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Monday, June 26, 2006

Public Education

I had intended to post this to the other blog but pushed the wrong button by mistake and it ended up here. After thinking about it, I decided to leave it here, slightly edited, and cross post. It is now in both places.

Most of us have kids and most of you have heard me talk about my struggles with the girls' education. The hours of homework and the focus on tests rather than learning.

I talk a lot about the sorry state of public education on this blog, on is america burning, and many other places, including my kids' parent teacher conferences. I could devote pages to No Child Left Behind.

Carissa, one of the visitors here, blew me away with her post about public education in Indianapolis. It could apply to much of the country and it's well worth reading. Much of her post concerns the drop out rate between the first and last yers of high school.

Coincidentally, while I was typing and listening to the local news, I heard that our Superintendent of Education (CA), wants to add $10,000,000 to the state education budget to help high school kids pass the exit exam.

Why is it all about the exams? What happened to teaching? For that matter, what's happening to education? My oldest granddaughter, then around 13, didn't know where Canada was and didn't know Utah was a state. Frightening.

Thanks Carissa.


Anonymous said...

My husband, just a month ago, thought you needed a boat to get to Alaska. Seriously.

That's public education for you! Granted, he wasn't the best student, but still... it's amazing what they let the kids graduate without knowing these days.

My mom just retired after many years as an elementary school teacher. One of her reasons for retiring now was the current state of our educational system--she didn't feel she could teach as effectively as she used to because she was always teaching "for the tests".

mreddie said...

It is so sad to me that many kids graduate from high school hardly able to read - and especially unable to spell. Very busy this last week and hardly able to comment, our last guests depart tomorrow and maybe I can get back in the groove. ec

Beth said...

Thanks for the link!

ipodmomma said...

here by the time you get to high school, exams are what it's all about. lots of standardized test throughout elementary and middle school too. Tony Blair trying to show that students are where they should be...

but that is hoo haa! don't get me started... :)))

Sothis said...

They want those tests because they can quantify results. They can say--"look at us! 72.9% of our 10th grade students can read at a 10th grade level!" The thing in education lately is to have some number that says what the kids know. No more poetry, no more critical thinking, no more creative writing, just the cold hard facts. They want the kids to study, pass the test, and be done. My issue has always been that the kids end up learning for a test--not retention of the material. They take the test, and everything flushes out of the brain. Teaching to the test is what is in these days.

Merle said...

Hello Ann ~~ It sounds as though you are feeling better. I hope so. Just popped
ver to say Hi. I don't know a lot about the education here, but do worry about how the kids AND teachers cannot spell.
How is Ray? Take care, Merle.

Alice said...

What started as a comment turned into an essay - yet again.

I'll post it later, but for now, I'll simply say I agree with you.

Gawdessness said...

It is sad.

Anvilcloud said...

I wonder, apart from school, how would she know where Canada is? When I was in Phoenix and saw weather maps, there was no Canada on them. The world just stopped at the 49th.

But yes, we want to measure everything these days, and testing has become a big thing. They have to teach toward tests now. I don't know about there, but here, it is mostly the result of government intervention than anything else. The politicos set the policies without asking the teachers. Somehow though, most kids seem to learn anyway.

Janice said...

Hi Ann,

My husband and his best friend argued with me that New York wasn't an island, but it was a state! I had to give them the news it's both! Scarey!

I agree there are too many test! And too much leaning on the tests!

My nephew dropped out of high school because I think he couldn't handle the stress from the tests.


wolfbaby said...

your right more teachers less test!!! the school system sucks.

Auntie Rae said...

Hi Ann! I just had to comment here. As a teacher and a parent of a child who will be entering the public education system in a year I get very frustrated. From a teacher's point of view it's all about the money. The better your school does on these tests the more money they get. This puts a lot of pressure on teachers to make sure their students learn everything that they need to know to do well on the tests. Try doing this with a class full of mainly second language learners. The system as we all know sucks. That's what happens when politicians and business people write the tests and have no clue about what is happening in the classroom or the real world. Personally, I don't teach to the test. Yes, I teach my students the proper vocabulary terms and curriculum that they need to know which will help them on the test but these tests are not my focus. They never have been. This is the same for my collegues. There still is critical thinking and problem solving going on. My students know where Canada is and can find it easily on the map. These are first graders. It's all about making learning fun and personalized for the students so that they are learning things based upon their experiences too.

I am worried about my son when he enters kindergarten. He is already reading at 4 and is adding and subtracting. I want to make sure that he isn't subjected to rote memorization of the alphabet letters or the numbers from 1-20.

There is no easy solution to this problem. I just want people to know that even though people say that teachers are teaching to the test, this is not always the case. Teaching to the test in my opinion is an easy way out of being creative and putting in extra time to make learning fun and interesting for the children.

Okay, enough of that. Great post Ann! I hope that Ray is feeling better!