A sad state of affairs


Teaching the 3 R’s shouldn’t be all that hard. Should it? According to the progress of the Memphis city schools, it must be harder than teaching a cat to play fetch.

Last year the local news reported that “out of 194 MCS schools that have federal AYP considerations, 33 schools, or 17 percent of the district, met those requirements.” That means eighty-three percent FAILED!

Strategies the district has used to increase test scores (which have worked soooo well! <sarcasm alert>):

1) Don’t fail anyone in elementary school, and higher up if we can get away with it.

2) Let them use calculators on everything since they can’t actually do math.

3) Eh, forget letter grades. Let’s institute our own meaningless system.

4) If a parent asks a teacher to assist by communicating to help aid a child in progressing— nah, then we’d have to do that for everyone.

5) Forget teaching things kids should know; we’ll just teach them the TCAP crap stuff.

Mr. Smarty-pants, whose IQ is higher than mine and is reading my college cell biology book for fun, has less than stellar grades. He lacks motivation in the less than exciting courses, and the CLUE program (gifted and talented program), which pulls kids out of regular classes, is an absurd method of keeping smart kids motivated. It frustrates them when they miss a lesson and the teacher is less than eager to bring them up to snuff. Granted, some teachers are very nice and cooperative, but others have proven rather lacking in the caring department. Then there’s the whole test teaching methodology and  handing kids calculators before making certain they can DO the math. I have other complaints, but I’d rather not write a book on this.

It’s nearly time to apply for admittance into our desired middle school(s) of choice. The “best” middle schools, and I use that term loosely, require certain grade minimums to get in. I can understand this, although how them plan to implement that next year when no one actually has letter grades anymore, is beyond me. The issue I have is that out of all the schools in Memphis, a whopping 3 have decent marks. All the others fall into meh or wth, with my neighborhood schools falling into the WTH?! category.  So where does that leave us? ALL the middle schools near me are horrible and moving is, sadly, not an option. So, looking at the entire city, I find, oh one he may be able to get into and maybe it doesn’t totally suck, but then again…. There’s one a little closer, but even though it scores an unimpressive 3 out of 10 according to www.greatschools.org, the requirements are still such that Smarty-pants has probably blown his chance to get in.

I plan to apply for financial aid for private school. If I get it, YAY! If not, well, maybe I should ship him off to my sister. (She might murder me, so don’t tel her.)

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5 responses to “A sad state of affairs

  1. Not to be a conspiracy theorist nutjob, but I truly believe the system has been set up to fail by the profiteers who are pushing for the charter school system. The rules and guidelines and standardized testing are a maddening maze of inconsistent nonsense that create an impossible working environment for most teachers. On top of that, most teachers have been stripped of autonomy inside their classrooms and must teach “to the test” to retain their positions but have little to no authority to discipline the children.

    What once was a system for the world to envy has become a tasteless joke.

  2. Oh, but why not let them use calculators (she says with sarcasm dripping from her voice). There is a disturbing trend I see every day, where people cannot count back simple change at stores if the electricity goes out and brains are required.

    Heck, I could go on about the girl last year who accidentally put $10,00 as the money handed to her for a $72.08 bill (she was handed a hundred dollar bill) and she totally freaked. Like a deer in headlights, she stood there paralyzed and muttered she was so sorry and couldn’t figure it the change. ($27,92 will forever be stuck in my head as I stood there for 13 or so minutes figuring all the ways to count it back or work it in my head) EVEN when the older lady gave her a calculator, she just couldn’t work it and the older lady had to do that for her.

    And this happens all the time, because kids get to use calculators to do simple math anymore. (yeah it’s a rant I have lol)

    There’s a reason certain other countries are moving ahead academically, and it has to do with everything you are saying above. School should be pushing young minds, not coddling them. Teaching should be interesting and boring curriculums (where teachers are forced to do it all the same way usually without allowing wiggle room for creativity and fresh perspective) should be tossed aside, etc. I remember the first time I learned history wasn’t about regurgitating non-impartial facts and dates about old dead people – it’s about real people with many sides to every story. Believe it or not, I didn’t get it until I had a great teacher for Western Civ I, because he taught it the way it should be taught.

    Of course teachers are pretty much screwed. In this society where football/sports/rock and TV/Movie stars/politicians get paid obscene amounts of money, when those who are suppose to guide minds (young and old alike) are treated like throwaway babysitters, nothing is going to really change and we will fall farther and farther behind. Thank goodness there are moms like you who challenge their kids and open their minds.

    I hope you get your financial aid granted. Because Mr. Smarty-pants is rather brilliant, and Cici shows amazing promise as well, in different ways. (I haven’t talked to Lily in a long time but I’m sure she’s not far behind.)

    I feel for you and with you.

    (I have a migraine so I’m cranky and stomping on my soapbox for the kids)

  3. The name of the game…..Federal Funding…..only schools who meet certain criteria get funding (you have to be at one end of the spectrum or the other, really crappy or really good) so schools do everything they can to “pad the books”. Quite frankly, if you want your kids to have a decent education, home school or privet school them….Also the trend of uneducated people coming out of school doesn’t end with high school….when I went to UoP those people were…amazing…mind boggling….sad beyond description…..sure, I can’t spell worth a damn (note: I was taught by Phonics in school and it screwed me up for life), but these people, UNIVERSITY PEOPLE, can’t read. A paragraph that should take a few second to read out loud takes them a couple minutes, the struggle with every word and can’t pronounce most words over 2 syllables…..and you should read their writing……’I are is in collage so is I can get smarts er, I axed da teach how I is doing and she say I done good”…..ever we ever needed another world war or another black plague to thin the gene pool…it’s now!

  4. I wouldn’t kill ya! You need to watch “Waiting for Superman” – it’s on Netflix. It’s a documentary that talks about this exact issue.

  5. Look at Texas. Every year now, it’s a spectacle at the State Board of Education meetings when they bring up textbook criteria and curriculum overhauls. It’s a circus where everyone with a political axe to grind bellies up to the table with their backers to battle over what your children get to learn. We’ve seen it recently with science and social studies. I’m sure they’ll find a way to turn math on its head. And, that is just working on the information getting into the teaching materials. Then you have the whole issue of school finance, political battles over funding or trying to bleed the public system to death by enticing the students to go to charter schools, private schools, etc. through means of vouchers. And everyone wants an apples-to-apples comparison, so we get these ridiculous mandatory tests that measure an absurdly low level of knowledge and skills — which many kids still manage to bomb for whatever reasons — teachers (either straightjacketed by the curriculum, pigeonholed by the administration, or just poor teaching methods), lack of parental involvement in their children’s education (or the other end of the spectrum — super helicopter parents), peer pressure, and on and on and on.

    The education system here needs an overhaul like mad, but no one wants to think of the big picture. We get these band-aid approaches — or sometime we do the equilavent of stabbing ourselves in the thigh to ease the headache.

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