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Future imperfect in Colorado's public schools 

Street Smarts

With burgeoning class sizes, staff cutbacks and courses getting axed, many public schools in Colorado are doing less with less.

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Joe Konik of the Pine Cliff area is a UCCS student

Describe the last time you were in a public school. I'm doing student teaching at Sabin Middle School [in Colorado Springs School District 11], so I'm in the classroom every day.

Did public school provide you a good education? It gave me a strong academic foundation, but equally important, it provided a positive social education that taught me how to interact with my peers.

What's the hardest thing about a teacher's job? Meeting the needs of every learning style and ability. In any eighth-grade class, you have some students reading at a third-grade level, some at a freshman-in-college level, and the teacher has to somehow meet all their needs.

Identify something you'd change about public education. In large part, teachers are being evaluated on test scores of kids who have little to no accountability or built-in incentive to perform. There's a disconnect there. It's unfair.

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Sally Clarkson of Monument is an author and home-schooler

What's your take on the state of the public school system? It's failing children by teaching to the test instead of teaching how to think.

Are teachers overpaid and underworked? Teacher pay isn't commensurate with the importance of what they do. Teachers have no control over student life situations. They have to devote significant classroom time to things parents should be doing at home.

Did public school provide you a good education? I wasn't taught how to think. I was taught to fill in the blank and answer multiple-choice questions.

What improvement would you make? I'd reduce class size and put more focus on foundational wisdom for life. I'd reverse the current trend of taking books and literature out of the system to focus on testing.

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LaShawn Stevens of Woodmen Hills is a telecom supervisor

Assess the state of our public education system. The curriculum lacks substance, and the student-teacher ratio is so out of control that we pulled our kids out to home-school them.

What's the hardest part of a teacher's job? Nowadays it's crowd control, keeping everyone on task. Twenty, 30 years ago, classes were smaller and teachers could reach each child.

What would you change? I'd provide a broader spectrum of subject matter. Since I attended it, my high school has pulled classes like metal shop, auto body, music and art.

Describe your best teacher ever. Mrs. Clausen, my English teacher, made us do our work and do it right. It wasn't just, "Oh, you did it, good job, move on."

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