Monday, March 30, 2009

What's Your Name?

Four boys are huddled together spraying silly string at each other. Much of it is ending up on the floor.
"Hey guys, come here please."
"Um, really? You need that explained?"
Three of the boys take off running, which makes me laugh. These bad-asses are such thugs that they run from a 5'8" teacher asking them to come talk about the situation.
The fourth boy turns and walks away.
"What's your name?"
"Why do you care?"
"Because you and your crew just made a mess in our hallways. That's not a good choice."
He keeps walking; so do I.
"Well, what's your name?"
He ignores me.
"Where are you headed?"
He ignores me.
This isn't the first time one of these wannabe tough guys refused to give up their name. They're willing to just keep walking and ignoring us until we come across security (which doesn't happen regularly) or they realize many of us just don't have the will to keep following them--something I am willing to do.
Just another day in paradise.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Easy Targets

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to the most pretentious state in the union: Connecticut. We have the largest achievement gap in the country; teachers are paid in the top three in the country; and we are in the top three for smartest state. So, what does our Education Commissioner want to do? Yep, add more classes to teacher certification. Mark McQuillan, with his extenisive resume outside of public education classrooms, thinks we'd be better off if only we had taken a class on teaching English language learners.
Listen, I don't know him. I've never met him. But I have a feeling that he wouldn't last a year in some of the classrooms that exist in our state. I'm sure he'll never read this blog because it is beneath him to do so, but please, sir, please, take a class in which you "...undergo extensive training that includes lessons on working with children who speak little English, have learning disabilities or exhibit behavioral problems..." and then step into my classroom and teach for a year.
It is easy to tout your ideas from behind a mahogany desk in downtown Hartford when nobody really knows who you are are or cares much for who you are. It is easy to point fingers at the certification process, which is easy to target, but much more difficult to challenge the fundamentally unfair process of funding local public schools.
Mark McQuillan, you are a coward.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

That's the system we work in

Many moons ago, I wrote about the 10 Most Annoying People on Staff. Here's what I wrote about the fourth person:

4. The Union Thug--As soon as the clock hits 2:30, he's gone. You won't seem him until 7:00 a.m. If the principal has a new idea that might solve some problems, it has to be a violation of the contract. Nothing this person does is an action of his own. He is a follower at all cost. He is the reason why the outside world rags on teachers anytime we complain about pay. The building rep is on his speed dial, and there is no convincing him to budge a millimeter--it is the difference between being respected and taken advantage of.

This week the Union Thugs have been out in force. I dared to challenge the establishment, the system that we operate in and always have operated in.
The establishment believes that tenure and seniority are the way to eliminate positions when funding decreases.
I believe that competency or lack of it is the way to eliminate positions when funding decreases.
The American Federation of Teachers claims the following as its mission statement:

The mission of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, is to improve the lives of our members and their families, to give voice to their legitimate professional, economic and social aspirations, to strengthen the institutions in which we work, to improve the quality of the services we provide, to bring together all members to assist and support one another and to promote democracy, human rights and freedom in our union, in our nation and throughout the world. (emphasis added)

If I understand this properly, the AFT wants to put out the best quality of service which would strengthen the schools we serve. Then why won't the AFT come out and support a policy of eliminating teachers based on competency?
On high school tennis teams across America, players challenge one another for the top spot. The winner earns the right as the number one player. You are right if you are thinking that a clear winner will always exist in tennis. Okay. In high school bands across America, musicians challenge one another for first seat. The teacher listens, evaluates, and then makes a decision. If we can trust human band teachers to make the choice, can't we trust human administrators to identify the best teachers, regardless of service years?
Simply resting on the way we have always done things will never get good schools to become great schools. It certainly won't get failing districts to become good districts.

Friday, March 27, 2009


The Seattle Times is reporting that Jackson High School in Everett, Washington has a t-shirt controversey on its hands. Their Spirit Week t-shirts allegedly have double meanings. Does "Krabby Patty" refer to a burger on Spongebob or to "disease ridden female gentalia [sic]" ( Does "Mole Rat" refer to a character on Spongebob, a "particularly unattractive" woman. What about "Stain" or "Burnt Toast?"
The students wanted to do something different for Spirit Week as other t-shirt ideas failed. They weren't allowed to have a "Battle of the Sexes" and have blue and pink t-shirts.
I like to believe in the goodness of students in general. I like to believe that the Jackson students didn't go on to and try to find phrases to slip by the administrators. I mean, the has an entry for teacher that goes:


Teachers (see pedophile) are sluts who got divorced or married a dumbass and who can't afford to live, so they take the first job they can find and take out all their anger on the students.

And for principal:


The leader, boss and manager of a school. Most are known to be old and mean and fat but there are exceptions.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is our purpose?

Ken DeRosa has an interesting series of posts on reforming education. I recommend reading through his thoughts. Here at the Daily Grind, the issue of purpose has arisen once again. Two events caused this line of thought.

1. Credit Recovery Program: Our school was awarded a grant to help students recover lost credit. When the implementation team presented this program to the staff, they stressed the "last resort" approach. Meaning, it would be clearly articulated to the students that this was a final chance to get that credit. The student would be responsible for their choices, and we would let whatever their choice stand. If a student enrolled but failed to complete attend--out. If a student enrolled and failed to complete work--out.
Today, I observed the two program leaders having a conversation with a student. This student was not doing work and had more or less removed himself from the program. The tone of the conversation was more like that of a beggar. These leaders were imploring the student to make better choices and return to the program. So much for student responsibility. The message I recieved: You messed up, but we'll fix it for you. Please, please, come back so we can justify all the money we're spending because we believe that a diploma is worthless and that our task in public education is to simply give all of you disadvantaged students a piece of paper that allows you to look like you actually learned something even though the minute you open your mouth the world will know you are an idiot which we don't see as even slightly diminishing the name of the school that is on that diploma. (wow, now that is a run-on)

2. Attendance Committee: Our attendance committee serves those students who passed a class but lost credit due to our attendance policy: 9 or more absences and the student loses credit. I watched as my peers returned credit to a student whose absence total in that class amounted to over 20 for first semester and over 10 this quarter so far. They returned credit for semester one, even though there is a clear pattern which has not changed and the "passing" grade for semester one was a 59.6. Why did they do this? They felt bad for her life situation and she really is smart.

So, I ask myself tonight, what is the purpose of teaching at this school? Why follow a curriculum, a standard? We're just going to make sure they get the credit anyway!

Monday, March 23, 2009


Much is happening these days in The Daily Grind. The winds of life have me moving here and there and back again.
After a successful Seniors vs. Staff basketball game, I was asked to be the incoming freshmen class advisor and begin planning the next successful fundraiser and community builder. Yes and yes. As I finally begin to find my role in my second year at what I still consider my new shool, I'm realizing what I can offer to an organization as well as where I need improvement. I take great pride in the successeful community building we've had this year.
After finding no openings for summer school teacher in the district, I was able to land an extraordinary opportunity with Stepping Stones Academy in Hartford. This program identifies and develops middle school students for prestigious private high schools. This will be an invaluable learning experience.
After reading Sweating the Small Stuff by David Whitman, a book about successful inner-city charter/public schools, I've talked my way onto the planning team of a New York City charter school. Again, this learning experience will prove invaluable at some point in my future.
Oh yeah, and my wife and I are expecting our second child. She's sensing a boy this time. I'm still not ready to predict.
So the Daily Grind grinds on.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Life Lessons

"You don't want grown men behaving badly," my assistant principal recommended. He was referring to last night's Staff vs. Seniors basketball game I helped to coordinate. We had been talking about our belief that we had a chance to win the game.
He advised, "You show them that you can win, and then you let them win."
The statement shows the deep contrast in educationl philosophy that exists within the world of education. He cares deeply for our students; he wants them to succeed. In his mind, allowing the students to experience success on the court is showing that care.
To me, and others, actually beating them offers an equally valuable lesson in caring. We care about you so much, we won't just give you success; you have to earn it.
In the end, we staff members dominated much of the first half. Then our tired legs gave way to youthful legs and the seniors won going away. I blame myself as player coach--or maybe, I subconsciously gave in to my assitant principal.
More importantly, we raised over $800 for our yearbook and succeeded once again in bringing a largely segregated student body together for a fun time--even if it was at the expense of my two missed layups and wild airball from behind the three point arc.

Friday, March 20, 2009

NCAA Brackets

I'm in the process of running my brackets into the ground. The good news: President Obama has added me to the bailout. The bad news: Barney Frank wants me to give back my bonus. The worst news: Senator Grassley wants me to kill myself.

Monday, March 16, 2009


This disastrous economy coupled with working in a low-income district has pushed my wife and I into cautious panic for the moment. Last year, I was on the chopping block due to my status as low man on the pole. The district cut high school positions, and had it not been for a few within my department choosing to financially benefit their families, I would have been axed. This year, my wife is on the short list.
Before I tackle funding issues, I will admit to seriously double-guessing our decision to move to Connecticut. My family is important to me, which is why we made this move, but the instability of working for this district is taxing.
But I wonder to what extent these drastic cuts would hurt our district if Connecticut funded schools differently. As it stands, local property taxes fund the schools. In a district with low property value and limited sources of revenue, how can the state expect quality school funding? It would make more sense if each county funded the local districts. Then public schools accountable to the state would be funded with much more equality than they are currently.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Change We Can Believe In

Months ago I finished reading Sweating the Small Stuff by David Whitman. Through an education connection, I've been asked to participate in the development of a New York City charter school. Mostly, I hope to offer a teacher perspective while gaining insights into school leadership and development. Hopefully my future plans will benefit from such an endeavor.

What stands out about the six schools documented by Whitman is their absolute conviction that their methods will change the acadamic failures of their students. These schools reject the notion that the baggage a student brings in with them, the lack of academic success or lack of a stable home life, is an excuse for failure. Quite the opposite. These charter schools will not blame the parents or focus on the past; instead, a successful school figures out how to solve the problem of student failure.

This morning, the Washington Post (whose ombudsman admitted the paper was biased towards Obama) points out how quickly President Obama, in the face of a huge economic mess, has turned towards pointing to the failures of the previous administration. He is recognizing that this economic debacle won't get fixed quickly, and that perhaps his policies might actually extend the problem. So, instead of being a true leader, President Obama is reminding us that this is not his mess. He inherited it, so don't blame him.

One important idea I've learned in the past two years is that I can't blame the middle school (though I have) or the parents (guilty again) for not preparing my students. It is the easy route. It breeds apathy in me. I don't want to be that teacher who doesn't figure out how to get beyond what I have inherited.

In large part, that is why I voted for President Obama. I believed him when he promised to put behind us the silly bickering. I believed him when he said change had arrived. Unfortunately, my belief in him as transcendent is eroding.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Giving Up.

I'm home sick today, but I'm still thinking about yesterday. We're at the end of two weeks of testing, running two-a-days lasting over two hours. Many of our students handle these tests with typical annoyance while maintaining their focus and ploughing through. A number of our students are lashing out, especially when, after their tests are over, they have to attend classes. Of course, I have many of the students who are lashing out, unable to control their annoyance and projecting it on to me.
Some of our students, well many depending on your point of view (I think many), simply skip class and wander the halls. At the end of the day, I had my prep period. With nothing to prepare for (I teach a script), I ventured out into the halls to do some finishing work for our upcoming Staff vs. Senior basketball game. Coming across a few students, I helped them move towards their classroom--they complied. Later I ran across another student who I have written up multiple times for disrespect, leaving study hall, and hall wandering. The last time we met in the halls he told me to get of his dick and find something better to do than stop him in the hallway. Not wanting to get into a confrontation, I found a security guard and let him know about the student. But he informed me that he just got out of a full day of trainings and was on his way to lunch.
Oh well.
Ten minutes later while walking back to my class, I saw the student again. This time and administrator walked past the student and his girlfriend (the pair are well known for not being in class) and simply asked them in passing to get to class. Too busy I guess to help empty the halls of hall wanderers.
It made me think back to the beginning of the period when I walked that group of students to their classes, taking the time to show that I cared that they arrived safely. Apparently it doesn't matter if our students walk the halls. Threats are made: Too many students in the halls. We will be doing hall sweeps at the beginning of each period--that happens one day and then we give up. So what does it matter if I give up, if I sit in my room and close the door, turn the music up a little so I can't hear the wandering loud students who pass by my class all day?
I'm not saying any of this is right. I'm not saying that any of this should be acceptable. I'm not saying that urban education cannot improve. But it's draining, exhausting. What can be done when the school's culture is so ingrained with this attitude of que sera sera, whatever will be will be?
I need it to change. I want it to change. I just don't know if it is possible to do so in its current form or with my current position. I'm just a teacher. One person. Are there others who want to change the cutlture of our school, yes. But how? When the district is one of the lowes paid in the state, when staff cuts are digging deep into the young energetic teachers, when the state demands initiative after initiative, how can we change the culture of the school?
I'm starting to think we can't.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Never enough

We at P.O.S.H.S want to ensure that all of our students graduate. In an effor to help those whose credits have not amassed at the correct pace, we now offer credit recovery after school. The adults in charge of the program identified students, sought the students out, and enrolled them in this worthy program.
This afternoon while I shot around the gymansium, eight students slowly strolled the perimeter of the court under the watchful and encouraging eye of a PE teacher. For the next two hours, these eight students would have to endure team sports like volleyball or individual activities like slow-walking.
Two of the boys and a few of the girls quite vocally shared their disdain for having to be there this afternoon. "This is stupid; why can't I just go home," one asked. "Come on, just let us go; I have to walk home. Doesn't that count," another asked.
And it struck me how the outside world looks at public education and decries our graduation rates. President Obama is unhappy with us. We need more training, more mentoring. Yet, here WE are, pushing and shoving our students into these credit recovery classes where the requirements aren't much more than show up and you'll get the credit. Here WE are, giving them every opportunity to salvage their credits from the mire of their own stupidity.
At the end of T.I. and Rihanna's song, "Live Your Life," Rihanna sings:

Got everybody watchin' what I do/ Come walk in my shoes /And see the way I'm livin' if you really want to...

So to all of the public school haters, just live your life, because you couldn't do what we do. The old saying is "Those who can't, teach." The new saying is "Those who can't teach, go into politics."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Urban Crisis II

This post will continue the exploration of the debate between public schools and charter/voucher schools. The Daily Grind supports charter schools while simultaneously recongizing that public schools can and should be successful at educating urban students.
One of my favorite commentors, a retired urban public school teacher, Joe, feared dominating the comments section of my blog and so instead e-mailed me with his thoughts about charter vs. public schools. As a side note, I hope that Joe finds quick publication of a book he has been working on which journals his final 90 days as a teacher. I hate when people can do things better than I can, but I also appreciate a good idea. What folows are thoughts by Joe and my responses (Joe's thoughts are in bold):

The charter schools and private schools do not hold some educating secret that has eluded our public educators.

I do not believe that charter schools have a corner on ideas. However, I do believe that charter schools have much more flexibility in implementing those ideas. For instance, tenure (sorry, a very cliche point) dictates which teachers remain and which teachers get R.I.F.'d at public schools. At a charter school, skill decides which teachers stay and which teachers get "reduced." My district will experience R.I.F.'ing this spring. My wife, a ridiculously competent teacher (my wife will tell you that I never allow bias to enter my choices when considering my wife--sorry), is relatively new to the district. There are teachers in her building (an urban school) who have no understanding of standards or holding their students to that standard. They will stay, my wife will go.
At a charter school, my wife would not get let go. She's that good.

The primary differences are a) that the public schools are committed to working with every child who walks through the doors (private/charters do not have to continue an unproductive relationship),

Unfortunately this is true also. I have no answer to this problem other than to say, maybe we need to stop believing that education is a right forced upon all people. I don't know.
Yet, maybe a charter school, given the freedom to create and cast vision, implement programs, and operate in a much smaller environment, could overcome the contentiousness that too many students express towards their local schools. Again, I don't know.
This afternoon, an obnoxious little @#$! told me to get out of her face. One student was being restrained by security because she wanted to kick someone's ass and a crowd had gathered. I tried to help disperse the crowd and move students towards their classrooms. This student would have nothing of it. Her friend was being disrespected by security and she wasn't going to hear my calm pleas to move towards class.
At a charter school this wouldn't fly. At P.O.S.H.S, we have bigger problems.

c) that public schools hobbled by accounting rules focused on preventing cheating (and therefore increasing waste) are not allowed to take risks with the money they are given.

Here, I disagree with Joe. In Worcester, Mass. University Park Campus School has manged to overcome the restraints of the typical local urban public school. Great leadership and great influencers can overcome the long-held dogma of the local school district. I believe that great vision and great ideas can overcome the stubborness of the system.

...the loudest voices claiming that the public schools are failing don't really want the children of their maid to have as good an education as their own children. Believe me, the more we undermine our urban public schools, the more the powerful will use public money to find ways to withdraw their children into hyper-successful educational enclaves in order to make sure they are always several steps ahead of the children you and I teach.

This truth pisses me the F--- off. Sorry. I really get irritated by people like President Obama and others who claim to care about public education but wouldn't dare send their child to my public high school if they happened to live within its boundaries. Democrats and Republicans are both full of shit when it comes to education.
The Democrats, though, are the worst. Democrats spout all types of praise for public education, supporting the local unions and all. But they won't send their children to those same union run schools. At least Republicans don't pretend to support public education.

Okay, this ends today's Urban Crisis evaluation. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Urban Crisis

Two posts ago, I challenged President Obama to stay the course with his campaing rhetoric in support of charter schools. One commentor, Joe--who taught for many years in New York City, disagreed with my statement that urban schools are not making a significant difference for a significant number of students. Before providing the data, I need two things to be known up front:
1. I am a public school teacher in an urban environment who believes that the public schools should provide a quality education for every student.
2. I am a public school teacher who recognizes that charter schools (at least the ones described by David Whitman in Sweating the Small Stuff) can fill the gaps created by failing urban schools.

My description of urban schools as failing comes not only from my experiences but also from the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center in conjunction with America's Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The conclusions of this study reads as follows:

When they are not being labeled "obsolete," America’s high schools have often been described as existing in a state of crisis. As this report has demonstrated, that observation is particularly apt for the school systems serving the nation’s very largest cities. A significant share of recent public debate in education-policy circles has revolved around the challenges we face as a nation ensuring that all students graduate from high school, diploma in-hand and well-equipped to face the world and excel in their adult lives. This is an aspiration that would apply whether an individual student’s path from high school leads to further education, occupational training, or immediately into the world of work.
If three out of every 10 students in the nation failing to graduate is reason for concern, then the fact that just half of those educated in America’s largest cities are finishing high school truly raises cause for alarm. And the much higher rates of high school completion among their suburban counterparts – who may literally live and attend school right around the corner – place in a particularly harsh and unflattering light the deep undercurrents of inequity that plague American public education.
It is often remarked that knowledge is power. The good news is that a movement is afoot to better arm educators, policymakers, and the public with the information they need to more accurately assess the nature and severity of the graduation crisis in their communities and around the country. Innovative efforts to turn around low-performing high schools are also underway. The bad news, however, is that the challenges we face may be more grave than many had suspected or that some are still willing to acknowledge. And when it comes to providing every student with a high-quality education, we have not come as far or moved as fast as most of us would like.
In forging a way ahead, it will be essential that we not lose sight of the disparities highlighted in this report, which portray two very different worlds that exist within the nation’s public education system. As efforts to understand and combat the graduation crisis advance, this movement must proceed hand-in-hand with a fundamental commitment to creating a public education

I can only judge with the information I have at my disposal. But if there is evidence to suggest that this study on graduation rates lacks accuracy, then I would be interested in reading it.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

What Word? Next Word.What Word?

The Corrective Reading program has been in effect since the start of February. Between the rotating schedule that only allows for four days of instruction, the implementation stage, a week of vacation, a snow day or two, and the start of the Testing Season, we've completed eleven or twelve lessons. I've estimated that I say the title of this post nearly 150 times or more a day, which has resulted in a slight stuttering problem when I try to have a normal conversation. I might have developed tennis elbow from using the signaler, but that could also be from heaving up 150 bricks while playing basketball on Thursday.
I still have students fighting me each class period, but in large part, the students have conformed while in class.
My one month report on the Corrective Reading is positive. I administered the Scholastic Reading Inventory (Lexile score) this past week and their progress continues on an upward trend, mirroring the same growth they were experiencing prior to Corrective Reading. So the program hasn't hurt and continues to help.
A colleague relayed a positive story from a student we share. The student, who is often negative about the program, was telling the teacher about the Corrective Reading class. "I hate the class, Miss. It treats us like were stupid. But I'm recognizing more words and reading faster, so I guess that's good," she explained.
And at the very least, the program is giving the students more confidence. I can't say it helped much for the state exam--both of my sophomores were unable to read the 7 page short story and finish the four 1-page essays in the allotted 70 minutes.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mr. President--Be a Man.

I voted for President Obama. I believed he could bring "real change" that our country needed. One of the drawing factors was his willingness to explore merit pay and school choice, at least in the limited sense of charter schools.
Mr. Obama sends his children to Sidwell Friends School, which has a hefty price tag. Okay, fine. Send your kids to a private school because being the daughters of the president comes with some challenges, like all those Secret Service people. But two stories via Joanne Jacobs here and here get me to wondering what kind of man Mr. Obama will be.
There is no one-size fits all savior of public education, but vouchers and school choice can and do work. So I hope that Mr. Obama stands up for school choice because he said he would. And truthfully, I'm just tired of public officials not sending their children to public schools. Here is what I can promise you, ToddlerTate will grow up and go to public schools. And why is that this current reign of Democrats who think they know better than us and want to equalize everyone don't want equal education opportunities for all students?
So, Mr. Obama, be a man of your word and change the way things have been done.

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Home on the Field

Twelve inches of snow coat my lawn, which had nearly shed its winter blanket before last night's storm. The day off from school allowed me to sit down and plough through Paul Cuadros's Home on the Field. This is the second book I've previewed for next year's Sports Literature class.
Cuadros tells his story, which is to say the story of America, of starting a soccer team in a southern community entrenched in its ways but not ready to recognize the changing community. Latinos had been populating the small town in search of hope and security.
As I read this story, I couldn't help but wonder about the stories my students, largley Latino, have to tell about their experiences in a once White dominated community.
From a teacher perspective, I was struck by how many of his players, highly successful on the field, drop out of high school or are denied the opportunity to pursue college because of their "illegal" status.

Class Size

One of the AP Literature questions from the early 2000's asked something like this: A critic once said that great literature creates in the reader a sense of pleasure and disquietude. How does (name book) fit this description?
That same premise describes great reporters. I'm getting close to putting Jay Mathews of the Washington Post into that category. At times, Mathews gets it wrong and infuriates me with his outsider viewpoints. But then he follows with insights that perhaps only an outsider can get away with saying. As an insider, I could never get away with claiming that the best teachers can teach a class no matter how many students sit in the desks.
Yet, on the whole, I agree with Mathews when he writes:

"Smaller classes mean more attention for each child, but the impact is minimal compared with making the instructor more effective. 'A great teacher can teach 60,' Esquith told me. 'A poor teacher will struggle with five.'"

Having been on both ends of the spectrum in terms of class size, I can give credence to the relative insignificance of class size. When I taught north of Seattle, my class size regularly ranged from 28-36. I won't claim greatness, but I will claim effectiveness with those students. Much of that success resulted from setting up the classroom in the model of the Harkness tables used at Exeter Academy. While they have class sizes of twelve, I could not limit the class to that number. Instead, I moved the two-person tables to form three "Harkness" tables (resembling a boardroom). By doing this, I eliminated the isolation of rows and created a team mentality among my students.
Last year I struggled with my two senior classes, the largest of the two sometimes reaching as many as 15-18 students. Most days, the numbers ranged from 10-13. The students sat in desks, not at tables, and the room was so large in comparison to the number of students that it became impersonal.
Yet, this must be said: school culture can impact student success as much as, if not more, than effective teachers. For as much as I admire what teachers like Esquith, who Mathews idolizes, can do, they can only be great if their school system allows for it. A certain freedom has to be given to these personalities. And further, let's remember that Esquith gets to be with his students for the majority of the day. This isn't to say he has an easy task, only that his task is somewhat easier than what a high school teacher might face experience when trying to create buy-in. When a teacher can create a certain accountability between peers, that classroom becomes much more effective. When the students visit for a 50-60 minute session and then move on, that team mentality can get driven apart.
So, the question becomes, how do we develop teachers to be successful with larger class sizes? Because let's be honest, as the economy remains weak, teachers will get RIF'd and class sizes will increase. Second, will Central Offices and administrators allow for teacher autonomy if they are having success?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Whose Fault is it Anyway?

President Obama states that parents need to improve at preparing their children for school. He also offers the hope of universal pre-school.
Elementary school teachers are recognizing that young students are coming to them with lower reading skills, fewer academic skills, and less independent.
Middle school teachers say they do their best with what they get. They used to get better readers, but now they arrive two or three grade levels behind.
High school teachers wonder what the middle school teachers do and wonder why we still hold to social promotion.
College professors send more than 1/3 of students into remedial coursework because the students lack the appropriate skills.

Jay Mathews covers the debate between "breadth or depth" in his WAPO column. More important than "breadth or depth" is skill and content mastery. In both scenarios we can overlook whether students actually perform the skill competently.