Your Bullshit Abuse of Teachers Is Killing Education (Series Part 5):
Let's conclude this week about how badly we've screwed with our children's education under No Child Left Behind (and whatever Frankenstein monster Arne Duncan and the President are stitching together) with a few words from some teachers. They were kind and gutsy enough to write into the Rude Pundit, and he will protect your identities (and do some minor edits). Offered without comment:
"I taught art and English for 17 years in public schools. Art education used to be considered a vital part of a child's education. Art lessons can be used to team up different curriculum (like geometry, history, science, music, etc.) and illustrate new concepts to students. Art can 'demonstrate' how things work and help kids to use critical thinking skills.
"That said, everything changed under NCLB. Art class became the new "dumping ground for Special Education students. With the 'benchmarks' that threatened school closures, testing was king. NCLB was forcing core classes to 'improve' (according to the test results) and SE students were caught in the crossfire. What to do? Solution? Dump them into art class where the teacher could babysit them while the 'real learning' was going on in other classes.
"Soon, my art classes were filling up with SE kids who were repeating art classes they had already taken. In a typical day, I taught 150 kids. 47 of those kids were designated SE learners. Teacher aides were scarcer than hen's teeth. The 'funding' was poor and what little money for teacher aides did come in, was used up in P.E. classes (which had class sizes of 65 and needed locker-room supervision).
"Ever since 'mainstreaming' became the new vortex of energy/trendy norm, special education kids have been pushed into regular education classes. Some SE kids do very well there, but most do not thrive. The truth is that while it may seem discriminatory to keep the bulk of SE students in a self-contained classroom (like they did in the 1970s), moving them into the regular classroom does NOT significantly raise their abilities and it SIGNIFICANTLY slows the learning for the regular education kids. This is the KEY. This is probably the goal, as it keeps the masses from being successful in school. This is not just happening in art class. The SE mainstreamed kids are now in all core classes, excluded only from the advanced placement classes, such as high level math, chemistry, and college level history and English (offered in high school).
"A special education teacher once told me that the typical student needs 4-7 repetitions to learn a concept. A typical SE kid needs 1000-1500 reps! Most school days work on the 6-7 period day, which makes each class run about 45 minutes long. Average class size? 32 kids. Student limit per day per teachers varies by state, but in Montana, it was 150 kids per day. Given that, how much time does your regular education student spend (one-on-one) with the teacher when she is busy repeating concepts to a SE kid? So, let's do the math. In a 45 minute period, with a class size of 32 (ten of whom are SE kids) the amount of face-time per student is about 1 1/2 minutes per student. If the teacher has to repeat concepts with SE students, how much time do the regular education kids get in face-time? Less than zero."
"Not a single teacher I know, including myself, has anything positive to say about NCLB. Topping the list is stopping teachers from teaching, thus stopping students from real learning, thus teachers getting the blame, thus teachers getting further underpaid, losing jobs, and classrooms becoming more crowded as schools are unable to meet the percentages, and lose funding and more teachers; the entire original concept of NCLB is doing what is was designed to do: destroy the public school system, all said here in one long run-on sentence because I can."
"We spend about 6 weeks total in testing. That's 6 weeks I could be teaching chemistry and geometry. 6 weeks, a third of a semester, wasted on test prep and testing and then make up testing. If we must test I say set up Saturday testing centers and pay folks minimum wage to proctor all the testing. That way I can go back to teaching actual content."
"I will give the last state test to my 6th graders tomorrow. It's in Reading, and I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Literacy: Reading/Language Arts. But my test results probably won't show it, because the kids will be tested on the biggest bunch of crap, NOT what I have worked with them on all year, to be readers and thinkers. NCLB has been a disaster."
"I taught music to grades k-8 in a large inner city public school. I had to retire early because my doctor felt that, if I continued teaching, I would have a stroke. He said most of his teachers were on blood pressure medication from September to June. Does that tell you something? No Child Left Behind reminds me of what our city did every time a new superintendent (now they call them CEOs) took the helm. They tried to reinvent the wheel. New books, new curricula, etc, and everyone was supposed to jump on board without question. Were we ever asked what we thought would work? Hell, no. Our opinions were not even worthy of a look-see. NCLB, is obviously a joke. What frosts me is that there are tons of research that suggest what works in education. Oh, how about lower class size, highly-educated teachers, parents who understand child development, higher academic standards, kids that go to bed at a reasonable hour, not sending children to school with money to buy bagfuls of junk? And on and on. A little respect for teachers would be nice as well. Obama's 'Teach for America' campaign is not much better. Arrogant young kids with little education who think they know the answers to education is not the answer. I heard someone ask Arne Duncan what were his qualifications to be Secretary of Education. I kid you not, his answer was - wait for it -'I went to school and my mother was a teacher.' Kind of makes one's head want to explode."
"I work as a teacher’s aide in New Mexico. Most of our schools don't meet up to NCLB standards, so when that happens they cut our funding and we lose teachers and EAs as myself. That's 'education assistant'- most of the time it means photocopy boy or sub. I'm in a program to become a teacher, and believe me when I say it isn't for the money that I want to be one.
"I feel that when people always blame the public schools for the failure of the students they always mean the teachers. And, yeah, in some cases you're always going to have those type of people who shouldn't be teachers. And NCLB sucks ass, that's true, but most teachers I know are always trying to find ways to subvert it. I believe that what NCLB is doing is hurting our schools. These high risk tests they make us give the children are completely unfair because there is no such thing as a standardized student. Why should we have fucking tests that expect them to be all the same when none of our kids learn the same?"
Thanks to everyone who wrote in, especially the thugs and criminals who belong to the NEA (if we're to believe Chris Christie). The Rude Pundit will get to parents and students (and more teachers and test graders) in the next few weeks.