I'm not too sure I believe in all the good that "home schooling" does....as a way to keep evangelical christian kids out of the public schools for an evangelical form of brainwashing.
You're absolutely correct on that one, CZ.
the punitive approach to public education for lesser performing schools. Maybe they need to look at the environment more and consider pumping more money to make them better performing
Let me tell you all something...teachers and school systems aren't all the problem. Teachers and school systems can't change the students' home environments. Teachers and school systems can't change students' genetic inheritance. They can't change the way the kids are being raised. They can't decide whether or not education is considered an important facet of the students' home lives.
AND teachers must be allowed to TEACH. Consider the school day in most systems. Arrival time is around 8 am and closing time is around 3 pm. That's seven hours for the American elementary school student to be instructed in Reading, Writing, Math, Social Studies, Science, Art, Music, and PE. (One of the most neglected subjects in our schools (in my opinion) is the history of our own country. I believe that neglect is one of the reasons too many Americans today are so accepting of the attacks on the Constitution by the Bushies.)
Woven within the school day is also breakfast and lunch (30 minutes for each usually), bathroom and recess breaks, speech classes, special reading classes, special math classes, classes for the academically gifted and for the academically challenged, guidance classes, library classes, and interruptions such as fire drills, tornado drills, school intruder drills, and intercom announcements. Factor in time for students to get from one classroom to another if changing of classrooms is a part of the schedule, as it is in most middle and high schools. Do the math...how much time is actually allotted to real instruction
with uninterrupted time
? If a good educational foundation isn't rooted within the student's elementary school years, he or she isn't going to find it in middle school or high school. By then, it's too late. A love for learning has to begin at home and it has to cemented in elementary school.
Then factor in whether or not the student has any time at all to do homework. Factor in the sports element...practice, practice, and then practice some more all the football, basketball, softball, baseball, soccor, etc.
While we're expecting more and more from both student and teacher, we're still expecting it all to be accomplished within the same time frame as it has been for the last 50 years, at least! It seems impossible...yet teachers and school systems continue to turn out a hell of a lot of good students and high achievers. When I read my local paper each May, I'm always astounded at the academic achievements of so many of the students.
Cheers and jeers are always warrented for the school systems and their personnel. But, if school systems functioned like, say...the justice system or the political system in our country, then there'd really be something to complain about. Ever been in the courthouse on a typical day when court is in session? Talk about a waste of time!
Look at our own governmental procedures...look at how Congress does business. Look at the present administration and how it does business! Look at the Supreme Court and how it does business. Look at other businesses and organizations and you might realize that the school system isn't broken...it just needs to give its workers time to actually do
their jobs. I guarantee that if teachers were given smaller groups of students to teach and more time to actually do it,
you'd see a change in the educational quality of the product being turned out of public schools.
By the way, most teachers are also required to prepare lesson plans, keep their rooms neat and tidy with up to the minute educational material readily available to their students, (most of it they've bought with their own money), serve on a variety of school committees, do tons of paper work such as PEPs (Personal Education Plans), attend PTA meetings, sports events, schedule parent-teacher conferences monthly or more frequently if there's a need, attend faculty meetings, plan and carry out field trips, organize school celebrations for specific holidays and other events, and participate in school fund raisers, which usually take place on Saturdays. Sometime in there, they also have the right to a semblance of a personal life...believe it or not.
Time to TEACH? A precious commodity, believe me, but teaching is the one profession that makes all others possible.
The Blueberry Story: The teacher gives the businessman a lesson
by Jamie Robert Vollmer
If I ran my business the way you people operate your schools, I wouldn't be in business very long!"
I stood before an auditorium filled with outraged teachers who were becoming angrier by the minute. My speech had entirely consumed their precious 90 minutes of inservice. Their initial icy glares had turned to restless agitation. You could cut the hostility with a knife.
I represented a group of business people dedicated to improving public schools. I was an executive at an ice cream company that became famous in the middle1980s when People Magazine chose our blueberry as the "Best Ice Cream in America."
I was convinced of two things. First, public schools needed to change; they were archaic selecting and sorting mechanisms designed for the industrial age and out of step with the needs of our emerging "knowledge society". Second, educators were a major part of the problem: they resisted change, hunkered down in their feathered nests, protected by tenure and shielded by a bureaucratic monopoly. They needed to look to business. We knew how to produce quality. Zero defects! TQM! Continuous improvement!
In retrospect, the speech was perfectly balanced - equal parts ignorance and arrogance.
As soon as I finished, a woman's hand shot up. She appeared polite, pleasant -- she was, in fact, a razor-edged, veteran, high school English teacher who had been waiting to unload.
She began quietly, "We are told, sir, that you manage a company that makes good ice cream."
I smugly replied, "Best ice cream in America, Ma'am."
"How nice," she said. "Is it rich and smooth?"
"Sixteen percent butterfat," I crowed.
"Premium ingredients?" she inquired.
"Super-premium! Nothing but triple A." I was on a roll. I never saw the next line coming.
"Mr. Vollmer," she said, leaning forward with a wicked eyebrow raised to the sky, "when you are standing on your receiving dock and you see an inferior shipment of blueberries arrive, what do you do?"
In the silence of that room, I could hear the trap snap…. I was dead meat, but I wasn't going to lie.
"I send them back."
"That's right!" she barked, "and we can never send back our blueberries. We take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused, frightened, confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant. We take them with ADHD, junior rheumatoid arthritis, and English as their second language. We take them all! Every one! And that, Mr. Vollmer, is why it's not a business. It's school!"
In an explosion, all 290 teachers, principals, bus drivers, aides, custodians and secretaries jumped to their feet and yelled, "Yeah! Blueberries! Blueberries!"
And so began my long transformation.
Since then, I have visited hundreds of schools. I have learned that a school is not a business. Schools are unable to control the quality of their raw material, they are dependent upon the vagaries of politics for a reliable revenue stream, and they are constantly mauled by a howling horde of disparate, competing customer groups that would send the best CEO screaming into the night.
None of this negates the need for change. We must change what, when, and how we teach to give all children maximum opportunity to thrive in a post-industrial society. But educators cannot do this alone; these changes can occur only with the understanding, trust, permission and active support of the surrounding community. For the most important thing I have learned is that schools reflect the attitudes, beliefs and health of the communities they serve, and therefore, to improve public education means more than changing our schools, it means changing America!
Reprinted with permission from the March 6, 2002 issue of Education Week