Wednesday, August 25, 2010

what to do with public education?

i'm kind of over the public education system. from what i can tell, its current state is a bit of a disaster. more specifically, it just feels like the system is incredibly broken and every time someone tries to fix it, it just gets more convoluted. i feel like everyone keeps adding more instead of maybe reexamining what we have or trying to think about things in new ways.

i know that my principal is with me on the fact that my kids, especially the kids i work with, need to learn social skills in order to be successful at school (and life). so is my partner (i team teach). but i also know that everyone, including my principal is watching our test scores very closely. and good test scores come from teaching testing strategies, not life skills. i think that standardized tests, as they stand right now, are a waste of everyone's time and, more importantly, their mental capacities. (i'm not discounting the possibility that good ones do or could exist.)

today i am particularly frustrated with the minutia and the paperwork. every single thing has to have a mandate. has to be micromanaged. we were trying to figure out the specific amount of minutes that are to be taught in english and spanish in each subject area and it was so ridiculous. we're getting down to 5 min here and 10 min there. on a practical level, that's silly. but, whether we follow it or not, we have to have it written down.

then we were trying to work out the details of this intervention period the district has mandated and the way our administrator was interpreting it didn't make any practical sense at all. he finally told us he would have to look into it and get back to it because we were all getting so confused in the details.

i understand the need for framework and i really appreciate having it. after having almost complete freedom in china, i appreciate having some structure. and i understand that, especially in a district as big as HISD, we want to control as many variables as possible in order to keep from having teachers that suck. my colleague also mentioned that we have a really high mobility rate among students, so the district wants things as standard as possible so that those kids don't miss a beat when they get to a new school. which i get. i don't know how that works on a practical level, but i get that. still, i think there needs to be some balance between framework and freedom.

there needs to be room for good teachers to be good teachers. the best teachers aren't the ones who are robots. the robots get the test scores and get rewarded. the good teachers sometimes do and sometimes don't, depending on the kids they work with. i feel like my kids are missing out on things they need to be successful in life because everyone is so worried about test scores and district mandates. and that just hurts my heart.

No comments: