High transient population. High poverty. High number of second language students.
Yep, must be the teachers’ fault.
But let’s call it what it is: union busting. As one Washington Post editorial writer said:
It’s no wonder that Education Secretary Arne Duncan applauded the move, saying the committee members were “showing courage and doing the right thing for kids.”
Now, all they have to do is find 93 excellent professionals to take their places. Recruiting the best educators should be easy, especially when you can offer them life in a very poor town and a job with no security.
And, of course, the powers that be will have to ignore all the other influences on high school students because their poor performance was all about the adults at the high school.
Their elementary and middle school education — or lack thereof? Not a problem.
Their sometimes difficult home lives? Naw. That doesn’t affect how a kid does at school.
No Child Left Behind, a federal education law that has driven schools to drastically narrow curriculum and use rudimentary standardized tests to measure how well kids are doing? Nope. Not an issue, nor is the fact that Duncan is largely continuing the NCLB practices that have been shown to be a failure.
The Daily Kos commented on the Rhode Island story with this:
[A] policy that encourages school boards to fire everyone or lose federal funding is as lazy and incompetent as any of the teachers John Stossell and the voucher supporters trumpet (with nearly slanderous abandon) as indicative of all public school teachers.When you sweep out all teachers, including the ones who have given their all and who have succeeded with countless children, you are not improving schools, you are hastening the destruction of public education.
A great summation by The Daily Kos, but how disheartening to hear the nation’s leader of education support a measure with no history of success, practices shown by decades of research to be unsuccessful, and policies that undermine the the very systems he wishes to see improve. I was excited to hear what he had to say at last year’s NEA Representative Assembly. This year I’m excited to hear the reactions if he does show up.
The current administration of “hope” has left me with little.
Who needs to do math homework to succeed in life? Not everyone.
I had a conversation with the superintendents in my district last week, and we discussed the implications of getting on board the Race To The Top bus.
According to the superintendent, one requirement for even asking for funds awarded to the state if the state receives RTTT money is agreeing to a new evaluation system, a new rating system which could affect the make-up of schools, the beginning of the end for local collective bargaining, and more. And this is before even knowing if any additional money is provided to the district. Plus, the district and the local union would have to sign off on this together.
I asked how much money our state would likely receive.
The superintendent replied, “$250 million, but the state can take half of it and give the rest to education.”
I then asked how many school districts Washington has.
He replied, “about 300.”
This means that, if every district received an equal share, each district would receive $500,000. However, the bottom 5% would receive an extra share, and larger districts would receive a larger share. My superintendent and I figured we would receive maybe between $250,000 and $400,000. That won’t save a program and would be a miniature and temporary band-aid for any department.
A potentially complete restructure based on bad (or no) research with the hope of a pittance is not really a choice.
A while back I wanted my students to write more, but I knew I didn’t have the time to assess more. So, like Miniver Cheevy, I “thought, and thought, and thought/ and thought about it…scratched [my] head and kept on thinking…/coughed, and called it fate,/ And kept on drinking.” Ok, not really, but that’s a great poem for allusions and the differences between Romanticism and Realism.
Anyway, I came up with a simple idea: each day in class the students compose a 1-2 paragraph mini-essay after choosing a prompt from a list I created based on what we are reading at the time. We do this for six days, numbering each essay one through six, and then on the seventh day I roll a die to determine which essay I collect. The students have 20 minutes in class to write, and then they are responsible for finalizing each draft that night or on the weekend.
Students who are absent the day I collect the work receive the same treatment; when they walk in the room, I roll the die and the result may not be the same as the rest of the class. That’s just the way chance works is what I tell the students when explaining the process.
The writings (on which the six essays are based) that the students are in the midst of composing are the following:
- “I’m A Fool” by Sherwood Anderson,
- “Soldier’s Home” by Ernest Hemingway,
- “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” by F. Scott Fitzgerald,
- The Great Gatsby, Chapter 1, by F. Scott Fitzgerald,
- The Great Gatsby, Chapter 2, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and
- The Great Gatsby, Chapter 3, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
P.S. As an introduction to the period, I once again assigned the research displays I blogged about last year.
Bad Taste Alert:
I bet he was the chillest teacher ever. He was probably buds with everyone in school, most likely seeded his classes with happiness, and assuredly didn’t mind being blunt.
I’m guessing his students lit up every time he entered the room. He would weed out the token troublemakers and hash out appropriate discipline, but he would never have them stoned.
I bet he has a smoking car in the garage and while home would keep the local kids off his grass. I can see him dropping his bowl of brownies and blazing a trail to answer the bonging doorbell when his fatty Aunt Mary arrives. After a great visit and a small case of the munchies, he would hit the hay with a relaxed, blank expression.
In all seriousness (and I know this is a serious subject), I wonder if he will lose his license. Even a non-violent felony not related to his job can cost him his career.