Saturday, September 13, 2008

Left Behind (American Education-Not that Rapture Crap)

I was a teacher for several years. My late mother was a teacher, and because of her I grew up around them, and absorbed their complaints and concerns, but also their love of the job itself. For some of these women, and 95% of them were women, it was a calling, a vocation. But frankly, it's not a job I can do any more.

Teaching is no longer the profession it was when my mom began in 1959, or when I was in school in the 70's and 80's, or even when I first taught in the mid-nineties. So what, one might ask, happened? Well, there's so many factors, I'm not totally sure where to begin. And I'm certain I'll revisit this topic in the weeks to come.

Frustration with the system is a BIG reason for the decline of the education system. Good teachers leave because they aren't free to just teach. It was one of my reasons for quitting. Not to be arrogant, but I was a good teacher. Modern teaching has been tortured, castrated and is on its way to being drawn and quartered by No Child Left Behind. No one actually likes it. Its often referred to a No Child's Behind Left, or simply Left Behind. Any educator who tells you it is a good idea is lying. You know that word so rarely used by the mainstream media? Telling a deliberate falsehood is called a lie.

Testing schoolchildren is not a bad idea, nor is trying to pinpoint areas of deficiency, or failing schools. But NCLB is a Trojan Horse meant to destroy the Public School System of the United States and to push some students into charter and private schools, others in home schooling, leaving what they would consider the dregs at schools that were so useless, no learning would go on there at all.

Why do Conservatives hate America?

Check out these figures on teacher attrition from 1992

6.3.8 Among college graduates in 1992–93 who became public school teachers, 84 percent of those teachers who scored in the bottom quartile on their college entrance exams were still teaching five years later. In contrast, only 68 percent who scored in the top quartile on their college entrance exams were still teaching after five years (U.S. Department of Education, 2003b). The disproportionate departure of academically able teachers is salient because a consistent body of research shows that teachers’ verbal ability, a measure of teachers’ general academic ability, has more of an impact on student achievement than any other measurable teacher attribute (Whitehurst, 2002, citing Greenwald et al. 1996; Ferguson and Ladd, 1996; Kain and Singleton, 1996; Ehrenberg and Brewer, 1994).

So even back then, if you are smarter, you quickly get the hell out??

Starting in the mid-to-late 90's teachers who were...a bit deficient, were advised by their mentors to take the Principal's test. So after 2 years, (now it's 3 years when you get tenure in most states) failing teachers can take an exam and become an administrator, with in many districts, the power to hire, deny tenure, train and supervise teachers, and evaluate the staff of their school. Those evaluations follow a teacher, social worker, school psychologist, or aide, and become part of their permanent records with the board of education. If someone dislikes you, you may have to leave the school, or system. And if someone decides to save money by denying tenure, and not renewing contracts for the teachers up for tenure, and hiring cheap fresh out of school teachers, they can. In short, people with the least experience and little constraints on their behavior, now run the schools.

Say you can jump these hurdles, then comes No Child Left Behind. Let me make this clear-No one goes through all that schooling, and training, and aggravation involved with getting a teaching position in order to teach to the damned test. No one likes moving on to the next subject because of time limits, no matter if their students comprehend or not. If they fill in the correct bubble because they have memorized the answers-job done. This is not learning, nor is it proper teaching. Unfortunately, it is where we are now...

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