Monday, September 18, 2006

Professor to parents....THE FACTS!!!

The following is an emailed reply to a previous post here, "If the shoe fits", wherein the message to parents on the Pacific school answering machine gives the parents an extended phone tree with some beauts of choices.

So the Grad School Prof who teaches teachers replies:

I don't know if the message is real or an urban legend. What I do know is that it is plausible. I also know it is plausible that parents are suing the school and its teachers for failing kids who don't go to school, or class if they are in school, and don't do any homework. They are the same people who complain about the lack of academic rigor in the public schools and vote against bond issues until the schools get it right.

But the schools never get it right because the criterion for "right" is the good old days when we were in school, and the schools did it right, then.

Well, I have the distinction to have been in the schools for three generations of the good old days. I went to the good old days' schools in the '40s and '50s. I taught in the next generation of the good old days in the '60s. And I have been preparing teachers to teach in the schools since 1967. I have some perspective.

I know that third and seventh graders today read, on average, a full grade level better than their grandparents, and their mathematics exceeds their grandparents' mathematics curriculum by nearly three grade levels, and fully half of their mathematics curriculum wasn't taught to their grandparents at all. They know more science than their grandparents, if only because 75% of what they know in science didn't exist when their grandparents were in school.

I know that in the good old days of 1940, the high school dropout rate was 60%, not because high school was harder, but because the kids left school to go to work. In 1941, 62% of naval officer candidates, the nation's best and brightest, failed mathematical reasoning.

Way back when the good old days were especially terrific, 300 teachers in Massachusetts left their classrooms and schools in fear of student violence. I know that the nation was claimed to be at risk because of poor public schools in 1900, in the 1950s ("progressive" education), in the 1960s (Sputnik), the 1970s (Vance Packard), the 1980s (A Nation at Risk), and the triple oughts (No Child Left Behind).

I also know that US kids, in schools unlike any in any country on earth, perform better than their age mates in any country other than Switzerland and Canada on the most recent International Assessment of Educational Progress.

I suspect those morons in Pacific Palisades who are offended by the school's telephone message don't know the extent of their public education bargain. They certainly have revealed that they don't know much about much. And if anyone on the list knows anyone who lives in Pacific Palisades, especially someone among the morons, please forward my message. After all, I am an educator, and my purpose in life is to help people who do not understand come to grips with their colossal ignorance, and do something about it.



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