Number 6 wrote: lunchstealer wrote:
Number 6 wrote:You think preparing the students for college is forefront in the minds of those teachers?
You seem to be implying that CCPOA members don't put educating young minds first, second, and third! For shame, sir, for shame.
I think the object is to get the students through the pipeline, and to graduation. I doubt many of the students from that school go on to universities, and suspect that the teachers teach accordingly. I actually don't have that much of a problem with that, as long as there is a path for the academically gifted
I've bolded the key part. I don't care if the teachers embrace the reality that most of their students won't go to college. We've had enough discussions here about how a 4 year degree is often over-rated.
But this is the kid that they identified as special (in the good way). This is the one that they said they would send to college. Surely there must be a handful of smart kids at the top of the class, enough kids that you can create one honors section. Maybe it wouldn't be "honors" by the standards of other districts, but by definition there must be 20 kids who are doing better than anybody else in their year. Put them in one class, and do something better than you do for the rest of the school. It might not be feasible to assign long papers 2x weekly and give detailed feedback, but do....do something better than you'd do for the rest. I realize that if this kid is having trouble with good sentences and paragraphs then he is not yet ready for five paragraph essays. However, the fact that he was at the top of his class tells me that if somebody had worked with him on this sooner he would have eventually improved. I believe that, with the right signals and feedback in high school, he could have improved. Anybody who graduates at the top of their class must be the sort who pays attention to academic feedback.
I have tremendous sympathy for this kid. For 12 years he did every single thing that was asked of him. He got good grades on the assignments that he was given. He graduated at the top of the class. He stayed out of trouble in a rough environment. In that regard, he totally belongs at Berkeley. He must have something special in him to do what he did. On some level I don't give a fuck about diversity, and I'm rather cynical about the UC system's thinly-veiled efforts to circumvent Prop 209, but I have zero objection to Berkeley admitting a salutatorian who came out of a rough environment. He must have something special in him.
But despite his talent and his hard work, the system played a cruel joke on him. He did what they asked and responded to the feedback he was given, but it was all inadequate. His teachers never asked enough, never critiqued him enough. So here he is, in a school full of people of similar drive and ability, but woefully under-prepared. He shows up to every single office hour to get feedback on essays, so it isn't his work ethic that's lacking. What's lacking is preparation. And, honestly, he isn't just under-prepared for Berkeley. He's probably under-prepared for my school as well. Based on the descriptions of his writing, I'd probably be marking an F on his lab report if he tried his hand at physics.
Part of me thinks that his teachers and principals committed malpractice. If he sued them, well, I don't know what the law says about liability for shitty education, but I'd be the most sympathetic juror on the face of the earth. If a judge let that case go forward and let me onto the jury, I'd issue a nice five-paragraph verdict that ends in a large number. That isn't a detailed policy prescription or legal argument, just an observation that it might be healthy for the system if somebody paid a price for the cruel joke that was played on him.
Another part of me actually has sympathy for his teachers. Despite my previous argument that they should create one special section, that is easier said than done. I'm not talking about budgets (by definition, there are 20 or 30 or whatever "top" students, and it costs nothing extra to put them in one section together), nor am I talking about bureaucratic rules (I have no doubt that there are all sorts of rules that I'm not aware of). Rather, I'm talking about the psychology. I know first-hand how hard it is to spend the morning in a freshman lab teaching people how to compute a percentage and spend the afternoon in advanced classes teaching advanced stuff. You spend enough time with people who say "You have to understand, at a place like this, with our students..." and even if you walk into that special advanced section, you are still walking in a different person than you were once upon a time. You spend enough time just being happy if they can do something, anything, and it's harder to bring yourself to ask even more.
Anyway, despite my sympathy for those teachers, I think somebody needs to come down on them. I say that because the most useful performance evaluation I ever got was the one that said my midterms were too easy. I don't know the right way to come down on them; it would be all too easy to impose a requirement that cannot be met in reality and thus gets "satisfied" with reports containing dubious data. Maybe it just has to be peer pressure. But somebody, somewhere, has to say something to them other than "You have to understand, at a place like this, with our students, you can't expect..."