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The utter insanity of blaming teachers only and letting parents and students off the hook.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-03-12 11:32 PM
Original message
The utter insanity of blaming teachers only and letting parents and students off the hook.
That is the policy of the education "reformers", and it is not frowned upon by the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

Did he and the president intend for the reforms to be so degrading to teachers? I don't know. Could they have stopped it before it went so far. Yes, they could have done so. They did not.

It is totally unfair to the students and their parents to sit back and let the teachers be blamed and fired over test scores. It takes away from the students a sense of responsibility for their actions.

The main difference between the Democrats and the Republicans on education policy is pretty simple: The Republicans push vouchers, the Democrats are content with charter schools. Both policies take per student funding from the public schools and give it to the private or charter schools.

I would honestly say I knew of four teachers throughout the over 30 years I taught who were really inadequate in the classroom. Two of them were inept. My last two teaching interns were obviously not going to be successful as teachers. But I never saw anything that would begin to reach the level of incapability that public schools are accused of now by the "reform" community. Most teachers are good teachers who have to take the child as he comes to them from his home, his parents, his life. All of those are factors in success and failure in school.

What's happened to the grades given by the teachers on classroom tests? How can it be that honor students end up in remedial classes because of one test?

Here are some of the things I did when I was teaching, and in fact almost every teacher at our schools did the very same things. I cared, they cared. We were in a low income school in a neighborhood with much drug activity. Tough teaching but we loved our students and got the best cooperation we could from the parents.

At the time we did these things we were not resentful, just wishing things could be better. Now when I look back I do feel resentment and anger at the way things have evolved.

I feel frustrated to see funds being taken from public schools because high stakes test scores were not met. Those funds are being given to charter schools who are not required to provide information on finances or student success and failure.

More than teaching, much more.

During summer vacation I bought a new broom and a new mop. I bought cleaning supplies in spray bottles to make clean-ups easier. I kept extra rolls of paper towels. I bought chamois cloths to make board cleaning easier.

I got estimates from a local printing company on my weekly run-offs for each child. Use of the office equipment was limited to school secretaries and teacher aides specially trained to use the copiers. They did not like teachers using the expensive machines. I never did figure out why.

We were smart enough to teach the children, but not bright enough to use the copiers.

So I paid for the worksheets I needed done because half the time the aide got tied up elsewhere, and the secretaries did not have time.

Our custodians were often absent. The students and I would pitch in and sweep, clean the sinks with spray cleaner disinfectant, dust the counters. A few times when we had a rest room in the room I would have to clean that, too. I would not feel right asking the children. They loved the cleaning, but it took time from class....not good.

I bought bulletin board displays from teacher supply stores. Lower grade teachers had to have shiny happy rooms with pictures of animals, flowers, or displays of what we were studying. I had 6 bulletin boards....not my choice. But my job to fill them.

One principal called me in right after I was moved into a portable because of overcrowding....he said my room looked too bare. I had to actually defend the fact that my class had only been there two days, just moving in.

That's just how things were. High school teachers do not have to worry about bulletin boards and making rooms pretty. It was fun, but it was hard work.

Some of the students who walked to school liked to stay later and help me get the room in order. Since most teachers stayed late anyway, that was very helpful. It made their parents happy to have the extra quiet time.

I think the children learned valuable lessons about responsibility for their surroundings by cleaning and helping, but it did take from my class time and planning time.

Then there was bus duty. That's what they called it when we had to supervise the kids before and after school as the buses brought them and took them home. It was done a week at a time on a rotating basis. If a child got on the wrong bus, or wandered off with a friend...we stayed until they were found. It was our job, and they were our responsibility.

We also had lunchroom duty. What fun that was. There were always visiting parents for lunch. If we tried to get students to comply with the rules, some parents would report us for being too strict. If we let them get away with too much, some would get upset with that. Lunchroom duty was the worst.

The last few years I taught, the county offices decided that principals' offices were to be authoritarian, not disciplinarian in nature. That made life easy for them, but we had nowhere to turn for the real discipline problems. I had one boy who did not qualify for a special class (don't ask me why), but he had serious problems. He would start kicking the walls and banging his head against the blackboard until it was a dangerous situation. If I tried to intervene, he would kick me as well.

Luckily the assistant principal and I had an understanding. He would come to the class and take him down to his office to calm down. He got kicked also. The parents were at their wits end, and gave permission for us to do this. We never knew what triggered his outbursts. Calm one minute, violent the next. No help in sight. At the end of the year his parents gave me a hug and a small gift. They did care but they were victims of the system as well.

We did do some teaching in between all the realities of life in a community that harbored drug dealers. We did good teaching, and there was a lot of good learning that went on.

We had a guidance counselor who had all the materials of James Dobson lined up in her office. When I discovered she shared those materials with the parents of the children she was counseling...I just handled things myself. I wondered often if the county approved those materials. In this area they probably did.

Did I tell you about the head lice? Once our principal decided head lice were annoying the office staff and bothering him, so he decreed there would be no more. We had one of the worst outbreaks ever about that time. We spread them out across the room and tried to be casual. Parents came to me asking what to do about the situation. I said go over my head to the county. They did, and the supervisor took care of it at once.

Once I was told by the principal that a mother called and said her son was being bullied during PE time. I told him that the coach and I had discussed it...that her son WAS the bully. He terrorized the other kids. The coach and I had already had a conference with the mother before she called the principal. Still the principal told both of us to fix it, and not make the mother angry. An impossible task among many other impossible tasks.

There were great successes along the way. I saw students with severe learning disabilities get the help they needed to be productive citizens. Some with IQs in the 170s who simply could not read but were math geniuses. I know some went to college, I don't know about the others. I saw a 4th grader with attention problems so severe he could not sit still, could not function. His parents and I worked with a physician for needed help. By the end of the year he was in a program for gifted and was teaching science lessons to our class.

I would like for Arne Duncan to come to classrooms like those I saw and worked in and tell those teachers they are inept and failing. That we need merit pay. That the students we loved and taught were to be tested to show if we were good teachers or not. They would have worked their hearts out to please, but reality would set in. Some could not do the tests that were made for one size to fit all.

Arne Duncan recently announced that during this four years "our basic theory of action is not going to change".

That's unfortunate. That says to the teachers that the politicians are not listening, that the agenda is already set.

As a favorite blogger, JerseyJazzman, said:

Jersey Jazzman
September 25, 2012 at 4:33 pm

There are many good reasons to vote for Barack Obama.
Education policy is not one of them.

Obama's views on education

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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-04-12 05:49 AM
Response to Original message
1.  Arne Duncan is a damned fool.
He has an army of dedicated teachers like the above example. Arne reminds me of a bad commander during a war. History is littered with people like Arne, those that believe they have all the answers until some catastrophic event proves them wrong. In the meantime we all have to suffer.
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-04-12 10:04 AM
Response to Original message
2. Friggin' Bean Counters.
Metrics, Metrics, I'm sick of hearing them talk about they're trying to turn students into cookie-cutter clones and grind them out like little sausages.

Luckily, my Autistic Son has great teachers. He's great at Math but sucks at reading comprehension, or so they say. He's always asking me questions about current events that he reads about on the NET. He comprehends the articles he reads very well.

I get the impression that they don't care for the Metrics either.

In my time, there was no early intervention. I said fuck-it, went into the Navy and passed my GED in the top 1 percentile within 2 months and I managed to go to College and get a BS in Chemistry.

I see him suffering through much of the same issues that stood in my way. The only reason I didn't fall through the cracks and wind up in Prison, or worse, was by sheer willpower.

Too many don't make it.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-04-12 12:16 PM
Response to Original message
3. Here is a perfect example of failed evaluation of teachers.
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-04-12 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. following.. n/t
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