I have decided that if I am going to move up in the field of education to eventually be a leader in this school choice movement, then I need to address the issues as a business with a education focus. These are the problems with public education that I would like to be addressed once I enter this level of leadership:
- If school choice is going to be pushed through the nation, including California, then I want people who are educated or have experience as teachers building this movement, not business people. School choice is a chance for schools to fix what is broken and will NEVER be fixed through public education. Allowing parents to choose schools WILL force even public schools to rethink their strategies and become better at what they do. My current school district has seen a drop in enrollment for about 10 years in a row because when parents see consistent problems, they choose other options. And, yes, common core has a great negative influence on many parents. My school district has actually made improvements to be more competitive in the past few years. A few years ago we were forced into program improvement and only then have we begun a movement into using scientifically proven educational strategies. Many people would agree that we were stuck in the dark ages and were forced into this change. Many teachers who love their craft and constantly move towards self-improvement have made school better for their students. Others, though, have stayed the same because, you know, tenure. Tenure allows crappy teachers to stay crappy teachers because after they are tenured, it’s their choice. After they begin their first day of their third year, they can stay in the stone age if they so desire and who reaps the consequences? Everyone but the tenured teacher who can’t be fired… Awesome!!
- Rigor in public schools is rarely found outside of advanced classes. I’m referring to rigor as most of us remember it, rigor that required memorization and application. Rigor that allowed us to begin our freshman year of college somewhat prepared for college level work. I mean somewhat because all of us had some sort of difficulty adjusting, but not to the level that we are seeing in college freshmen today. Students get so much CHOICE in the classroom, that they think they can pick and choose what they do and don’t based off whether they enjoy the activity (or the teacher) or not. We teachers hold their hands and if they choose not to succeed it, we are to blame. Teachers are expected to create a PERFECT environment for the students to have rigorous texts, but not too rigorous that they give up. We are expected to make them think but not too much. We are expected to have great classroom management skills but we must insure that the students like us, because we all know that we only learn from people we like… hum… Well, in the world of education today, if everything isn’t perfect for each student, then it’s the teacher’s responsibility to change, not the student. No wonder we are creating a bunch of snowflakes that can’t handle the world. I have an enormous amount of students with health problems including physical problems like thyroid issues and many psychological problems like anxiety and depression. The least amount of sternness or blatantly clear expectations from me brings on anxiety attacks, meltdowns, and students thinking they can cuss me out and leave because of their stress level or that I “disrespected them.” Students have not been taught respect for elders because they get so much choice. Damn, if I could choose, I would have chosen for Marine Corps boot camp to be more like girl scout camp. I would have chosen for all my professors in college to let me have 3 times as long to read the texts that were difficult or even take them out of the curriculum if it was too difficult or if I didn’t agree with it. We are not doing the students any favors by dumbing down the curriculum for them. In fact, that brings me to my next point.
- Alternative schools are not helping to improve students chance to succeed, they seem to be in place just to give the schools another way to make money off the students. Each student equals money for schools. Most of these types of schools are half-day programs (8-12 or 12-4, or some variation). The days are cut in half and the expectations within each class period are cut in half, resulting in students getting a quarter of the content as a regular school. I know from experience that even getting a quarter of the education into a classroom full of gang members, literal juvenile delinquents, and students whose parents can’t control them or don’t care is better than nothing. But this is an injustice to those students who do graduate. As much as students who graduate from regular high schools aren’t prepared for adulthood and college level expectations, students that graduate from alternative schools are ill-equipped for any jobs with opportunity for growth and they are definitely not prepared for any trade school or college. Even the few students that have the hope for college realize very quickly how little resources they have personally and communally to succeed. This is an act of appeasement. We are appeasing to the students lack of motivation, desire, and perceived abilities. We are not giving them a fair chance to succeed by sliding them through because we have lowered the standards. These students with anxiety and depression issues, the students who lack motivation to even work hard in school will become adults with the same problems.
I guess this is just the beginning of my rant. Next time I will provide some solutions.
- How wrong would it be to put aside the book work education and provide students who don’t buy into the system with a trade that is useful and needed in society?
- Since these programs are already available and seeing success, how difficult would it be to implement into an already running district of alternative education schools?
- Have you ever heard of any schools that are doing this and are successful?
- Is tenuring teachers after the beginning of their third year fair to students? Especially the students who get the teachers who immediately begin to act like 30 year teachers.
- There are many seemingly successful alternative schools that focus on school culture, student choice, and student interest; however, are these schools actually preparing students to be contributing members or society, preparing them for the work world, and/or preparing them for trade school or college?
Interested in reading more about tenure? Here are a few articles:
- The injustice of California’s teacher tenure
- California’s teacher tenure battle is reignited by Vergara appeal and a new bill
- Should Teachers Get Tenure?
Interested in reading more about alternative schooling:
- Alternative Schools and Pushout: Research and Advocacy Guide
- Lessons from Successful Alternative Education: A Guide for Secondary School Reform
- Improving Alternative Education in California