How Do We Change Education?

According to Stanton Peele, Ph.D., J.D. Reform American Education – Reform America?, September 27, 2010, The calls to alarm in the U.S. focus primarily on declining world rankings in student performance, particularly in science and math, and declining high school graduation rates, particularly for minorities. The word most often used by U.S. Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan and other leaders inside and out the educational world to describe these trends is “unacceptable.”  What does that mean?  If this state of affairs is so “unacceptable,” how did it come to be?  Keep in mind that calls for educational reformation and improvement are a constant in American public policy – remember when the Soviets launched Sputnik in 1957, spurring a national outcry to improve science education?  Fifty years later the United States has drifted into the third tier of nations internationally in science and math.  Unacceptable!

According to a study by the Second International Mathematics Study, one common thread of opinion, is educational reform.  The Economist says the reform must “overhaul the curriculum…and must deliver better quality education.”

I’ve been doing research and one thing I found was that the United States, compared with other countries worldwide, has fallen to the 17th & 18th in Reading, Math and Science.  (You can read more about this at my website.) What a shock that is!   This is the United States of America supposedly the greatest country in the world and has been a leader for many years in just about everything as it relates to education and lifestyle.  How did this happen?  Well…the more research I did the more I found where the problems may be.

Not every student learns easily or the same way.   And, not every teacher should be teaching.   We need teachers who teach because they have a passion for the topic they teach.   The schools say if we are credentialed to teach, then we are expected to teach any topic we are assigned.   That is the biggest mistake one could ever even consider.   Why would a teacher teach tennis if he never played before and had no interest in the game?   Put another way….if a teacher hates math and scored low in testing in college, why would s/he teach math?    The old saying is, “If you want to learn a subject….just teach it.”   That works for the layman.  It doesn’t work for a teacher who is credentialed to teach.  We need teachers who can come to class without a book and teach the topic and supplement the book.   Instead we have teachers who actually, in high school, who read the book to the students.   That is not a teacher that needs to be teaching.   That is a teacher who doesn’t prepare for a class in advance to arriving in the classroom.  It’s a teacher who just wants a job and has nothing to offer a student.   As a teacher for 25 years in the school system and Community College I can attest that there are many teachers who “read” to their students.   That is totally unacceptable unless it’s the kindergarten, first grade, and second grade and maybe even the third grade. 

 In my research I found students stated they were bored in class, students who stated their mind wandered while the teacher was teaching, and students who created problems within the classroom making other students laugh and many other disturbances within the classroom.   All it takes is one domino to fall and the entire class is out of control.  What causes boredom?  Well, the simple answer is a lack of interest.  But there is more to it than a lack of interest.   It falls on the shoulder of the teacher when there is a lack of interest. 

 I have also seen students sitting on the edge of their seats when a teacher was teaching a class.   A teacher who has a passion for the topic can weave stories and jokes into the learning lesson that keeps the students attention.   That is a teacher we need. 

I actually started out by doing research mainly for the purpose of finding a way to enhance the learning of those who have hearing impairment of the nerve type.   These are regular people who simply lost some hearing… they can hear sound but cannot comprehend what is being said and most lost their hearing as a result of environmental noises after birth or after the age of 20.   Oh, yes I hear you…I know you’re thinking they can put on a hearing aid/s.   As a Hearing Specialist I would recommend that as well.   However, nerve loss is not the same as conductive loss.   The latter can be fitted to an aid/s easily as his/her problem is in the middle ear and/or the high success rate of the stapes surgery can take care of that and hearing is restored almost to it’s preexisting state.   Not so with nerve impairment.

 Nerve impairment is in the inner ear where the cochlear organ is located and that organ is about the size of your thumb nail and holds your entire decoding system within.  This organ consists of tiny little hair cells that wave back and forth in the fluid.   Once a hair cell or group of hair cells become damaged s/he will no longer hear that specific sound the hair cell or group of hair cells generated.  That’s why you hear people say, “I can hear sound.  I just cannot understand speech.”   Or, they say, “Everyone mumbles today!”   I’m sure you’ve heard the latter many times.   That’s a person who’s still in the denial stage.

These are people who have lost their hearing in early life, midlife or later life.   We once thought of hearing impairment as being age related but it is no longer true.   We have teens losing their hearing as a result of all the loud music and sounds they listen to, not just from a distance but from the plugs they place in their ears and pump the sound up beyond what the cochlear can handle.  As a result these little hair cells snap.    This loss is mainly caused by environmental noises.  And, more people under the age of 60 have hearing impairment of the nerve type than ever before in history!   We have over 77 million baby boomers becoming senior citizens and these people went through the 70’s loud rock music period.  That’s something to think about.   Back in the ’80’s I believe we had less than 20 million senior citizens in the U.S.  

There is definitely a way to enhance the education of those who have nerve impairment.  I found this by accident.

The deaf have been using this for several years but the hearing impaired are still not aware of this method.  I started out by trying to get the word out.   But the more I researched and wrote, the more I found this method would also enhance the learning for all students in every classroom.  

 So what am I talking about?    In the world of deaf it’s called CART services.  The word CART doesn’t make sense to the outside world of deafness.   If you knew to google CART then you’d find out.  But who would google CART without knowing what the word means?   If you googled hearing impairment it would bypass CART.  It’s being used in the colleges along with note taking and sign language for the deaf.   But for the hearing impaired individual with a nerve impairment, CART services is all that is needed to enhance their learning.    We all know there is captions/subtitles provided on TV, DVD’s, CD’s, and I was a part of that development of captions on TV, but what most don’t know is that it can be provided in every learning environment throughout life.  Why?   Because learning is a life time endeavor in today’s world.   And, we have all kinds of people with different needs and most will not tell you what their needs are, still others don’t know what their needs are and most don’t know CART services is even available or what it does.

 When I found this method I thought I discovered hearing all over again!  I was floating on a cloud.  I was attending a seminar on real estate and the company provided that service for me as an individual in a group of over 400 students.  At break time I was surrounded by others with hearing loss asking me where I got the balls to ask for this service.  When I asked them if they let the company know their needs….they said they didn’t tell anyone they have hearing impairment.  Still others said, “I cannot write fast enough to take notes and this would really solve my problem and free me up to just listen.”   The fact I had this service for myself created a huge scene during every break and lunchtime.   They all wanted to sit around me and asked if the font could be enlarged so they could all see.  

 So what is CART services?   Well, it’s a court reporter (CR) who works with a stenography machine.  S/he types every single word being spoken!  It’s a typewriter on hotwheels!  And, the average CR can type 225 words per minute.  Simple wouldn’t you agree?   That’s actually simple and is the same method used for captions and subtitles.   Why didn’t we think about this before?  

 During my research, I started thinking about all the students who have difficulties in class….I’m now talking about the average student who can hear.   Additionally, students  have different ways of learning.  Some of us are auditory oriented and others are visually oriented.  Some of us learn more by hearing what is being said and others learn more from reading.   Some need both.  Still others are need to include their muscles to learn.   Remember, years ago how we learned to spell?   Writing the word 10 times or more until we could spell the words without looking at them.   Then, when we had the test, we heard the word spoken and we put the pencil to the paper and followed the pencil.   That’s called muscle memory tied to auditory.   Did you ever watch Tiger Woods golf?   That’s real muscle memory tied with visual orientation.  Oh yes, and the ability to block out any meaningless noise …called concentration.   And that, in itself, is another skill to learn.  So now you can see, we all learn differently and that has to be taken into account in order to teach students.

 Therefore, we need to do 3 things to begin with and that is….

1.    test students in the lower grades and find out what each student need may be;

2.    hire only teachers who have a passion to teach the topic provided; and,

3.    provide CaptionsVerbatimPro services in every classroom.

 Why CaptionsVerbatimPro services?   Because the captioner would be in every classroom and every word being spoken by the teacher would be on record.  Students would not have to take notes unless they wanted to.  Their time could be better spent listening to the teacher and absorbing the information.  At the end of each class, the record would be sent to every student’s computer for study and reference.  For students who desire the print out to be in another language …it’s just a click of a button and it’s done.  

 This would eliminate “he said, she said”.  It’s on record.  The counselor, school principal and or director of studies, even the superintendent could tune in to any classroom at any given moment to watch a teacher performance.  Teachers can be graded more accurately in that manner.

 Teachers will come to class prepared every single class time.  There will be no room for a teacher who wants to come to class when s/he’s not feeling his/her best.   A student deserves the teacher’s best every single class time.

This would, in itself, increase the salary of a teacher who has the passion to teach the topic!

I’m sending this out to everyone on my address book.  Please critique and let me know what you think.  Be sure to go to my website at:  www.captionsverbatimpro and get back with me.  I would relish your thoughts.   I plan to take this nationwide.  I will be applying for grants and the plan is to reach out to those who are dedicated to education in America and that is people like:  Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Forbes, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil, Michael Bloomberg, George Lucas, Steve Wynn, Donald Trump, Donald Bren, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America and many others who feel as dedicated to education as most American’s.  We need to get back to being Number One not just by score but by education and knowledge to back up that score.  We can do that. 

Thank you,

Bobbi Barras  (past experiences)  (future dreams for improving education)

We still have some work to do on the CVP website and I welcome your input


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