A “Letter to the Editors” in today’s JS written by Bob Lillie titled “Do the math on Education Reform” prompts this blog. Mr. Lillie now lives in Phoenix but is formerly from Eureka. Mr. Lillie says he has been involved as a teacher and administrator for 27 years and has a master’s degree in education administration from Bradley.
Mr. Lillie writes “I would like to see a national survey asking the American public how many have used algebra and trigonometry since they left high school. I would also like our politicians (many who live in scholastic ivory towers; my comments) who mandate these tests, to themselves take the state required tests and have their scores published before each election.” He continues “Isn’t it a form of discrimination to force all our young people to compete with unequal abilities? (And unequal abilities and motivations? My comments).
On 10/30/07 the JS pushed an article by an AP writer “School Dropout numbers dismal” and on 7/23/07 the JS published an article saying one out of ten Illinois Schools are labeled dropout factories. A reputable study showed that 1700 regular or vocational schools held on to 60 percent or less of their students from freshman to senior year over a three year period.
No Peoria school was on that list. #150 graduation rate was 83.1% with Richwoods listed as the highest and Manual listed as the lowest at 66.5%.
I am somewhat suspect of these local figures as it was no more than two years ago; I was told by an administrator that #150 did not have a tracking system. Earlier, during the term of Ed Bradle and John Day, I was told that the suspected dropout rate from 1st grade thru 12th grade was 50% and that the district did not have a tracking system.
I also know that some kids picked up for excessive truancy attend school only because that is part of the agreement reached to get them back in the classroom. Being in classrooms does not necessarily mean any learning process is going on (don’t believe me, go visit some classrooms in session and see first hand)
Communities have continual dialogue over giving all kids an equal opportunity. I agree. Many teachers and administrators know that not all kids have the same abilities, interest or drive. Too many kids take the attitude that the school offers little or nothing of interest to them. This is where politicians who probably did like school and got a reasonable education have got it wrong. They feel the curriculums set by mandate will be accepted by all kids. That is mostly true of most college bound kids.
But what about kids who have unequal abilities, unequal interests and unequal motivations and at this early stage of their life have neither the means or interest in going to college? Those are the ones I feel we are leaving behind and those who often become dropouts. Curriculums have been broadened to try to keep kids in schools. Administrators do know that not all kids are college bound. So why have mandated requirements that they take college entry level courses?
Kids must be offered basic courses that kids have the skills and the interest to complete and to get passing grades. Administrators show that they do offer a diverse curriculum but if not enough kids sign up for these classes, the school can’t afford to assign a teacher.
I have long contended that school personnel have to do a better “selling” job to keep kids from becoming dropouts. Every kid has an interest in something meaningful and some type of talent. A column was devoted tin the JS a number of years ago about a dropout who made it big on Broadway of somewhere in the entertainment field. Maybe one out of 100,000; similar to high school or even college basketball stars ever making money playing as professionals. Very, very few.
Ask any kid not interested in school and over 13 years old and they can name less than half a dozen that were very successful in sports or entertainment. I have and some can’t even name more than three. The name many of them think of first is Hersey Hawkins. Wrong.
The kid and parent (yes, both) have no excuse for not being able to learn to read and write, reasonably well. That is a mandatory requirement for everyone. Starting immediately, schools must help kids develop a reasonably positive attitude, a work ethic, the ability to accept critiquing and leadership, the ability to have dialogue and communicate their feelings and needs, accept personal responsibility, be dependable, have integrity and to be clean and well groomed. With these basic attributes, I see no reason why any kid can’t become a positive contributor to society.
There are of course points of no return in school just as there are in life. When all else fails, the kid becomes a ward of society. With the help of social agencies or law enforcement agencies or other outside the school assistance, they eventually may become productive citizens of a community.
That is why society must make every effort to get kids involved in a meaningful and productively involved childhood by the time they reach fourth or fifth grade. It seems after 3rd grade, many kids fall too far behind and never catch up with their peers who have a greater realization of what it takes to make it successfully through at least 12 grades and with enough learning and preparation to lead a reasonably successful life.
You can’t force a kid to learn in any school or in life IF they have made up their minds that they do not want to. But give them plenty of opportunity to change their minds.
Many do. The rest fill our juvenile courts, jails, prisons or become welfare dependents and blaming others for the sad situations of their lives.
Today’s JSEB “Schools should pick their battles” would have better read “Schools should halt skirmishes before they turn into battles.” School Administrators, Boards and Teachers are becoming totally confused. First, the good parents who back the schools decisions involving discipline and distractions in the classroom and on the school grounds are ignored when a student and her parent challenge the kids dress or behavior in the media. Divisive media like the Journal Star say these are just kids and wait until there is something bigger. Bigger like what? More disrespect, such as challenging the teacher when the teacher tells them to please sit down and they defy the teacher with a remark like “make me”. Yes, I saw that happen twice in my classroom visits to #150.When I asked the teachers why she didn’t send the kid to the office; their replies were that “just causes them (the teachers) more problems”. I have blogged on this sorry situation before.
Again, bigger like what? Like coming to school with a shaved head like Brittney? Getting pregnant in the fifth grade or sooner? Dressing in tight and tighter clothes showing the boys the best you have to offer because it won’t be your stresses and your common sense that will cause them to “like” you? Wearing spiked hair and T-shirts with profanity like they allow at most colleges? Read Molly Messing’s letter to the editor in today’s JS.
“60 Minutes” is often too liberal for me, (I do like Andy Rooney!) but if you watched the program on “workplace entitlements” last night you are getting a better idea of where this once great country is heading.
It is parents who challenge school rules that have caused the problems described in an article in the WSJ on 11/08/07 titled “Adult Supervision”. Excerpts: “A Colorado Springs elementary school is one of the latest to ban tag on its playground. Running will still be allowed as long as there is no chasing. The ban wasn’t the idea of overprotecting educrats—it was the result rather of children and their parents who “complained that they’d been chased or harassed against their will.” Other schools have already banned swings, merry-go-rounds, teeter-totters, sandboxes and even hugs. You read about the discipline meted out to Megan Coulter for hugging two friends goodbye for the weekend-a violation of the schools ban on “public displays of affection? That rule came about because some inconsiderate and spoiled kids were all but “making out” in the hallways so all “hugging” had to be banned.
The old saying is that “a few bad apples” ruin the basket. But we used to have common sense and remove those apples before the good apples were ruined. Today, do that and you hear from an attorney.
One California school district worried about bullying, violence, self-esteem and lawsuits” also banned tag, cops and robbers, touch football and every other activity that involved bodily contact. In some schools, free play has been replaced by organized relay races in order to protect children from spontaneous outbreaks of creativity. This makes sense to the type of parent who thinks children must at all costs be protected from the scrapes of life and the prospect of having to deal with social interaction and disappointment.
We have parents wanting everybody that shows up to an event that used to be competitive to receive a “trophy”. Worry about a hot sun? Build a canopy over playgrounds. Worry about bacteria? Scrub everything and maybe eventually wrapping everything in bubble-wrap.
My parents always said “wash your hands”. Nothing wrong with that especially today but Dad didn’t say get soap and wash off the handle of the manure shovel. He said grab the shovel and learn how to work cause you aren’t living off Mom and I when you become of age. And speaking of manure, all this over protectiveness and defiance of authority are turning this country into a country of wimps. Some day, expect this once great country to be taken over by religious radical zealots and Socialistic-Fascists similar to Bin Laden or Chavez. Pacifists are going to be in what some call d..p s..t.
They can see the fear in our eyes and read it in our psychobabble.
Most of those that did the fighting to keep this country and its inhabitants safe from tyranny were shaped by the competitiveness of this countries character. We had better pray that our enemies of the future are enemies that value non-competitive, risk-free and self-esteem building play activities for its young. I suggest that while prayer may be powerful, prayer to stop aggressors who rather you would be enslaved or dead won’t work.
Don’t blame the schools for making all the stupid rules. Almost all these stupid rules come because of complaining parents, the liberal Medias and outside pandering. Blame over-protective, disrespecting parents and divisive medias to force administrations to set rules to protect the schools and the property tax payer from the NCAAP, the ACLU, attorney’s of the same ilk and parents who often times don’t have a clue about what’s going on in their kids lives. They do know they wield great power thru the press and that some liberal newspaper and some attorneys are going to force the school leaders into submission, no matter how small the perceived slight.
This attitude of let them go, they are just kids doesn’t work anymore. When you let them go, they often don’t know how to stop. And many kids become very good at embellishing a “story” they tell or are good at outright lying.
A recent article titled “Is Goodness Really Gone” reads “Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide behind. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law or a teacher. Imagine that!
Not everybody made the teams. Those that didn’t had to deal with disappointment. Not today, you get a trophy for maybe occasionally showing up.”
This irony came home to me recently. I competed in sports at Western but never won or earned a varsity letter. Last year I received a Varsity Letter from Western apologizing to me for not being awarded a varsity letter many, many years ago. Their belated compassion still did not get them the expected donation.