Tag Archives: bad schools

“Think of the Children! But Only as Wonderful, Motivated Learners!”

4 Mar

March 4, 2011- midday

I’ll get back to the silly with Wifeswap: New York Yankees Edition later tonight, but first there is a story that caught my eye and I feel something needs to be said.

I am excerpting an article from the New York Post. The full text can be found here.

The thrust of the article is that three schools visited by experts deserve to be shut down. They are underperforming. Students are performing far below grade level. The graduation rates are low. I will not, cannot, and have no desire to argue that. Something has to be done. The main problems, the article contends, are the teachers and administrators. I am not prepared to argue that. I’m sure there are bad teachers and administrators there. However, I think- no sorry, after 10+ years as an educator I know– that the article is leaving something out. The teachers are blamed, the Principals are blamed, the entire school system is blamed. Read the excerpts and see if you can see what is being left out.

Don’t the kids have any responsibility? Don’t the parents? Did the teachers make the kids late? Did the teachers put the headphones over their ears? Did the teachers tuck them in at their desks and wish them goodnight?

No politician will ever blame their bread and butter- the voters. No UFT member can ever blame those whose support they need- the parents. But when a kid walks into a classroom late on day one of the school year, wearing headphones and texting their friends in another classroom, how is that the teacher’s fault? Don’t tell me they need to engage the kids, don’t tell me they need interesting lessons. Of course they do. But if a kid is already predetermined to not show up or pay attention, whose fault is that? If a kid doesn’t like math so he reads Low Rider during class, did the teacher hand him the magazine? If a kid in class has already been arrested three times what can the teacher possibly do to motivate him? If a high school student comes to class high did the teacher give him the pot when he walked in? And if a kid is basically a good kid but comes to school late everyday because she has to drop off her little sister on her way to school, whose fault is that?

Not every child shows up to school ready, willing, and prepared to learn. Some show up unable to learn.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

Are there bad teachers? Yes.
Are there bad Principals? Yes.
Are there bad students? Yes.
Are there bad parents? Yes.
But according to those running the schools, the last two only seem to exist in an educator’s imagination.

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