Monday, January 30, 2006

Why Edison Schools do not Produce What Some Expect

As a follow-up to Edison Schools in Peoria and why Edison teachers struggle to raise the grades of these students, we often overlook that parents whose kid or kids are failing in the regular public school system; these parents expect their kids to become a model student just because they are now attending an Edison School. I visit Edison Schools and other schools, and I see a number of kids who are failing in the Edison Schools. I see disinterested kids, kids without discipline at home (one kid at Edison Loucks told me he had been in juvenile court twice and he was only in the 8th grade) or much love either, kids who don’t get enough sleep or eat right. I see teachers who are better teachers than other teachers, same as in the non-Edison Schools. The same is true with principals. Edison Schools are not like a Washington Gifted School where the perception is that only the brightest attend and the teachers and principals are the best.

At Edison Schools, if a kid is too disruptive, they will not be back next semester. In fact, they may be removed and sent back to the regular school before the end of a session.. Most teachers in the Edison Schools seem more excited about their careers because they know they have a better support system and can better support each other. Also Edison personnel, (those who take our dollars out of town according to the unions) add additional expertise.

There are teachers, many, in fact, who are doing are great job in all the other schools that are not Edison. After all, only four schools in the entire system are Edison. Many are disappointed in the support given them by boards and administrations and the public, for that matter. They ask for support to maintain a reasonable sense of order in the classroom. As one older teacher (like 55 is old!!) told me “what good is it to send a disruptive kid to the principals office if the principal sends the kid back and the next day the teacher gets a call from the parent or guardian.” In most cases, because of the system set up by the board and the union, the principal has no choice. This teacher said she counted the days for retirement and she did retire last year. I visited her class and she was a good teacher, just tired of fighting what was going on in the system.

I visited a number of classes at Loucks and Rolling acres last week and have visited many regular classrooms and schools including all four Edison Schools over a period of many years. I served on a planning committee with teachers at Northmoor. I try to get school personnel to address social groups like the Noon Optimist Club. Nicole Wood was our speaker at Noon Optimist Club recently and she won a number of converts. The whole system needs a couple hundred more Nicole’s.

To break the system of failure and “perceived failure” in #150, there will be tougher leadership than this system has had in the past. Kids are going to need to be told in a tough positive caring manner that when they enter the door of any school, they may be entering a different culture where the rules may be different but these rules WOULD BE FOLLOWED, that they can not take the opportunities offered for granted and they will be expected to perform within their abilities to perform. Maybe not the best grades, but in some arenas, yes sports too, but also other arenas; they will eventually find their niche in this not always understanding world. Parents or guardians who have excuses not to attend these late in the day introductorily meetings must be held accountable. Maybe be subjected to arrest of fines like the judge handed out in Kentucky. Kids must be told they are accountable and that being late, absent or disrespectable is not way of life.

The community, board and administration, must understand that all kids are not college bound. The opportunity must always be presented but not the expectation as there are many other fields to serve any community by holding a job in some field with an opportunity to advance if they so wish. Kids must learn that decent wages must be earned and are not an entitlement. (In other word, they must ignore the welfare system offered by many who would make this a socialist society).

The community should expect a better rounded kid to come out of Edison schools while remembering you cannot make a “silk purse out of a sow’s ear” as the old saying is still true today.

1 comment:

Edison Parent said...

Thanks for getting to the heart of the matter that each of the parents that chose to transfer our children into the Edison school understood. We understand that the current system, not just Peoria's (although it serves an excellent example), is broken. The current system is one of the last vestiges of 18th century America left: an agrarian based system that no longer meets the consumers' needs in an rapidly-evolving, nearly post-digital age and serves as a grand 20th century socialist experiment.

We chose to pull our kids from the traditional curriculum. In our expectation that District 150 will pull a successful program, we will pull our children from the failing curriculum.