It’s a slow start to the week here at the Casa de la Ligne. Ted had a largish cyst cut out of the back of his leg on Friday and spent the weekend determinedly not thinking about the painkiller prescription the doctor failed to prescribe. Extra Strength Tylenol is decidedly not.
We spent a chunk of last evening teaching our kids math disguised as blackjack. And if they also learn to stand on a 16 when the dealer is showing a 3, then that’s just an extra-added bonus, no?
Speaking of teaching math to our children, the public school situation here in Florida is a continuing source of…anger in our household. Here the kids are subject to annual testing, the FCAT. This standardized testing actually pre-dates the No Child Left Behind Act but was adjusted in 2001 to match the new federal standards. Now the kids have to pass the tests in grade 3 to advance to grade 4 (reading only), and in grade 10 (reading and math) to graduate.
In theory, I have absolutely no problem with this. Too many kids are passed along when they should have been held back. They simply didn’t learn what was required to advance, but were promoted anyway to avoid damaging their self-confidence/self-image, whatever keyword the socialists were bandying about that particular year. It was a system that did no one any favors, least of all the promoted kids.
What I object to in this standardized testing environment is the way preparation for these tests is being handled. Last year, for instance (which for #1 Son was not a pass/fail year…something that is not specified to parents, btw, you have to find that information for yourself), it seemed to us that everything outside of prep for the FCAT writing exam just stopped. Math disappeared, science disappeared…you know, the important subjects. And then after the testing in early March, the teacher tried to cram in a half year’s worth of math before school ended in mid-May. And I’m not the only one who has noticed this trend.
Everyone with school-aged kids knows the schools teach TO these tests, instead of just teaching the material. They do this in Florida because their jobs literally rely on how well the kids do on the tests. Jeb Bush’s A+ Plan, grades schools “depending on student performance and the degree to which the bottom 25% of the school has improved compared to its past performances,” and pulls/delivers Title 1 funding appropriately. This is wrong, creates a seriously stressful environment for all involved, and will result in knowledge-gaps that our kids will pay for down the road.
Overall, our public school systems are really in dire shape. An ex-teacher with whom Ted works tells us that people fail upwards in public schools, which means the Principal/Vice Principal were likely seriously inferior teachers. I will admit that teaching and administration do not have very much to do with each other, but would like to see some actual standards applied to the people running our schools nonetheless. For example, when we had problems earlier this year with #1 Son’s teacher, and met with him, the P and VP, the Principal was quite confrontational, demanding to know what Ted thought he would accomplish by being angry at the man’s treatment of our kid (which to us was personal and extremely unprofessional) and putting them on the defensive.
That the school administration obviously considers parents as adversaries is a major problem for me. I understand that there are truly troublesome parents out there, from the ones who just do not care, to the ones who cry about every imagined slight to their special snowflake, but you would think that functioning adults could tell the difference between them and have the ability to react to each appropriately. Then again, those devoted to bureaucracy do not like to have their little ponds stepped in, so perhaps these schools in Denver have the right idea:
Eighteen northeast Denver schools are seeking to build an autonomous school zone — freeing them from union and district rules they say are bureaucratic barriers to improving student achievement.
Principals from several of the schools met Monday with 50 community members and educators at Montbello High School to outline the proposal, which will be presented this month to the school board.
Principals from the 18 schools want to create a “zone of innovation,” giving them control over their budget, the educational program in the schools, staffing and incentives.
Of course if they suffer from the same bureaucracy at the school-level, then how exactly does that make a difference? And aren’t they just trading old bureaucracy for new with this essentially new district they’re creating?
Welcome to my headache.