From time to time on this blog, I have talked about my annoyance with my kids' schools. Sometimes the post was related to the special education bureaucracy. Sometimes it was about our choice to move to the suburbs, because we were worried about the city public schools. Sometimes it was about the mediocre education that Jonah was getting in the suburban schools.
I often get a lukewarm or even chilly response to those blog posts. Someone will sneer, "entitlement." Others will portray me as a shrill, humorless, privileged mom picking on the poor teachers. Weirdly, commenters on another blog criticized me for being a privileged mom, because instead of complaining about things, I was dealing with the inadequacies in education privately at home.
I can't win. And it's partially because there's so much discrimination against moms. Others can rally around about abortion rights, same sex education, the War in Iraq, and a million other political matters. But a mom with a political agenda is seen as shrill and entitled. Terribly annoying.
So, this morning, I'm going to rant. Harry and Megan have convinced me that we should care about high-performing schools.
I get a ton of e-mails (and not just from Amy P) complaining about a math program called Everyday Math. We don't have that program in our town; ours is more a hybrid between the old and new systems. Everything that I've heard about this math program is negative. Even with the hybrid system, Jonah's teachers have been terrible about math. They don't do enough repetition of math facts, and they just explain things really badly.
They don't do handwriting anymore, because the teachers tell me that all work will happen on laptops in the future.
Their time in specials (art, library, computers, health) is a complete waste of time.
They don't do enough writing.
They are not preparing the kids for good colleges. In fact, the head administrators seem to think that college consists of kids working in groups on laptop computers. They aren't preparing the kids for big lecture halls and blue books.
They assign book reports that consist largely of art projects that the parents complete.
They assign stupid homework like word searches and crossword puzzles.
They aren't even making sure that their curricula is lining up with the state standards. On state standardized tests, the kids are being tested on material that the teachers haven't covered yet. And in one case that I know about, a teacher coached the kids on the test.
Any criticism of school performance is rejected and blame is placed on the talent of the children. Or, in one very alarming instance, on the SES of the student body.
We're not in the highest performing school district in the state, but we're about at a B level for elementary and middle school. The high school is ranked in the top ten in the state, because it is a regional school district that brings in kids from wealthier towns. But I would not say that it is giving the students a high level education. A large proportion of the kids coming out of that high school are funneled into one of the substandard local colleges.