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Monthly Archives: June 2008

26 – The Fast Track to Nowhere

Okay…I’m a glutton for punishment…I’m watching Hard Times at Douglass High again (Ahhh! The joy of HBO re-runs).

“No teacher will receive a proficient evaluation as long as there are a high number of failing students in their class. Whose fault is it? Certainly not the student’s.”

These words were spoken (almost verbatim) by an Assistant Principal at Douglass during a Department Head’s meeting. I don’t know how I missed that segment the first time around…maybe that was when I took the dog outside or answered a phone call.

Oh the temerity! In fact, now that I am watching this documentary for the second time, I recall hearing that very sentiment echoed by the Principal during a faculty meeting. Are these people for real?

How can a teacher be blamed for what ails each and every student…because that’s what it boils down to…she’s (the Principal) asking teachers to be responsible for students who do not attend school on a regular basis, for the parents who are unable to get their children to school on a regular basis, for students who decide to hang out in the hallway instead of come to class, for students who refuse to do their work, for students who are more concerned with gangs/drugs/the opposite sex/crime/pregnancy (take your pick)…WOW! Or more like…HELL NO! Really?

I don’t buy it. I don’t buy her concerned act anymore. The first time I watched the documentary, I was too busy “watching”…not analyzing. Anyone who says, “Grades and making up assignments are up to the teacher, but I don’t change grades…” Is announcing to me that YES, YOU DO CHANGE GRADES! In every other “normal” school I have worked, there has been a solid grading policy in place…and not even the principal adulterated that system. After I put a grade in…it was in! If you (the student) did not find my work important enough to do, then you failed and you repeated…or you PAID FOR SUMMER SCHOOL! It’s called being held ACCOUNTABLE!

Anyone ever wonder how that Fast Track deal works? What kind of message does that send, anyway? There is no Fast Track program or Blaming System in the “real world”…not for people like me. I am a law abiding, hard working, tax payer who NEVER received any Fast Track or Blaming System benefits!

My students learned how to work the system at an early age, and they will continue to work it at my expense! Whenever I have attempted to explain the importance of timeliness, integrity, responsibility…many of them remind me that they will receive a “check” and that Section 8 will cover them. They did not need to hear me extolling the importance of paying mortgage on time, a car note on time, a phone bill on time, ANYTHING on time…because it did not apply to them…they don’t see that at home…apparently, where they live, no one is being made to be held accountable for much of anything.

So, somewhere along the line the government said, “Hey, these people over here aren’t ever going to really do anything with themselves…so let’s just continue to support them (minimally)…and then maybe they will just kill each other off.” But HA! Fuck you government and taxpayers…they figured out a decade’s worth of lifetimes to live and create their own alternate reality within the current existence that the rest of the world embraces as “reality.”

Now, the government wants to penalize ALL of us by: (a) including their test tube children in the scores along with the rest of ours (NCLB), (b) doing nothing to eradicate the giant crutch they have created, (c) scaring GOOD teachers into submission of the Stepford Wives Fast Track program…everybody’s doing it…just change the grade…no one will know…who cares if those kids only read on a ninth or tenth grade level upon graduation…

I wish I had a magic wand filled with all the answers…I don’t (obviously)…but I do know crap when I see it…and I’m seeing it! I believe our education issue supersedes the realm of actual education and begins in the home and the community/society in which children are reared…maybe we do need NCLB…but for parents!

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9 Comments

Posted by on June 29, 2008 in Work

 

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25 – Everything Is Equal Here

I watched a documentary that aired on HBO entitled, Hard Times at Douglass High: A No Child Left Behind Report Card Monday night, and it was like stepping back into my prior school year. The documentary chronicles a year in the life of the urban high school located in the inner city of Maryland. The school is being threatened with the potential of a state take-over due to failing test scores, poor attendance, high drop-out rates, etc.

“…The film captures the complex realities of life at Douglass, and provides a context for the national debate over the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, focusing on the brutal inequalities of American minority education, considered an American tragedy by many.”

“Brutal inequalities of American minority education…” I’m not sure how I feel about that phrase…especially after what I have experienced. I certainly will admit that there are aspects of Douglass High that lend themselves to being labeled as sub par…they perpetuate the imbalance of social and educational equity among students. However, I also believe that the failure of Douglass and other schools can not solely rely on a definition as narrow as a “brutal inequality.” The problems that educators see in schools are the same issues that students are dealing with in the streets…these kids are not leaving their personal baggage at the door before walking into the classroom because they carry too great a load.

More students experience unstable lives outside of home: teen pregnancy, drugs, alcoholism, gangs, non-traditional families where the grandparents are the parents, incarcerated parents, personal incarceration, hunger, homelessness, etc. School is a non-issue when facing the big bad of the issues I previously named.

Why read? Why do homework? Why respect teachers when no other adult has shown you any respect?

That documentary made me want to cry because I was surrounded with the memory of the despair those kids wore every morning. As one person, I could only brace myself and eventually fight to save myself…I feel like I failed them because I could not save them. And the startling aspect of my experience was the realization that many of them didn’t want saving nor did they see any reason as to WHY they should be saved. They didn’t want to function in my world…your world…our world. They perceived themselves as fully functioning beings within American society…???

That school was A LOT like my school…and believe it or not…from what was shown…those kids were better behaved! My tenth graders acted like that obnoxious boy who was always in the hall…about 75% of them acted that way. My fearless leader would NEVER make a home visit to discern the ailments of a student…he was there to collect a paycheck. I will say that ALL of our teachers were certified, save for one…and ALL of them were phenomenal people and teachers. They taught on a different frequency (kind of like incorporating a sixth sense)…the inner-city will do that to an individual.

In the documentary, there was a teacher who (after three years of teaching at Douglass) resigned in the middle of the school year. I almost left my school, too…

You know…if I were the one examining Douglass, or the inner-workings of Inner City High School USA…I would have to examine the structure of American society. Politicians say these catchy phrases to make people think that things in this world are change-able…but are they really? Were these structures set up on purpose? Are some people just meant to fail based on the unfortunate event of WHERE they were born? I mean seriously…how many thugs REALLY make it out of the ghetto?

…It’s a struggle between the powerful and the subjugated (oh…wait…that sounds a lot like Marxism)…shhhh! I really didn’t just say that because this is a democracy where everything is equal! 🙂

 
8 Comments

Posted by on June 26, 2008 in Work

 

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24 – The Bottomless Pit of Education ‘08 Platforms

Tom commented:

Ms. Friendly – what do you make of Obama’s ideas on education? I think they are interesting – though i was annoyed when he mentioned that his daughters go to the private Chicago Lab school because it was ‘convenient’ Maybe more people would like the choice to send their children to thug-free schools.

Tom – Well, one thing I can say is that I am disappointed that his campaign seems to include room for more of the NCLB madness! A lot of the items listed on his educational platform are things that already exist in the world of education…I’m not sure if his intention is to tweak these things and improve them, or just to list them so that the unsuspecting public will think he’s really hot shit. I perused Obama’s Educational platform site, and I’m not quite sure HOW he plans to pull off all of the expansions that he has mentioned.

McCain’s educational platform is based on parent and student choice…he mentions nothing of reform (save for the dreaded for letters of NCLB). I found the following quote to be quite entertaining:

John McCain believes that we can no longer accept low standards for some students and high standards for others. In this age of honest reporting, we finally see what is happening to students who were previously invisible. While that is progress all its own, it compels us to seek and find solutions to the dismal facts before us.

There is no “honest reporting!” The age I live and teach in is one of C.Y.A. (cover your ass) and manipulate the data so it says what it’s supposed to say…ESPECIALLY in environments were underprivileged students are being served because those students are STILL INVISIBLE! So now what?

I know one thing is for sure…America doesn’t have many choices when it comes to Election 2008! So it’s either him or the other guy!…Coke or Pepsi…Coke or Pepsi…OMG! They’re BOTH colas!!! I don’t know…I’m a cynic who only has patience for children and animals!!!

Education is one of those platforms that never reaches the forefront because the people who REALLY “matter” ;-)in the world (i.e. the Obamas, Clintons, McCains, Bushes, etc.) send their children to private schools! The “little” people like you and me just blindly follow along with what’s given to us because we’re either too tired or misinformed.

I am in full agreement with you. I whole-heartedly believe that there are more people out there who would like to send their children to thug-free schools!

Perhaps the answer is not to continue to remove the working student from Any High School USA…remove the thug!!! If he/she doesn’t want to be there, then send them to a trade school.

Oh…but wait… we can’t because we have No Child Left Behind!!!!!!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on June 16, 2008 in Work

 

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23 – What’s the Point?

People want to argue with me lately…which is fine! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I can only say this, and I say it with every bit of integrity within my being…I am reporting the daily occurrences as they happen!!! I am not peppering my reality with any of that stuff so many of you like…what’s that called…DELUSION!!! Yeah…THAT! I don’t use that spice when I cook. Makes me sick. I’m allergic to bullshit.

I have been an educator for seven years. I am one of those REAL teachers…the kind who actually teaches! I don’t sit behind a desk and assign paperwork. I like to get my hands dirty alongside my students. I like to talk to my students…get to know who they are as people!

I do not like it when I have that process interrupted with bullshit political things like incompetent administrators, permissive central office rules directed towards students, and the infamous No Child Left Behind…why do I pick on that…well, let’s see…where should I begin…

w Criminals with records sitting next to YOUR child in my classroom…did you know that?

w SEX OFFENDERS sitting next to YOUR child in my classroom…did you know that?

w Serve a 70% ratio of Emotionally and Behaviorally Disturbed students in my classroom, who sit next to YOUR child…who also disrupt class so much that I am only able to teach 50% of content IF that…did you know that?

w Special Education teachers are assigned PART-TIME to classrooms because there are not enough of them to go around…so the regular education teacher struggles with ALL of those children by himself…parents are under the impression that their child is being served for an ENTIRE class period, but they are not…did you know that?

w Test students until their eyes pop out of their head, but they are not one but smarter than they were before they started…did you know that?

w Creative teaching…the kind that kids REALLY pay attention to and absorb is scoffed at. Teachers now adhere to the Stepford Teaching Method of One Size Fits All…did you know that?

…All compliments of NCLB and Boy “W”onder!!!

The point here…the POINT of this blog is to get you ANGRY!!!! But don’t waste your anger on me! Take that anger down to your local school board and make sure those policies are the right ones for your student. Don’t send me comments telling me how disappointed you are about how I blahblahblah OR comments about “they’re just children.” I am not the focus here…the focus is the atrocity of what is being allowed to continue in your/our backdoor! The policy makers have the power and they continue to turn blind eyes to the true state of crapola inner-city schools have become.

How does that affect you?

Those inner-city neighborhoods are being shut-down and those same kids are moving to more rural locations…thereby altering the culture of rural schools…this should be of some importance to you! The policy makers are only powerful because “we,” as citizens, have chosen to place them in that position of importance. Realize your power as a stakeholder in the community! Do not take no for an answer because as parents/community members, your voice is golden…it means more than mine! As a teacher, my voice doesn’t mean jackshit unless I’m using it to tell students to make to class before the bell rings!

There are so many things that the public does not know about the educational system…and your child suffers because of it.

Don’t get angry with me…get proactive with your student’s future!

 
15 Comments

Posted by on June 8, 2008 in Work

 

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