Friday, February 16, 2007

Is Eye Rolling a Sign of Intelligence?

While reading over the Homeschool Carnival this week, I found this post: If You Want your Child Socialized: A Public School Satire. It's actually quite humorous and sad, both at the same time. This post is particularly helpful if you have a gifted child who is made fun of in school for his or her sensitive nature or tendency to roll his or her eyes at the dummied down curriculum. Public school teachers, often because of their insecurity or desperate need for conformity, will become incensed by the eyerolls and determine the child to be a problem. It seems to me that the main source of socialization for many kids, especially smart ones in public school, is found in learning how to cope with the egos of teachers who can't teach and other kids who are uninterested in learning anything beyond dominating the social hierarchy.



Blogger Mercurior said...

i know i was bored out of my skull at school, the teacher would explain something to the class, 3 or 4 times and i understood it, then the other kids came and asked me what to do..

the school curriculum, was more geared towards girls (in an all boys school i ask you), and it changed every year, the exams, how things were marked, so you could study and be good then they would change the goalposts and you would have to run to catch up.

3:22 PM, February 16, 2007  
Blogger LissaKay said...

My daughter has missed a lot of school this year due to some anxiety and depression issues. She has been trying to get caught up. She and her calculus teacher got into a little dust up when she went to get help in catching up with the rest of the class. The teacher had started going over things she already knew, and she said so. The teacher then came off with "Well if you already know it all, then why are you asking?"

Attitude, meet anxiety. Ka-boom!


I had a lot of teachers cop an attitude with me too, as I sat through the 4th or 5th iteration of some subject totally zoned out. One actually said, "Are we boring you, missy?" Why yes ... yes, you are, as a matter of fact.

The rest of this year, then next year, and I am DONE with these school issues!

4:59 PM, February 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With my eldest daughter, the problems are with her peers in class. She is mature (gets that from her mother) and has some conservative views (blame me for that) and gets grief from the other students. Especially the boys who are 12 year old boys and thus not to be blamed for being clueless. Sadly, the teachers allow a bit of it. She has one moderate teacher, the rest are to the left of her.

It was interesting that when she complained about being attacked in class, one teacher told her that she did not have a majority viewpoint and she could choose to be silent if she wished. I gently challenged him on that, repeating something I do several times a year at her liberal, private school; "Diversity of opinion and thought is diversity indeed. It is to be cherished and protected like any diversity."

So we pay the money to get her in a school where she will not be totally bored, but she has to put up with feeling like she is Michael Savage because she supports our troops. We have a game where we read the bumper stickers and laugh. Our favorites are SUVs with one kid and a "No Blood for Oil" sticker.


5:01 PM, February 16, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi Lissakay,

I may need some tips, I am going through this myself with my daughter!


Michael Savage? Ouch. Well the hypocrisy with the SUV's has to be good for a laugh.

5:09 PM, February 16, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I got in big trouble of rolling my eyes at the teacher (a nun) in the 4th grade. She threw a chalkboard eraser at me. I remember actually practicing rolling my eyes at home. I picked it up from the old "Blondie" cartoons.

I sure do agree with the last two sentence of your post and the posts of the links you provided. The public schools my kids go to are in the top 10% in Kentucky but I consider them mediocre.

5:48 PM, February 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A child who recognizes that the class material is too easy should still behave herself. That's what I tell my children. If I think the class work is too easy, or that too much time is spent on busy work, I would talk to the teacher about it. I do not allow my children to roll their eyes at their teacher, no matter what my personal opinion of the teacher is. If the curriculum isn't as stringent as I would like, I can always introduce new concepts at home.

I suppose all of us like to recall the times when we were smarter than the teacher--who doesn't like to remember being smart? There is a huge difference between being smart and being a smart aleck, though. In our efforts to improve the curriculum, let's not teach our children that a lack of respect is okay when the target is a less than perfect teacher.

6:23 PM, February 16, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

I think there are quite a few "educators" who are hostile toward *knowledge* and, by extension, toward those who value knowledge.

I'm not sure why a person with this attitude would choose to spend their life as a teacher, but it probably has something to do with the perceived security of the profession.

7:09 PM, February 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you going in to work with someone who already taught the class while you were absent for something as nebulous as anxiety and depression (one can be anxious and depressed and in math class if you think about it; I know I was), maybe you shouldn't give any attitude at all. Maybe you should be appreciative of how much additional time the teacher is spending with you. Yes, teachers are paid to teach, but one who will work one on one to review probably shouldn't be taken for granted.

I may be wrong and you may have hired a personal tutor for your daughter, so you can expect one on one work, but really don't you think that if your daughter is old enough to be taking calculus, she ought to be skilled socially well enough to communicate what information she needs help with in a friendly way?

I apologize for jumping the gun here, but the anti-teacher stuff gets old, as does the "isn't it a burden to be smarter than the teacher" stuff too.

8:58 PM, February 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm feeling bad for snapping at Lissakay. I know that we all just do the best for out kids, but sometimes maybe we'd be better off reminding them that teachers are flawed human beings like everyone else and that in the long term working with people towards a common goal is better than the kind of adversarial one-upsmanship that occurs. I'm not saying that teachers don't ever going on power trips; I know they do.

But most of them really want the kids to learn the stuff and most don't have such fragile egos that kids who are polite and bored are a problem. If you kid is getting attitude from the teacher, maybe a lesson in how you get through boring repetitive meetings or reports would be more helpful to everyone in the long run than pretending that everything in life will be interesting and engaging. The need to disguise our boredom is an essential social skill.

If classes really are a waste of time, then you should see what's available in terms of acceleration or testing for credit at your kid's school, but validating your kids superiority complex may not serve his or her best interest in the long run. Even the most gifted people will be well served by learning to charm those less intelligent than they who are in positions of petty (or authentic) authority

9:18 PM, February 16, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

anon...I agree that students shouldn't show (or have) a superiority complex, but I don't see any attitude problems inherent in telling someone what you already know when they are trying to help you. Doesn't it make sense to direct the conversation to the areas where you need help rather than the areas with which you are already familiar.

10:51 PM, February 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was considered a gifted child and spent my school years bored out of my skull. I coped by reading ahead in my books, doing extra problems or bringing in books that I wanted to read.

However, I didn't express the extent of my boredom. My teachers didn't realize that they should have made attempts to give me more challenging work -- I had to figure it out for myself. I ended up reading a lot of trash instead of the classics that I would have interested me. Plus, the work I had was so easy that it made it easy to develop extremely bad habits that hurt me later in life.

Any mistake I made was publicized around my small school, and I was teased about it. In two cases, teachers were directly responsible for relating my errors to other students.

And my social life was an absolute mess. I spoke up in class to move things along, which gave the impression that I was a know-it-all. I didn't get along with the other children at all -- I varied between being too shy to becoming comfortable and too chatty.

Let's just say I still (at 32) have difficulty relating to others.

I didn't figure out how to "cope with ... other kids who are uninterested in learning anything beyond dominating the social hierarchy".

11:33 PM, February 16, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Perhaps, I should point out that I never rolled my eyes again in class. Lesson learned.

"the anti-teacher stuff gets old" Maybe. But talking with teachers who are about as receptive as marble statutes gets old also.

In my experience, a very teachers are good, most acceptable and a few I wonder how they completed college. In many universities, including the University of Tennessee where I gradutated, education is one of the easiest majors. The teaching profession needs to raise its standards. But, like most professions, more time is spent protecting the status quo than raising standards.

8:57 AM, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Is it possible that the teacher recognized that your daughter really did need the review? I can't tell you how many times I've heard students claim they already know something when, in fact, they don't know it well enough.


Yes, the teaching profession needs to raise its standards. Absolutely.

(Reading some of these comments reminds me of Lake Wobegon where all the children are above average.)

9:20 AM, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our eldest of four children is in 1st grade right now, so we are just getting exposed to the public school scene. We are (allegedly) in an excellent school district that is one of the top in the state. My daughter brought a paper home this past week where she had to crack a code, and fill out the letters to spell out the word DAFFODIL. It was to answer a question on the paper that said, "What kind of flower can you eat?"

Daffodils are NOT edible. They are toxic! I was rather alarmed that her teacher was providing inaccurate material to the students and giving them a false impression they can run off and snack on daffodils this spring. It even pictured a little teddy bear munching on a plate full of daffodils.

I have three sister-in-laws, and a handful of dear friends who homeschool their children. I can certainly understand their motivation to do so.

9:49 AM, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's also remember who we are paying. There is a clear customer and a clear provider here. I expect children to have some struggles, they are children. I also expect teachers to be worth their salary and TEACH!

Not just have the kids do their homework in class, not just put in a movie, not have other children teach the class.

Is that too much to ask?


10:09 AM, February 17, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

I think phrases like "gifted" and "gifted & talented" contribute to these problems, by framing excellence as something you *are* rather than something you *do*. This formulation tends to imply an unbridgeable gulf between the those who are thus categorized and the majority of the students.

Phrases like "gifted & talented" should be replaced by phrases like "performance achievement program."

Peter Drucker wrote that it is irresponsible of business managers to focus on employee "potential" rather than performance. The same is true in education.

10:56 AM, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm concerned about the lack of respect for public school teachers you are demonstrating here, helen. I presume that you pass that attitude off to your daughter. Why don't you just put her in a private school then?

Gifted people are going to run into ALOT of less intelligent folks in the course of their lives. Some of those people will be their superiors or their elders. People deserve respect whether or not you think you are more intelligent than they. There may be other reasons to lose respect for them, but imagining that you are smarter than they is NOT a good reason.

I realize there are loads of problems in the public schools. I don't dispute that there are loads of teachers out there who are not doing stellar jobs. But I think it's unwise to reflect your lack of respect for your child's teacher to your child. My mother made it clear to me that learning was MY job, not anyone else's. If I failed to do well, absolutely NO ONE was taking the fall for that but me. It doesn't matter what a crappy job my teacher did or how unreasonable he/she was. My mom led me to believe that I ALWAYS had the power to achieve at the highest levels. And THAT lesson, the lesson to rely on myself and respect other folks at least initially was more valuable than anything else she could have given me.

11:34 AM, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a post (some time ago) on the Mr Chalk blog:

He was discussing this issue, and mentioned an incident where one quick girl asked a question that was on the syllabus - to be covered two years later.

Essentially, he could keep this girl interested, or he could teach the rest of the class.

This is what comes of the system assuming that all children are identical.

11:38 AM, February 17, 2007  
Blogger LissaKay said...

Sorry it took a while for me to get back here ... I barely have time to breathe with all I have going on ... but I will try to address the comments others have directed to me here ...

The incident I related with my daughter and her calculus teacher ... to be fair to the teacher, she had recently had a death loss in her family and was "not at her best" either, attitude or patience-wise. The request for assistance was made during class. My daughter was asking for clarification on what the class was doing right then, but the teacher started explaining things that were covered long ago, and my daughter understood. Now, given that I have heard this mostly from my daughter's perspective, I am adjusting for reality since I am well aware that the tale will be told to keep her as the innocent victim and the teacher as the overbearing ogre. However, even given that she may have said, "I already KNOW tha-at" in that attitudinous voice that teens do SO well, it does not reflect well on the teacher to then blow up at her, tell her she's just a know-it-all, march her out into the hallway by grabbing her arm and dragging her (that's when I start having real issues with this incident) and then yelling at her and telling her to not come back to her class.

It is still being looked into by school authorities.

As for depression and anxiety being "nebulous" and it still being possible to be in class ... nope. Sorry. Apparently there is little understanding there of just how severe depression and anxiety can get. She tries to go to school and all her classes, she wants to be able to go, but more often than not, the anxiety is overwhelming and she just can't do it.

We finally have her in counseling, with a therapist that is recommending a reduced class schedule and flexibility in the attendance policy to the school, using the 504 laws for accommodations for special needs. That is putting a serious dent in the budget, so a tutor is out of the question for now. She's smart as can be and very capable, she can catch herself up without problems. The real issue is the depression which kills any motivation she has to succeed though.

Helen, I would love to share any tips I can, but I am failing at coping with this in a most spectacular way. Maybe I can be an example of the things NOT to do? :-)

11:41 AM, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lissakay, there was a lot more to the story, and I apologize for jumping in on you. The teacher certainly should NOT have acted that way, and I hope the school handles it well.

I also recognize that depression and anxiety can be disabling conditions, but it's also hard to teach kids if they aren't in class, no matter what the reason. Certainly a more understanding teacher is in order here, and I hope you are able to get one.

My experience with public schools is quite different than what most of you are describing here, but most I'm sure it's quality varies.

I do think keeping in mind who is paying is good idea, but remember it's all the taxpayers in your district, not you. If you want sole accountability to you, you're going to have to go private or home school.

12:21 PM, February 17, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 12:21:

Which is what a lot of parents are doing--given the state of some of the public schools in this country. The problem is that rather than address what is going wrong with the public schools, parents have little choice but to pack up and leave, meaning that the public schools become worse in the sense that the better students are gone, and the parents who do not care or do not want to "cause trouble" are what is left.

The other side of the coin with teachers is that they do need to learn to leave their own ego behind when it comes to dealing with adolescents. Rebellion and thinking adults are morons is part of being a teen--not a good part, mind you, but one that patience and some degree of understanding where the eye rolling is coming from is necessary. A teacher who gets his or her back up every time a student rolls their eyes is a teacher who knows little about teaching kids of this age. And teaching to the lowest common denominator is not always a good way to motivate students who are beyond this level. It teaches a child that mediocrity is rewarded so why aspire to better? But then, isn't that kind of the goal of teacher's unions in general?

12:42 PM, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Dr. Helen!

I was the anon in question.

I tend to really like your blog and enjoy your perspective, but that kind of lumping all teachers together seems not up to your usual standards of thought.

Do you even know what percentage of teachers are in teacher's unions (especially in TN, where I'm guessing you are basing your experience*)? The goal of teachers' unions isn't to reward mediocrity, it's to allow teacher enough power that as individuals they aren't solely at the mercy of incompetent administrators.

Could a system of merit pay and merit promotion be better? Sure, but is a spoils system directed by administrators not more, and maybe even less, accountable for results than classroom teachers really an improvement? (When you look at how administrators allocate the discretionary money and perks they do have access to, you might see what I mean.)

Sure, the average work load of teachers varies a lot, and we could debate whether expectation are generally too high or too low, but if you talked to teachers for any length of time, you will find that the work conditions are such that some group protections are needed, especially in schools with crappy administrators or central offices.

(Or in districts with a high number of parents who think that education should be completely personalized and individualized, which proves unrealistic for a teacher with 100+ students daily. The communication with parents alone can take several hours every week, which may or may not be part of the job depending on how you look at it and the nature of the communication that parents want. Sure, communication should generally be easy and helpful to parents; but it probably shouldn't be daily for a regular education student in high school.)

I agree that having a fragile ego isn't helpful working with teenagers, but there was a time when parents and society at large had expectations that teenagers could have good manners too. Is that too much to ask?

When you think about the kind of person you are raising, do you want to affirm eye-rolling and attitude as a way to deal with other people? Don't you want your daughter to be polite and positive, even when confronted with idiots, because that's more likely to serve her long term interests?

I teach high school-aged gifted kids and I myself am "gifted" by the same measures use to label them as such. I'm not particularly thinned skinned when it comes to eye rolling, but I have noticed that eye rollers are often not the smartest kids in the room, nor are they the ones who are most successful in the long term.

*I'm not a member of a union and I suspect that since TN is a right to work state, neither are most of the teachers that you know there.

Sorry for the length of this rant, and before anyone wants to transfer all their teacher ill will on to me, I ask that you consider that based on parent request for teachers and few parent complaints, as well as the way I instruct and get along with kids, including their having pretty good test scores, I think I can honestly say, you'd generally be happy to have your kid in my class.

I'm not a "dead weight" burn out. I'm also not drunk on education credentials and my own self worth. I simply wish people would consider that although some teachers are dumb power trippers, MOST teachers are not. You might be amazed at the number of your kid's teachers who were in gifted classes themselves back in school and really do have other career options, but being constant subjected to anti-teacher crap wears them down and perhaps out of the profession, which isn't good for public schools either.

If your kid is having trouble with a teacher, and it's a problem that isn't best solved by telling the kid to suck it up (and I'll trust your wisdom to know the difference), then schedule a meeting with the teacher and the school to look at what your options are. Eyerolling is not a solution. If you care about the health of public schools overall, then work to implement the kind of instructional programs that you want to see: run for school board, join the PTSO, etc. But expecting individual teachers to deliver more to meet your needs MAY be counter productive in the long run. You'll run the wrong people off.

2:33 PM, February 17, 2007  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

People deserve respect whether or not you think you are more intelligent than they.

Respect is earned, not bestowed.

3:01 PM, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right, Purple Avenger, that's just how it works in the American military; you can just treat higher ranking people any old way until they prove themselves to your individual satisfaction, right?

3:07 PM, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I struggled with this just recently. My eldest has ADD and my youngest would be considered average by most standards. They both attended public school until September when I re-married and moved to a different city. The public school where they attended is a very well regarded school system and VERY over crowded due to that fact. I felt as if I had no choice when I moved but to move them to a private school, the district where they would attend struggle to stay accredited due to low SOL scores(standards of learning) for those in VA. Both of my children have struggled tremendously this year due to the strict curriculum. My oldest is a year behind in math, with that being said it was the best decision I could have made for my children. They are finally getting the quality of education they deserve.

My husband never finished school due to boredom. He is the most articulate and Intelligent man I have ever met, self educated and has dedicated himself to all of our children to make sure each child has a proper education. We as parents owe this to our children.

4:33 PM, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the low standard of learning scores at the local public schools may have more to do with the demographics of the students than with the instruction.

It's been my experience that often, even in the worst systems overall, there is a magnet track or IB or AP program at one or more schools that is excellent. This may not be the thing for your sons, wifeofablogger, and it sounds like the private school is working very well.

Often when schools recognize that most of the kids are not gifted or above average, the options that they do have for gifted or above average kids are REALLY strong. They don't get watered down like they can in the suburbs.

When you're offering "gifted" instruction to 20 or 30% of your kids, it often ends up being merely advanced. But when you have a program that only serves 2 to 5%, it's really for the gifted.

11:30 AM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The teachers' union in my high tax, Democrat run state (redundant, I know) sent a letter to teachers nearing retirement. The letter listed states where their pension wouldn't be taxed. Take the money and run.

11:31 AM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or maybe a sign that they were willing to throw their political support behind not taxing pensions?

11:43 AM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not in high tax Democrat run state. Teacher pay is pretty decent, and it primarily comes from state income tax, which is pretty low, and additional education funding comes from local property tax.

I own a house in the district where I teach, and I don't have any kids in school. My husband and I both pay income tax.

All this is part of why I don't find the whole "I pay your salary, I ought to get what we want" attitude from individual parents that compelling.

I pay my own salary as well.

I work hard, and I do a good job.
I provide more than what my contract requires, as most good employees do. (If you don't have contract, a good employee usually makes sure to deliver more than what's expected.)

But the parents and kids as the main consumers and buyers or education is a flawed way of looking at it.

Our whole society is the consumer of public education. Kids might be better thought of as the raw material, and all of it isn't that high quality. (The kids you hear about on the news for criminal behavior usually go/went to public school.

If we want to privatize education, that's fine with me, but I'm not sure I'm interested in vouchers. I may want the kids and the parents to assume the full cost of the decisions that they make.

12:01 PM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11:30

You are correct, the demographics of the students has everything to do with it. Unfortunately I live 5 minutes from schools that have above avaerage test scores, however we are zoned and my children(girls) would be sent to schools further away and losing their acredidation. With that being said they attended very well regarded public schools with above average test scores in this state. Both struggle to keep up in the private school and are tuitored every week. I do not understand why standards have to be lowered in public schools due to the demographic of the child.

12:31 PM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for assuming your children were boys; that was a weird little bit of sexism on my part.

In my opinion, standards aren't lowered based on demographics; they get lowered because the kids themselves can't keep up.

If you are the child of the average unemployed or underemployed, unmarried, 24 year old mother of three who had her first child while she was in high school and dropped out, you probably aren't likely to do as well as the Instadaughter who has two very well educated parents.

It's not just my opinion: it's backed up by research. Although of course there are exceptions, the strongest predictors of educational success have to do with parent and home background, rather than school opportunities.

So since we group ourselves residentially often by demographic similarities, and we also assign school attendance by residential area, we end up with some schools that are home to a cluster of kids that by almost any traditional predictor of academic success are likely to do poorly.

The school can work its tail off to keep the kids are grade level, where other schools are made up of kids who have every home advantage.

We blame schools for dumbing it down, but in some schools, there aren't too many other options. Can everyone just keep flunking the first grade?

If society really could figure out a way to break up the kids from there backgrounds and send them in small numbers to other successful schools, either with vouchers for private or through school choice in public, I think we could make a little progress with some kids. But I also think there'd be a significant number of kids that no other schools would take because of their behavior issues which reflect their home lives.

1:04 PM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

er, that should be "these backgrounds."


1:08 PM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the parents and kids as the main consumers and buyers or education is a flawed way of looking at it.

Our whole society is the consumer of public education. Kids might be better thought of as the raw material, and all of it isn't that high quality. (The kids you hear about on the news for criminal behavior usually go/went to public school.

And this is why we have the public education problem today. "Society" is too amorphous an entity to hold anyone accountable. If individuals could choose a different school or no school as easily as choosing a Ford over a Buick or deciding to ride a bike instead, things would be a lot better.

There are a lot of people opting out because the public school system is flawed at its base.

Amy K.

7:53 PM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the Ford, Buick, bike analogy, the one choosing is the one paying.

What people want with school choice seems to be the ability to have their choices heavily subsidized with other people's money. I'm not buying in to that so much.

In the current system, which could certainly be better although I'm not sure it's failing systemically as badly as some would have you believe, at least the public or "society" has some control over what the money buys because elected officials vote on the services. If we are actually unhappy with the results collectively, then we will make it a political priority.

With most public services, we don't seem to expect individual choice or amenities comparable to what we get at home or in private clubs. Why do we expect so much more from schools?

Here's the thing and it may try in to the dog thread in terms of reflecting the interests of childless people: as long as there is the perception of shared civic duty in providing education because we feel that well educated citizens make a better country, most people accept their duty to pay for schools. When instead what's promoted is the individual self interest of individual learners and their parents, with little or no oversight by the government, selling that to the rest of the tax base is going to be harder.

9:45 PM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What people want with school choice seems to be the ability to have their choices heavily subsidized with other people's money. I'm not buying in to that so much.

But people are already getting their education heavily subsidized. Why not have a choice? I don't see why that would be so difficult.

This is not really an argument I'm heavily invested in, though. Simply because I have no intention of ever putting any kid I might have in public school. It's not the community's job to educate my kid, and I certainly don't trust "society" to do it for me.

Amy K.

9:57 PM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The difference I guess is that there's some oversight with common schools that wouldn't be present with school choice. What the public present contributes to educate other peoples' kids is based on having some say in how the money is spent and what the kids are expected to learn.

I feel pretty good about public schools because in my community the schools offer pretty much the education that I'd want my kids to get. It's interesting to me though how many people in the community are totally misinformed about the schools.

(For example, I was talking with a really religious person who was under the impression that kids were somehow forbidden from discussing faith at all at school, which totally is not the case. We've got several faith-based student run clubs and a lot of youth groupers who hang out together quite comfortably. On the other hand, we've got a secular students club too. The faculty is a pretty good mix of conservative and liberal, and there aren't too many folks attempting indoctrination.) If you rely on media reports, though, everybody is Karl Marx or Joseph McCarthy.

I don't think it's "society's" job to educate kids in the place of parents. But if we expect other people to pay for our kids' education, then it's reasonable to expect that we set some kind of common standard for what they are paying for.

The same people who let their kids eat junk food and let TV babysit, I'm afraid, aren't going to want things that I'm interested in paying for.

11:00 PM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The difference I guess is that there's some oversight with common schools that wouldn't be present with school choice. What the public present contributes to educate other peoples' kids is based on having some say in how the money is spent and what the kids are expected to learn.

Local, state, and federal funds all pay for schools. Who gets the say in how the money is spent? Too many cooks in the kitchen, and everybody has to eat the same gruel regardless.

I feel pretty good about public schools because in my community the schools offer pretty much the education that I'd want my kids to get.

What if it didn't? Or what about your neighbors who don't like it? Good for you, sucks for them. No offense, but that's a pretty subjective standard.

Amy K.

11:27 PM, February 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At a lot of schools and school systems, the amount of Federal money is tiny. Most states were afraid to turn down NCLB because of the schools who do receive money, but it really doesn't compare to what states and local taxes contributes.

I'd also argue that it's not the same gruel for everybody; there's already a number of school choice or school program choice available in public schools. Is it as much as some people want to see? No. but it's different flavors of gruel.

I didn't really mean it as 'public schools should stay around just as they are because I like 'em' statement. I was responding to your statement that you wouldn't ever send your kids.

But I'm pretty sure based on bond referendums and local special sales tax votes for the schools almost always passing that a political majority of the folks around here feel like I do. And like it or not (I'm conflicted myself) what a majority of people vote for is usually what we have to buy.

With any issue, there are usually some folks who didn't vote with the majority, but we don't usually respond with "state park funding choice is the answer or public hospital funding choice is the way to go."

At the point we abandon trying to offer a common education to all citizens, I'm really to throw in the towel on public education totally. I believe the system can be reformed and improved, and maybe more choice of programs should be a part of that. But not just handing checks to parents. I'm not interested in helping to pay for Crazy Christian Charter (like the Kansas Church that pickets soldiers funerals might have), or Mumia Abu-Jamal Academy for Social Justice.

We are either in it together and reform together or I want out.

11:10 AM, February 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Most states were afraid to turn down NCLB because of the schools who do receive money, but it really doesn't compare to what states and local taxes contributes."

You bring up something I'm curious about. Are there any states who have opted out of NCLB? I thought Utah did but when I asked our superintendent about it, he said he didn't know of any states who had opted out. Anyone have an answer?

12:41 PM, February 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure either. I believe the Virginia made some noise like they weren't, but as far as I know, everybody did do it.

Personally, I suspect that it had as much to do with fear of how the state voters would respond to politicians turning down money for school reform as it did with the recognition that the program had more costs than benefits. Taking the money allows you to blame the Feds; not taking the money means you have to see why you didn't to the public.

As far as I know, the federal money comes in with free and reduced price lunch kids, the children of armed services personnel if your near a base, some special education funding, and Chapter One schools which as I understand it are super high poverty and get more money but even before NCLB faced a higher level of government oversight.

5:42 PM, February 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Er, I meant title 1 not chapter 1, sorry.

Although I'm not a fan of the following blog really, if the basic info. is correct, it gives some answers about no states turning NCLB money down, but that some districts are declining federal money.

5:47 PM, February 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is interesting too in breaking down funding:

5:51 PM, February 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is outcome based education still the way our schools are headed? I have not heard a lot about it in quite some time. It worries me when things go silent, if you will.
Although everyone seems to be for equal opportunity, nature is not so kind when it comes to equal ability.
Were I an astronaut, I would want only the brightest there is designing the bomb my butt was parked on top of while screaming through the atmosphere at thousands of miles per hour; the best engineers designing the brakes on my car, on and on.
Most have been exposed to people who were educated beyond their intelligence, as well as very bright yet undereducated people.
Our nation seems to be importing many of the best and brightest these days instead of growing our own. I don't mean that in a bad way toward those coming here to reach their potential and to contribute to our great nation. I do mean that I believe our primary and secondary public school systems are nowhere near where they should - and need - to be.
Boy, pretty mouthy when I wake up early.

4:33 AM, February 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I don't think I've ever claimed anything about all students the same why that Dr. Helen seemed to make a claim about teachers.

Do you see a place on this thread where anyone lumped the kids together other than to say they ought to have good manners?

12:28 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or were you simply indicating in a pithy way what you felt was wrong with common public schools generally?

All public school teachers are lumped together as far as expectations and job performance, probably more than the kids are.

But they probably shouldn't be painted with same brush of protecting mediocrity like Dr. Helen did.

12:37 PM, February 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, our public schools are failing, and if teachers do not accept part of the blame then they are irrelevent and not needed.

I hold parents accountable as well, but there is an odd, twisted refusal to hold teachers accountable as well. That makes teachers as a group more suspect.


1:41 PM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you that education could certainly be improved. It is not my experience that my public schools are failing, and I know there are other districts like mine. Some public schools are failing, sure. All public schools could be better.

I think sometimes people overestimate the power individual teachers have to effect change. As a collective teachers should take more responsibility for making sure we choose the best methods and provide advice when developing curriculum.

To some degree, though, a lot of the choices are made for teachers. Look at the whole debate about reading: many people believe that Direct Instruction is best; Phonics, solid; and Whole Language, a failure. But rarely are individual teachers the ones who choose the method of instruction. Your materials are purchased by the school system, and you're often directed how to teach. You're not "empowered" to do many of the things that you believe would improve learning.

I think a lot of the resistance to teach accountability comes from the fear you'll be held accountable for things you can't control. I think most teachers would be happy with accountability systems that assessed student academic growth while enrolled in a teacher's class, especially if it free the teachers prioritize their labor.

3:22 PM, February 22, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was taught to read via phonics in Catholic elementary school. Less to remember than trying to memorize the times tables. You could look at a huge word, tear it down and sound it out, instead of skipping over it. Even if phonics is not taught, how many times has a kid heard a teacher say, "Sound it out."
anonymous 3:22 P.M.-- There must be thousands of teachers across this nation who feel things could be improved vastly, and have good ideas of how it could be accomplished. The fact they are not asked, not allowed to contribute to changes and / or improvements is perplexing.
Malicious obedience comes to mind.
"I don't know why Johnny can't read, I did everything you told me to do, just like you told me to do it."
And if a teacher doesn't "join the union" they are on their own if something serious pops up. I know some teachers, and when they get together and talk, most of the conversation revolves around daily struggles of how to beat the system to get what they need to teach kids how to learn. You would be surprised (unless you may be a teacher yourself) how much a teacher spends of their own personal money to get supplies and teaching aids for kids who need them. Special ed needs, especially.
My sister has been teaching special ed for 30 years. The cumulative amount of things she has purchased with her own money to teach these kids exceeds 50K easily. Her carpeted basement looks like a well stocked school supplies store.
The improvements that can actually be made, and aren't, don't make a particle of sense.
I read above where someone asked how many times can a kid fail first grade? No. How many times can first grade fail that kid?

5:50 AM, February 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point about failing first grade was in connection to kids who don't start school ready to learn. Methods could be improved, but there's always going to be a gap between kids in school readiness.

10:29 AM, February 23, 2007  
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12:26 AM, June 08, 2009  

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