A New Year
A new year of school is upon us and along with it, the pressure to perform. Late nights, lots of study, making sure your work is done on time, attending your classes and receiving criticism from the administration. NO, I’m not talking about the students, I’m talking about the teachers.
My school district has eleven campuses that did not meet the state standard to be considered, acceptable. The exact term is Improvement Required. We did not have enough students pass our standardized tests so we are now considered a school who needs some help.
One would think that we would look at the student’s work sample, did they do enough, did they study, did they get good enough grades to be able to have grasped the material? No, we are not looking at the students, rather we are looking at the teachers. If their students didn’t pass, they must be the problem. To be sure, this may be the case in some instances, but not all over the school and the district, but our administration is blaming the teachers.
I was told today by an administrator that if just teach better we will have better scores. I don’t buy the premise that it is the fault of the teacher, at least not all the time. But in that same conversation today I heard we need to do better, we need to teach at that mysterious Level III. What is level III you ask, well I don’t know either.
The Emperor’s New Clothes
Do you remember the child’s book, The Emperor’s New Clothes? In that story some new “tailor”s come to town and make the emperor new clothes. And since these are the suave and sophisticated tailors from the big city, everyone assumes they know what they are doing. But what they do is charge the emperor a lot of money and make him no clothes. In fact, he is naked, butt-naked, but the tailors tell him he has never looked better. Not wanting to be thought a fool, he assumes he is not as smart as the tailors and acts as if he has the greatest set of clothes ever. This ruse continues as no one wants to be the one to tell the emperor he has no clothes, so they all play along. But at a parade a little boy yells and asks where are the emperor’s clothes. It took common sense to reveal the obvious.
Blame it on the Teachers
So it is with our school system. The emperor is naked and no one notices. That is the students are not held accountable, with their behavior or grades, and we continue to say what pretty clothes they have on, all the while they continue to fall behind and we look for the easy targets: teachers. We have weak teachers, but in eleven of these schools is it all the teachers fault? Students who don’t attend school, who don’t do the work or respect school.
Isn’t it our responsibility as educators to hold these students accountable? At MISD we don’t do this, instead we buy a program and tell our teachers this is the answer and they better use it and they better have better test results and they better be a level III teacher. But all the while no one can define what this means.
But alas, we need to get that bond passed, no matter what. In the meantime, the wrong people are being addressed for the wrong problem in the wrong way and the the real problem grows . . . but the emperor looks great. Until next time, peace.