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Old 10-16-2009, 09:48 AM
 
84 posts, read 268,546 times
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I recently went down to a rough neighborhood in Washington DC and was put face to face with a large group of high school aged students who were on some type of field trip. I had never seen so much noise and disorder. The teacher and other leaders of the group seemed to be at wits end to try to keep the group organized.

The appearance, diction, language and manner of these kids were shocking and kind of scary.

What went through my head is how can America ever improve our education systems and schools when our culture keeps encouraging kids like this. It is a cultural issue, not an educational one. These kids were hyperactive and I just can not picture them sitting still for a class on math or science.

Has anyone attended or taught at a real poorly performing school and have any insight? Is it a lost cause until our society and culture matures?
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Old 10-16-2009, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Central, IL
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It isn't a lost cause, but what it takes has to start prior to high school. Alot of grade schools that are poorly performing, which lets be honest, are usually in a lower economical area, need completely revamped. It takes a lot of work, and also takes more then just the schools, it also takes community involvement.
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Old 10-16-2009, 01:44 PM
 
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What exactly do you mean their "appearance" was shocking or scary? You can look "scary" and still be a good student.

Sounds like these kids weren't on their best behavior, and yes, behavior is an issue in many poorly performing schools, but at the same time it's worth pointing out that these kids were on a field trip. Unfortunately kids (including those who are old enough that they should know better) see field trips as an opportunity to run wild. I used to work in Washington DC (and while not directly involved with field trip programs, observed them at my work on a regular basis); some very inner city schools with extremely poor kids (and often at overall poorly performing schools) were very well-behaved, and sometimes kids from the wealthiest schools with the best test scores needed reminders to calm down.

None of that is to say that there aren't significant problems facing schools, and that there aren't many kids who do have problems with behavior in class (I've experienced plenty of that, too). Kids should also learn the difference between language that's okay to use at home or with friends (although again, unfortunately many times kids in general can be prone to seeing field trips as being a free-for-all) and language that's okay to use at school, at work, or (in the case of profanity) in public. That's not an easy lesson to teach if parents or society in general aren't backing it up. As for dress, well, if kids want to look "scary" that doesn't bother me, as long as someone makes it clear to them that there are usually differences between how one dresses for work versus how you can dress on your own time.
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Old 10-16-2009, 08:01 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
249 posts, read 754,398 times
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I teach in an urban area of NJ in an elementary school such as the one you describe. A lot depends on how much the teacher will tolerate. I am very strict with my rules, and very consistent. Honestly, with these kids you have to be a hard ass, especially in the beginning of the year, or they will walk all over you. Once kids know you are serious and that you won't take the nonsense, they are more than capable of sitting through a lesson or two at a time. I think too often these kids are given a free pass because people expect them to act a certain way. Not me. My rules are my rules and I expect them to be followed, or there will be consequences.

If my students talk on line in the hallway, we stop. If it takes them 15 minutes to get to lunch, then they have 15 less minutes to eat. I refuse to adapt to them. Some people will say it's a control issue, but I am able to get my class from place to place in an organized manner. Some of the other teachers in my school will allow the kids to do whatever they want down the hallways and you have to just shake your head at them and close your door.
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Old 10-16-2009, 09:25 PM
 
3,800 posts, read 5,341,358 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccnj View Post
I teach in an urban area of NJ in an elementary school such as the one you describe. A lot depends on how much the teacher will tolerate. I am very strict with my rules, and very consistent. Honestly, with these kids you have to be a hard ass, especially in the beginning of the year, or they will walk all over you. Once kids know you are serious and that you won't take the nonsense, they are more than capable of sitting through a lesson or two at a time. I think too often these kids are given a free pass because people expect them to act a certain way. Not me. My rules are my rules and I expect them to be followed, or there will be consequences.
Very good advice ccnj. I taught at one school where the unwritten rule for teachers was "Do not smile until Thanksgiving".

Young teachers often make the mistake of trying to be buddies with the students. It might go well for a few weeks, but then discipline breaks down because they do not respect their "friend" anymore. Friends don't try to discipline friends, see.

I have to deal with lazy boys, but I am a hard @-- at first, to get their attention and respect. Afterwards, I can begin to loosen up. It has worked for 20 years.
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Old 10-17-2009, 11:34 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
3,007 posts, read 6,293,017 times
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Diseased schools are no different than diseased bodies. Although the symptoms might appear in cerftain locations first, the disease is really infused into the core of the entire body's systems.

Stakeholders: kids -- school peers -- parents -- extended family -- neighbors -- community -- teachers -- administration -- school culture -- local taxpayers -- state taxpayers -- local companies

In the worst districts, the disease has spread throughout.

Local companies who do not engage in the community, offer tech transfer or jobs
State Taxpayers -- NIMBY
Local taxpayers -- would rather the state and Feds pay for schooling
School Culture -- embraces despair, victimization, and financial exploitation rather than hope & ambition
Administration -- Either won;t make tough decision b/c of financial disincentives or cannot due to a myriad of rules & restrictions
Teachers -- a mixture of saints, the incompetent, and system players. The public fears discretion so it treats all three types as the same.

Community -- no longer tied to schools as they once were. Mobility and secularization of America, for good or bad, has accelerated this process

Neighbors -- In these schools, work as much against the kids and for them

Extended Family -- Place another layer of despair on these kids

Parents -- Woefully underschooled and ondereducated. Often one parent, Dad missing. Poor. Drugs are often involved. Supervision is low since Mom has to work 2+ jobs. Or...they are rotten.

School Peers -- dream of quick fixes before getting dragged into the cycle of poverty. They then try to take their friends with them.

Given all of the above, what on earth is a kid to do but to mimic the bizarre rules of chronic failure and malfeasance. In fact, it is a miracle that such thoroughly diseased bodies can produce anything of value.

Teachers in such systems can provide outlets, respites, and perhaps even a chance to exit, but the system will remain. Administrators can do more but are more prone to self-enrichment than teachers and more often than not get sucked into the problem side of the ledger.

S.
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Old 10-18-2009, 01:22 AM
 
10,624 posts, read 26,754,589 times
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Sandpointian, that's about the best, succinct description I've ever seen. It truly is a problem that extends beyond just the students, or just the school, or just the family. I especially like the references to the business community; there's often a lot of discussion about teachers, adminstrators, and parents, but I think in general there's a lot more that local businesses could do to help the problem.

I attended a pretty rough junior high school, one with a mix of college-bound kids from fairly privileged (sometimes financially, sometimes just because our home lives were stable and we had parents who cared about education) and kids who were on track to drop out as soon as they were old enough. A major local employer sponsored the school, and did everything from paying for "extras" (art supplies, special classes, etc.) to scholarships to inviting all the eight graders to the company one day. We were encouraged to dress up (oh, was my 8th grade interpretation of business clothes funny), and then we were each assigned (according to interests) to in small groups shadow various employees at the company. They treated us to lunch, we talked about our educational plans and hopes for the future, and overall it was a great experience. I got that sort of thing from my parents anyway, and from family friends and family members, but for some of my classmates it was the first time they'd ever set foot in an office, and the first time someone outside of school sat down and talked to them about what they wanted to do in the future. I don't know if the program is still going on, but I'd love to see more programs of a similar nature (or read more about other such programs). What was especially nice was the personal nature of the involvment; they weren't just throwing money at the school (although money is always good, too). I don't know what the formal evaluations of the program were like, but it seemed like an excellent example of how businesses can help make a difference in the local schools.
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Old 10-18-2009, 02:03 AM
 
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I am Cristian from Espana, Manila. i think that your problem is all about the attitudes of your students. In my own ways i will coordinate with the parents of your students for them to monitor their child inside the classroom. The teacher and the parents must come hand in hand in guiding and molding the future leaders of our world. It is our duty to guide them very well.
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:33 AM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
3,007 posts, read 6,293,017 times
Reputation: 3310
Quote:
Originally Posted by uptown_urbanist View Post
Sandpointian, that's about the best, succinct description I've ever seen. It truly is a problem that extends beyond just the students, or just the school, or just the family. I especially like the references to the business community; there's often a lot of discussion about teachers, adminstrators, and parents, but I think in general there's a lot more that local businesses could do to help the problem.

I attended a pretty rough junior high school, one with a mix of college-bound kids from fairly privileged (sometimes financially, sometimes just because our home lives were stable and we had parents who cared about education) and kids who were on track to drop out as soon as they were old enough. A major local employer sponsored the school, and did everything from paying for "extras" (art supplies, special classes, etc.) to scholarships to inviting all the eight graders to the company one day. We were encouraged to dress up (oh, was my 8th grade interpretation of business clothes funny), and then we were each assigned (according to interests) to in small groups shadow various employees at the company. They treated us to lunch, we talked about our educational plans and hopes for the future, and overall it was a great experience. I got that sort of thing from my parents anyway, and from family friends and family members, but for some of my classmates it was the first time they'd ever set foot in an office, and the first time someone outside of school sat down and talked to them about what they wanted to do in the future. I don't know if the program is still going on, but I'd love to see more programs of a similar nature (or read more about other such programs). What was especially nice was the personal nature of the involvment; they weren't just throwing money at the school (although money is always good, too). I don't know what the formal evaluations of the program were like, but it seemed like an excellent example of how businesses can help make a difference in the local schools.
First, congrats on getting out. Really amazing and empirically much more difficult than getting 2400 SATs.

Second, one big question that policymakers have failed to grasp is whether policy should impose an alternative reality onto all these stakeholders or work with reality so that kids can handle the realities of the future.

Today's economy is not what it was 20 years ago or 40 years ago when I was a kid. Today's world is secular, mobile, nontraditional, integrated and globalized at a level unseen since perhaps Roman times. What policymakers need to do is structure the delivery of intelligence and education to kids that will compete in a hyper-competitive, globalized, integrated, mobile and secular world. Instead, we see institutions from the 1940s and 1950s being remade and patched for the world of 2009. Its leakage is obvious to anyone who bothers to look under the hood.

My solutions are far more direct.

Big vouchers to kids.
Tax breaks to parents.
Tax breaks to companies.
Vastly more streamlined bureaucracy
More educational innovation
Web-based distance learning
Single Sex education options
Inverted funding--Massive to K-8 and then partial subsidies.
Race, religion and culturally blind decision making
And throughout, the option is kept for parents and kids to decline or to fail out of the system.

All of the above will cost 50% less than what we see today and offer a superior education for 80% of kids in the system. As for the other 20%? They either get away from incompetent families or they are given the chance to "divorce" their parents from their parents' stupidity.

Still, 10% will fail. Unavoidable but better than the 50%+ of failure we now see in many schools.

Inner city representation in our top 100 universities is beyond tiny. These students are stuck in a cycle of poverty, ignorance and perhaps worst of all, indifference. Nowhere do I see solutions proposed that do more than shift a few million dollars around. The integrity of the system remains intact and so therefore will the problems.

Work the problems within the reality we face. Utopian ideas and conventional thinking do little more than provide nails, hammers and coffins to our kids and our future.

S.
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Old 10-18-2009, 10:00 AM
 
10,624 posts, read 26,754,589 times
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Well, I should say that my rough school was also in a city where there was a big mix of kids; I come from a middle class family that believes in education (so I shouldn't get too many extra points for my SAT scores or graduate degree; I was in good company), and my classmates included kids who could very well be the children of that company's CEOs, sitting in the desks next to the kid of someone who had a dad in jail for murder (as was the case of at least one of my classmates). I think in many ways it was also this mix of kids that helped a great deal; the middle class and upper classes hadn't totally abandoned the public school system, and those parents kept up the demand for advanced class offerings, etc., that you often don't find at schools with high poverty levels. It was educational for me to go to school with kids who were facing every obstacle in life, and I think it made me a better person (and student) because of it. Many kids still fell through the cracks and failed or dropped out soon after they got to high school (they actually told us that they were giving us a really nice 8th grade graduation because many of use wouldn't make it to our high school graduation; not the best message, I don't think, but probably true), but at the same time at least the resources and support were there for the kids who did want to have a shot at a top-notch education (my public high school was one of the best in the state). The availability of all the course offerings, AP and IB programs, and other college-bound things you find in wealthy suburban districts helped prevent the parents who cared about school and had the financial means to escape from going to the suburbs or going private; I think it's essential to keep that critical mass in place, as once it's gone there's no easy way to attract those parents back to the schools. It doesn't solve the problems faced by those kids who really are facing massive hurdles, but it's at least a step in the right direction.
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