Sunday, May 31, 2009

APS' Drop out summit no help.

Crazy, they say, is doing the same thing over and over again,
and expecting a different result.

This was not the first blue ribbon committee, summit,
task force, or hootenanny on drop outs. It won't be the last.

Does anyone seriously suppose that if you get highly dedicated
and intelligent people together to brainstorm an issue,
and then you get another group to do the same thing, that
they are going to come to substantially different conclusions?

A successful drop out summit would have come to the conclusion
that the public school education model is fundamentally flawed;
fatally flawed.

At the end of the day, we are still trying to herd kittens
in five rows of six, in the exactly the same direction, and at the
exactly the same speed, for 12 years.

It isn't working. It cannot be made to work.
Even if you could make it work, why would you want to?
Why would you want to solve a problem with the solution
which is the most difficult to implement?

Why not teach children to be independent learners
by offering them whatever it is that they want to learn,
whenever they want to learn it, and by the most effective

What ever else it has done, the No Child Left Behind Act,
has sucked the fun out of learning. There are very few kids
who actually enjoy studying for standardized tests.

There is no such thing as a disengaged learner.

Engaging students is the top priority. It is fundamental.
It is foundational. It is essential.

We can let these kittens follow their noses, and learn how to
learn with enthusiasm and excitement.

Engaged learners do not drop out.

They are not chronically disruptive.
They don't come to class late.
They don't tear their schools apart.
They don't keep other kids from learning.
They don't drive good teachers out of teaching.

NCLB standards and student interests are utterly unrelated.

One engages kids, the other drives a full half of them
out of school before they graduate.

According to the Journal article, no link, one conclusion
drawn at the summit, was that "teaching employment skills"
was necessary. "Teaching employment skills", runs into exactly
the same obstacle as "teaching them what they want to learn";
the NCLB prohibits it.

This was the question that I
had asked mayoral hopeful,
Marty Chavez.

I asked him if we could offer
kids something beside test
prep for the NCLB.

He said "Absolutely".

Which is absolute bullshit. It can't be done. The bureaucrats
that wrote and enforce the NCLB will not allow it.

It will have to be funded outside of the budget. Entirely new
money will have to come from somewhere.

Marty Chavez, "absolutely" needs to show us the money
that he will use to offer kids an non-NCLB compliant
curriculum. Talk is cheap. Education isn't.

And if he can't show us the money, and he can't, because
Chavez has made a campaign promise that he can't keep,
then the onus is back upon us.

What are we going to do about the NCLB, and what are we
going to do about the harm that it is doing to our children?

photo Mark Bralley

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would imagine that teachers, particularly high school teachers were not greatly involved in the dropout Summit. I know I wasn't invited or informed about it.
Additionally, there are 3 basic types of teachers as well: 1) those that solidly believe admin is the "other side" and hence, the "enemy" they must counter, 2) instructors that hope that admin, staff and instructors can build teamwork together for the best interests of the students (what I believe in) and 3) those that ass-kiss everything admin does or says.
I believe that that type #3 is invited to such summits, if invited at all. Hence, there is no "meeting of the (differing) minds" to resolve problems.
NCLB will increase drop outs prior to graduation, especially at the high school level. How?
Admin and teachers have "bipartisanly" agreed that electives hold struggling students' interests in school, especially at the higher levels.
TESOL and Bilingual classes hold many English-challenged students in school until graduation.
NCLB destroys funding and opportunity for these programs and others.
In the end, NCLB takes enthusiasm and love of learning from achieving and struggling students and puts unprecedented academic pressures on Special ed, low achieving and ESL populations.
NCLB=greater dropout #s.