- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2009

COMMUNITY JOURNALISM:

Biden on community college

Jill Biden, the wife of the vice president, knows more than a thing a two about community colleges. So it was no surprise that President Obama tapped Mrs. Biden to help raise awareness of the importance of two-year schools.

An educator for 28 years, she spent 15 years teaching English composition courses at Delaware Technical & Community College.

“Community colleges are the way of the future,” Mrs. Biden told the Denver Post. “You’ll see their enrollments are rising dramatically, particularly when the economy is down. They’re affordable. They give very good retraining to people who are out of work.”

Mrs. Biden was in Denver as part of a tour to campuses around the country. While in Denver, she visited the Community College of Aurora, where she witnessed students in emergency medical services responding to a simulated heart attack victim.

Mrs. Biden, who taught English-language learners this past semester at Northern Virginia Community College, said such schools offer a quality and affordable option for families, and “may be a more affordable gateway to a four-year school,” she told USA Today.

“I will continue to travel around the country visiting community college campuses, talking to students and workers, and engaging the media,” she said. “My goal is to reach out to as many people as possible to explain how this administration is committed to supporting Americans who could benefit from community college educations.”

‘Free to Teach’

The U.S. Department of Education has surveyed 50,000 public school and private school teachers. The following is from the Heartland Institute, which studied the results of the survey.

“Examining the government data, researchers for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice found private-school teachers enjoy more classroom autonomy, are physically safer, and have less stress and burnout than public school teachers, many of whom are dues-paying members of the unions regardless of whether they want to be.

“The responses of public and private teachers help explain why majorities of parents consistently tell pollsters they would like to send their children to independent schools if they could. After all, who would choose to have their children taught by teachers who are demoralized by poor working conditions?

“Among the key findings of the report, titled ‘Free to Teach: What America’s Teachers Say about Teaching in Public and Private Schools’:

• “Private school teachers are more likely than their public counterparts to say they will continue teaching as long as they are able (62 percent vs. 44 percent). Public school teachers were almost twice as likely to say they would leave teaching immediately were a higher-paying job available.

• “Reflecting the reality of politically imposed ‘standards,’ only 18 percent of public school teachers said they have a great deal of influence on student performance standards. By contrast, 40 percent of private school teachers said they possess such clout.

• “Private school teachers also are much more likely to have considerable control over selection of textbooks and other instructional materials (53 percent vs. 32 percent) and the content, topics, and skills to be taught (60 percent vs. 36 percent).

• “Public school teachers were four times more likely to report student violence is a problem on at least a monthly basis (48 percent vs. 12 percent). One in eight public school teachers said physical conflicts among students occur daily, while only one in 50 private school teachers said so. Close to one in five public school teachers have been physically threatened by a student, compared to only one in 20 private school teachers.

• “Private school teachers are more likely to say they have all the textbooks and supplies they need (67 percent vs. 41 percent), and that their principals back them up when they need support for disciplining students (68 percent vs. 55 percent).

• “Private school teachers are more likely to say they are satisfied with their class sizes (61 percent, as opposed to 34 percent of public school teachers), even though classes are not much smaller in private schools than in public schools (a difference of just two students per elementary school class).”

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