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 Problems with Schools 
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
Interesting and timely article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/educa ... evals.html

here is the beginning:

Quote:
Emily Strzelecki, a first-year science teacher here, was about as eager for a classroom visit by one of the city’s roving teacher evaluators as she would be to get a tooth drilled. “It really stressed me out because, oh my gosh, I could lose my job,” Ms. Strzelecki said.

Her fears were not unfounded: 165 Washington teachers were fired last year based on a pioneering evaluation system that places significant emphasis on classroom observations; next month, 200 to 600 of the city’s 4,200 educators are expected to get similar bad news, in the nation’s highest rate of dismissal for poor performance.

The evaluation system, known as Impact, is disliked by many unionized teachers but has become a model for many educators. Spurred by President Obama and his $5 billion Race to the Top grant competition, some 20 states, including New York, and thousands of school districts are overhauling the way they grade teachers, and many have sent people to study Impact.

Its admirers say the system, a centerpiece of the tempestuous three-year tenure of Washington’s former schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, has brought clear teaching standards to a district that lacked them and is setting a new standard by establishing dismissal as a consequence of ineffective teaching.

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June 28th, 2011, 3:43 pm
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
If I can chime in as the husband of a teacher I'd like to add this little info.

My wife who teaches kindergarten struggles with:

kids not knowing letters, numbers, colors, or the ability to read even rudimentary stuff. There is difficulty in recognizing their own name written in front of them.

Teachers are being held accountable for parents not doing THEIR job. THIS IS BLATANTLY WRONG.

Said students can't read, or write, but they can tell you all about Saw V, or who's doin who on Glee, and so on.

From personal experience I have witnessed parents with LOT'S of children most under the age of 5, they put the kids in a room to entertain themselves while they lay around on the couch watching Springer, Judge Judy and so on.

I believe SELFISHNESS, LAZINESS, ZERO ACCOUNTABILITY all contribute to the ignorance washing over this nation.

Now factor that all in with, zero jobs, lack of National Morale and Pride, totally inappropriate curriculum (1 adam plus 1 adam = 2 dads, don't laugh, taught and pushed in some math classes, talk about indoctrinating the minds of the young early), who cares about an education when Uncle Sam is going to pay for everything?

I've often said it, and I doubt I"m the first, but a dumb society is a SOCIETY easier controlled. NO FREE THINKING, people are too busy drooling, playing x box, having babies and living off the government teet.

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June 28th, 2011, 3:47 pm
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
As WarEr, I am a husband of a teacher. My wife teaches middle school and she's the school's reading specialist. She helps students from 6th-8th grade that are poor readers, some that have made it all they way there with anywhere from a 2nd-3rd grade reading level. All of them have one of 2 things in common... the parents aren't involved or they come from a country where English is not their 1st language.

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June 28th, 2011, 4:36 pm
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
LionsFan4Life wrote:
As WarEr, I am a husband of a teacher. My wife teaches middle school and she's the school's reading specialist. She helps students from 6th-8th grade that are poor readers, some that have made it all they way there with anywhere from a 2nd-3rd grade reading level. All of them have one of 2 things in common... the parents aren't involved or they come from a country where English is not their 1st language.

How many of those were forceably passed to the next grade? While I will agree the parent needs to do their job, the schools also should NOT be passing anyone that doesn't qualify for the next grade (hold them back).

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June 28th, 2011, 4:45 pm
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
m2karateman wrote:
mwill2 wrote:
A hypothetical situation pertaining to the role of "social worker" that schools sometimes play. When does a school to "too far" in questioning parents? Here goes:

What should a teacher do when a child complains about being hungry? There's no visible proof of neglect. If you were the principal of the school and the teacher reported this child's complaints to you, what would you do? How many times would you need to hear this complaint before you took action? Or is it none of your business?


Interesting scenario. Without a doubt, an occasional complaint is to be expected. Constant complaints are another matter entirely. When I was in grade school, I used to get migraine headaches brought on by.....hunger. This would typically happen in the afternoons. Suffice to say that what I was bringing for lunch wasn't even to tie me over. This wasn't a daily or even weekly occurrence. If it is a constant with a child, at that point I could see the school calling the parents and letting them know what's being said....particularly if it is taking place early in the school day. It could be that the parents aren't even home, and the child is left in the care of another prior to school, and as such it isn't directly the parents fault. But the fact is, hunger inhibits learning. As such, there is a genuine concern for the student and their ability to learn at the same rate as others.


So the school has at least some responsibility for monitoring the well-being of the student. You can see where I'm going with the example. At some point, intervention is not only appropriate but expected. Herein lies the moral grey area: at precisely what point should the school intervene? How many hunger complaints? If there is really neglect or abuse happening at home, does one really expect the parent to admit to it? It's all about judgment, but the point is that we are asking schools to make judgment calls like this every day. In this regard, we are demanding that our teachers not only teach but also serve as resident social workers.

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June 28th, 2011, 4:56 pm
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
I dont know if it's social work thats come to be expected. It 's more of a social awareness thats expected. If they see or hear something they believe to be unfit for a child it's expected of them to contact someone who can help. Thats no less responsabilty than i would ask of my friends, neighbors, or heck people just passing by. I guess what im getting at is I think it's pretty much everyones responsability to report something that we believe is abusive to children. (and the elderly, and anyone who looks like they arnt in a position to protect themselves). I mean think about it...If your kid had a friend come over all the time and he was malnourashed and consistantly had bruuises on his arms and torso, wouldn't YOU call someone to look into it?

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June 28th, 2011, 5:39 pm
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
Wags, for our school district, all the students are passed from kindergarden NO MATTER WHAT, because there is NO MONEY to pay for a kindergardner to repeat Kindergarden.

So if a parent brings a student in with a iq of a rock, and expects the teacher to pull off in 8 months, what should have happened in the first 5 years, I'm sorry but it's an impossibility.

How many studies are out there that state the first 5 years of the human life, is what gears us towards the rest of our lives. Seriously, in the first 5 years we can teach foreign languages with ease, reading, and all of the other essentials, and yet we don't.

My wife and I started reading with our daughter just about from birth, she was reading by two, and now has a reading level of a third grader, in the first grade. We continue to encourage her, especially in reading, but many parents don't.

Language issues are a big issue in our area, our population break down is 16% hispanic, which surpases the Afro-American base of 14%. But instead of having English as the language, we have to have English as a 2nd language teachers to help those students. Now throw in on top of that, the welfare that many of these kids are getting especially the ILLEGALS, and it makes you scratch your head. WHO, WHAT, WHERE, allowed illegals to draw unemployment, or government benefits when they are here ILLEGALLY? These are resources for American citizens.

NOw I'm not trying to be cruel or heartless, but I'm trying to show how Liberals look one way with a blind eye, but not the other way in regards to cleaning up the mess.

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June 29th, 2011, 9:06 am
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
TheRealWags wrote:
LionsFan4Life wrote:
As WarEr, I am a husband of a teacher. My wife teaches middle school and she's the school's reading specialist. She helps students from 6th-8th grade that are poor readers, some that have made it all they way there with anywhere from a 2nd-3rd grade reading level. All of them have one of 2 things in common... the parents aren't involved or they come from a country where English is not their 1st language.

How many of those were forceably passed to the next grade? While I will agree the parent needs to do their job, the schools also should NOT be passing anyone that doesn't qualify for the next grade (hold them back).


Good question Wags. I don't have the answer at the moment but if I was a betting man, it'd be what WarEr said about the money being an issue.

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June 29th, 2011, 11:00 am
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
regularjoe12 wrote:
I dont know if it's social work thats come to be expected. It 's more of a social awareness thats expected. If they see or hear something they believe to be unfit for a child it's expected of them to contact someone who can help. Thats no less responsabilty than i would ask of my friends, neighbors, or heck people just passing by. I guess what im getting at is I think it's pretty much everyones responsability to report something that we believe is abusive to children. (and the elderly, and anyone who looks like they arnt in a position to protect themselves). I mean think about it...If your kid had a friend come over all the time and he was malnourashed and consistantly had bruuises on his arms and torso, wouldn't YOU call someone to look into it?


The part in bold is social work. We're not talking about friends and neighbors looking out for one another--we're talking about a government-operated bureaucracy investigating/intervening in a child's life at home. In that we expect the schools to intervene when a child's welfare could be in jeopardy, we are indeed asking them to be social workers. That intervention may be a simple phone call to the parents or it might be more. Either way, it is social work. Most school guidance counselors today earn an MSW (Master of Social Work) degree for this very reason.

I brought up the hypothetical because I've heard it suggested that schools should "just teach and stop trying to raise our kids." Or that a parent got mad because they got a phone call from the school after their child complained to a teacher about a spanking at home. I'm using the example to illustrate that we do indeed expect the schools to intervene/investigate when they believe there is reason to do so, and by extension demonstrating that our expectations of schools extends FAR beyond improving students' reading and writing.

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June 29th, 2011, 2:02 pm
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
mwill2 wrote:
regularjoe12 wrote:
I dont know if it's social work thats come to be expected. It 's more of a social awareness thats expected. If they see or hear something they believe to be unfit for a child it's expected of them to contact someone who can help. Thats no less responsabilty than i would ask of my friends, neighbors, or heck people just passing by. I guess what im getting at is I think it's pretty much everyones responsability to report something that we believe is abusive to children. (and the elderly, and anyone who looks like they arnt in a position to protect themselves). I mean think about it...If your kid had a friend come over all the time and he was malnourashed and consistantly had bruuises on his arms and torso, wouldn't YOU call someone to look into it?


The part in bold is social work. We're not talking about friends and neighbors looking out for one another--we're talking about a government-operated bureaucracy investigating/intervening in a child's life at home. In that we expect the schools to intervene when a child's welfare could be in jeopardy, we are indeed asking them to be social workers. That intervention may be a simple phone call to the parents or it might be more. Either way, it is social work. Most school guidance counselors today earn an MSW (Master of Social Work) degree for this very reason.

I brought up the hypothetical because I've heard it suggested that schools should "just teach and stop trying to raise our kids." Or that a parent got mad because they got a phone call from the school after their child complained to a teacher about a spanking at home. I'm using the example to illustrate that we do indeed expect the schools to intervene/investigate when they believe there is reason to do so, and by extension demonstrating that our expectations of schools extends FAR beyond improving students' reading and writing.


When a childs health and welfare is OBVIOUSLY at risk, then the school should take steps to help the child out. Even if it means a phone call to the parents to ask a few basic questions. As I said, the parents may not be aware of the situation, because maybe they leave for work and an older sibling or neighbor is supposed to be feeding the kid? But there is a big difference between a kid with a small bruise on their leg, and the teacher asking over and over where the bruise came from, and a kid who comes in with a black eye, cut lip and walking with a limp.

My son was running in the hallway of a club my family belongs to, tripped over someone else and slammed himself head first into a doorjam. He split his lip, bruised his forehead, and has some shadowing under his eyes. I fully expected that questions would be asked when he went to school, and my wife told his teachers and principal what happened before any accusations were made. Fortunately, one of our friends whose kids went to the same school were with us to verify our story. In a situation like that, I could understand the concern, and actually am thankful for it. But in the instance where a parent is admonished and threatened because of child complaining that "mommy spanked me for not cleaning my room", then that's a different story.

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June 29th, 2011, 3:30 pm
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
m2karateman wrote:
mwill2 wrote:
regularjoe12 wrote:
I dont know if it's social work thats come to be expected. It 's more of a social awareness thats expected. If they see or hear something they believe to be unfit for a child it's expected of them to contact someone who can help. Thats no less responsabilty than i would ask of my friends, neighbors, or heck people just passing by. I guess what im getting at is I think it's pretty much everyones responsability to report something that we believe is abusive to children. (and the elderly, and anyone who looks like they arnt in a position to protect themselves). I mean think about it...If your kid had a friend come over all the time and he was malnourashed and consistantly had bruuises on his arms and torso, wouldn't YOU call someone to look into it?


The part in bold is social work. We're not talking about friends and neighbors looking out for one another--we're talking about a government-operated bureaucracy investigating/intervening in a child's life at home. In that we expect the schools to intervene when a child's welfare could be in jeopardy, we are indeed asking them to be social workers. That intervention may be a simple phone call to the parents or it might be more. Either way, it is social work. Most school guidance counselors today earn an MSW (Master of Social Work) degree for this very reason.

I brought up the hypothetical because I've heard it suggested that schools should "just teach and stop trying to raise our kids." Or that a parent got mad because they got a phone call from the school after their child complained to a teacher about a spanking at home. I'm using the example to illustrate that we do indeed expect the schools to intervene/investigate when they believe there is reason to do so, and by extension demonstrating that our expectations of schools extends FAR beyond improving students' reading and writing.


When a childs health and welfare is OBVIOUSLY at risk, then the school should take steps to help the child out. Even if it means a phone call to the parents to ask a few basic questions. As I said, the parents may not be aware of the situation, because maybe they leave for work and an older sibling or neighbor is supposed to be feeding the kid? But there is a big difference between a kid with a small bruise on their leg, and the teacher asking over and over where the bruise came from, and a kid who comes in with a black eye, cut lip and walking with a limp.

My son was running in the hallway of a club my family belongs to, tripped over someone else and slammed himself head first into a doorjam. He split his lip, bruised his forehead, and has some shadowing under his eyes. I fully expected that questions would be asked when he went to school, and my wife told his teachers and principal what happened before any accusations were made. Fortunately, one of our friends whose kids went to the same school were with us to verify our story. In a situation like that, I could understand the concern, and actually am thankful for it. But in the instance where a parent is admonished and threatened because of child complaining that "mommy spanked me for not cleaning my room", then that's a different story.


The point is that we expect the schools to intervene when there is cause to do so. If anything, your examples prove my point about the demands we place on teachers. You aren't criticizing the school for getting involved in the practice of social work but rather criticizing the school for not being good enough at the social work component of their job. So not only do they have to protect students who are "obviously" in danger, they must also be able to differentiate between those who might be in danger from those who are not in danger, all the while not ruffling any parental feathers. This particular challenge is extremely difficult to navigate.

I don't want to get too side-tracked by personal examples, but I'll share this to illustrate just how difficult it can be. When I taught, I typically had 25 students per class, 6 classes per day. That's 150 individual human beings that I saw for an hour every day for 180 days. Consider the difficulty of tracking and remembering the individual possible signs of trouble for 150 different students over the course of 180 days. Trouble rarely presents itself two days in a row, so you have to be able to remember all the stuff you've observed about each student over the course of the year. The enormity of the task makes identifying "obvious" abuse or neglect an extremely complicated endeavor. Based on my experience, knowing what I know now (and this is just my personal judgment), I'd "rather be safe that sorry." I'd make that phone call after only one incident of a child complaining about anything at home. If parents get mad, fine, but I'll know that I was looking out for their kid.

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June 29th, 2011, 5:24 pm
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
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The point is that we expect the schools to intervene when there is cause to do so. If anything, your examples prove my point about the demands we place on teachers. You aren't criticizing the school for getting involved in the practice of social work but rather criticizing the school for not being good enough at the social work component of their job. So not only do they have to protect students who are "obviously" in danger, they must also be able to differentiate between those who might be in danger from those who are not in danger, all the while not ruffling any parental feathers. This particular challenge is extremely difficult to navigate.


Once again, I don't understand why you stress the teachers here. OF COURSE I expect a teacher to react and report to whomever about potential abuses and neglect to children. But I also expect that from everyone. I understand the added responsibility due to teachers being surrounded by children, but that comes with the job. Every job has additional responsibilities that aren't in any manual.

For example I work in a financial institution. Is it unfair that when I see obvious suspicious activity, (such as check kiting, money laundering, or tax evasion.) that I should have to report it? No! That’s just the way it is. It's not social work to me, it’s civic duty. It's common decency.

I love your call first mentality. And I do see your point. I‘m sure there are those that are out there that would report a hangnail. Maybe there should be some sort of “check in” system where a teacher has to talk to one of those previously mentioned counselors with degrees to see if it warrants a call. But either way a call is where it ends. I don’t ask for a teacher to come up with answer, or solutions to the problems. Just report it. That’s also why I don’t consider it social work. They just identify a potential problem, and then should let the experts take it from there.

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June 29th, 2011, 9:17 pm
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
mwill2 wrote:
slybri19 wrote:
As others have stated, the primary problems with education today are the teacher's unions and tenure. The unions keep asking for more pay and benefits to where some teachers have to get laid off and the districts have little left to spend on the teaching aids needed to benefit the kids. But of course, the union doesn't give a crap about the kids or anybody else unless they're a dues paying member. The union's answer is to raise taxes, but we've been throwing money at education for decades, and it's only gotten worse.

As for tenure, my sister is a teacher on the western side of the state, and she agrees that it's a joke. There are some teachers in her school that are horrid. The students and parents complain about them, but nothing can be done. Basically, they have a government job for life, so they're flipping the bird to the taxpayers and more importantly, the students. Until there is a way to remove poor teachers, education won't improve at all.


Two problems with blaming unions and tenure (although they are indeed flawed).

1. States without teachers' unions tend to be the lowest performing states (according to a variety of testing measures, including the ACT/SAT). Wisconsin, site of much union controversy of late, has one of the nation's top-performing systems. It is difficult to argue that the unions have ruined the schools when their students are doing well compared to non-union states. Admittedly, the correlation isn't necessarily direct in that some of the states without teachers' unions are in the deep south where poverty is more prevalent and there are more non-native English speakers--those factors could influence the statistics. However, Virginia is the only non-union state in the U.S. to have schools that are considered "average." The others are below average and several are at the very bottom.
2. Tenure can have the unfortunate consequence of protecting poor teachers but the problem is deeper than that. We all cry for better qualified teachers--wanting to clear away all the ineffective teachers; it's a natural and logical line of thinking. The problem is replacing those teachers, finding those well-qualified teachers to replace the hacks. Because teaching is a low-paying, high-stress job, it is difficult to lure the country's best and brightest into the teaching profession. Anyone with the intellectual, interpersonal, and communicative skills to be a highly effective teacher could easily make twice as much money pursuing a career in another field. So why would anyone want to be a teacher unless they just love working with kids? Once the one perk of job security (tenure) is removed from the equation, it is doubly mystifying why any person qualified for the job would want to teach.

I'm not indicating that unions are the solution nor do I mean to imply that if all states had strong unions that schools would be better. Nor is tenure a perfect solution.

So here's my question: If we want the highest-quality teachers in our schools, how do we attract those individuals to the field of teaching in the first place? Here in NC (a non-union state), a beginning teacher makes $30,000 and a teacher with 20 years of experience makes just over $40,000. How do we get bright, dedicated, passionate teachers to sign up for a career of low-wage, high-stress work when there are more lucrative options for them?

When the teachers union thing was breaking out in Wisconsin back in March, I saw a rebuttal to the idea that union schools had better test scores than non-union schools. I'm gonna have to look for it, but it was very detailed and actually used government stats. It showed that states with unionized schools tended to have more private schools, which raised the overall test scores for those states. It also broke down the test scores by race. The non-union states had higher test scores in each demographic than the union states about 90% of the time and the non-union states tended to have more minorities overall. I can't remember where I saw it (I got the link from Free Republic though), but it was very enlightening.

As for how do we attract the best people to teach, pay rates aren't the problem. Pay them what they are worth. The major issue with local and state budgets are the pensions and health care for life costs. Most people in the private sector don't get those benefits, so you have to factor them in when comparing the two. Eliminate the retirement benefits or atleast force them to pay more toward them, and it won't be much of an issue.

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June 30th, 2011, 12:59 am
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
regularjoe12 wrote:
Quote:
The point is that we expect the schools to intervene when there is cause to do so. If anything, your examples prove my point about the demands we place on teachers. You aren't criticizing the school for getting involved in the practice of social work but rather criticizing the school for not being good enough at the social work component of their job. So not only do they have to protect students who are "obviously" in danger, they must also be able to differentiate between those who might be in danger from those who are not in danger, all the while not ruffling any parental feathers. This particular challenge is extremely difficult to navigate.


Once again, I don't understand why you stress the teachers here. OF COURSE I expect a teacher to react and report to whomever about potential abuses and neglect to children. But I also expect that from everyone. I understand the added responsibility due to teachers being surrounded by children, but that comes with the job. Every job has additional responsibilities that aren't in any manual.

For example I work in a financial institution. Is it unfair that when I see obvious suspicious activity, (such as check kiting, money laundering, or tax evasion.) that I should have to report it? No! That’s just the way it is. It's not social work to me, it’s civic duty. It's common decency.

I love your call first mentality. And I do see your point. I‘m sure there are those that are out there that would report a hangnail. Maybe there should be some sort of “check in” system where a teacher has to talk to one of those previously mentioned counselors with degrees to see if it warrants a call. But either way a call is where it ends. I don’t ask for a teacher to come up with answer, or solutions to the problems. Just report it. That’s also why I don’t consider it social work. They just identify a potential problem, and then should let the experts take it from there.


I can say there has been a handful of times that my wife has had to speak to a counselor to get their feel if a call or any intervention is needed.

I do know that at my wife's school, that some of the teachers use their own money and buy snacks and bring them up to school to give to students who say they are hungry.

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June 30th, 2011, 8:15 am
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Post Re: Problems with Schools
So let me ask you this:

In regards to teaching kids, who is responsible for their learning?

A teacher who:
* see's them 7 hours out of the day
*of said 7 hours deduct lunch, recess, and rr breaks
so you have 4.5 - 5 hours instrction
*Disciplinary issues with unruly children
depending on the severity deduct another hour
*Class size of 23 average kids

so out of a 7 hour day how much learning is actually accomplished? Is this the teachers fault?

Children are like a lump of clay in that they are moldable if prepared for school. Teachers can only work with who's been sent to them, progress can be achieved, but if you are having to take someone from zero or low ability and get them to pass, at the same time trying to teach those with regular or high ability, who has the time. Especially as class helpers are cut from school budgets.


Parents Responsibility:

* discipline
* basic or initial preparation: colors, letters, numbers, basic reading
* medication ( for those add adhd children that are DISRUPTIVE beyond measure.)

If the parents don't do their part, the problems are exaserbated x 23 students, which would be the equivalent of Custer putting on his target shirt.

The fact is that government intervention is FOCUSING ON TEACHERS, because it CAN NOT OR WILL NOT FOCUS ON PARENTS. If I was a school adminstrator, I would petition the State Legislature to require parents of problem children on a flagrant and repititive basis, be required community service, to be served in the school system as a free assistant to teachers. May be the PARENTS will learn something, and the children will as well.

It's not a perfect idea, but it might help lighten the load....

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June 30th, 2011, 11:59 am
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