I know you are all eagerly awaiting the second half of my debauchery in New Orleans. But this last week I have dedicated to my child’s schooling, which ultimately resulted in the following rant being posted on Facebook this a.m.
Our forced adherence to bullshit standardized testing is making testing companies rich and hurting fwisd! My kid goes to Monnig- because of mandated testing evaluation changes- other parents of bright kids are pulling their kids out because they believe the school “isn’t good enough.” Did I mention I am helping her rehearse Elektra for UIL? Come on legislature– get it together before you destroy public schools completely. I have my brilliant gifted child in these schools because I Believe! Public schools got me to Yale. Let the teachers do what they are trained to do- fund it and don’t try to micro manage it. Rant over
So let me tell you how this came about. I have my kid in a middle school here in town. We had one of the finest elementary schools- by popular acclaim- through fifth grade. Then all the parents of the gifted and talented kids started pulling their kids out cause “you lose them in middle school.” First of all, what exactly does that mean? I can’t lose Claire- I’m on that kid like white on rice. As her friends even say, “Your mom scares me.” It’s the look. I’ve had it for years.
Anyway- tangent there. So, what happened was last year in the ridiculous state mandated testing regime, the evaluation procedure randomly adjusted (on calendar) and the middle school in question went down in its rating. I tried to explain this to the other parents (since I’ve been involved in school law for over 20 years)…alas, as with so many things, people see the numbers. Regardless, I shoved my kid into her ethnically diverse public school and said “Darwinism, baby. You will survive and thrive.” And guess what? She has. Got the lead in the musical as a 6th grader and a part in the UIL play (Elektra…sophocles…seriously?) Anyway all was well.
Then, suddenly, my kids math grades started to plummet. Ok, so I know my kid is attractive and social, so I attributed it to her jacking around. Took her phone. Berated her. Insisted on doing her homework with her every night. But Claire insisted he instructor was “crazy.” Yeah, right. It’s always the teacher. Multiple meetings with the teacher and hours of homework later, I began to notice that when my kid GOT home, she didn’t know how to work the problems. But after I showed her ONE….she did the remainder of the worksheet on her own. No problem. So, I asked myself…where is the disconnect.
Well, after months of investigation and a resurrected grade in math- here’s what I’ve decided. This teacher is in WAY over her head. I discovered she didn’t even sign on to teach AP math, although she is math certified. And, accordingly, whenever she has problems getting the assignment across to the kids, she blurts “we will never make the goals” or “we will never get the passing rate” if the honors kids can’t get this- and refuses to actually TEACH.
This woman is paralyzed by the standardized testing evaluations. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve decided she is also arbitrary and has admitted to having a “personality conflict” with my child. (A grown woman…with a 12 year old who is loved by every other teacher) NO, I think she is a victim of a testing regime that shoe horns learning into a particular hole. An ideology where performance and learning are only evaluated by a single mandated regime controlled by corporations making millions of dollars off the tests themselves. In other words, she is scared. SCARED!! A frightened person can’t TEACH people. She sees the kids’ inability to comprehend her initial instruction as a threat, and reacts with “throw you papers in the trash!!!!” And it’s that kind of message that makes these kids (particularly the ones used to overachieving) miserable. Including my own.
So, I saddled up in my best lawyer garb, went to the school, and intimidated the hell out of her. (This was more for statements to Claire like “you’ll never get into Yale”) And then, I called the principal to let her know I would do WHATEVER it took to help bring those math scores up-including tutoring and teaching.
You know, when my dad did international aid and relief work, they had “GO” teams. Teams that would hit the ground with supplies and relief- so that the effected areas would not have to wait for the bureaucracy to clear. I’m thinking the legislature should consider some such funding. Instead of trying to micro manage the actual teaching through testing and evaluation. Let’s test to identify NEED only- then send in specialized education GO teams- to help schools like Claire’s FIX the problem. I can’t imagine a good, innovative educator couldn’t help this POOR woman fix whatever disconnect she has with these students, and in doing so, fix the overall evaluation of the school. Maybe it’s something community leaders could spearhead- I mean in Fort Worth we have Lockheed and Alcon, just to name a few.
I’ve already volunteered.