Monday, January 16, 2006

Let's leave some children behind.

I have hesitated to post about this, but I am gonna do it. No Child Left Behind.

Our school will never make "adequate yearly progress" because every year we have about 20 to 25 percent of our students who can just barely speak english. And new ones arrive every day. We also have lots of Special Ed kids. These kids take the same tes tfor NCLB as the Honors kids.

Therefore, our school will be rated failing, and we will have to transport any student who chooses to go to another school.

The NEA is suing the federal government because since the inception of NCLB, it has never been funded sufficiently, and funding for schools from the federal government recently was reduced by the senate.

(Do more with less)

My students who take the tests, all but two have given up trying to pass. They know that if they click random answers, they have as good a chance as if they tried really hard and read everything carefully.

The quantity of reading in the test is more than they probably do all semester in all their classes combined. A woman who is currently an administrator (read: principal) at my school tried to dissuade me from getting textbook for my health class, saying the reading was pointless (read: the books cost too much and your kids won't get it anyway). I got them anyway.

I do not know everything about NCLB. I know our school will never pass AYP, in fact, award winning schools don't make AYP (and ours is recognized annually by a different organization it seems each year for excellence. "Oh another award? That's nice."). And then the school is labeled failing.

It was purported by a very interesting woman who taught a class in assessment at a private university i was lucky enough to get a grant to go to that the Bush administration is trying to dismantle public education and replace it with vouchers. The potential result being that the only ones with a good education would be the middle upper class and upper class, and the public schools would be full of the not so lucky (read: poor, dumb) kids. I am not sure I agree with her assertion, but who knows really, huh?

I like my school alot. But when I saw an advertisement with Laura Bush saying that W was the education president my jaw dropped. I have read that at least 10 states have voted to forego the federal funding so that they can leave NCLB behind, because while higher standards are great, expecting Special Ed kids and kids who speak no english to pass the same test as the college prep kids is just nutso.


suleyman said...

I think dismantling public schools would be a good idea. I went to public school. I think public school is crap. Why? Not for lack of money. Never did I feel like the materials we had were shoddy. They were always adequate. The problem was that they were teaching the kids how to pass tests, not real knowledge or critical thinking skills.


Adeline said...

I felt this way too when I got out of college. I couldn't remember if my high school had really taught me anything at all. I frankly am still not sure how much I learned in high school, becuase I was one of the students who had no reason to pay attention really to what was going on. I got B's with next to no effort whatsoever, and my parents just really didn't seem to care much if I did make honor roll, which I did one year just to see that I could do it.

Critical thinking skills are immensely important. But now after lots of experience with kids, many kids, most are not ready to handle learning this when they are 16, 17. Some are. And they should be taught it. But most are not. Most just want to know what to do to get through. High school is way different than college primarily due to motivation... college kids usually want, or should want to be there. And they pay dearly for it. High school kids are across the map in their needs, the ways they learn, the fact that most don't know how they learn, the homes they come from (whether anyone cares about their grades or not) and their ideas, even the vaguest, about what their future holds for them. Not to mention their educational background, how many schools they have attended, whether they have gaps in their education or not. That said, high school kids have a huge variety of different needs. Some just need to know how to keep their papers. Some need logic classes, philosophy and critical thinking.

Were it that we had graded high schools that attempted to meet the needs of all kids, we would have the dummy schools, where the kids were expected to perform low, and the smart school, where kids were expected to achieve. That's not a good idea either, as the dummy kids would then have already been dealt a bad hand.

Verily the same thing would be true if public schools would be obliterated. Do you think people from the lower socio-economic class would take those tax dollars to put their kids into private schools? Some might. But the rest would opt out of school, making a huge market for adult education, and alot of young people with not enough skills or maturity to so much as get a job, much less keep one. If they get a job even. School isn't always fun. Some kids feel that they are very bad at school, so why would they go? Even a kid who doesn't think they are learning in school is getting exposed to some things they wouldn't get exposed to otherwise. What would these kids not in public school do then?

I don't think all schools are good, and I know some schools may do more harm than good at times, such is an institution, but obliterating public school, best that there would be something to put in its place--and education is always the right thing for a young person.

Fitèna said...

I went to public school (primary). I don't know how they work in the US but ours was real good. That was in Niger. Here in Mauritius its another story. The Government and all the stakeholders are still ighting about what sort of system to adopt, what to add to the syllabus, what to substract, teaching oriental languages or not teaching them... its a never ending sterile debate. Sterile because this government now adopts and impliments a strategy, in another 3 years, after election, if the other party wins, they rearrange the education system as they deem fit. A perpetual back n fro (that expression right).
Every year 405 of the kids passing the Primary School Certificate exams. Not that they're unitelligent, no they don NOT know how to read nor write. Why? ecause they have this automatic passing system here. You do not repeat classes in primary School. You just fail your PSCE because after 6 years of schooling, you still cannot read or write.


suleyman said...

I hear you, but even the kids who are going to college lack the ability to think critically, come up with their own ideas (they just rehash the ideas of others), formulate and defend an argument, or write papers. Professor friends complain about this constantly to me. The caliber of students has decreased markedly, at least at my own U. All of this in spite of the fact that the average GPA of students admitted has increased to roughly 3.8-3.9


Adeline said...

so your solution is to obliterate public schools? do you see that this will only create a huge disparity between the haves and the have nots?

I hear your argument, but isnt there a better solution?