School Daze

The WaPo ran a must-read article over the weekend, written by a graduate of one of their top charter schools, now struggling as a freshman at Georgetown:

I stay in contact with most of my graduating class through Facebook. Many of my friends are at four-year schools on the East Coast, and they’ve been through similar struggles in their freshman year. Generally, we agree that our schools did not prepare us, even though they tried. My high school was one of the best I had the choice of attending; compared with other public schools in the District, it made an excellent attempt at getting me ready for college. But any high school administrator in Washington faces a problem similar to my professors at Georgetown: They’re stuck correcting the damage done before we got there.

Robinson points out that he was able to get straight A’s through memorization and repeating anything the teachers told him. But it wasn’t until he got to the last few charter high school that they began to teach him any critical thinking. It’s not that the teacher didn’t care about Darryl Robinson (although many accused him of cheating when he got A’s). It’s that they are in a system that doesn’t really give a crap as long as goals dictated from on high are met.

One of my biggest concerns about our public education system is that it has become focused on competence rather than excellence. No Child Left Behind is a perfect example, grading schools on how many students reach the bare minimum of proficiency. Truly talented and smart students, like Darryl Robinson, are left on their own.

For a student raised in a good family in a safe neighborhood, that’s fine. My own proficiency in math came to the fore when one of my teachers let us advance at our own pace. But with poor neighborhoods, drug-riddled cities and parents who may or may not be invested, it’s the death of genius. Massive potential is almost wiped out.

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  1. Seattle Outcast

    Teachers are where life’s losers go to find a secure job – is it any wonder that 95% of them aren’t worth a shit?

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  2. Retluocc1

    Teachers are where life’s losers go to find a secure job – is it any wonder that 95% of them aren’t worth a shit?

    As far as public school teachers go, I agree. My personal experience, which also might not be worth a shit :-) is that most private school teachers are quite skilled and passionate about their jobs. YMMV…

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  3. Hal_10000 *

    It depends on the public schools. The public schools in my college town are very good and the teachers are highly motivated. Same thing for the public schools I had in Atlanta. And Robinson describes teachers at the charter as very dedicated.

    It’s just very easy for sucky teachers to stay in the system. And the system itself can crush the idealism and initiative out. I think its DC where the regulations are so ridiculous they specify at what point in a class a teacher can take questions.

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  4. Section8

    I agree with Hal. There are many good and great teachers even in the public system. The issue is when the lousy ones get in they aren’t easy to get out. That just cheapens everything.

    Also, just my personal opinion, parents need to be more responsible. I know of a teacher who has been threatened by parents because the kid got a poor grade. A grade they earned. Parents need to be more responsible, and while I’m not big on the power of government coercing people, I think there needs to be forced classes that parents must attend if their child is doing poorly and it’s evident the parent isn’t making much of an effort to contribute. You can try to teach a kid all you want, and if they return home to an environment where the parents don’t give a shit, then it’s a big uphill battle for the system. Now with a private school, they can just kick the kid out and be done with it.

    And then you have unions and administrators who think money is an endless supply and don’t use it wisely. So it’s not all on the individual teacher for the woes of our educational system.

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  5. salinger

    Quit blaming the teachers – you’ve got the education system you asked for. More tests, more memorization, more “teacher accountability” through prescribed lessons handed down by powers on high that think passing a standardized test equals learning.

    There are no more bad teachers in the profession than there are bad anyone’s in any other profession – you end up with a clinker chances are your next will be better. The problem with education in the US public system is that it has become exactly what has been asked of it. A factory that that values decoding over comprehension.

    Imagine if software were written with the constraints put on the education system – that it be measurable and dumbed down so that its users “understood” the assessment with no prior knowledge of the workings or code. That’s what you’ve got , number one because that is what you’ve been led to ask for and more importantly, number two – its the easiest way to squeeze public money into private hands.

    It is no surprise these kids flounder when they are asked to critically think. Just look at the drop out records of freshman college students who achieved the Texas Scholar status back when all this BS started.

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  6. balthazar

    Quit blaming the teachers – you’ve got the education system you asked for. More tests, more memorization, more “teacher accountability” through prescribed lessons handed down by powers on high that think passing a standardized test equals learning.

    Please point out WHO asked for it? I know sure as fuck I didnt.

    I can name 2 good teachers total in my old HS. TWO out of 20 that I had. The rest were lazy fucks who did nothing other than what the bare minimum was to keep thier job, which isnt fucking much with how powerful the NYS Teachers Union is.

    Hell one was having sex with multiple 17 and 18 year old Seniors, another was the local fucking weed dealer. The first was there till his retirement, the other is STILL working there. This was almost 20 years ago too.

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  7. Dave D

    My kids went to a fairly competent high school here in Michgan. Problem is, that last year 72 out of the ~550 seniors graduated with a 4.0 or ABOVE GPA. That’s 13% of the kids in the school! I went to the same disctrict 34 years ago and 2 out of 700+ students graduated above a 4.0. The district has just mailed it in, imo, regarding tough academic standards. I know quite a few of these high level graduates and can honestly say that this is true. Critical thinking has given way to “who can complete the course requirements the best” (i.e. points). We are emphasizing parroting in place of understanding.

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  8. AlexInCT

    The problem isn’t just wit the dearth of bad teachers, but with the entire rotten system. But my biggest gripe is with the fact that what passes for education these days is nothing but wholesale lefty indoctrination. With every part of the educational system, from the pre-school level to the graduate programs, limiting both speech and though to what the left has decided is the only allowed school of thought, we have basically lost the most important skill that the educational system was supposed to teach people: the ability to think and use logic. Just look at the taboo subjects and how people react whenever someone tries to have a discussion – not the old bullshit 100 links to the people that parrot what I believe crap, but a real discussion – about the things the left disapproves of for proof.

    You think confiscating the money you make to buy votes from others is theft? Well, then you are a greedy and evil hater. You deny AGW because the solution just smacks of the same bullshit you get from the left all the time? DENIER! You do not want to understand that racism is only when whitey does it and nobody else can be racist? RACIST! You disagree that government is the solution to all problems? NEANDERTHAL! But parrot the bullshit the left wants you too, and you get gold stars for self esteem and civic responsibility. You are a genius! Of course, the fact that you believe you are doesn’t make you any such thing, as the last few years of the smartest and most enlightened people on the planet running our country, and especially, to paraphrase quotes from a few democrats, that articulate and clean semi-black fellow now living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, driving the country to the brink of the abyss dealing with problems they created more than 3 decades ago, should clearly point out. But the left is never going to wise up.

    I experienced the left’s thought crime personally a couple of times. My son just did recently. Real thinking is never allowed because it flies in the face of the basic lies the left uses to keep people firmly planted on their plantation. That’s why our student’s are so unprepared to take on life in the real world.

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  9. Seattle Outcast

    most private school teachers are quite skilled and passionate about their jobs.

    You mean, the ones that are judged on their job performance….

    Yeah, they rock compared to your typical union school teacher….

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  10. CM

    My kids will most definitely be going to public school for their entire schooling. The public system is excellent (consistently in the top few in the world in international studies).

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  11. Mississippi Yankee

    Alex, how much you wanna bet the 3 people that gave you a thumbs down are card carrying NEA employees? Or academics at the very least…

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  12. AlexInCT

    Alex, how much you wanna bet the 3 people that gave you a thumbs down are card carrying NEA employees? Or academics at the very least…

    Am I betting they are that? If so I bet the farm, because I win for sure. If you are asking me to bet against that, I pass. I do not like to lose.

    As I pointed out: we live in a time where we are bombarded by people that want us to believe they are huge supporters of all manner of diversity and enlightenment of thought, but what they really want, when you dig down deep, is for everyone to believe what they want them to believe. Those that don’t are ostracized and demonized. Disagree with the narrative and you have committed thought crimes. You must be punished, and punished hard, too. This is nothing but tyranny hiding behind the illusion of civilized behavior. And it is far more dangerous than the older ways where they just sent dissenters to concentration camps for education or outright killed them, because at least then you knew what they were doing was totally wrong.

    The soft evil and bigotry of multiculturalism and progressivism, the belief that the only right way of thinking is to embrace the bullshit of social justice and the horrible lie that without government the world simply is too unjust to be left alone, defines the core beliefs of the people that gave me the negative checks up there. To them the worst thing ever is anyone that points out that the gourmet meal they claim to be serving you is nothing but a giant pile of shit with sprinkles on top.

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  13. salinger

    Relevant

    “An American child could go to a public school run by Pearson, studying from books produced by Pearson, while his or her progress is evaluated by Pearson standardized tests. The only public participant in the show would be the taxpayer.”

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