Thursday, January 13, 2005

Too Many Things to Count

A couple of days ago, our esteemed Governor, Arnold Schwarzenneger, gave a State of the Union speech. To no one's particular surprise, our state is not doing all that well.

He mentioned some things about education and how he plans to fix it, and from what I have extrapolated, the man is nuts.

He is going to try to circumvent the "will of the people" on Prop 98, and try to block it from taking effect. Basically, the majority of citizens in California voted on a proposition that guarantees a certain amount of money goes towards education, no matter the state's fiscal problems.

He also proposed this absurd notion that teachers should be given "merit pay" that is tied into how well their students perform on the standardized tests that are supposed to show how well that student is being taught.

Well, let me tell you something. People need to quit blaming the teachers for the problems in the schools. How about parents stand up and take some responsibility? If all parents of school-aged children made sure that

1) Their children got a full night's rest
2) Their children ate a good breakfast before school and received adequate nutrition at home
3) They as parents made sure that their children completed and understood their homework
4) They as parents took an active role in the school
5) Their children got enough physical activity
6) They limited the amount of television and video games on school nights
7) They as parents emphasized learning as important
8) Their children have a safe and secure home environment

I bet that scores would shoot through the roof.

The sad part is that a lot of children, especially low-income, minority children do not have this kind of atmosphere at home. Heck, probably a lot of affluent children don't have it either. Once all parents did at least the seven things listed above, then look to the teachers as to what is wrong with test scores.

How is a teacher supposed to be responsible for the learning process when the child is not in a home environment that supports learning? My sister, who teaches 5th grade with almost 100% low income, minority students put it this way:

Why should her pay be affected when her student R's father, who frequently fought with her mother, moved out on them and recently had a baby with another woman? Why should her pay be affected when over 70% of her class does not have a library card because the parents do not think it is important? When every single student at her school qualifies for the free breakfast and lunch program due to poverty? When almost all of her students have Gameboys but hardly any books at home?

This is not to say that there are not parents out there who get involved and give a darn, but why should teachers be penalized for the misfortune to have students whose parents don't?

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