Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm going to be a super model rocket scientist professional tennis player when I grow up ... just like everyone else

I'm going to go out on a limb here ... Can we start calling things what they are and throw away the "political correctness" that has turned our society into a litigious bunch of wimps who can't handle a single negative comment - true or untrue?

When did it become standard operating procedure to behave as though every student is created equal. Freak out if you want that I am saying that, but the truth is that we aren't all created equal. If we are all created equally, then why aren't we all super model rocket scientists who play professional sports on the side? Sure, we deserve the same rights. When it comes to education, we should have the right to an appropriate education, individually tailored, that will help each person become a productive member of society. We aren't doing anyone any good by putting all students into the same classrooms and expecting the same results.

This gets so old day after day. We allow the complaining and whining of a small group of people to change the policies to the detriment of the majority. These incredibly selfish parents who find doctors to diagnose their children with ADD and ADHD and all other sorts of ailments insist that their children stay in (what used to be) honors level courses. They have no regard for the other 25 students in the classroom who now have a teacher who has to take time out of every single lesson and every single planning period to alter lessons and tests to accommodate for a parent's self-esteem.

The truth is ... and talk to these kids because I have ... that most of them know that they aren't going to be successful in college, but they still want to succeed. They start to feel worse and worse about themselves as their parents push them to fit into their parents' preconceived notions of their son/daughter is going to be. We have given too much power to the parents and their sensibilities. If we TRULY care about each individual student, we will do what is best for them. We will put them in classes that are appropriate for their academic aptitude. We will provide them with options that are within their reasonable grasp for the future. We will coach them to be the best they can be within their abilities.

I can tell you right now ... If the high school football coaches and athletic directors told every single boy in the school that he could be the next star Eli or Peyton Manning (and gave them the playing time to go with that promise), parents and community members would be in an uproar. Why do we accept the same thing in the academic arena?

Some people might say that I don't care about the less-apt student, or that I am an elitist, or that I am coldblooded, or that I have no business teaching. Quite the contrary. I WANT to teach those less-apt students. I want know that our society needs to focus on the lower 75th percentile in order to improve as a whole. I want more of our youth to feel useful and to know that they have something to offer. That's why I became a teacher. (Sure, I love literature and writing, too.)

I suggest the following ... (and more that I'm sure will come to me later ...)

It's time to start acknowledging weaknesses and tailoring educational opportunities to the strengths of the individuals.

It's time to put parents in their place ... responsible for what goes on at home, responsible for their son/daughter's behavior, responsible for their son/daughter's success in school (during the early years at the very least).

It's time that we start placing value on the profession of teaching.

It's time that teachers are held to higher standard and rewarded for reaching it and REMOVED for failing.

It's time that students who can't/don't/won't hack it in rigorous academics -- for whatever reason and in spite of whatever diagnosis -- are put into classes that meet their individual needs.

It's time that school boards are made of concerned teachers and have no political affiliations or obligations whatsoever.

It's time that our country recognizes the incredible importance of its public education system for its economic success and its future prosperity.

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