Controversial conversation starter.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-07-2007
Controversial conversation starter.
13
Fri, 10-07-2011 - 12:33pm

Its a topic near and dear to my heart because not only do I have a good education under my belt (3 college degrees), but I am also a HS teacher. Some of you may be teachers, some may have children in the education system, and all of you will sooner or later :smileywink:, so this is a topic any one of you can discuss.

What do you think about education legislation out there like NCLB?

What about the current move to take the learning disabled ("ESE" or exceptional student ed) and push them out of sheltered classrooms with a specialized teacher and mainstream them with the higher academic learners?

What about teachers as a profession?

What do you think about classrooms having students who can't speak the language but are expected to learn academic content?

What about students who due to transiency and "social promotion" end up in HS who are illiterate and read at a 1st grade level?

Chouli, 34; DH 45 Lilypie Pregnancy tickers

Pages

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2007
Fri, 10-07-2011 - 3:01pm
I am gonna jump in here. I had DS1 in a private preschool for 3 years before he started Kindergarten this fall. DS2 is now in his 2nd year of preschool.

I am not sure how I feel about no child left behind. I do not know enough about it. However, I don't feel that educating our children is up to the schoold or teachers. teaching needs to start and continue at home.

Also, teachers shouldn't be judged on standardized tests. There are many teachers on my block alone and they teach in different areas of the city. One teaches in a low income area where the parents are basically non existant. How can she be judged by the scores of her students when she does everything she can + with no support from the parents. She teaches her A$$ off but does not get the same results that the teachers do on our side of town, where the parents are involved.

I think the learning disabled need to be taught according to their levels. You cannot force someone to learn something that they simply don't get. They may need more time on something and shouldn't be made to feel inferior because they just don't get it.

As for those that cannot speak the language- I will probably get bad remarks for this but I fell if you are here, you need to know our language. When I lived in France and went to school, I had to know french. People spoke to me in french. All my classes were in french and that is how my grades were calculated.

Those that are in HS and illiterate, I feel the parents first then the system failed them. IMO it all starts at home. It is your job as a parent to teach your kids. No matter if is the correct manners, how to ride a bike or school things.

I, personally, couldn't be a teacher. I don't have the patience. Teachers are wonderful, as long as they continue to evolve and not burn out. Once a teacher burns out the students suffer. Some of the most remembered people of my childhood are teachers. My favorite was one whom I only had for 4 months in 4th grade. I hope my kids have great teachers throughout their school career that make them want to better themselves.

Aimee
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-27-2006
Fri, 10-07-2011 - 7:55pm
As a former teacher in the public schools, I have plenty to say and I'm not sure if all my thoughts will be accepted by others, but here we go...

I hate NCLB. I'm sure the original intent was a good intent. But, the end result is where there are children being dragged down and held back to "even them up" with the other students. My DD falls into that category. She could have been easily challenged in Kindergarten, but I was told more than once that her "top reading group" would move only as fast as the slowest child in the group. That wasn't OK with me (hence the one of MANY reasons we chose to homeschool).

As for the LD/ESE becoming mainstreamed, I have NO problems with that. I worked as a special ed teacher and I found that a combination of mainstreaming for most areas, and then pulling that child out for a little extra assistance or modifications to assignments was great. It gave the students some great role models for academics and behavior. It also gave the other kids a chance to be mentors and to recognize that there are all kinds of people in this world and that some take a little longer to learn things, but they might be quite talented in other areas. As long as the child isn't going to be a danger to self or others, mainstreaming is great. I do take issue with my state, in particular because they have done away with IEP Diplomas and have started requiring students with disabilities to earn a regular school diploma...and if they aren't capable of that, they just simply "age out" of school. I also wish that instead of cutting a wonderful program that my mom worked in, doing Job Coaching (taking special needs students out of the school to job sites for half of the day 2, 3 or 5 days per week), they should increase funding for programs like that because it gives those students some much needed job skills, since most of them won't go on to get an AA or BA/BS degree.

I'm not sure what you're meaning about teachers as a profession. I think teachers are good. I think that there shouldn't be tenure (or at least there shouldn't be permanent "can't touch me, I'm tenured" tenure). I think that teachers should have to be able to prove that they are doing a good job, rather than taking the stance that they are tenured and therefore, even if "I decide I'm not going to put my best foot forward, you still can't replace me with that up-and-comer who will knock the socks off of every parent whose child has him/her for a teacher." I have no problem with the great teachers though. Even though I choose to homeschool, I respect and love all my teacher friends. Our school district just wasn't working for us or with us on anything.

ESL students definitely belong in the mainstream classroom with support from an ESL teacher.

As for illiteracy, I think that where I saw issues with that and how they can get to HS while still not being able to read is because if attendance is OK, but grades aren't stellar, the child is either still moved up a grade so that there isn't fear of backlash from the parents ("how dare you hold my child back - he/she will be made fun of!") or that child is labeled as learning disabled and then not forced to learn those skills because testing modifications can indicate "tests will be read to the student" They might then get a good grade, but still not be able to read. There does need to be something in place that requires better reading skills before promotion to the next grade. I understand certain disabilities, and I do want to maintain a level of respect for those children who have visual processing disabilities. But, I also think that by High School, with proper teaching to overcome those disabilities or at least work through them, there shouldn't be anyone in high school who can't read at least at a 6th-7th grade level.

I believe that parent involvement is SO essential, though. There is a really growing mindset out there that teachers' jobs are to teach EVERYTHING that a child needs to know...and I think that is completely wrong. A parents is supposed to be the first teacher and a partner with the schoolteachers. If there is a breakdown somewhere in that partnership, then the child's education suffers.

And in the words of Forrest Gump, "...and that's all I have to say about that..."
Photobucket Visit my Blog with
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-27-2006
Sat, 10-08-2011 - 8:41am
Here's an article someone just shared with me that I thought was really interesting in how kids learn: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/09/little-kids-are-natural-scientists (I hope this isn't a violation of TOS by posting this link - there are advertisements on the site, but I'm not sharing the link for the ads, but rather for the article.)
Photobucket Visit my Blog with
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-07-2007
Sun, 10-09-2011 - 4:08am
I agree w/ Tee that NCLB may have started with good intentions, but it has completely screwed public education. It is almost mountainous how much more work it places on public education with NO measurable benefit. I learned in grad school if an intervention doesn't have a mathmatically significant positive impact, then it has failed and some other intervention should be attempted. There is absolutely no data that shows what the government is doing has increased the intelligence of or quality of life for children.

I'm glad to hear an ESE teacher's take on maintstreaming, because I can say as a regular ed teacher, it is not something I can fully endorse. Out of 140 kids, 26 of mine are ESE. They really do exist on a spectrum where on one end there is a low-A-high-B performer consistently and one is an absolute mouth-breather who spaces out, laughs when I redirect her, complains about every part of my lesson plan and everyday doesn't understand that "doing her work" isn't he same as "answering them correctly". And for those 26 kids who I can seamlessly teach with my regular ed kids, I am also working an extra 5 hrs a week on documentation, meetings, accommodations. And of those kids, maybe half are passing, the rest have Fs because no matter that I give them "Extra time" to complete assignments...they clearly can't pass a regular ed test. And what their "Learning strategies" classes are failing to teach them is that although the school system will hold their hand and let them take 8 yrs to get out of HS, the workplace and/or college is not going to accommodate them.

I think teachers, like cops, are doing an amazing, priceless, and necessary public service. And like cops, the public doesn't trust that kind of power or authority. Public perception of teachers tends toward the negative - we shouldn't have tenure, we shouldn't have unions, teachers feel untouchable, teachers are lazy, teachers are liberal, teachers don't work as hard as other professions. I've heard all those and I marvel that a group of people who I know from experiece are working harder in 7.5hrs a day and get no OT for the other 3 or 4 hrs a day they work are so hated. Even with the union (of which I am actually not a member) every year new legislation and individual school policies come into place that put more onus on teachers. We aren't protected at all. And I thank every god in the pantheon that I got tenure before FL enacted that pay-for-performance bill. Can you imagine being held financially accountable for the flawed instrument test scores for 140 kids you just met 8 months prior. This year I got a kid who is illiterate in HS and without my tenure protecting me, I as his science teacher would take a hit that his FCAT scores are going to be low because every other teacher before socially promoted him and his parents obviously have no control.

I was an ESOL student when we came to America from Sweden. My students are stunned and argue with me that ESOL is only for Spanish speakers and my heart breaks at the arrogance. I have taught Non-English-Speakers before, and like ESE, it takes more work on the front end. The student him/herself must work harder than other students and those hard working students are few and far between. That is not an insult or judgement call, that's from experience. The preponderance of 15 yr olds are not happy to spend more time on their studies. After puberty the focus shifts to entertainment, food, and romance. And can you imagine teaching a student about prokaryotes and eukaryotes when they don't understand the fundamentals of the language?
Chouli, 34; DH 45 Lilypie Pregnancy tickers
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-10-1999
Sun, 10-09-2011 - 10:35pm
I'm going to weigh in on this one. No Child is a monstrous failure. I'm not going to rehash what you said because I agree whole-heartedly.

On the subject of tenure. I have to say that I AM against it. Teachers are not the only ones who put in more than their 8 hours per day and don't get paid any more for it. I would LOVE to see the look on a private sector manager's face if someone turned to them and said, "Well, I've been here for __ years so you can't fire me unless....". Life doesn't work that way in the private sector. In "at will" employment states you can be let go for any reason or no reason at all and you have ZERO recourse unless someone has violated your civil rights. Even in "right to work" states you don't have any more control, even though people tend to think they do. Teachers should have to go through a review process just like everyone else who works for a living. IMO.

As far as kids being socially promoted... that makes me crazy. It is sheer laziness from both the parents and the teachers/schools that allow it to happen. There is NO REASON for kids to get to high school and be unable to read at that point. And I have to say that I was frustrated as all get out in school because they always taught to the slowest kid in the class. Ok. The rest of us got this in 5 minutes and the teacher has now beaten her head against the wall for another 30 minutes trying to get through to you. It is dumbing down America.... people are afraid to flunk kids, afraid that they will score badly on the tests that the schools depend on now for funding. So instead they spend more time with the lowest 10% while the rest of the class develops severe frustration. It makes zero sense. There is no logic to it. People are afraid to "label" kids in any way that could be taken in a negative connotation.. "remedial" classes are a thing of the past. Well, guess what, if you can't understand then you need to be in a class that helps you understand without holding everyone else back.

My sister is a special education teacher. She teaches severely autistic high school kids (non-verbal, violent, ill, self-injurious, etc). I love her dearly, I am proud of the work she does but in no way, shape or form should her classroom be considered school. IMO it is therapy. Each "child"- and that word is in quotes because some of them are 20+ years of age- has their own personal plan. They learn to not injure themselves or others. They learn to ask to go to the restroom instead of pulling down their pants wherever they happen to be standing. They learn to eat when others eat. They learn to not puke on demand to get attention. Get the idea? Her class is almost 100% behavior modification. This is private therapy on the taxpayer's dime. Each child has their own aide, and there are also some permanent TSS's as well, who intervene when one starts to go off the deep end. My sister has had concussions, a broken nose, scratches, bruises, hanks of her hair pulled out, and her glasses broken. THIS is not teaching. THIS shouldn't be in a school. These kids CANNOT be integrated into mainstream classes, and due to PA law they must be provided an "education" until they either graduate or mature out of the system. I don't think it's right. Her classroom could easily pay for a learning lab, a new curriculum, as well as ART CLASSES AND MUSIC CLASSES for her school district in and of itself. It makes me sick to my stomach that soooo much money is being invested in kids who will never contribute to society, never hold down jobs, and probably will end up in institutions and group homes because they cannot live on their own. Sure, the taxpayers would still end up paying, but it wouldn't be taken out of the school budgets. And I totally feel like a traitor for saying it because I love my sister dearly, and I AM proud of her and the work she does. It just doesn't belong in the schools.

My experience with ESL was as a kid who came from back-woods PA to very urban TX and couldn't understand why "those other kids" couldn't be in our class. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to try to learn in a different language, but if you are here and you are in that grade then you need to do the same work. I'm all for reasonable accomodation, but I don't think that they should have separate curriculum. I also think that the best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it, and if you are segregated from the bulk of your peers then that is actually a disservice.

Ok, I'm zipping my opinions up for the night. Didn't think my reply would get this long!

 


 


Photobucket<

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-07-2007
Mon, 10-10-2011 - 3:32am
"Teachers should have to go through a review process just like everyone else who works for a living. "

We actually do. And I think this is something the rest of the public doesn't know. Our lesson plans are submitted weekly for review/revision.We are observed many (2 formal, 10+ informal) times a year by administrators. The admin comes in and fills out a form every time with very specific grading and at the end of the year we have a face-to-face to discuss areas for improvement.
Chouli, 34; DH 45 Lilypie Pregnancy tickers
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-10-1999
Mon, 10-10-2011 - 3:26pm
I understand that part of it Chouli, what I meant is that THAT is what should determine whether a teacher stays or goes. The fact that they've held their jobs for 10 years shouldn't be the deciding factor.

 


 


Photobucket<

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-27-2006
Mon, 10-10-2011 - 6:33pm
I'm all for the review process, but I think that the review process should review the performance of the teacher individually, based not just on student performance, but on character building, creativity in the classroom, principal observations, etc...not based on standardized test scores, not on how many years the teacher has been in the school system.

I don't have a problem with unions, so long as they protect your wages and fair treatment of teaching faculty/staff. But, tenure, I think is a different thing. If someone who has been teaching for 20 years, has been a stellar teacher, but had an off year for whatever reason, perhaps put that teacher on a "probation" for a year with increased classroom observations, and perhaps have a mentoring program to help that teacher regain their creativity and positive influences in the classroom. If there is a teacher who, after a year of probation (whether they have been a teacher for 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 30 or more years) does not show an improvement, that teacher should be removed and replaced with a teacher who will be more effective with the students. Then again, perhaps I might think differently if I were still teaching in a public school and in a tenured position. Who knows?
Photobucket Visit my Blog with
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-27-2006
Mon, 10-10-2011 - 6:35pm
One more thing - I think it's great that your lesson plans are submitted for review/revision. There are many districts out there that do not do that. Perhaps that is where things to awry in the educational system too? I never had to submit lesson plans and we were only observed usually once a year around "review time".
Photobucket Visit my Blog with
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-07-2007
Mon, 10-10-2011 - 6:45pm
Based on what Courtney said, I'm begining to wonder if there are major differences between counties and states when it comes to teacher employment. It has always been my understanding (teaching 5 yrs now) that it is the observations and annual review of student data, lesson plans and professional development that determines if the teacher keeps his/her job. Tenure isn't like for professors. The way it was described to me it just means there has to be some warning and remediation attempts, some more scrutiny, before termination can happen. But that's here in FL. Now I'm wondering if its not like that all over.
Chouli, 34; DH 45 Lilypie Pregnancy tickers

Pages