Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Educatin' New-Style

Of course I must say a few words about the President's speech on education.

Today's teleprompter recital brought us the following visions:

"Today’s system of fifty different sets of benchmarks for academic success means 4th grade readers in Mississippi are scoring nearly 70 points lower than students in Wyoming, and getting the same grade," he said. "That is inexcusable, and that is why I am calling on states that are setting their standards far below where they ought to be to stop low-balling expectations for our kids."

What about the Chicago schools? What about Illinois? Why doesn't he elaborate on the schools in the state where HE was in a position to do something about education? This, from the guy who had a hand in funneling $160,000,000 from the Annenberg Challenge into Chicago Public Schools, with negligible results. You have heard about the Chicago Public Schools, haven't you? And who is in charge at the U.S. Department of Education? The dude who has been in charge of the Chicago Public Schools. This is like putting Hillbilly Mom in charge of mapping the entire world. All 57 United States, and that tiny country of Iran that doesn't really count.

"The president said that children should spend more time in the classroom, adding that South Korean students spend more than a month longer in schools than those in the U.S. He joked that while longer school days may not be popular, especially with his own elementary school aged daughters, he said the extra time is needed to keep Americans competitive."

Do the regular people know that schools feed breakfast to the kids, teach them all day, and feed them supper during the 2-hour after-school program to avoid leaving any of them behind? Many kids are at school from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. These are little kids, people. Elementary students. They need TLC, not cramming for standardized tests. Let's say optimistically that they get home by 5:30, get maybe an hour to wind down by playing outside or watching TV, spend a half-hour taking a bath, do their homework that is NOT a part of that after-school program, and voila! It is bedtime. Then they get up to do it all over again for the next four days of the week. That's like a full-time job, people. How are we going to lengthen that day? Oh, and the school year? Have we forgotten about summer school? Many kids are paid with a $100 gift card for attending, so you can bet they are there with bells on. That does not make for a very long summer vacation. All work and no play makes our children resentful of school, not wanting to be there, and acting up when forced to go, and of course the school can't punish them because they have rights, by cracky!

"In addition to raising expectations for students, the president also said he expects more from the nation's teachers. Bad teachers should be fired, and good ones should be rewarded with more money, the president explained, though he did not provide specifics on how or who would make such determinations."

Hmm...who fights to keep teachers from being fired? UNIONS! What schools have strong unions? The WORST schools. The schools who go on strike and keep kids out of the classroom, cutting into precious days of learning that need to be lengthened. The unions may pretend to go for this plan, but just try to fire a union teacher. Our rural Missouri schools don't have unions. No AFT or NEA for us. That's asking for trouble. At my first teaching job, two teachers dared to join NEA. They had to hold meeting off school property. They were persona non gratis with the administration. Troublemakers. Unions are for city folk, for rebels. We, on the other hand, have MSTA. They are kind of like backward lobbyists to me. They are the weak, sickly kittens of the union world. But we join to the tune of $199 per year. Just in case.

A real teacher does not teach for the pay. It's a calling. A real teacher wants what's best for the kids. A real teacher works together with colleagues for the common good of the school. Sometimes they do things they don't like or agree with, but they do it. If you pay the 'good ones' more, the others who might have the remedial classes, or teach on the less affluent side of town, will get their noses out of joint over the favoritism shown to those who have the bag of golden coins dropped into their laps, and they will up and quit. That's how they will say it, too. "I'm sick of this sh*t. I put up with more crap from teaching the more difficult students whose parents don't give a rat's patootie about their education, and you're going to pay those college prep track teachers MORE because their students score higher? Take this job and shove it. I'm going to up and quit. It's not worth it anymore." A real teacher does have limits. Battles have been fought over one group allegedly having 10 more minutes of plan time per week than others. Or one fewer game duty. A real teacher sticks up for his rights. It's all about perception of worth, of status, of THE MAN sticking it to one group over another. A real teacher will only sacrifice so many things for the students, and self-worth is not one of them.

"In addition, the White House says that even though the president is not laying out a blueprint for No Child Left Behind, this is enumerated and will be affected by his call to states to increase their standards and assessments."

Sweet Gummi Mary in a handbasket! Just what we need, more assessments to measure the teacher's performance for that merit pay, I suppose. Let's water down our curriculum to make sure we teach those items being tested. Forget about enrichment, producing a well-rounded individual, one who can think for himself. Let's teach the kids how to score well on a test. Excuse me: tests. That's sure to help them later in life.

The President is welcome to walk a year in my shoes. Then he can tell me what's best for education. In return, I promise not to advise him on the economy. Ever.


Stewed Hamm said...

Teleprompter Barry needs to take a good hard look at the 10th Constitutional amendment. He cannot just arbitrarily tell states to do his bidding.

Then again, he's already set a standard for ignoring laws that he finds troubling. And of course, he wants to pass Card Check, to make sure that all those Unions can "hold elections" ... I mean "commit massive fraud" in order to dispense more awesome edumacating.

DeadpanAnn said...


I really don't know what to say about his "ideas" for education, except that they are not original or innovative in the least. Nor are they likely to have any positive impact whatsoever if implemented. Texas has tried teacher merit pay with disastrous results. It's going exactly the way you described.

We don't have unions in Mississippi either. We have AFT, and MAE, both of which call themselves unions, but can't act as unions in this state. I pay over $350 a year to AFT "just in case" like you said. They did advise me on how to respond when my principal was threatening me over quitting recently, and they would've come to a hearing with me if there had been one.

As for teaching being a calling, I agree there too, and strongly. There is no way in hell it would be worth it if you were there just for the pay. And when it comes to teaching the remedial kids, well, I hope to God I never have to do that again. I hated that bullshit for the exact reasons you stated-- I was regarded as an inferior teacher because my test scores were much lower. They actually printed out a sheet with all the teachers' names and test scores ranked in order and PASSED IT OUT TO EVERYONE AT A FACULTY MEETING at the beginning of this year. I was infuriated to see my name next to the low number and the lady who taught next door looked like a freakin' hero with her high number, and there was nothing on the page to indicate that I taught the remedial kids and she taught advanced. It's not fair-- it's not fair to be humiliated and disrespected in front of your colleagues like that, and you're right, I'm not going to take it again. If it ever happens to me again, I'll be standing on my chair screaming before the end of the meeting.

I hate the government.

Marshamarshamarsha said...

Amen, Sister HM! You are preachin' to the choir with this one. Loved it!

Mary said...

You go sista.....I couldn't agree with you more. And, if you still have room on your hillbilly bandwagon, I'd like to come aboard. If you can get Obama bin Laden to walk a year in your shoes, I'm sure the sole of them won't be near as worn as when you trod those miles yourself.
Why is is that the ones who make the decisions about our profession know the least about it? There's some food for thought. I think you and I could balance the budget as well as he can teach. I think we should start a new program...No President Left Behind and his or her pay is based on merit. If 100% of Americans aren't satisfied with the job he/she does, then they must work for minimum wage.
I like your ideas LeBinda...keep 'em coming!!!

Hillbilly Mom said...

What's all this about 'making it easier to vote in a union' crap? What is wrong with a secret ballot? Oh, I know...the people who don't want a union CAN'T BE INTIMIDATED by a secret ballot.

Miss Ann,
You appear to have an air leak.

I actually like teaching the remedial kids. It's the perceived lack of my worth that really sticks in my craw. For example, today the #1 son filled out his schedule for Newmentia. The teacher at Basementia who was helping him said, "Oh, yeah. You need science. Now who teaches that? I think it's Mrs. Arch Nemesis." So my son replied, "Uh, my MOM teaches it. She has for the last TWO YEARS."

Once you're a 'special' teacher, you become invisible. You don't count. That was my biggest awakening when I switched from science to At-Risk eight years ago. My mojo is gone, and I can't get it back.

I'm a regular Pied Piper of teachers. If only I could lead the rats out of the profession.

Mary Bean,
I have more room on my Hillbilly bandwagon than an El Camino loaded with a motorcycle, two bales of hay, and 16 hayriders driving down National to Sunshine to South Campbell, out past Bass Pro Shop toward the James River.

You may be able to balance the budget, what with your banking background, but I am only good at hiding my money in a sock in the backyard. I figure it's safe until HH starts mining that copper.

I guess you think you're smart, Ms. Bean, lurking all this time, not a peep out of you or my long-lost brother, so that I didn't even know if you were eating Frosty Malts or pushing up daisies. I've a good mind to honk and wave the other way when I see you coming.

Mary said...

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, where did you get such a sarcastic sense of humor? Cardins amongst all of their train wreck salvage? Sometimes I think your blog is written under the influence of toothpicks....you know, the kind Cranston used to make?
I have not had a frosty malt in a long while, but have had a sancho or two now and then, but paid more than .99 cents for them.
If I push up some daisies anytime soon, you can bet your bottom dollar, I will honk and wave your way!

Jennifer said...

Too bad the majority of us posting and reading this fine blog post of yours are in Education or have already heard the message.

Chad said...

Well we dont want to take up all the room at the Hillbilly castle, we may have to drop by to see if there is any room sometime. Your lost brother in KC.

Hillbilly Mom said...

Mary Bean,
You may not know where I got it, but you sure laughed your share at it around the kitchen table. I scammed myself many a bargain at Cardin's, but toothpicks were not one of them. Nor were any of those sugar cubes like you ripped off from the YWCA.

It always amazes me how people who are not in education presume to know what is going on. You can spot them a mile away with their outlandish claims. They are welcome to spend a day in the trenches, and we'll see how they survive.

Chad,my long-lost brother:
There is plenty of room at the virtual Mansion, but the physical Mansion is a bit more crowded. Thus the need for HH building himself a MiniMansion down by the creek, where he is now adding a BARn. One of these days, I swear I'm going to walk down there and find that he's opened his own Silver Dollar City. I hope he doesn't choose a name for it like The Chicken Ranch, because I'm pretty sure that one is already taken.