Are Schools Setting Students Up To Fail?
After being more involved in the school system, in several states, I actually do wonder in many cases if the school system is set up to cause so many to fail. Or at least, feel like failures. I just wondered what thoughts others might have on the topic.
I've taught at many grade levels in three states. I think the biggest problem with children learning has more to do with home/family issues than anything happening in schools. Kids can't learn when they are worried about their families. In fact, I distinctly remember one girl who was in a special ed program in 6th grade. She was about 2nd grade level, which is when her parents divorced. It was not a contentious divorce, but the girl was very worried about both of her parents and I think she just didn't have any room left for learning. With the help of some wonderful aides, we were able to help her to start being willing to learn again and she was caught up in grade level by the end of the year.
I am a substitute teacher on the Big Island of Hawaii. I have often heard criticisms regarding the US school system, and now that I work for one, I feel most of those criticisms are groundless. Hawaii supposedly has one of the worst schools systems in the US, but I can see why. Education is not valued. Students are hardly given any work to do, because it's like pulling teeth just to get them to do what little work they're given. Parents neglect their children because they're too busy getting divorced, doing drugs, and entertaining a revolving door of lovers. Teachers are expected to do the work of parents.
Most of the students in Special Ed classes have no learning disability; they have emotional problems instead. In fact, the ones with learning disabilities tend to be the better students, because they really try. The emotionally disturbed ones do all they can to get out of doing work, and show major disrepect to the teachers. That is because they come from a background where authorities don't act respectable.
The Big Island of Hawaii is the only place I've ever worked as a substitute teacher, but I doubt it's much different anywhere else. Growing up, I attended Oakland public schools until 8th grade, then was sent to a Christian school. I heard lots of complaints back then too, but looking back, I realize how hard the teachers there had to work to teach us things, including right from wrong. At least they didn't risk life and limb like the teachers in Oakland public schools!
Ultimately, it's not the school system - it's society.
We lived in Hawaii for four years, and we miss it. Anyways, the attitude is so different in Hawaii compared to East Coast U.S. Hawaiians are so laid back, and it's no big deal to them to be a little late for meetings or what not. There are a lot of other problems on the islands too though, but I found the preschools there a little lacking even. We weren't there long enough to start in the main public schools, but there are a lot of good Christian schools that I knew who had some of the same problems there. Problems that aren't necessarily as bad in other areas of the country.
I actually think the system tries to parent the parent too much and passs too much judgement on the parent, as well as tell parents how to raise their children. And the thing is, not all parents are deadbeats or bad. A lot of parents truly love their children, but the children still have problems that teachers want to pass off as lazy parents or as a disorder. I get tired of teachers not listening to parents. However, it goes both ways in many cases. But the school system seems like they want to take over the role as parent in too many cases, and it is so frustrating and arogant to think that they know a child better than the child's parents.
Don't get me wrong, if the child is being abused, the parents are coming into the school on drugs or drunk or have told of abusive situations at home, the school does have a right to say something and take further action if needed. But too often, parents who are good parents get grief from the system.
Thanks for your comment, and good luck. If you survived Oakland (we lived in Seaside for a while as well), you can survive Hawaii. Hang Loose.
I don't think that it is the fact the schools are setting students up to fail as much as it is the inequality in the way things are ran. Let me explain. Teacher Bob is a top notch student at a top notch school. Bob is going to more than likely teach other top notch students. Our best teachers are going to schools that need no improvement. However, Joye is in a program that pays her student loans. The requirement is that she must teach in a low income or substandard school. Joye will be burnt out by year 2 and she will have no desire to teach under such stressful conditions. Think of it as a sports analogy. Lebron James goes to the Heat, to a team that has a finals MVP in D Wade. Sure they don't win the finals, but they are the cream of the crop. Our schools are failing to recognize this. There is a strong disconnect between teachers/students and administrators/school board execs. NCLB has failed in the fact that more emphasis is being put on tests than on learning and comprehending material. We test students for academic success instead of preparing them for college and the workforce. We have reading comprehension tests, but most studies show that most high school kids read at an elementary grade level. No critical thinkers, no prepared college students and we wonder why college retention rates are low. I wish that reform would come in motivating teachers through more pay, incentives, and that students would be able to connect with "powers that be" more intimately.
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