remedial classes are less likely to get a secondary degree.

      Now what about the fact we have parents in this community who graduated from the schools in this community, with children or grandchildren in the local schools, and they can’t help them with homework because they are illiterate? Remember, I said they graduated in this community.

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