Monday, October 23, 2006

Those Goshdarn Stragglers

So what do you do about a 20-year-old kid in high school who's only accumulated three credits? An old principal of mine used to make sure such kids were removed from the school, but the papers made a huge stink about kids being left behind, and that's not done anymore. What do you call a principal like that?

I called him effective. When he retired, they wheeled in a smiling political hack. He stayed for a while, smiled happily at troublesome kids, talked to them earnestly, and the school went straight to hell. I transferred out for unrelated reasons, and heard war stories (for years) from my old colleagues. The hack got a promotion. He's now a very important hack, doing very important things.

I've identified kids who'd bounced around the system, sometimes for years, with no one noticing they didn't know how to read. We haven't got enough guidance counselors, we haven't got enough support staff, our classes are too large and our buildings are too full. What's been the response of this administration?

It's refused absolutely to contribute dime one to programs that might really improve the system. Refused to acknowledge any factor in student failure except teachers. Talked endlessly about accountability, blamed others for all failures, and taken credit for all successes, no matter how nebulous or imaginary. Opened dawn to dusk schools, filled them to capacity, doubled the capacity, then filled them some more. Claimed to be creating smaller classes and extra classrooms with money specifically earmarked for that, then done something else with the funds.

Really, it's awful. But we need to look forward for a solution. From this administration, we get SHT---selective happy talk. If we really want to help these kids, we're gonna need something better.

Given the track record of this administration, I'd be very surprised if it came along before '09.

Thanks to Schoolgal
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