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Old 01-06-2012, 06:03 PM
 
12,510 posts, read 11,798,786 times
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This has to get easier. Alright, I'll accept some of the responsibility. My daughter is not well organized. She is bright, but getting her to set up notebooks and a good system of organization for her school work has proven more difficult than I thought. Some examples of things that drive me crazy:

1. Endless emails from different people at the school. Not one school day goes by without at least one email. Some are important. Some are just a waste of everyone's time. If you miss one email, one deadline, the consequences can be severe. No school photos. No ability to turn in an assignment because the email three weeks ago gave a deadline. The band teacher writes at least once a week demanding something new out of parents.

2. Endless busy work. Despite the fact that my daughter is an excellent clarinet player, her whole grade can turn into a C in a twinkling because she forgot to turn in a weekly practice card. I am startled how many times parents are expected to sign some form and send it back to school. Can't the school presume consent when it comes to anything if the form isn't returned? Who invented all this paperwork that had to be constantly signed?

3. Don't be one day late when it comes to paying for school lunches or your child may be either denied lunch or given a bowl of fruit instead of lunch. Yes, let's not consider the fact that some parents actually pay for school lunch while hordes of others get a waiver. If you are one day late, by golly, that's one day too many. Paying property taxes to support public education for better than 20 years means nothing. Make sure every day of that school lunch is paid for in advance!

4. English grades. The kids are graded in four separate areas. Its almost a maze trying to keep up. One missing assignment in one area over an entire term can make a grade drop dramatically.

The bottomline? I'm probably a whiner, but school seems a lot more about administration and doing A, B, and C (in that order) than it does about students learning anything. Seventh graders shouldn't be taught that the world is an arbitrary, inflexible system that prefers organization and order to intelligence, creativity, and flexibility.

I've supported public education my whole life, but there are aspects of this system that are beyond ridiculous.
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Old 01-06-2012, 06:18 PM
 
Location: St. Paul
198 posts, read 461,023 times
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Schools are like prisons, and many of the people working in them (not all) would have made good clerks in the Soviet Union. If you're able to change the system my hat is off to you. Best just to accept that that's the way it is. I gave up awhile ago and my kid is younger than yours.

I'd recommend watching this video of Denny Green, substituting "The School" in place of "The Bears." It might make you feel better. The school is what you thought it was.


Dennis Green After Da Bears Loss - YouTube
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Old 01-06-2012, 06:57 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,388 posts, read 33,418,617 times
Reputation: 14662
I hate to tell you this but the system is what parents wanted it to be. The emails are the school covering their rears. If we tell your child of a deadline, it's our fault if they weren't listening. If we email, you the burden if off of us. As a teacher, if I can't prove that a deadline was made clear, I'm the one on the hook when the 30/150 students I see every day who didn't listen didn't know. The proof of my failure is in the high number of students who didn't pay attention to what was said.

Why the busy work? Lord help me if your child gets a low grade and you didn't have some kind of warning. Her low grade then becomes my fault so we send things home to be signed by you, your signature is our proof that the message was delivered.

Frankly, I'd love to go back to the way things were when I went to school. If I didn't listen and missed a deadline, I took a low grade and got in trouble at home. If that happens today, I get the principal standing in front of my desk because the parents called him demanding my job because I failed to make sure their special snowflake didn't forget the deadline. It's also my fault if Johnny doesn't do his homework. Even though EVERYTHING is on line and parents can access both assignments and grades, Lord help me if a low mid quarter grade goes out and the parent didn't realize it was low.

Trust me...I'd love to just teach but helicopter parents won't let us.
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Old 01-06-2012, 07:04 PM
 
2,577 posts, read 2,286,010 times
Reputation: 6254
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
I hate to tell you this but the system is what parents wanted it to be. The emails are the school covering their rears. If we tell your child of a deadline, it's our fault if they weren't listening. If we email, you the burden if off of us. As a teacher, if I can't prove that a deadline was made clear, I'm the one on the hook when the 30/150 students I see every day who didn't listen didn't know. The proof of my failure is in the high number of students who didn't pay attention to what was said.

Why the busy work? Lord help me if your child gets a low grade and you didn't have some kind of warning. Her low grade then becomes my fault so we send things home to be signed by you, your signature is our proof that the message was delivered.

Frankly, I'd love to go back to the way things were when I went to school. If I didn't listen and missed a deadline, I took a low grade and got in trouble at home. If that happens today, I get the principal standing in front of my desk because the parents called him demanding my job because I failed to make sure their special snowflake didn't forget the deadline. It's also my fault if Johnny doesn't do his homework. Even though EVERYTHING is on line and parents can access both assignments and grades, Lord help me if a low mid quarter grade goes out and the parent didn't realize it was low.

Trust me...I'd love to just teach but helicopter parents won't let us.

This is right on the money. I hate sending parent e-mails daily, forms requiring signatures, bad phone calls, etc., but if we miss one tiny little thing we have a horde of parents up our rear end. Parents have asked for this and demanded it. I'm sure the teachers at that school don't like the system either.
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Old 01-06-2012, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Arizona
1,204 posts, read 2,378,681 times
Reputation: 1547
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
I hate to tell you this but the system is what parents wanted it to be. The emails are the school covering their rears. If we tell your child of a deadline, it's our fault if they weren't listening. If we email, you the burden if off of us. As a teacher, if I can't prove that a deadline was made clear, I'm the one on the hook when the 30/150 students I see every day who didn't listen didn't know. The proof of my failure is in the high number of students who didn't pay attention to what was said.

Why the busy work? Lord help me if your child gets a low grade and you didn't have some kind of warning. Her low grade then becomes my fault so we send things home to be signed by you, your signature is our proof that the message was delivered.

Frankly, I'd love to go back to the way things were when I went to school. If I didn't listen and missed a deadline, I took a low grade and got in trouble at home. If that happens today, I get the principal standing in front of my desk because the parents called him demanding my job because I failed to make sure their special snowflake didn't forget the deadline. It's also my fault if Johnny doesn't do his homework. Even though EVERYTHING is on line and parents can access both assignments and grades, Lord help me if a low mid quarter grade goes out and the parent didn't realize it was low.

Trust me...I'd love to just teach but helicopter parents won't let us.
I completly agree with the above. I have, on more than one occasion, heard parent/parents berate a teacher for their childs low grade, even though the child didn't turn in 1/2 of their homework. Then the parent/parents say, how was I supposed to know that project was due? It is sad that teachers have to send home monthly calendars with what is due when and the student still doesn't get it done on time and the parents still blame the teacher.
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Old 01-06-2012, 07:25 PM
 
1,428 posts, read 3,002,199 times
Reputation: 1473
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
I hate to tell you this but the system is what parents wanted it to be. The emails are the school covering their rears. If we tell your child of a deadline, it's our fault if they weren't listening. If we email, you the burden if off of us. As a teacher, if I can't prove that a deadline was made clear, I'm the one on the hook when the 30/150 students I see every day who didn't listen didn't know. The proof of my failure is in the high number of students who didn't pay attention to what was said.
Yep. This is precisely what I was thinking when I read the OP's posting.

I'd also like to add that I believe the reason your child's grade in English is divided among four categories is pretty simple: so that the English teacher can say, "Look, I give this child four ways in which to pass this class."

In effect, many English teachers aren't allowed to grade students' proficiencies on reading and writing -- although you would think those skills might be important in an English class. Teachers also have to throw in categories such as participation or homework or classwork or projects to give kids a way to pass even though they don't read or write very well. That way, the child gets higher grades for doing work that is not necessarily related to English. The child is happy, the parent is happy, the principal is happy.

It also covers the teacher, who is able to say, "Mr. Principal, writing (or reading) is only valued at 30% of the grade maximum by weighted category. Student X can therefore pass without ever having turned in a writing (or reading) assignment." This is a very important item to be able to mention. It proves that you want to help students succeed. Ahem.
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Old 01-06-2012, 07:43 PM
 
1,428 posts, read 3,002,199 times
Reputation: 1473
Quote:
Originally Posted by lauramc27 View Post
I completly agree with the above. I have, on more than one occasion, heard parent/parents berate a teacher for their childs low grade, even though the child didn't turn in 1/2 of their homework. Then the parent/parents say, how was I supposed to know that project was due? It is sad that teachers have to send home monthly calendars with what is due when and the student still doesn't get it done on time and the parents still blame the teacher.
Yep. Sorry, but if you are a parent and you have ever complained to your child's teacher or your child's principal, you are -- I am sorry to say -- very possibly responsible for your share of the following:

1. Massive grade inflation.
Bottom line, your child's A or B in a subject may mean absolutely nothing. If your child's grades were in the A-B range and her PSAT, SAT, or ACT grades were only average or worse, your child's school very likely inflates grades, dumbs down curriculum, or both.

2. Endless, annoying email and phone calls.
This is to prevent the predictable accusations that teachers somehow hid grades from students and parents only to spring them on unsuspecting families at the last moment.

3. Dumbed-down material.
What's your kid reading for school? It's a good bet that the reading levels of the texts your child is reading for English are far lower than his actual year in school (Seriously, check and see.) It's also a good bet that your child is reading fiction that owes more to Oprah's Book Club than it does to any long-term, lasting relevance.

4. Lots of busywork.
So...how many research papers has your child had to write? By "research paper," I do not mean "research project," but an actual argumentative composition of at least 3-5 pages, requiring correct use of researched sources supporting a general claim and including counterarguments, rebuttals, and a Works Cited list. I'm guessing that number hovers around zero.

By contrast, how many cutesy PowerPoint or video projects or posters has he had to construct for English?

Guess why that is.

____________

Parents, you have the education you wanted: one that was easy, undemanding, full of postive feedback. Seldom is heard a discouraging word.

You wanted a system where teachers wouldn't make it too hard on kids, wouldn't tell them in any way that they were anything less than perfect. (Of course, you can't really educate someone who is perfect, because by definition, if you are perfect, you don't need to be improved by education.)

You didn't want long projects because kids failed them.

You didn't want hard books because kids didn't want to read them and they interfered with sports or extracurricular activities.

You didn't want them to have to write because writing is hard.

You didn't want them to have only a handful of important tests every quarter because kids didn't want to study for them and you complained about all the homework.

You got constant emails and calls because you complained so often that the ten million times teachers tell students about important due dates just wasn't enough.

You didn't want them to learn math in their heads because math is hard.

Congratulations.

Last edited by Charles Wallace; 01-06-2012 at 07:55 PM..
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Old 01-06-2012, 07:46 PM
 
4,886 posts, read 6,747,472 times
Reputation: 10139
America's love of the "lawsuit" has made all the paperwork essential in the 21st century. My parents would have never considered threatening the school system with a lawsuit if I or my siblings made a failing grade. Instead we would have been held accountable, and grounded from social activities until the failures were corrected. My parents always assumed I had neglected to do "my job" as a student and never would have considered that the teacher had not done "her job". Today, parents are often so busy trying to lay blame for their childs laziness on someone, anyone else besides themselves that they miss the fact that their child is actually trying to get their attention and crying out for their help.
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:40 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,388 posts, read 33,418,617 times
Reputation: 14662
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Wallace View Post
Yep. Sorry, but if you are a parent and you have ever complained to your child's teacher or your child's principal, you are -- I am sorry to say -- very possibly responsible for your share of the following:

1. Massive grade inflation.
Bottom line, your child's A or B in a subject may mean absolutely nothing. If your child's grades were in the A-B range and her PSAT, SAT, or ACT grades were only average or worse, your child's school very likely inflates grades, dumbs down curriculum, or both.

2. Endless, annoying email and phone calls.
This is to prevent the predictable accusations that teachers somehow hid grades from students and parents only to spring them on unsuspecting families at the last moment.

3. Dumbed-down material.
What's your kid reading for school? It's a good bet that the reading levels of the texts your child is reading for English are far lower than his actual year in school (Seriously, check and see.) It's also a good bet that your child is reading fiction that owes more to Oprah's Book Club than it does to any long-term, lasting relevance.

4. Lots of busywork.
So...how many research papers has your child had to write? By "research paper," I do not mean "research project," but an actual argumentative composition of at least 3-5 pages, requiring correct use of researched sources supporting a general claim and including counterarguments, rebuttals, and a Works Cited list. I'm guessing that number hovers around zero.

By contrast, how many cutesy PowerPoint or video projects or posters has he had to construct for English?

Guess why that is.

____________

Parents, you have the education you wanted: one that was easy, undemanding, full of postive feedback. Seldom is heard a discouraging word.

You wanted a system where teachers wouldn't make it too hard on kids, wouldn't tell them in any way that they were anything less than perfect. (Of course, you can't really educate someone who is perfect, because by definition, if you are perfect, you don't need to be improved by education.)

You didn't want long projects because kids failed them.

You didn't want hard books because kids didn't want to read them and they interfered with sports or extracurricular activities.

You didn't want them to have to write because writing is hard.

You didn't want them to have only a handful of important tests every quarter because kids didn't want to study for them and you complained about all the homework.

You got constant emails and calls because you complained so often that the ten million times teachers tell students about important due dates just wasn't enough.

You didn't want them to learn math in their heads because math is hard.

Congratulations.
I'd rep you but I can't...

How does that saying go??? Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it... We have what we wished for. Easy A's (that mean nothing other than your kid isn't trying if he didn't get one...but we excuse that with diagnosis of ADD, LD's, whatever it takes), high self esteem in our kids (no actual ability but they feel good about themselves), a system that praises the mundane and excuses every failure of our kids....

Something tells me a lot of them will never leave the nest or will return because they won't like the real world...it IS hard and no one will inflate grades or reduce work loads.

People think I'm nuts because I don't hover over my kids...I don't praise their every effort....I give them enough rope to hand themselves and then expect THEM to dig them selves out of the mess they made when they do... I have interfered twice with the school. Once when I asked that dd be grade skipped to keep her with the kids she identified with (academically supported) and once when they placed her in a team taught English class...She needs more challenge than a class that is slowed down because of a high percentage of special ed kids. Though the school counselor tried to tell us that the class was taught on the same level as the other classes for her grade, her teacher agreed and she was moved into a more challenging class.

The $20,000 question is how do we fix this? Lord help the teacher who actually grades like teachers graded when I was in high school. Lord help the teacher who paces their class the way they paced when I was in high school. Lord help the teacher who doesn't keep in constant contact with parents (sends the message that education is NOT the student's responsibility, it's the teacher's and, possibly, their parent's). Lord help the teacher who doesn't offer extra credit for bringing in Kleenex....

We have taught our kids that someone else will always be there to fix it for them or they will be excused. It's going to be interesting when they hit the real world.

Last edited by Ivorytickler; 01-07-2012 at 07:33 AM..
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:42 AM
 
11,642 posts, read 22,391,066 times
Reputation: 12230
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Wallace View Post

1. Massive grade inflation.
Bottom line, your child's A or B in a subject may mean absolutely nothing. If your child's grades were in the A-B range and her PSAT, SAT, or ACT grades were only average or worse, your child's school very likely inflates grades, dumbs down curriculum, or both.

3. Dumbed-down material.
What's your kid reading for school? It's a good bet that the reading levels of the texts your child is reading for English are far lower than his actual year in school (Seriously, check and see.) It's also a good bet that your child is reading fiction that owes more to Oprah's Book Club than it does to any long-term, lasting relevance.

4. Lots of busywork.
So...how many research papers has your child had to write? By "research paper," I do not mean "research project," but an actual argumentative composition of at least 3-5 pages, requiring correct use of researched sources supporting a general claim and including counterarguments, rebuttals, and a Works Cited list. I'm guessing that number hovers around zero.

By contrast, how many cutesy PowerPoint or video projects or posters has he had to construct for English?

Guess why that is.
I agree with much of what you say. These are some of the reasons that we took our kids out of public schools.

When I talk to other parents with kids in our local public schools I am shocked by how much work they have to do, but how little substance there is to the work.

My 7th grader has had to give a 5 minute speech, supported by research, on a topic that he was able to choose from a list of pre approved topics. His topic was "Has US intervention helped the world, or hurt the world."

The same 7th grader has written a National History Day paper on the imprisonment of the Maryland legislature during the American Civil War.

The same 7th grader is now working on a research paper on a short story that is chosen from a list. I think he chose The Ransom of Red Chief.

These type of assignments are expected of all upper school (7-12) students (AP students are exempt from History day, and seniors don't need to do speeches). My son is in honors so his speech needs to be longer and have more sources. The short stories are a little harder for honors classes (I think they choose from the same stories as the 8th graders).

If they can do this at our school (college prep PK3-12) they can do it anywhere. Our kids are not smarter than anyone else. However these types of assignments would be deemed inappropriately difficult for middle/high school students in my local public schools. I know quite a few kids that graduated from public HS in FL with good grades who never wrote a research paper.

And much of it is attributed to what I highlighed above.
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