Friday, April 03, 2009

Our Educational Sytem

Lorraine Kashdan got me started this morning on this educational memory lane tangent. I have a long history with the old Board of Education of New York City and the new Department of Education of New York City. Different names to feed us a new line of shit. I don't know how the educational system is in the UK but as the mom of an LD son and also because I worked (past tense) in our school system here for 21 years, I can tell you a lot. The system is a lot of bullshit and does not work to help you get what you need. Lorraine you touched a nerve! Ouch!
Our schools here in New York City have experts from UK visiting here to rate us and tell our administrators how to improve - but are UK success rates that much better? Not really if you do some research.
Our system here is about paperwork - not children's needs. Here you have to be an advocate for yourself and your children's needs. If you’re not – your children will fall through the cracks. Been there and done it and glad to be out of it on all counts ... professionally and personally - well not quite yet – as being involved with DubbleX means being involved with his son’s educational needs too.
I’ll give some history here then come back to my original thesis of how educational values are going down the drain and statistics are the on board values of the day and how now, raises will be given to those who have good statistics.
Back in the old days with the old board, my son was given several labels and diagnoses. As his condition changed and improved over the years he outgrew his diagnoses. The point is these diagnoses are all bullshit. The things to think about and work on are the child’s deficiencies. Once you have a clear idea of these deficiencies, it is easy to devise or find someone who can devise a series of instructional lessons developed to meet these deficiencies. My son’s educational deficiencies were in reading/ writing and math. My help came from an older sister who told me to use phonics to treat the first and gave me specific instructions. She said start with the letters AT then move through every letter of the alphabet and put it in front of the AT. This was only for starters. Eventually through this system you’d work your way through every vowel. OT, OB, OD. The point of this is that I sat with my son with a notebook. I divided the pages into 4 columns. The other first columns are the original columns we created together and afterwards he copied each word to the other three columns after we had practiced saying them several times.
Following is a short example of how my son and I worked together. I’d sit with him. We’d both have our own notebook and I’d kick off our learning session, “AAT is not a word, what about BAT? And I instructed him on sounds of each letter. After I wrote it on my own pad I’d wait while he copied in his first column. Then we’d go to C. CAT, etc. No doubt this was tedious but by the end of a summer following this routine my son’s grade level went up over 2.5 years. I also bribed him with whatever he wanted. Sometimes it was a special treat like burgers and fries at the local diner. Sometimes it was a comic book from the store. My sister ridiculed me when she found out I supported his love for comics and insisted he needed to read the classics. I read him Treasure Island. Honestly I didn’t remember this detail but my son happened to remind me of this the other day.
The math thing was very similar, beginning with the number 1 and adding 1, then 2 then 3 to the number 1 up to number 10 and copying it over 3 times. Eventually we got to 10 plus 10. The minuses go the same route. 10 minus 1, 10 minus 2, 10 minus 3, etc.
There was a clear parallel development between my inner growth and development and his. The more I learned about how I could parent him without losing my temper and by using a series of tactics and maneuvers to get him to do what I wanted the more I could move things along for both of us. I developed as a parent as he grew and developed.
Later when he was older we memorized the times tables with great difficulty and eventually he was permitted a calculator in high school. He was permitted to substitute a computer course for Spanish since that seemed to be undoable for him. Strangely, he took a liking to sign language and learned some from a friend of mine quite easily. Pity, that wasn’t an option for him. Obviously his mind works differently and he has developed a different pattern of intelligence.
My son not only graduated
high school with honors, when he was in 7th grade, his nation wide testing scores proved how much this had helped him. His reading level tested at 12th grade level. Comic books are a mother to read – try it yourself sometimes – comic book writers have a great vocabulary. My son is a college graduate. We accomplished this with the following tactic. He dictated while I typed. It worked better this way for the papers he was required to write on various subjects.
I am very disappointed in the value of the educational system. A close friend, a history teacher, told me the other day that he was put on the carpet about his regents stats not being high enough. Even when students come from another school and he has never met them before, or students he hasn't taught for several years, show up and take the regents in his school he is responsible for their grades on the regents. Tell me anyone – does this make sense?
After this, his principal met with him and wrote him up for not having high enough pass stats. This teacher wrote a reply saying that his scores were 15% higher if you took out the children he never met before. When you took out the children who he met but it was over a year ago, then it came up another 5%. Still 68% rate is not good enough. These are children who may miss a day or 2 or more each school week.
Then the principal followed this up with that he has to see every test this teacher gives the class at least a week in advance. This particular history –social studies teacher makes up weekly quizzes for each class. He was further instructed by his principal to write every question on any of his quizzes from recent regents exams given over the last 2 years. This teacher went and bought half dozen regents prep books and began reading them so he could do as he was told.
This high school social studies teacher couldn't believe that the word holocaust is never mentioned or that it is only called World War II and makes no written mention of the word Nazi. This teacher really lost his mind when he saw that none of these books made any written mention regarding the 6 million Jews who were killed. What is written instead is "many people were killed". Yes indeedy, many people were killed along with 6 million Jews, gays, Asians, Gypsies and all ethnic types mixed race/religion bloods. Our educational system is becoming a system of systemically fed mistruths or partial truths feeding our children a very watered down version. Teachers are going to be rewarded for good statistical reports - not well educationally rounded children. Our educational system is turning our future, our children; into insipient, easy to control robots while the rich and powerful continue take control. Our children won't know our past, which is necessary to creating a new future. Those who are in charge - including Obama - don't have their children attend our public schools! Our entire educational system is a political challenge to an endangered species - us.

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