We are facing huge long-term problems: a real unemployment rate of 18%, dysfunctional banks that are "too big to fail", a regressive tax structure that's stifling economic growth, prisons that are bursting at the seams, urban schools that are struggling, a health care system that still needs major reform, the lack of a coherent national energy policy that will protect our economy and the environment, and a government that has been encroaching on our civil liberties. For decades we have lived with irresponsible public policies from career politicians in Congress who care more about increasing their party’s power and getting re-elected than they care about solving long-term problems. They haven’t been honest with us, and they have been lousy public servants.

I’m different. I do not want to be a career politician. I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I’m a Problem Solver. I want to force members of Congress to be responsible, and implement sustainable solutions to real problems. Please read the positions I present on this website, and spread the word to friends and family.

Please email me at John@Mertens2010.com, and become a supporter on Twitter at @mertens4senate or Facebook: John's FB

Monday, August 17, 2009

No Child Left Behind/Education

The No Child Left Behind program needs to be changed significantly, with appropriate input from teachers. There is too much standardized testing going on in schools.

I also feel strongly that we need to change the way we teach science to our children. Over the past eighteen years I have been teaching math, science, and general life skills in volunteer programs in Hartford, and for the last twelve years I have also visited my children’s classes in West Hartford to teach science. I have spent time in classrooms at grade levels 1-11. I’ve concluded that we need to change the science curriculum in grades 4 and 5; kids need to be taught about the basic nature of the universe. They need to understand the big picture, in qualitative terms, starting with the fundamental building blocks of matter, up to galaxies. They also need to be taught HOW to solve problems, and the scientific method. Kids are smart! They can understand fundamental things on a general, qualitative level, before they have the math skills necessary to do real analysis. In order to do this, we need teachers that are trained as science generalists, and do nothing but teach science to kids in grades 4 and 5. If No Child Left Behind is correctly modified and funded, resources for this kind of teaching could be available for schools that opt for it.

On a separate note, I am a big fan of Charter Schools in urban areas. The federal government doesn't have much to do with this kind of policy-making (states and towns rightfully decide school issues). However, the federal government does provide 8.3% of all K-12 funding. I would support increasing funding in federal education bills for Charter Schools.

Here are some statistics on where our K-12 funding comes from:

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John Mertens for U.S. Senate
P.O. Box 330452
West Hartford, CT 06133-0452