Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Random Education


I saw a woman and her kid on the train the other day. I would guess the kid was in second grade. Mom had the kids math workbook. It had addition problems. The mom was working hard to finish all of the problems before they reached their stop. The kid was doing nothing. How can we get the message across to parents that this is a really bad thing to do. I would assume that the mother would rather do the work than get a call from the teacher yelling at her for not making the kid do his homework. (Another unintended consequence of homework). If the teacher uses this homework to evaluate the kid she/he will of course get a false sense of the students abilities.

So, I see that my old school got an F on its report card. This may be the final nail in the coffin. I don't see how a program, such as the one I used to run can possibly recruit students. I have said before that my definition of a good program is one that has a mix of good students and more challenging students. It is a delicate balance. If you fall below a certain number of good students then you are in trouble. You find that there is no leadership. This is very bad.

I feel that the F came because of a lack of leadership in the school. This doesn't mean that all of the teachers are wonderful, but so many of the not good teachers were hired by the current leaders that they must be blamed. Running a school is easy, you hire great teachers, you support them and you leave them alone. My old principal hires teachers out of desperation, and then often hires nice middle class kids who can't teach or she hires someone because they are all that is available that day and she would rather have a body in a classroom then wait for a good teacher.

Resources in my old school went first to security and then to classrooms. Always a bad decision. Supplies were hard to come by, coverages for trips or staff development were discouraged, and most importantly the programming was abysmal. I found the programming one of the most discouraging aspects. Each student is unique. How you program them is critical to their success in school. If you force the student to fit the school and not the school to fit the student you are creating a situation that keeps students from doing their best and therefore gives you an F.

How does she survive?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Aw c'mon, don't be so simplistic. If leadership and teaching were as easy as you put it your department would have been a standout, as would every other school in this city. It wasn't, and you're enjoying pointing your finger. That F is shared by all, including you since your students and teachers are included in the data. You make so many really, really good points, but you need to join the crowd in evaluating what you did, or did not, contribute. Human nature tends to help us obscure our faults as we sit at a distance and convince ourselves all would have worked if not for everyone else getting in our progressive, altruistic, enlightened paths. And what a forum you have here for self-justification and righteous indignation. Gosh, if not for so-and-so and so-and-so, you coulda been a "star". I'm shocked.

Alex said...

... says the commentator who remains anonymous.

Dina said...

Oh, and what's your last name, "alex"? I think someone's opinions should be dismissed simply because they don't put their identity out there. Commentors aren't the ones that need to be held accountable for their views - the bloggers who we're commenting on are.

Anonymous said...

She survives by flashing her ever present boobs to every man who she comes in contact with. They are her power.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I would guess, is the nom de plume for those with real fear of retaliation. It's easy for "Alex" to state his opinions as I don't believe he works for the punative institution known as the DoE and is, thus, free to speak as he chooses with no fear of consequences. The courage of your convictions becomes something to crow about when you speak in the face of your opposition, not as a bystander.

Anonymous said...

and, of course, the "boobs" commentator has other reasons for remaining anonymous.

Alex said...

If your personal opinions stated in an open medium are enough to get you in trouble then there's something deadly wrong with the system that seeks to chastise you.

Oh shit, sorry, I think I just touched on the vein of this entire blog.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you did Alex. So remember next time you take umbrage over those hiding behind anonymous that, while they may cower behind labels, they are at least responding and getting some opinion out there. You may not like what they have to say, but you are in the position to say whatever because you are not truly a part of the discussion, just an interested observer not caught in a system that does not take kindly to opposition (witness all that befalls Ed, not a pleasant way to head into what should be a more joyous part of the career), and wants nothing more than to rid itself of teachers and administrators who have the timerity to be around too long.

Alex said...

Whether or not I'm personally involved in the "machine" has no bearing on whether or not any one person's opinion is valid. The point I'm trying to make is that this blog has come under quite a bit of criticism because there have been things posted that take blatant liberties with the first amendment, and if anyone is to criticize the author or his opinions they should do so by at least stepping foot on the same playing field (that is to say without anonymity). Yes, there's a problem with the system, and no I am not personally part of the system in which there is a problem, but don't you think for a minute that if I were part of said system I would change a thing. My personal thoughts and opinions are a reflection upon myself and myself alone, and if I allowed anyone to alter the way I choose to express myself then I only give the system which I've acknowledged as faulted the power that they seek.

I may not have the same level of experience as most of you, but all the same I feel the need to apologize because I'm still trying to retain a level of values at this point in my life. Maybe that's just not understood these days when you take into consideration the DoE.

Anonymous said...

I guess we're not good role models. But, hey, there's a reason for "walk a mile in my shoes." A lot of the people here more than likely sounded just like you 10, 20, 30 years ago, and sneered at the old coots who sounded so cynical, and pounded chests exclaiming never to fall into that pit. Then, mortgages, children, years of wear and tear and eventually you hope to get through the day without the fight you might have spoiled for when young with less responsibility to family and coworkers. So, you play it a bit safer, get your voice out there while protecting yourself with an alias. And, we hope that alias protects an intelligent voice, not those who can only villify (boobs come to mind).

Alex said...

One day I'll pick my battles with more cautiousness, but this day is not that one, and this battle is not one I'm likely to pass over any time soon. Maybe it's just because I am of a younger age, but maybe it's because I've had such an upbringing rooted in always saying what you think and feel, regardless of the shit it may get you in.

Most importantly, let us all remember that if boobs do not come to mind, the terrorists have won.

In retrospect, perhaps immaturity is a larger factor than earlier implied.

Anonymous said...

yes we fight terrorists so boys can be free to wallow in boobs.

Anonymous said...

Two notes on this thread. As one who knows Alex, he exists in circumstances that actually offer him a great deal of insight into this situation. Also, he is himself a recent product of the overhaul-of-the-month NYC system. And as for the boobs, who the hell would want to see them?