School Board candidates discuss student motivation

Friday, March 11, 2011 | 6:41 p.m. CST; updated 10:30 a.m. CDT, Friday, March 23, 2012

COLUMBIA — All children have to go to school, but they don't all have to like it.

Other issues raised at the forum

Redrawing of district boundary lines

  • The candidates agree that it is important to make the schools' populations representative of the community.
  • Raithel and Dickson agree transportation and busing costs should be considered as the boundary lines are redrawn.

Collective Bargaining for teachers

  • The candidates agree that collective bargaining is the teachers' choice, and that teachers are supported in the choices they make.
  • Wade said she hopes teachers and board members can have an open discourse about contract negotiations, and that teachers understand the reasonable limits of those negotiations.
  • Dickson supports the teachers' right to bargain, but is not pushing it in her campaign. She does not want contracts to become so thick that they are inflexible. She said flexibility is necessary when working within a tight budget. 

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At a forum Friday afternoon, Columbia School Board candidates talked about how restoring a child's love of learning can help close the achievement gap. The Muleskinners, a Democratic organization, held the forum at Stephens College's Stamper Commons.

"You can’t love to learn if you’re not ready to learn," candidate Liz Peterson said. "I believe that starts in early childhood education."

The candidates agreed getting an early start on educating the Columbia School District's children is integral to their later success.

Candidate Jonathan Sessions proposed a county levy for early childhood education, similar to the one already in place for senior citizen care. He said it is important because oftentimes, "that gap exists before they hit kindergarten."

However, kids are not the only ones who need help.

"It's not just the kids we need to affect here," candidate Helen Wade said. "It’s the family, the caregivers; it’s the community."

Sessions and fellow candidate Tom Rose agreed programs like Junior Achievement offer real-world experiences and are partnerships that help kids commit to learning. Dave Raithel seemed unsure about how to make kids love learning.

"I don't know because the teachers themselves don't agree," Raithel said. He said he thinks the loss of motivation to learn could result from a curriculum failure.

Another curricular issue addressed was whether some form of creationism should be integrated into the biology curriculum. The candidates were divided.

"I don’t have a problem teaching all the facts that are out there about anything," Rose said. "I would hope that our science departments would be willing to do the same."

Candidate Sara Dickson agreed, adding, "We need to have the community speak out. We need to have parents involved because these are their children."

Wade, Sessions, Peterson and Raithel were opposed to changing the curriculum. Peterson said she does not think it is the board's job to scrutinize the biology curriculum; it is the teachers' job.

"I do feel that science is science, and it is a theory and a process," Sessions said. "Faith is faith. There are different places for each of those."

The forum also raised questions about the redrawing of boundary lines and collective bargaining for teachers.

The next candidate forum will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Activity and Recreation Center at 1701 W. Ash St.

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No God March 11, 2011 | 8:51 p.m.

"I don’t have a problem teaching all the facts that are out there about anything," Rose said. "I would hope that our science departments would be willing to do the same."

Rose: please note the facts below.

1. Evolution is a fact.
2. Creationism is a religion.
3. ID is a disguise of creationsim.
4. Both creationism and ID or other disguises should be banned from the science classes of all public schools.
5. It is unconstitutional in the US to teach creationism or any religious view point in science classes at public schools.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett March 11, 2011 | 9:46 p.m.

When science states it is objective and does not address religion, then it should not address religion.

However, there will always be the science teacher who will, as if that is a fact while stating that science cannot disprove the existence of God - that God is a matter of Spiritual faith and not of fact.

The fact is that Science should not address religion at all - however, even in university-level courses, science does address religion, and ridicules it to myth.

If the scientist is to be truly sticking to the facts, then teachers would simply teach the facts and leave religions alone, altogether.

When the science enters the realm of religion to address it and state as fact something it cannot disprove, then Creationism has much right to be mentioned, to remain objective.

You can say that scientists have discovered certain facts that lead to certain scientific theory, and you can say that science constantly develops new theories that disprove former theories that science formed from facts known at the time.

Evolution is a theory - and when science says it should not address religion - then it should not. Science should live by its own determination.

Otherwise, it opens the way for Creationism, in addressing religion. And, there are some hot-headed teachers who will insist they do not address religion, but will address it the very first thing in a demeaning and hurtful way, almost laughing as students who are in their classes who are faith-based - when those students are there to be taught science and not to be provoked (harassed) about private faith in God. These teachers who do this do not see themselves as hateful or demeaning, but they bring it on and make an issue of it, by mentioning religion when there is no need to, at all.

Just don't mention it, don't ridicule it and stick to the facts and theories, please.

Thank you.

(Report Comment)
No God March 12, 2011 | 12:45 a.m.

Delcia Crockett says, "Evolution is a theory - and when science says it should not address religion - then it should not. Science should live by its own determination."

As long as religions (especially fundamentalist ones) do not pretend to say about the area which science is about, religion won't be affect. But if some insist that Genesis is a scientific description of what actually happened, then science will be used to disprove it: it is possible to disprove that human beings were not the product of special creation (all of a sudden). Human beings as we know it today were evolved gradually from other species over a long period of time.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 12, 2011 | 2:44 a.m.

No God, your comments will be removed if you don't use your real name, so I'm not sure if I should say anything. However...

Once you get DNA makes RNA makes protein, any form of evolution and adaptation is possible. Genetic material can be transferred and modified between and within organisms, and adaptive pressures exist everywhere.

The place I get muddy is how the basic process would have evolved in the first place. I've read many theories, and still have a hard time accepting them - DNA-RNA-protein is a very complicated process, and I just find it difficult to believe it arose by chance.

Now, do I believe the Genesis account? No. Do I believe there is an active, living God that influences our lives and listens to us? I don't know. But there are many possibilities outside of Genesis (and other creation accounts), so I don't think the discussion should be limited to just creation vs. evolution.

Plus it really doesn't matter. We'll never know for sure what happened, and I think it more important to live today than worry about where we came from.


(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote March 12, 2011 | 1:33 p.m.

@Mr. Foecking,

Enzymatic RNA obviates the need for transcription-translation-protein (with enzymatic activity). Though admittedly evolving enzymatic RNA is a complicated process in itself. However, this theory does address the conundrum of how could transcription/translation evolve de novo in the absence of a mechanism to actually produce proteins. Some may say this idea is far-fetched, but at least there is evidence to support it, e.g. RNA with enzymatic activity, Ribosomes comprised of 60% rRNA, etc...

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 12, 2011 | 2:02 p.m.

Mark F. I used to read from and about scientists that "the more they learned from science, the more assured they were of the existence of a greater power or being. I heard/read this so often that my own belief was affected in this regard. This was, of course, before the "creation" of the "separation of church and state" now, somehow, read into our Constitution, giving us today's rejection mouthed by so many. Do you note change in the feeling of those in the scientific community, or have they merely "evolved"?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 12, 2011 | 3:12 p.m.

Christopher Foote wrote:

"Though admittedly evolving enzymatic RNA is a complicated process in itself."

I know about RNA enzymes, and I know they exist, and work. However, every biopolymer I can think of is the product of some existing enzymatic activity. Sure, I can see how an RNA molecule of the right sequence might arise somewhere by chance, but it has to have the right environment to keep it going.

I'm not saying it's impossible. It's just one of very many possibilities as to how we got here. And it's also something I'll never know for sure, so I don't worry about it very much.


(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 12, 2011 | 3:27 p.m.

frank christian wrote:

"Do you note change in the feeling of those in the scientific community"

Not really. People in science tend to be less religious than the general public, but I have known some very religious scientists and grad students.

Religion has traditionally explained those things that science couldn't. As science advanced, fewer and fewer things were not understood, so the need for religion lessened. However, there are things that science may never answer (the origin of the species, for example, or the random event of a loved one's death) so there will always be a place in people's hearts for it.

The problem I have with religion is when it becomes intolerant and proclaims itself as the only truth. Science is intrinsically open-minded - if you have the proof, people will believe. That's not the case with a lot of religions.


(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear March 12, 2011 | 6:52 p.m.

Intolerance is the key.

From a comment:
++1. Evolution is a fact.++

You can't prove that. Many bad science fiction writers, and some great ones, have dealt with the subject. Maybe all the clues left for you to believe in evolution are a test of faith, who knows?

Life is a mystery. Is the universe finite, or infinite? Noboby here, and certainly not you, knows. We could easily be the proverbial lab rats, in an experiment.

I personally believe we are cattle. Life has been planted here, and once a species becomes intelligent enough to perform high level tasks, our alien overlords will return, and ship us off to be slaves, or even use us for food. But, I also am writing a bad science fiction novel. Hopefully you'll see it in movie theaters by 2016. *winks*

Still, we can measure intolerance on this planet, that is a fact.

If a mosque is built in New York City next to where the Twin Towers were...will they mind if across the street a gay bar opens up called 'You Mecca Me Hot'? And a pork bar-b-que joint across the street opens, smoking meat all the time, where the smoke is blowing onto their mosque?

I am happy for everybody to have their religion, but not intolerance. The Founders of our Constitution were forward looking enough to see, even 250 years ago, they knew, that this could become a problem.

And six generations later, the fact is, they were wise.

I am happy in the belief that people have in their religion, but laws can't be changed for that.

If you don't want to live here, you can live someplace else. Most of the whole world is easily accessible to anybody these days, you don't have to live here if you don't want to.

Intolerance is not acceptable.

Why can't we all just get along? If we can't find a way to do that, this mobility we all enjoy in the world at present, is going to end badly.

(Report Comment)
Peggy Phillips March 22, 2011 | 9:35 a.m.

Does anyone believe that anything but evolution will be taught in this town? I think this was brought up to try an make a cadidate look stupid. Someone wants to bolster the religious bigot vote.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm March 22, 2011 | 10:20 a.m.

@ Frank

“This was, of course, before the "creation" of the "separation of church and state"

Thomas Jefferson first used the phrase “separation of church and state” referring to the first amendment in 1801. It was also used by the US Supreme Court in the 1800s. I know that you like to believe that this is a new phenomenon because Fox News tells you to believe that but it is simply not true.

“I used to read from and about scientists that "the more they learned from science, the more assured they were of the existence of a greater power or being.”

Only 7% of members of the American National Academy of Sciences claim to believe in God; down from 15% in their last survey. Scientist (and the more intelligent sectors of society in general) are increasingly becoming atheist and agnostics.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire March 22, 2011 | 10:38 a.m.

How dare those scientists enter the realm of religion!!!

(Report Comment)

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