6.16.2008

twenty-third new thing...

so while i was home celebrating my baby sister's high school graduation (AAAHHHHHHH! i am so old! *pant. pant.* ok. i feel a little better.) i asked my other sister if i could do something with her as one of my 52 new things. she suggested i try and do her job for the day. it was more like a dare. so i said, fine, i'll take that bet. so for the twenty-third of my 52 new things, i "taught" a high school math class.

now, i use the word "taught" loosely here. what i mean is i got up early, made myself look presentable, made a cup of coffee and rode with my sister to the high school i graduated from eleven years ago (ohmigod. ohmigod. ohmigod.), that my sister graduated from six years ago and that our baby sister would be graduating from later that night in order to administer a final to a class of FCAT flunk-ys who were in intensive math strictly to pass the high school graduation requirement.

now, working in education policy at the state level-- a 30,000 foot view, if you will-- often clouds my perception of what is really going on in our classrooms. and then i found myself in a classroom administering a test to juniors and seniors that i could have passed as an eighth-grader (and, trust me, i am no math whiz.) and grading homework assignments strictly for completion and still giving out 50s. i worry for our country. i worry that education has not only lost its bite but also its bit. it isn't hard anymore. and no one seems to want to work for it.

after the hellions finished with their test and the "bell" rang (not that we could hear it out in the faculty parking lot in one of the 20 portables), we headed on in to the main office and then to the math department hideaway. i heard teacher after teacher complain of students not caring anymore, of teachers unable to care anymore, of being forced to pass students even if they were beyond failing simply because they had been in the country less than 5 years (the wonderful bush administration-- either jeb or george, take your pick-- at work), of forced retirements (due to budget woes) and of general disdain for what high school had become.

and this was at my high school. the place that prepared me for great things. the school that had produced 6 national merit scholars in its first 6 years. that had a valedictorian with an almost 5.0 GPA (that's all AP courses and dual college credits for you laymen). that sent students to the university of michigan and harvard and emory and vanderbilt. that created doctors and lawyers and, yes, even education policy research associates.

and now all we are producing is useless graduates who need remedial classes their first year of college. who don't know what it means to study. who don't know what it means to work hard, fail, get up the next day and do it again until you earn your success. high school use to mean something. now, it seems, all high school means is that you managed to outwit, outplay, or simply outlast the system. so much for the screamin' eagles...

5 comments:

mom said...

it's not just high school - it starts early - you have kids that don't care in elementary school - parents don't care (this is where things HAVE to change- if parents don't care if their kids do well then we, as a society, don't have a snowball's chance in you know where!) However, being the eternal schoolteacher - your sister and I (and you too) will not give up - if we reach one then that's a good year.

Curt said...

Hell is where.

And nice Survivor reference in the last line.

Lisa said...

i agree with your mom...parents as well as the kids, unfortunately, just don't care. while it's not true to all, the trend seems to be too many parents view school as day care and if the parents don't care why would their kids? we as teachers are no longer expected to teach reading, writing and arithmetic (mostly on a remedial level), but social skills, morals and ethics. it’s sad that i know my kiddos better than most of their parents. it’s unbelievable that i can motivate my kids to do things their parents gave up on years ago. it’s frustrating and stressful and leaves you drained at the end of the day. but you know what? if it takes an entire school year of me being mom, dad, friend and teacher to get little jimmy to spell his name...it's worth it....even though the school system says we've failed because he still can't pass standardized tests.

Melissa said...

Actually, the test you administered was to 9th grade Algebra 1A students. Although most of them had failed the FCAT, they were not Juniors and Seniors. If you remember, I told you that I HATE 9th graders. They think that they are owed something and they frankly don't care. The papers you were grading were also (I am 90% sure) 9th grade papers. Just thought I would clarify.

Curt said...

Lisa, I am IMMENSELY grateful to you and those like you for what you do.

It means I don't have to. :-P