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View Diary: A Response to TeacherKen and Dailykos Community (357 comments)

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  •  absolutely,too much lost time (4.00)
    if this country is to get stronger,educate,educate,educate!

    "once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right"

    by jerseyjoew on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 08:58:02 AM PDT

    •  Test, test, test! (none)
      Seems like testing eats up lots of learning time as well.

      -fink

      •  Isn't is true that under NCLB (none)
        schools are forced to BUY test from certain specified vendors (who just happen to be big GOP donors)?  And these tests cost a fortune compared to the virtually no-cost test created by the teacher?

        No American left behind - in civil rights, in health care, in the economy.

        by JLFinch on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 09:27:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No. (none)
          Each state makes it's own test. That's why you can't compare results among states. Texas allows English Learners to be tested in their native language, California DOES NOT. So how can you possibly compare the two?

          Jesus was a victim of the death penalty.

          by coigue on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 10:05:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And (none)
            a handful of states are beginning to explore opting out of the required tests. Virginia, this year for instance, decided to revert back to its previous standards before NCLB. Many other states have legislation pending to revert back to their previous standards. Overall, 30 states have filed lawsuits against the NCLB.

            'We have a single system...the only question is the price at which the proletariat is to be bought and sold.' Henry Adams

            by jorndorff on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 11:17:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Meta question (none)
         Why can't I recommend this diary?
      •  My daughter's math teacher... (4.00)
        ...tells us that she has to teach not math, but how to take the math test.  Biiiig difference.  And her in Los Angeles, the material on the accountability tests is out of whack to the curriculum.  The kids get tested in the fall on material they won't have until the spring, for example.  All in all, the thing is just a muddle.

        But that's to be expected.  Our schools no longer exist for the purpose of education.  The Republicans have been working for the last 25 years to make sure that capability is denied to our schools.  

        For my money, all the test results show is how adept students are at taking tests.  That's not to say test should be eliminated, by any means.  But to rely on them as the sole benchmark and objective of a student's education is a particularly pernicious kind of folly.

        As long as I'm here, there is a fundamental problem with our school system that I never see raised or addressed:  It was created in and for a world that no longer exists.  The school calender itself seems to follow the rhythms of an agricultural populace.  But the sad and simple fact is that kids don't need to spend three months in the summer working the fields.  And the daily schedule -- roughly 8 AM to 3 PM -- seems to be based on the assumption that June Cleaver will be there to pick up Wally and the Beav, with a plate of fresh cookies to boot.  Neither of these things has been accurate for quite some time.

      •  In Europe the school-vacations are much shorter (none)
        and I think the schoolday here is much shorter too.

        And something rather trivial - in Europe the kids stay in their classroom and the teachers come to them - here a lot of time is spent with kids going to different classrooms -- why??

        there are also things added like drivers education -- all the school sports.  

        School sports is the biggest difference between schooling in Europe and here -- sports in Europe is considered an activity away from school - - and therefore parents take a whole different view of it.

        Education is the most important - sports are activities that broaden the experiences of youths.

        Think about it -- sports can get you into free higher education easier than good grades - there is something terribly wrong with that.  

        But it does again show that sports take on way too much importance.

        Compare American schools/education to countries where our jobs are going -

        Will America have enough educated people to keep any jobs here??

        Proud to be a Bleeding Heart Liberal

        by sara seattle on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 03:04:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Roving teachers (none)
          Bad news.  For many reasons.
          •  Can you point out the problems... (none)
            for us please?  Seems reasonable at first blush.

            Hey hey, ho ho, irresponsible corporatism and social intolerance have got to go! Hey hey, ho ho!

            by kfractal on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 09:49:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Only for certain subjects.... (none)
              I'm not a teacher, but my first thoughts are:  Science teachers need a kitted out classroom.  So do most of the other teachers, Maps for geography, calculators and meter sticks for math, books for language arts.  

              Who will spin the spinners?

              by stas61690 on Mon Oct 10, 2005 at 05:54:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Reasons not to rove (none)
              I taught at the high school level and eventually retired from a major university.  Also, we have children who went through public schools, beginning to end.

              Teachers can create an atmosphere in a classroom that is homey, stimulating and inviting.  Young children need to identify with a group, a teacher and a place.  One of our children started school in a modern open classroom.  Total disaster.  The kids had no anchors, belonged to no one and nothing.  Shifted all day long to different learning groups.  Very hard to bond with a teacher (there were many during the course of a day), other children or a place.  In those days, you couldn't easily go to another public school of your choice, but a group of families found a legal angle to get our kids into a traditional classroom, and did it.

              Once, at the high school level, I was forced to float from classroom to classroom because of school overcrowding.  I was teaching history.  I never had what I needed, no matter how well I planned.  I taught several preparations which made it even more difficult.  Students had to come in during my limited office hours to my shared office to get handouts they missed due to absence, to pick things up or to discuss issues, ideas or problems.  No lingering in the classroom or after school.  Often these informal moments produce the best teaching opportunities.  

              I lost teaching time laying things out before I could begin class and cleaning up to move out at the end--someone else would be in there setting up the second the bell rang.  so, I lost about 10 minutes from each teaching period. I had few reference books or materials because there was nowhere to store them.

              On the university level I taught upper division and graduate level biology classes that were all quite small.  The equipment was highly specialized, we needed "stuff" that couldn't be carted around.  Students had their own drawers with supplies and reference materials, and so on.  Even at this level, the other faculty member and I who shared this teaching lab made an effort to have displays, posters and such that made for a stimulating and enjoyable environment.  Students often came to work outside of regular class time.  It was their place, and they cared about it and everything in it.

              Hope this helps.  If people have questions, I'll try to answer them.

              Off topic a bit, but I'd like to add that by the time I retired (and ditto for all my colleagues) we could barely tolerate teaching.  The changes in student behaviour, attitude, preparation and expectations over the last 40-50 years have been enormous and all for the worse.  Parents are now intruding themselves into college classrooms as well.  We even had plainclothes people as guards in some of the big lectures.  One of my classes was required for students headed into secondary level science teaching.  I followed my students after they left.  None remained in teaching for more than a few years, thereby throwing a master's degree down the drain.  They simply couldn't tolerate the abuse.  Until the attitude problem is dealt with, all the reforms and money are for naught.

    •  More time to subtract (none)
      The amount of time spent transitioning from class to class must be subtracted from learning time.  Throw in lunch and recess, then subtract the first 5 minutes or so at the start of each class, since it takes at least that long for the kids to settle in, and subtract the last 5 minutes, in which kids are paying more attention to the clock than the teacher.

      When you put it all together, even a "full" school day invloves large amounts of non-learning time.

      I read a few years ago about a family whose son had a serious illness, causing them to need a tutor for the time he was going to be out of school. They were told by the school system that a tutor for 6 hours a week would provide equivalent learning time.

      Do other countries have such short classes, with so many transitions in a day? Would school be more effective if there were a couple of 6 or 10 hour classroom days in a week, followed by two or three days of in-depth experiential learning (field trips, apprenticeships, labs, etc.)?

      Honestly, I don't think I'd consider fields trips unecessary.  There are students whose learning styles mean that they learn more from a filed trip than from an entire semester in the classroom.

      As for inservice days, I'd much rather have interested and engaged teachers who are committed to keeping themselves fresh than teachers who are static. Inservice days are only a waste if the teachers gain nothing from them. However, having them scattered throughout the year, interupting learning time over and over seems silly (not to mention wreaking havoc on parents' work schedules). Consolidating training time in one week, perhaps dovetailing it into the winter holidays or summer vacation, seems more sensible.

      (p.s. We homeschool our kids, partly due to having hated our own public school experiences in what was considered one of the top-rated school districts in the country, and partly due to the experience we had with an over-crowded school system when our older child reached school age. In the end, it seemed the best thing for our children would be to educate them in a way that could take advantage of their individual learning styles, which couldn't happen in public school.)

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

      by mataliandy on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 10:35:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The short weeks and days (none)
        play havoc with the 180 day school year as well.

        Our public schools just started Sept 6.  This week and next week are 3 day weeks.  No spelling words, math tests or social studies for the 3rd graders for the two weeks. They watched "Toy Story" in school on Friday.

        A few more weeks and the getting out at 12:30 days begin for teacher's conferences, then the training days.  Again no spelling or regular work because of the shortened schedule.  When you add in the late arrivals and early departures for snow days, the 180 day school year is a joke.

        I think 180 days might be enough if they were actually full days of regular teaching, but by the time you subtract out all the teacher training absences, special days, testing days, field trips, and shortened schedules it is closer to 100 days of school a year.

        No wonder our children can't concentrate.

      •  Physical movement (none)
        during the day is not a bad thing for children.  Heck, adults as well.
        •  Has to be the right kind of movement (none)
          I agree matalianda on almost every point.  My job takes me into lots of K-12 public school classrooms in many different school districts, rich ones and poor ones.  In elementary school especially, I see a lot of time required to get kids ready to move, to move them, and then to settle them down after they've moved.  This is far less of a problem with middle and high schools because the transition time is much quicker.

          But I respond to the comment that physical movement is not a bad thing because it's beside the point.  Indeed, physical movement is an EXCELLENT thing but schools shouldn't rely on walking down the hall as the sole exercise for a young child during the school. Separately, many schools are phasing out recess--very bad in my opinion.  So far, few have mentioned the word "recess" for this diary so I'll post a note down thread specific to this issue.

          •  Movement (none)
            High school and elementary or middle school are quite different.  I'd favor movement from classroom to classroom for high school level and remaining in the classroom for younger students.  Also better for the teachers.  Each level has different constraints.

            I'll look for the recess discussion.  Adequate lunch time is important, too. I had adolescents eating candy bars for lunch because they hadn't enough time in a large school to get somewhere to eat, get the food, eat it and be back to class.  Against the rules, but I let them eat in class if they were tidy, etc.

      •  I do not know what type of work or employement (none)
        you do to earn your living but let me share something
        with you.

        I also do not know exactly what teachers saleries are
        in most other states. However my wife is a teacher
        here in MS and has been for 22 years. She is not only
        a good teacher but she is a very good one and one of
        those who loves teaching and it shows in her students
        and the way the students parents respect and treat
        her. The starting salery for teachers her in MS in only in the very low 20s. My wife as a special education teacher with 22+ years has just this year reached upper 30s in salery.

        Now with that out of the way this I want to share with you. Regarding the following.


        Consolidating training time in one week, perhaps dovetailing it into the winter holidays or summer vacation, seems more sensible.

        Here in MS the teachers are paid for 180 days or
        nine months only in their salery year. Days missed because of storms, or ice etc are added on at the end of the year or made up during spring vacation which are not part of that 180 days.

        However many of them also have to take courses
        often during the summer or so called vacation
        time in order to maintain their teaching
        certificate. That happens to be their time for
        which they are not being paid ok.

        On top if that they have to pay out of their on
        pocket for these courses. So for starters the summer time that they are off is not vacation time becaue it is non paid.

        Next my wife is required to put in a full 8 hr day of teaching duties without free time even for lunch since she has to supervise students in the lunch cafe even while eating her lunch.

        That is not counting the fact that she has to put in besides her 8 hours an extra 5 days of 30
        minutes uncompensated time every other week on
        what is called bus duty while students are arriving at school before classes start.

        That is not counting that she is required to work
        the ball games in a shedule which she has to work at least one and most times two ball games a month  
        which usually consist of at least two hrs and most often three hrs each during all games that are
        held after school hours. That is also non paid time.

        Then she has to go back into school several different times during the year for what is called parent/teacher night which is generally over two hrs each and that is non paid.

        Plus at least twice a month she has to stay after school for a faculty meeting of about one hour which is also not paid.

        They do not receive comp time or days off for all
        that extra time.

        All of the is extra and beyond the paid time that teachers are required to do here. Again I do not
        know what it is like in other states.

        Regarding the NCLB, my wife will tell you very
        quick that it is bad for students and teachers
        alike. It is geared more toward teaching to pass
        the test than to teaching the tings that should
        be taught.

        There is much wrong with our system of education
        today but one place that many people make a
        mistake is in thinking that the teachers need to
        do more.

        I agree that there are a lot of teachers
        who could do a better job. But when hiring someone
        who holds much of our children's future in their hands, a starting salery just over $20,000 is
        a major problem.

        It takes a special person to be a teacher and give
        the best they have to shape the lives that we entrust into their hands.

        Don't blame me, I am still trying to figure out what is on the Blue dress :) eaglecries

        by eaglecries on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 09:07:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Teachers get the short end of the shrift (none)
          Thank you for that description.  It is packed with information on how badly teachers get reamed in this system.  I hope it gets many, many people thinking.

          Just to clarify on the comment to which you were responding - I didn't mean inservice days should be unpaid drains on vacation time, but that the inservice days should be grouped together in a block, preferably in the days leading into or out of an existing vacation - extending the vacation for the kids by a few days, but all at once.

          They should absolutely be paid days.

          From what I understand, teacher salaries suck just about everywhere, which is ridiculous, considering that they literally hold the keys to our future in their hands...

          Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

          by mataliandy on Mon Oct 10, 2005 at 06:43:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks Governor (none)
      Governor Vilsack,
      Thank you for posting this.

      Hope all is well in Iowa.

      Evan Bayh 2008
      Miller for KY Governor 2007
      http://kydem.blogspot.com

      by dsolzman on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 11:29:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The core of the problem... (4.00)
      If I had to sum up the core of our problems with education in this country, I would say that we have confused teaching with training to the detriment of both. Parents most often confuse the two, but so do many future teachers, current educators, and policy makers. It seems that parents, politicans, and college administrators have become more interested in acreditation than education.
    •  let me explain here why I haven't been posting (none)
      it is becaused i just returned from representing my alma mater (Haverford) at a college fair for more than 6 hours.

      I am quite pleased with the response to the Governor.  I hope you are too, Governor.

      I will make some additional comments as appropriate further down the thread.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

      by teacherken on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 01:24:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not more time, but time better used (none)
      They don't need more days in school, they need higher teacher/student ratios so that the time they have in school is used more productively.

      A huge percentage of time spent in the classroom is spent staring out the window, twiddling ones pencil and writing notes to friends, because the class itself is simply not engaging the student. Really engaging the student is the issue, and higher teacher/student ratios would help, so would more funding (so teachers were paid more for their time developing curricula etc.

      More time spent doing the same uninspiring, droning stuff isn't going to get the kids anywhere better. I'm 37, but I can remember from my school days how I could easily have learned everything I learned in school in half the time I spent there or less. For me, it was largely because the class moved at the pace of the slowest students (intellectually), and so I spent much of my time goofing off. With more funding and better student/teacher ratios, kids get more individualized attention...which yields more 'productive' school time.

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