Friday, August 15, 2008

Public School Crisis

As a former public school teacher, I have seen some pretty sad things. Today, I have been blown away by what I have read in the news.

Harrold ISD, north of Ft. Worth and just south of Oklahoma, is allowing its teachers to carry guns. Their reasoning is that they are far from police and just off a freeway. They would need to protect themselves if something were to happen.

It is sad that we have to think about protecting ourselves, even out in the country. This isn't a school in the rough inner-city, where you might assume you need protection.

Even at my own school last year, a student pulled a knife on our principal. Imagine if that had been a loaded gun instead.

I can't decide if I'm okay with this new policy or not. We do need protection. It's just sad that we do need protection in the places we send our children.

Another thing that I read was about Dallas ISD. Have you heard about this? The new grading policy is to allow late work. Students always have the option to retake a test and they are to receive the higher grade. If homework grades are bringing down their average, those grades don't count. The lowest grade a student can receive as an average is a 50.

As a teacher, I've done some of these things at one time or another. It was a decision that was made after evaluating the situation. The students never assumed that it would happen. I always took late papers, but points were deducted. If a student retook a test (during tutorials before school), I would average out the two grades. I never just took away homework grades! I've had to (due to district policy) give a student a 50 on a report card when it should have been a zero.

I felt bad every time I did these things. I felt that I was becoming part of the problem. But the thing is, I had to have at least some students pass my class. The ultimate goal was for learning to take place. If learning didn't happen by the first test, than hopefully by the retake, that student would learn at least one thing.

Isn't that sad? I understand to some degree why DISD is doing this. Now that it is a policy, the students will never do anything right the first time around. What are we teaching them? Will they expect all of these second chances in college (if they get there) or at work? Will they expect that if something is hurting them, that it will simply be taken away?

This, my friends, is what I think is the most crucial issue. I don't think a president can do something to fix the horrific system that is public education, but something MUST be done. This country will be so different in a few years if we allow all of this to happen. Maybe I will pack up my family and head to Canada.


Lynn Leaming said...

Part of what teaching is about is setting expectations and the higher the bar most students rise to the level, not lowering the bar. I agree with you something needs to be done to reset the bar in most of our schools.

Michelle said...

Brooke, I so agree. CJ sees the same thing teaching at Wylie. The paretns expect their kids to get special attention and they are not worried about what signals it sends their kids. no wonder they do not respect the teachers!!! Their parents do not respect the teachers and they do not demand respect for themselves. They are too worried about being their friend, or not hurting their self esteem.

I could go on and on!!! AHHHH!!! Lets start a school for our kids so we can make sure they learn!!