Monday, September 29, 2008

We have Failed in Educating Our Youth! - By Tony Pellegrino

Saipan Tribune
September 22, 2008

We have failed to educate our youth for many years and as a result we are now feeling the results of that failure. This is a matter which we cannot blame on the government or outside influence. We are to blame solely. The lack of a good education in our youth is our failure because of the low standards we set for ourselves. Now we are paying the price for it.

Look at what we have produced. Many adults can barely read and write. Many never read books or magazines to keep abreast of changes in the world. Many have never learned skills or training in any job. Over 75% of our youth have no desire to improve themselves. They are imprisoned in their minds to a small island forgetting that the CNMI has become a part of the world of nations. Is it any wonder that we are in the situation we are in now? Take a look at the facts below and let’s ask ourselves when are we going to wise up?

This past June 2008, 800 seniors graduated from high school. Out of 800, only about 200 decided to go to an institution of higher learning whether it is NMC or a college somewhere else. This represents only 25% of the young minds. The mainland average for students going to college is 63%.

What will happen to the other 600 students or 75% at the age of 17 to 18 years of age? Do they have any skills to find good jobs? Or will they just drift and become a burden on society? What will their children be like?

Consider the previous year 2007, another 800 graduated and only 200 went to college. But 600 youths are still walking the streets with no direction and little education. Then in 2006, another 800 graduated and again only 200 went to college. Where are the previous 1200 plus this year’s 600 for a total of 1800 barely educated students? Are they working? Are they on food stamps because they have no skills to offer? What are they doing to earn a living? Are these young people an asset or a liability to the community?

Let’s add up the total number of 200 X 3 years equals 600 students in the process of getting an advanced education or 25% of graduates. But 600 X 3 years equals 1800 students who are barely educated or 75% who did not go to college. They remain mostly unemployed young people with little guidance or direction in their lives

If we keep going back several more years, the number of uneducated citizens rises. We can only conclude that the majority of our citizens are poorly educated and unskilled. I haven’t counted in hundreds of students who have dropped out of school before graduation.

What does this say about the future of the CNMI? What does it say about our school system? What does it say about parents and the responsibility in guiding their children? What does it say about our community? Why has this sad situation been happening? Instead of pointing fingers at who is responsible for the low level of education and unskilled workers, let us seek solutions to improve the situation and motivate young people to want to learn.

It has been shown that a child from the age of five to 18 years old spends at least 92% of his awakened time outside school. Therefore most of a child’s education, 92%, begins and continues in the home and environment. Parents are the most influential teachers on a child’s development. The child copies the type of relationship he sees between his father and mother and assumes that is the correct way for a married couple to live and raise children. We parents must examine the way we influence our children because they become carbon copies of our lives.

Let me relate an incident that happened recently in one of my companies. A newly young hired employee, 23 years old, was caught stealing company funds. Upon apprehension, he admitted it. When asked about his family life, he admitted he had no relationship with his father and little with his mother. At 17 years old he had dropped out of high school and had never worked a day in his life. This was his first real job in six years since dropping out of school! He is living with a young girl and has fathered three children. The youngest one is two weeks old and the oldest is four years old. What happened here? Who failed this young man? What future does he have? How many more are out there like him? Why can’t we help them? They are us when we were young!

Please parents and community, wake up! What we sow so shall we reap. We owe it to our children to give our time and love. But we also must guide them to goals in life. We must invest in them and motivate them to want to want to succeed. We must insist that they do better than us.

Another area that should be carefully examined is our public school system. After spending millions of dollars yearly, are we really producing fairly well educated youth? What justification does the school system have for not producing better educated youth? Shouldn’t the school system really take a closer look at the techniques it is using and accept changes in education. Basically it is still teaching as it did over 80 years ago. Think about why we can’t educate our youth better? Is it the students fault? Is it our fault? Is it the usual excuse --lack of money? What is it that prevents us? Could it be that we really don’t care?

We are the community and must demand better results from the school system. We must find ways to teach our slower children better. Any child who desires to drop out of school should be strongly discouraged from doing so and highly motivated to continue his schooling. Extra facilities must be created to accommodate the slower students. Lack of money must not be the cop-out.

In the Northern Marianas Trades Institute recently started, I discovered that 17 students out of 36 do not have a high school diploma. It is gratifying to see these students seeking a second chance to learn. With the proper guidance they will become skillful and educated members of our community.

Repeatedly I have mentioned that a nation is only as successful as its educated and trained citizens. We have great potential manpower but we are not developing it. When will we wake up? We must realize that it is our personal problem. When will we realize that an uneducated population is a drain on the nation? When will we start to make the necessary changes? We must seek solutions. If we do not implement changes to improve, how can we perpetuate our culture and increase our chances for prosperity? How low will we descend until we wake up and find ourselves aliens and poor in our own land?

It is not too late. Improvement begins with a first step coupled with clear goals supported by a strong desire to change. Let’s begin correcting one of our most crucial problems. We must better educate our youth and ourselves. We must guide them in wanting to seek a higher education and to learn a skill. Stop the abuse of our young people’s future. A wasted mind is a sin. Only education will make us free! Only education will make us whole again!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Remediating in College- Submitted by Sue Ferrara

I am teaching a college-based remedial writing class this semester. The will to learn is there, but the lack of student skills finds me teaching the basics: nouns, verbs, homonyms, possessives. All these parts of speech should have been taught across the K-12 curriculum. And how do these students earn H.S. diplomas? Gosh, if American schools can start teaching sex education in Kindergarten, can't the curriculum support the teaching of English? Or may the last statement should read: Instead of starting sex education in Kindergarten, schools should focus on teaching students to read, write and do math?

Sue Ferrara

Colleges spend billions to teach freshmen basic skills
by The Associated Press
Monday September 15, 2008, 1:00 AM

It's a tough lesson for millions of students just now arriving on campus: even if you have a high school diploma, you may not be ready for college. In fact, a new study calculates, one-third of American college students have to enroll in remedial classes. The bill to colleges and taxpayers for trying to bring them up to speed on material they were supposed to learn in high school comes to between $2.3 billion and $2.9 billion annually.

'That is a very large cost, but there is an additional cost and that's the cost to the students,' said former Colorado governor Roy Romer, chair of the group Strong American Schools (,which is issuing the report 'Diploma to Nowhere' on Monday. 'These students come out of high school really misled. They think they're prepared. They got a 3.0 and got through the curriculum they needed to get admitted, but they find what they learned wasn't adequate.

'Christina Jeronimo was an 'A' student in high school English,but was placed in a remedial course when she arrived at Long Beach Community College in California. The course was valuable in some ways but frustrating and time-consuming. Now in her third year of community college, she'd hoped to transfer to UCLA by now.

Like many college students, she wishes she'd been worked a little harder in high school. 'There's a gap,' said Jeronimo, who hopes to study psychology. 'The demands of the high school teachers aren't as great as the demands for college. Sometimes they just baby us.

'The problem of colleges devoting huge amounts of time and money to remediation isn't new, though its scale and cost has been difficult to measure. The latest report gives somewhat larger estimates than some previous studies, though it is not out of line with trends suggested in others, said Hunter Boylan, an expert at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, who was not connected with the report.

Analyzing federal data, the report estimates 43 percent of community college students require remediation, as do 29 percent of students at public four-year universities, with higher numbers in some places. For instance, four in five Oklahoma community college students need remedial coursework, and three in five in the giant California State university system need help in English, math or both. The cost per student runs to as much as $2,000 per student in community colleges and $2,500 in four-year universities.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

PDELA - Pennsylvania Distance Learning Charter School

The Pennsylvania Distance Learning Charter School (PDELA), is a statewide distance learning, non-sectarian public charter school for grades K-12 that operates in a home-based learning environment. PDELA exists through the legal authority of Pennsylvania charter school laws, and answers directly to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. It combines teacher designed education with parent involvement and uses computer and distance-learning technologies. As a public school, PDELA is tuition-free. The programs are designed to provide each student with an individualized, home-based education in grades K-12. Students reside all across Pennsylvania.

PDELA operates under the direction of The Pennsylvania Distance Learning Charter School, a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, headed by an independent Board of Directors comprised of community leaders who are dedicated to the expansion of parental choice in education throughout Pennsylvania. PDELA, through its independent Board of Directors, is dedicated to furnishing an individualized distance learning program for children in grades K-12.

Everything that a PDELA student needs for his or her education is provided for. PDELA provides:
• A tuition-free education that students complete from the comfort and safety of home.
• A complete computer system, including desktop computer and a color printer/fax/scanner
• An award-winning curriculum
• Teachers who are dedicated to supporting each parent educator and student
• Live, interactive, online class sessions
• Access to progress, grades and curriculum 24 hours a day
• Access to online tutoring and homework help
• Online resources such as LexisNexis, World Book and a video library with over 10,000 educational videos
• Scholarships so that families may obtain a high-speed internet connection
• Field trips
• Technical support
• Reimbursements for supplemental educational activities

Dedicated PDELA faculty and staff are available to help support parents and students through email, phone, fax, and postal mail communications. Teachers also lead live interactive classes for students to attend on a regular basis.

All PDELA teachers are certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Students are assigned a highly qualified teacher for each class in which they are enrolled.

Students in grades 7-12 are assigned an Academic Advisor. Academic Advisors monitor attendance and academic progress, establish goals with the parent educator, and assist with post-graduation planning.


Special Education students and their families have the support of an Intervention Specialist. The IS works with students and parent-educators to ensure that the goals, objectives, and accommodations of Individual Education Plans (IEP) are met and appropriate course selections are made.

PDELA provides a Technical Support hotline to solve computer-related issues effectively over the phone. The Technical Support team will work with families to answer hardware, software, and Internet connectivity questions.

In order to make sure that each family has a smooth transition into the program, a full Admissions Department is provided for students to aid in the process. Admissions Counselors have the answers to help parents and students understand the steps needed to become part of the PDELA family.

To ensure that parents have additional resources to support student learning, a Parent Supplemental Education Account (PSEA) is established for each student. After the first year of enrollment, funds will accumulate for each student, based on the number of years enrolled at PDELA. PSEA reimbursements can help students enjoy museum and zoo memberships or purchase additional educational items to guide their academic success.


PDELA field trips bring curriculum to life! Students of all ages utilize these opportunities to engage their minds and enhance their learning experience. PDELA student field trips are designed for students of all ages. These historical and cultural activities have included the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, Gettysburg National Park, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg Science Centers, and Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field and Historical Center.

PDELA provides a special education program in accordance with current federal and state regulations and guidelines. This program is individualized to the unique needs of each child who has been diagnosed as needing Special Education services. PDELA provides a multi-faceted educational evaluation as needed for each student with a disability.

For further information regarding PDELA, visit