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school day blues

[I am suffering a Benadryl hangover, which will be remedied only by taking more Benadryl and going back to sleep. At least the itching is gone. Just one thing before I am back later with regular blogging.]

I was looking at the notes on my son's history essay, left by the student teacher in his class.

She wrote things like "site your sources" and "you have to re-due this essay." How can I expect this woman to correct my son's grammar and English when she herself obviously does not have a command of the language?

It's not just the spelling, either. After scratching my head for a bit I realized when she wrote site your sources, what she really meant was "Please write the title of Samuel Seabury's pamphlet when you refer to it."

I see that both my son (5th grade) and my daughter (8th grade) are studying the exact same thing - the American Revolution - with the same emphasis (the role of New Yorkers in the revolution). I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that both kids had to take New York State mandated Social Studies tests this year? Hmm...I wonder.

Sometimes I think our school district is wonderful. And sometimes I think my kids aren't getting the education they deserve. This means I have to pick up the slack at home, which means more time doing homework (an hour for my son, three hours for the daughter) and going over what they did in class that day, and less time for quality time. Too much of their classwork is dictated by what state tests they are taking that particular year. Between that and an apparently unqualified student teacher - who does the bulk of the history and math teaching - I have to wonder if my kids will ready for high school and what comes after at all.

This is not a knock on teachers in general; we've been blessed with more good teachers than bad in the combined 15 years of their schooling. It is, however, a knock on the New York State school curriculum and the over-testing done in New York schools.

Anyhow, back later.


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That's really said with the teachers grammar. Do what I do, send the paper back with your own notes grading her errors...lol They hate that...lmao
Feel better. :)

Why did I think you were in PA, not NY?

I like Kat's idea. To my mind, not knowing proper spelling or usage of "cite" and "redo" are pretty egregious errors on the part of a teacher, and probably you would find that her spelling of other words is equally atrocious. But what can you do? Probably best just to keep tabs on it, and if it really gets to be a problem, send copies of the papers to the principal.

On the other hand, Michele, with New York State being responsible for the Mormons, the Spiritualist Church, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Iroquois Confederacy, Benidict Arnold's leg enshrined as a statue, the Erie Canal opening the West, the finest vineyards in the world, Sullivan's campaign (which made Phil Sheridan look like a wussy), Boss Tweed, the assassination of President McKinley, both President Roosevelts, the Red Cross, 50% of the potatoes used in potato chips, Kodak, General Electric, Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, Niagara Falls (slowly I turned, step by step), Glenn Curtiss (the father of naval aviation), Watkins Glen International Speedway, Levittown, Robert Moses, Grandma Moses, Lake Placid (two Olympics), Attica, the Chautauqua Institute, the United Nations, and, probably the most important New Yorker of all: Nikola Tesla, the man who invented radio.

Chuck, that was an amazing run-on sentence fragment. I am a fan! ;)

Teachers who are functionally illiterate are a pet peeve. We've read a few notes from teachers that would have earned a fourth grader an F. Both my daughters have corrected various teachers for spelling and grammatical errors (the younger one especially enjoys the self-designated title of "grammar-nazi"). Both have also, unfortunately, had to teach some math to a particular math teacher (in high school, no less).

Fortunately, the really bad ones have been few.

God that's depressing. I have a student this semester who's writing about underqualified teachers in secondary education, and the stuff she's turning up is just plain terrifying.

Tesla invented radio? Why go down the ugly rabbit hole of a discussion, Chuck, when the his more important work was in inventing AC (as opposed to DC not air conditioning)

This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. For the last 20 years (30?), the theory has been it's not important to be a subject matter expert. Of prime importance is that you know HOW to teach. So teachers exit college with a lot of teaching theory, but not much else. The business world seems to follow suit with professional trainers, who think they can train anything with the right source material...

I would definitely bring the teacher's "grading" to the attention of somebody in charge. If we don't hold teachers accountable for doing a good job, then we have failed ourselves and our kids, haven't we?

What about the backlash on D.J.? His paper probably isn't the only one with such glaring errors. Where's the teacher that should be monitoring and mentoring this student teacher? Isn't that what athe teacher is getting paid for now - if not to teach the students then to teach the student teacher? Big, big can of worms here.

Your fears about your childrens' readiness for high school are foundless. You may rest content with the knowledge that by the time your kids reach high school the graduation requirements will have been reduced to making things with macaroni and glitter. Colleges won't cut your kids any slack, though. Only applicants who can color inside the lines will be accepted.

The past two weeks on the comic strip Preteena have featured an underqualified teacher-in-training. Quite amusing, in a sort of horrible way.

Our entire culture has become tolerant of poor grammar, spelling and punctuation. Actually, I would extend that to tolerance of weak academic performance in general. I get the sense that a lot of people think that holding kids to standards implies being "mean" to them.

To me, that sort of thinking is absurd. We should have all sorts of support mechanisms in place for kids who (for whatever reason) have trouble grasping critical, basic concepts. However, permanently dumbing down our educational standards is a very bad idea - it will eventually lead to us losing our position as the world's top economic power.

Ok, here are a couple of relevant resources.

First, Number Two Pencil is the education blog of a teacher struggling with the Washington State educational establishment, with plenty of subversive ideas... Great blog, and a great resource for education issues.

Second, my wife maintains a class site. Not a blog, but a resource. She's a special education teacher and a damn good one.

It's a pretty good example to wave under another teacher's nose. ; )

From The Homework page

Homework: General Information

Homework is meant to support the learning that has already taken place in the classroom.  It should be review and reinforcement.  This means that it should not look utterly foreign to the student.  They may require a small amount of reminders about how to proceed.  They will likely need to be reminded to read the directions! But homework should not be incredibly difficult for your child to undertake.  Also, there is a guideline regarding homework.  For every year in school there should be approximately 10 minutes of homework per night.  First grade students should be doing about 10 minutes of homework a night (or 50 minutes a week) and sixth graders should be doing about 60 minutes per night or 5 hours per week.  If my students are doing a lot more than that, we need to chat!  There will be times when I fail to coordinate expectations with the general education teacher well enough to ensure that each of my students is not overwhelmed or being asked to do far too much for their current levels.  As a parent, you are the best source of information I have in this area.  Please let me know if the school is expecting too much, if homework has become a battleground, or if your child is giving up.

MY Homework is assigned each Friday.  If for some reason there will be no homework, there WILL be a written note to that effect.  This happens now and then, due to holidays, conference weeks, or school wide events.  It even happens (rarely) because Mrs. Bingham got busy.

MY Homework is always due the following Thursday. The students should have completed the homework as assigned and done quality work, ready to turn in during their Thursday group time.  I give the homework for the week on Friday to allow the students to schedule their time.  If they know they have soccer practice on Wednesdays, it's not wise to wait until then to do the work.  Because the students have a full week to complete the work I rarely accept excuses.  If homework is late, there will be a consequence.  If homework is lost, you can download and print a copy. If homework is not turned in by Friday, the students will lose Friday Projects/Games and attend The Bog Study Hall, until the work is completed.

Weekly Expectations (depends on grade)
Read for at least 10 - 25 minutes daily.
Memorize math facts 5 -10 minutes daily.
Write something each week.
Study spelling each week.

Just don't blame me for the design - I TRIED to get here to take out all that slow-loading stuff, but we all have our little blind spots...

The best advice I can get is "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." If you make a point of showing up at meetings on time, if you drop in at school from time to time, or better yet, volunteer at school, you will get to keep an eye on things without being dismissed as a pain in the butt.

And ultimately, you do have a great deal of clout. Moreover, most teachers are pretty happy to have parents who give a damn. If the teacher clearly resents your participation, and you are not being unreasonable, then you probably need to discuss the situation with the Principal.

Teachers that suck are a reality that we all have to live with, alas, and it's probably more of an issue for other teachers who have to play catch-up the following year than for most parents. Sometimes it's just a mis-fit, and it may well be possible to swap classes. If you don't ask, you won't know.

Certainly there is no reason to accept sub-standard teaching. A teacher should be capable of basic grammar. However - before you assume - teachers are notorious for getting anyone who will hold still to grade papers. I graded papers when I was in grade school - for my mother's HS business machine classes! And now I do it for my wife from time to time.

If your child has any disability, well, here's a resource that will make principals tremble.


PS: Re the student teacher. Sadly, the teacher "responsible" for the student has little to say about it, they may not even be able to kick an insufferable twit out of their own classroom.

They are asked for an evaluation, but that evaluation will have little or no relevance. At least, that's how I here it; maybe it's better elsewhere. My wife has made it clear that she will NOT accept student teachers, since having to put up with an idiot that she couldn't wash out.

As a high school student, I would have to agree with CCWBASS. I can't believe the mistakes I see from other students, and even from teachers. It just seems like there are no standards anymore. Personally, I don't have a problem working hard, and since bad spelling and grammar are my personal pet peeves, I always proofread my own writing very carefully.

What's really disturbing to me is that even students who are intelligent and willing to work hard are expected to "dumb down" for everyone else. We're guilt-tripped for moving ahead of the class, and many intelligent students that I know fail their classes simply because they are so bored that they are literally put to sleep.

I don't understand why honors tracking and special programs for gifted students aren't mandatory at all schools. I haven't ever been to a school that doesn't have a SPED program, and frankly, being intelligent is just as much of a handicap as having ADD in the schools I've been to.


Of course every school has a SPED program but not honors tracking. The former brings in federal matching funds; the latter, to my knowledge, does not. You can thank Vermont's "Independent" Senator Jim Jeffords, king of special-ed pork, for this situation.

Wow, what a crappy education program to let someone into the classroom who can't spell. I mean, c'mon, you're a role model for these kids. I remember in my first education class in college, the professor took points off for every single mistake, whether it was a misspelled word or a misplaced comma, anything -- you could easily fail on an assignment based on spelling and grammar alone, so people started learning to write well pretty fast.

"What's really disturbing to me is that even students who are intelligent and willing to work hard are expected to "dumb down" for everyone else. We're guilt-tripped for moving ahead of the class, and many intelligent students that I know fail their classes simply because they are so bored that they are literally put to sleep."

All you can do is soldier on, Chrissy. Just keep reading a lot on your own. Trust me: when you meet other people like you (and demanding professors) in college, it'll all have been worth it.