Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Posts tagged ‘No Child Left Behind’

Let’s Pretend…With Our Children’s Education

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Let’s pretend that Common Core won’t cause teachers to pretend that students who do not learn the skills assigned to that grade are actually proficient. Nor will it cause students who are able to go ahead, to be held back, because those skills are not a part of the core curriculum for their year.

No Child Left Behind led to a rash of teacher cheating, and good grades being given to those who did not deserve them. I know because my children were part of this failed experiment. They also learned strategies to test taking and essay writing that allowed them to demonstrate knowledge without actually having any.

Did you know that if you pick out the biggest word in a question, then find that word in a paragraph and write the sentence you found the word in down you will most likely get the question right?

Did you know that the trick to writing a good summary is to pick the longest sentence in each paragraph, write them down and then change a few words here and there to make it your own work?

Did you know that you can get up to 75% in math by writing the numbers given in the problem as an addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problem in the space provided even if none of your answers are right because somewhere on the paper you demonstrated the right process for solving the problem? (3 points for showing your work/ one point for the right answer. The students who do the math in their heads but get all the right answers receive a 25%…)

Did you also know that a child who does not know all of her letter sounds, and is still counting beans in math at the end of the third grade, in a regular classroom, can receive straight As on her report card because her emotional handicap somehow means she needs to see those grades in order to achieve? (She was pulled out of a regular classroom twice a day for thirty minutes for math and reading taught in a 15:1 setting… And this is what the social worker called being ‘grade level’ and ‘doing fine in school.’)

Instead of standardizing education (because we know that every kid fits the standard) why don’t we encourage teachers to find what works for their students and let the parents be the judge of whether, or not, the child is getting what they need. School choice and more parental involvement is a better option than any one-size-fits-all program (even to the point of the local parents being able to get rid of teachers who do not meet their children’s needs- after all, the parents do pay the teachers’ salaries in the form of taxes…).

I took my children (who were adopted when they were older) out of this system and home schooled them. All of my special ed kids graduated high school. One served in the Marines, and now works in Kuwait. Another is in hotel management and is a high school soccer coach, and the third, who was to live in a group home for the rest of her life, is now a mother of two who works part time at a hotel. If I can do this without a teaching degree, just think of what our schools could do if we pushed them to try!

Let’s stop pretending and make real changes that really work. Implementing programs that are sure to fail and paying more into a system that has not produced results is just plain nuts.

Why I Am Not in Favor of the Common Core

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As you know, if you have been reading my posts, we adopted three children who were already in school, but definitely not learning. We decided, after trying public, private and supplemental tutoring that home schooling worked the best for us. Why? Because individual attention, when a student is behind, trumps any other form of education. The student needs to back up and learn at their own pace, which is sometimes painfully slow.

Thanks to ‘no child left behind’ my third grade daughter, who did not know her letter sounds and was still counting beans in math, received straight As. (No kidding.) When I asked why, the teacher patted her on the head and told me that children like her (with emotional issues) needed to see those grades for their own self-esteem. Those grades did not help her ‘self-esteem.’ Even though she was doing poorly in school, she was smart enough to know her report card was a joke. Any incentive grades could have made in her learning was now gone. (And she was competitive with her brothers who received ‘real’ grades on their report cards.)

Any national standard will leave children like mine behind. The teacher will need to keep the children on pace with the curriculum and it will be a disincentive to slow down when the children are struggling, and at times whole classes struggle. A friend of mine called me frustrated because he had a class of third graders that did not have their sight-words (the, did, for, run- things you should be able to spell automatically without sounding out) memorized yet. He had to go back and teach the basics before they moved on. This meant that this class would not finish where previous classes had, but they needed the basics. To try to stay on track would have resulted in them being even further behind.

Where we live today the high school students can pass a class titled ‘Algebra,’ but since the math teacher needs to catch them up they may not learn as much as the children who were surrounded by students more motivated to learn. The problem is the children, and their parents think they learned, and succeeded in Algebra. When the child gets to college and fails in math, they will not understand why, and likely be frustrated enough to quit. Common standards will only result in more of this, not less, as schools will have to look like they are following the standard. It is better for a child to succeed at a lower level, knowing that they know what they know then to believe they have achieved and have skills when they do not.

Further, every community has its own flavor and needs. America should be diverse. One community may wish to focus on farming, since that it what they do, while another is overjoyed there is a CAD lab in their school. Let’s let us be unique. One of America’s greatest assets is her diversity. ┬áLet’s not put anything in place to stifle this.

Common Core stands to lessen the overall knowledge of our country since everyone will have studied similar things. Someone should know Shakespeare well, while others studied Van Gogh. There should be a place where computer scientists thrive (like Silicon Valley) without the future farmers wondering why there is all of this programming stuff in their curriculum. (True farms benefit from some computing, but not the level the parents of Silicon Valley employees, or their children who have grown up thinking in C, would enjoy.) Having everyone learn a little of everything makes no one an expert in anything. Further there is bound to be some great stuff that is left out, or an agenda that begins to permeate our country that exists without critical evaluation because it was introduced at a young age and no one is taught to question it. (And everything should be questioned. I once took a course proving that Calculus exists. How many people have just taken it for granted that it does? We need a few people here and there that know why and how it works, rather than just doing it to get the answer right on the paper… but, as most successful adults can tell you, we do not need many of these people, because most of us who have taken Calculus have never used it again in our adult lives. The point: All knowledge is good, but not everyone needs the same knowledge.) Let us keep our diversity and find a different way to ensure than all children learn.

Photo by Matija Barrett

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