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I have promised an explanation.

I was recruited to teach at North County High School by a former colleague who at the time was the principal, although I knew he was leaving before I signed my contract.  I was primarily recruited to raise the rigor teaching AP US Government & Politics primarily to students in our STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program.  I knew I was also going to teach one section of STEM Policy, a course normally given to a social studies teacher.  After I signed my contract, the position was somewhat reshaped to my skill set - as well as 3 sections of AP Gov and my one per semester of Policy, I was given senior capstone project classes of environmental media and of research / data analysis.  Policy is juniors, Gov is mainly sophomores, and my advisory is STEM freshman, which meant I was going to see students over multiple years.

The program is being changed, especially in Social Studies.  Through this year STEM students have taken AP Human Geography as 9th graders.  That meant that during AP Government we had to teach them chunks of the 2nd half of American History, because they had not yet had the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, Civil Rights, Vietnam or the Reagan Revolution.  As of next year they will take American History in 9th grade and will not take AP Human Geography until they are seniors.

Were that the only change, I would be happy.

But there are two other things

First, they are dropping AP Government from the STEM program.  I had mixed feelings on that - I can actually challenge the students more outside of AP, because I do not have to worry about the massive amount of material to cover for the AP exam.

But for both 9th grade history and 10th grade government they are converting the courses into a form of hybrids known as "skinnies."  It is therein that my problem lies.

Please keep reading.

we are on an A day / B day schedule.  Students have 90 minutes of class every other day, with four periods a day, which already means they are carrying 8 courses.

But the powers that be (outside our building) have decided to add more.

They want to add another credit in Project based learning.

They want to take the 90 minute period and divide it up

students would take 43 minutes of either history or government at an honors level, have 4 minutes to transition, and then take 43 minutes of a project based learning class.

To have sufficient "seat time" for the two courses, as required under state law, they would be expected to do the additional 43 minutes on their own online at home.

Forget the fact that not all of our students have reliable internet connections at home - for some their only online connection is a smart phone.

The idea of hybrid learning is the flipped classrom which is that in lieu of current homework students watch the lectures at home and then do work with the teacher and other students while in class.   This is not merely flipping.  This also presumes that the student will spend the 43 minutes every two days to make up for the time they are not in class.

Oh, and since I would have them for only 43 minutes, during such periods I would have a double load of students, 43 minutes at a time.  That means my total student load would be increasing, and it is quite possible I would go from my current 4 preps to 5 or 6  (which would clearly violate the negotiated agreement with the union).  These are bothersome, but my real complaints are focused on the students

1.  knowing our student population, I think they would be ill-served by this approach

2.  we are adding to their academic load at a time when many are struggling with what they currently have.

I offered a counter proposal.  If the intent were to get more project based learning in, I could teach AP Government entirely as a series of projects, ranging in size from small to massive and culminating.  There would be no bar to doing so from the College Board,which does not care how you cover the necessary material.

When I presented the idea to the relevant parties in the school - in STEM, Social Studies, counseling, and administration- the idea got enthusiastic support.  When it was presented to the office running the STEM program system-wide, it was summarily rejected.

I thought long and hard about this.  Were I to stay, I would next year in my environmental media class have a wonderful collection of senior students, including one who as a freshman won theIntel International Science and Engineering Fair and who with a fellow junior just won first prize in the national Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge and will be going on to international competition for that.  She has just been elected an officer of the state-wide Future Business Leaders of America.  Another student has represented the US in an international Model United Nations and will be interning this summer with a US Congressman from another state.  Several other students are gifted writers, have won prizes in Model UN, and so on.  It is an honor to work with such wonderful young people, who stretch me as a teacher.  Their education would not be affected by the changes.

But I could not in good conscience participate in what I was going to be asked to do for younger students.  Once it became clear that we could not roll back these changes, I decided I would not return.  I am required to make that formal by May 1st.  I actually made the decision somewhat earlier, starting by withdrawing my name for consideration to be the boys varsity soccer coach, and then when I left on Spring Break notifying the department chairs for STEM and Social Studies as well as the administrator responsible for scheduling not to plan on having me and to organize their scheduling without me.  Over break I notified the various administrators in the building, including the principal.  On Monday I handed in my written notification, ten days earlier than required, thus formally notifying Human Resources, and sent a message to the Assistant Superintendent who oversees both Advanced Placement and STEM and with whom I have had a close working relationship.

I do not yet have another job.  While we were still trying to reverse the decision, I began the process of exploring for other jobs, including attending a job fair for the school system in the community in which I live.  I have had several phone interviews, and been interviewed by one school that is prepared to hire me, with the permission of their central office, once they have what they believe is soon to be official notification of two vacancies so that they can shift some things around to fit my skill set.  If that is offered to me before anything else I will take it, even though there are opportunities closer to home that would pay far more, for which I might have a reasonable hope of obtaining an offer.  

I decided ago I would only teach in situations where I could do so with integrity.  It is hard enough in the public school setting to do so with the impositions of Common Core.  I felt it would be nigh impossible with how my responsibilities were being redefined.

I may receive no offers.  Already a couple of what seemed promising opportunities have decided not to consider me further.  I am after all because of education and experience a somewhat expensive hire, and since I will be 68 in May some may have doubts for how long they would have my services.

I hope and expect to continue teaching for a number of years, as long as I can do so with integrity.

I am no longer committed to public education:  I would be more than willing to teach in a non-public setting where I would not have the burdens of stupid educational policy.  My preference would be to be in a public school.

I could have chosen to stay where i was.  Within the power available to them the administrators in my building would give me as much flexibility as they could.  I have earned that by my performance even though I have been there less than a year.  I may not have as much flexibility to start elsewhere, although the position that may pending might well give me that.

I know that.

Yet I have to do what in my professional judgment is the right thing to do.

So I have reluctantly decided not to return to school where I have been welcomed by administration, parents, faculty, and students.

I promised an explanation.

And now people have it


Originally posted to teacherken on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:12 PM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge and Education Alternatives.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (129+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mirele, HoundDog, zenbassoon, karendc, JeffW, VirginiaJeff, Wee Mama, Paul Ferguson, juca, Unitary Moonbat, worldlotus, Free Jazz at High Noon, annrose, allie4fairness, jayden, ncarolinagirl, BeninSC, gmats, annieli, Calvino Partigiani, kerflooey, Heart of the Rockies, anastasia p, peagreen, greengemini, Actbriniel, Angie in WA State, Larsstephens, Laurel in CA, sc kitty, Lujane, New Rule, ladybug53, WakeUpNeo, peacestpete, AR2, Chi, Buckeye Nut Schell, Alumbrados, jacey, CalifSherry, Mr Robert, white blitz, 2dot, Pam from Calif, threegoal, PrahaPartizan, Meteor Blades, Dreidlgirl, fumie, VTCC73, kaliope, northsylvania, Lefty Coaster, begone, radarlady, basquebob, asym, Throw The Bums Out, jbsoul, banjolele, JVolvo, sabo33, kkkkate, ER Doc, sngmama, FloridaSNMOM, Geenius at Wrok, MuskokaGord, Teiresias70, Ken in MN, stevenwag, blueoasis, Sylv, Blu Gal in DE, emmasnacker, tomephil, emal, Mostel26, Raggedy Ann, Proud Mom and Grandma, dicentra, 4Freedom, MartyM, libera nos, tj iowa, leeleedee, zerelda, dewtx, Susipsych, Grandma Susie, LanceBoyle, TexMex, DRo, importer, rexxnyc, orlbucfan, mattc129, Norm in Chicago, Tinfoil Hat, RJDixon74135, Robynhood too, nzanne, scyellowdogdem, No Exit, TracieLynn, kfunk937, River Rover, The Dead Man, IndieGuy, alasmoses, boadicea, Shadowmage36, tmservo433, lcrp, BRog, Involuntary Exile, beemerr, Jodster, sturunner, MinervainNH, tdor66, stlsophos, JimWilson, bfitzinAR, No one gets out alive, Question Authority, denise b, Sprinkles

    "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

    by teacherken on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:12:45 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing your story teacherkin. What a (35+ / 0-)

    sad way to end up a career in teaching that has meant so much to you. I also feel sorry for you student who will be missing a great teacher.

    Who are these powers that be running the STEM program? What motivation could they have for putting their students in such an untenable position?

    How sad to see our institutions for public education loosing touch with teachers and students.

    Is there any possible influence parents can take via the school board? Or is this part of the problem?

    Hang in there teacherken. Best of luck to you. I hope this works out.

    "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

    by HoundDog on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:23:16 PM PDT

  •  You have said it: Integrity before all. If you (25+ / 0-)

    feel in any way uncomfortable ethically and integrity wise with what you are doing, then it's time to get out.


    And integrity is always rewarded.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:24:38 PM PDT

  •  I understand the dilemma about public vs. private (17+ / 0-)

    education. I am also a big fan of project-based learning and I wish there were more opportunities for the students to draw on what they know and are skilled in to develop real-life projects through which they solve problems. I'm having a hard time understanding why, when you offered to spend time doing such projects, they still cut the class time. 43 minutes is too short for deep learning AND it is too short for a project-based learning experience! They need time to go through the kinds of thinking and inventing processes that projects require!

    I hope you find a saner, more reasonable and seasoned administration close enough to home. Meanwhile the students at N. County lose.

  •  Oh, woe is public school education. (27+ / 0-)
    I am no longer committed to public education
    If a dedicated teacher like you despairs of public school education, what will happen to our one-time vaunted educational system?
  •  Is it really being called the "Reagan Revolution?" (11+ / 0-)

    I suppose the "Reagan Ratfucking" would be inappropriate for HS students despite its accuracy.

    All the best to you wherever you end up.

  •  You are lucky you can leave. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vcmvo2, sound of progress, dov12348

    Few teachers can afford it and stay just to have a job.

    Can I know your yearly salary?

  •  wisdom is a difficult burden, Ken, but you (11+ / 0-)

    did the right thing --- it's the only thing one can do when the system continues to implode and to remain true to one's competence. I have never found the making a difference argument very convincing when the structural situation and even the cynicism of those with whom I have had to work directly trumped the need to do the best job possible without compromise.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:00:02 PM PDT

  •  So many bad ideas from administrators (15+ / 0-)

    And so much lack of trust, at the upper levels, in the classroom teachers - especially those like you with an exceptional track record! To me, the mark of a good administrator is the ability to recognize wisdom, and to listen, and to make possible the best use of that wisdom.

    I have just seen yet another example of administrative folly, in the setting of elder care. I won't go into details as I don't know enough of the story. But at the heart, yet again, is a Suit who is not listening to the people doing the day to day work (caregivers in this case) or the people they are caring for. In both the schools and the elder care setting, the people for whom the system is supposedly designed are systematically ignored.

    Makes me wonder what happens in MBA training or wherever it is that they get people who are running education - and elder care - now. Do they punch holes in their heads so that when they go to sleep at night, all the common sense drains out?

    Much as I know your students and fellow teachers will miss you, I think you did the right thing. And I'm grateful that you told us, and the school, why.

    •  the administrators don't come up with these things (4+ / 0-)

      most of them were gym teachers. They are spoon fed these ideas from people who take marching orders from state bureaucrats, who get the ideas from political appointees.

      •  sorry, not true of the background of most (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dewtx, kfunk937, mmacdDE


        they come from across the range of academic subjects

        our principal was an English teacher.

        The assistant principals include a former social studies teacher.

        I have worked with administrators who taught Spanish, Music, Biology, Home Economics, etc.

        "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

        by teacherken on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:53:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But they do get their orders (0+ / 0-)

          from state bureaucrats, mostly elected, who have no background or experience in education.

        •  Sorry, should have been clearer about "admin" (0+ / 0-)

          The "administrators" I'm talking about are the business manager types. Sorry I was not clearer!

          I think most school principals and vice principals at least come from a teaching background, though in my high school system they were all, with only one exception, former coaches. But they answered to the district superintendent and the school board, who were business types who never set foot in the classroom. And these days, the school district is answerable to city, state and national policy "experts" like Arne Duncan and Rahm Emanuel. As TK and others have pointed out, the classroom is an alien environment to them.

          In the elder care setting, they are MBA's who are running a health care unit and telling nurses and other caregivers how to interact with patients. Here's one example: the Suit came up with the brilliant idea, probably off the internet somewhere, of replacing the nice plaid vinyl-lined clothing protector bibs used for the dementia patients with pretty red scarves, as a more dignified option (or some such). Patients were baffled, scarves did not actually protect the clothing, even when they stayed on (which they mostly didn't), and 3 days, a buncha money, and a lot of excess laundry later, we were back to the bibs as needed. Anyone who had actually sat down and helped feed patients at dinner would have known this was a daft idea.

          •  Most I have worked with over 25 years were former (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Laurel in CA

            gym teachers. I do see younger ones coming up fromt he ranks of more academic backgrounds, to be fair, but in the past most I worked with, and most I work with now, were gym teachers. The theory is gym teachers have more time to take the required courses because they are not burdened with grading lots of papers in the evening. And to be fair, today's gym teachers are better trained and have more academics behind them than their predecessors.

            •  In our high schools, different route: dean. (0+ / 0-)

              That's interesting. In our schools, the route to becoming principal began with being dean of boys, then vice principal. The dean of boys was the disciplinary role, and the thought apparently was that coaches could deal with problem boys. (In those days, women were not visible, even dean of girls.) So you'd get promoted to dean if you had the chops to keep kids compliant with a whole series of mickey-mouse rules, then if you were good at that, you could climb the ladder.

              The vice principal role was more that of "thought police" - keeping students, and the occasional errant teacher or counselor, from being a bad influence.

              My elementary school district was administratively completely independent and an entirely different story. It deserves a diary all its own, as an example of what public education can do, even with limited resources, when the stars align.

              •  Ya know, i decided to look at modern stats, and I (0+ / 0-)

                am having a devil of a time determining what administrators today taught before becoming administrators. Increasingly, though in the minority, they have no background in teaching at all. Some say they should be first among equals, and should teach as well. Others think they should focus on physical plant and monetary issues and stay away from teachers altogether. What needs to happen in my view is that teaching and administration need to be the same profession; they are not right now. A 5 year professional degree, with a subject major and courses in pedagogy as well as some administrative instruction. Every trained teacher is also qualified to be run the school as well. Colleges would hate it because they would have to close their grad schools of administration.

        •  Not me Ken. Most were gym teachers. in 2nd place (0+ / 0-)

          were special ed teachers, many of whom were given emergency special ed certs when hired to coach.

  •  new system sounds like a terrible way (5+ / 0-)

    to approach learning and a great way to discourage love of learning.

    As for you, teacherken, there will be other opportunities.

  •  Really appreciate (4+ / 0-)

    Your diaries. To have a critique of common core from the left, and thus one of merit, is invaluable for example. Let alone your other writing.

  •  I applaud you, sir. (6+ / 0-)

    Personal and professional integrity have become a rare thing, indeed.    I am a registered nurse, and I turned in my notice this week.   I have no job lined up, but I will not continue to work in an environment where the priorities are horribly distorted, the rules are changed solely for economic advantage, and where those who work with integrity and compassion are shunned.  

    It seems that increasing numbers of people in authority are uncomfortable in the presence of others who conduct themselves with personal and professional integrity.  Yet, those in authority are not uncomfortable enough to be inspired to begin conducting themselves with integrity.  

    Perhaps some folks just have little capacity for integrity.

    •  It's the drift to the "anything goes as long (0+ / 0-)

      as it profits me" mentality. With the corporate trend towards profit over quality and service in finance and business, the trend has filtered down to some of the more ethically-challenged in the workforce.

      That workforce includes education, it appears.

      The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. ~ John F. Kennedy

      by 4Freedom on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 06:10:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just Think Of How Many Students You Have Touched (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, Mostel26, 4Freedom, mmacdDE

    & influenced in your stellar career, teacherkin.    Perhaps it's time for a period of reflection & relaxation.  

    How about taking some time off?  No need to rush back.  Travel or write a book about your experiences.  New teachers could really benefit from reading a book written by you.  How did you reach the unready learner?  What are your secrets & your triumphs & your failures.  Pay it forward.

  •  power to administrators in college - local but ... (6+ / 0-)

    there seems to be a trend to hire stupid and mean administrators

    they don't like someone, and it is all over

    they seem to be out to destroy the culture of community

    like corporations who give power to CEO and reduce the voice of employees

    like the US government who gives power to corporations, like taking away net neutrality discussion today - has a post on that

    like the US government taking away privicy

    it seems like the goal is to have a complacent consumers and than call them "citizens"

    and all this at a time with few jobs so people have to be extra careful ...

  •  I'm no longer committed to public education either (8+ / 0-)

    and that's coming from someone who was successfully educated in public schools, whose parents and other relatives were teachers and from someone who has sat on a Towns Board of Education.

    Too much nonsense coming from non-educators (politicians) that influence the curriculum.  It's private schools for my children - I suffer financially but what as parents are we to do if we can do it?

    Good luck with future endeavors.  

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 03:36:17 AM PDT

  •  disgusted (5+ / 0-)

    I'm an anti-homework kind of parent anyway but this flipped classroom idea is over the top.  When my teenaged daughter started school I couldn't believe the amount expected by the teachers at home, starting in kindergarten!  I called her education "assisted homeschooling" and eventually moved her to Waldorf for as much as we could afford.  It's hard to believe it's actually gone from bad to worse in this area.  It's now assisted virtual homeschooling.

    •  the research on homework is clear; it does nothing (5+ / 0-)

      for elementary kids, but gets more important in upper grades, and the kids get too much of it. At my son's HS the principal, a former gym teacher, requires an hour of HW for each subject. My kid has 4 classes. 4 hrs of HW? Really?

      •  When I was in high school (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, 4Freedom, Norm in Chicago

        The norm was multiple hours of homework per night.  Superb school, very rigorous, very "elite", very high reputation.

        When students are not challenged in that way, people complain that we're not keeping up with the "Joneses" in India and Korea.  Is there honestly a way for administrators to win, here, on this particular topic?  It doesn't seem like it.

        •  Yes. they can cite research and say too much HW (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dicentra, emal, 4Freedom

          is counterproductive. I have seen principals do this. I have seen districts do this.

        •  rigor (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM, denise b

          My favorite definition is from the Reformy-to-English dictionary:

          Rigor (noun).  Difficulty for its own sake, regardless of any applicable research, science or desired outcome.  Rigor can be measured by a value-added assessment of the quantity of tears a child produces while he does his homework.

          I know it's controversial, but I agree with Alfie Kohn on homework.   My husband and I both grew up in rural, small town public schools on opposites sides of the country where very little homework was given.  We both had very good public schools and teachers and we both did very well in college in spite of the lack of homework.  I was appalled by the schools I encountered in Massachusetts when we located there.  Too much "rigor" and "elite" in my opinion.

          I'm also against keeping up with India and Korea though.  These are not examples of what we should be aspiring to.

      •  I had 4 hours of HW a night. Now I have a masters (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Don't whine.  You think it gets easier after graduation at work?  You think I can work during the day and not think about work at night?  Never have homework?  There are many nights that I do schematic or layout design reviews at home, or attend 9pm conference calls with Malaysia, or just think about what I want to do the next day.

        All through elementary school I had projects to research at home, an incredible amount of afterschool learning.  In junior high and high school, every night was an hour of math, two hours of science, an hour of reading.

        And when I got to college and two hours of homework per class was dumped on me by the professors, I didn't crash and burn like some of my classmates, and crumble under the pressure.  I formed study groups with friends, we did the work, and we thrived.

        Getting my masters, I went to work during the day and did 2-3 hours of homework at night for one engineering class.  And the learning doesn't stop there.  I read every technical article I can get my hands on to stay up on new technologies.  That's how it works.

        You either study and learn, or you don't.

        •  "don't whine" (3+ / 0-)

          If you choose to bring your work home with you, that's your choice but it's not mine and I would like my children to make their own choice.

          Children are not small adults; school is not a job; education is not production for corporate gain; grade school and high school are not college.  When I was a child I was allowed to play after school and this is what I want for my children.  Children need (yes need, not just want) to play.

          "Afterschool learning" and homework are two different things in my view.  There is much to be learned in spending free time (non-homework time) with your family doing activities they choose freely, or pursuing activities you are most interested in, or just reading a book for pleasure instead of reading under duress.

          •  School IS a job (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Norm in Chicago

            I always told my kids that until they graduated HS, school was their job. Their PRIMARY job. They had chores, of course, but school came first.

            Play was important, but school was more important than play.

            They didn't have excessive amounts of homework, but they did have some. There is a point where it's overwhelming, and that's not good either. There does need to be balance.

            But even adults need to have some balance in their lives. The balance also changes as you age. I always saw teaching my kids how to find that balance as a big part of my job as parent.

            •  child labor (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              denise b

              I think the labor laws cover this: school is not a job.  If it was, then there would be grounds for lawsuits over the hours and pay.  Not to mention that we're talking about children, not adults.   Of course, that's what the reformers want our schools to be -- job training for a compliant, easily controlled and manipulated workforce.  It's why those who have handed us education reform don't send their kids to public schools.  They want their children to be the leaders, not the followers.

              You might choose to tell your kids that school is a job, but I like my kids to think of school as a place where they go to gain knowledge and to learn to think for themselves, to explore their interests and get answers to their questions, not to simply follow along doing what they are told without questioning why they are doing it.

              •  You think doing homework is just following orders? (0+ / 0-)

                You really have no clue.  If you don't make your kids do work and study hard now, they won't do it in college, and they won't do it at work when their boss demands it of them.

                Have fun with them living in your basement as you grow old.

                •  why is it given? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  denise b

                  Children do homework because schools give them homework, mostly because parents demand it.  I'm not one of those parents.   I don't see the value in it.  I certainly didn't do much homework growing up and it didn't affect my work ethic (I started working at 14; had my first full time job at 17) or my college work (graduated with honors from Harvard Extension while single parent working full time).

                  I do believe students should study and hope they will have good and interesting teachers, like TeacherKen, who stimulate their desire to learn more and ask lots of questions. And my children do work, and hard, and they do it voluntarily mostly to help their mom and dad around the house, or at different odd volunteer jobs, like helping out at a food pantry on the weekends, or taking care of stray animals at an animal shelter.

                  As I've said before, I agree with Alfie Kohn on homework.

                  "...2.  The positive effects of homework are largely mythical.  In preparation for a book on the topic, I’ve spent a lot of time sifting through the research.  The results are nothing short of stunning.  For starters, there is absolutely no evidence of any academic benefit from assigning homework in elementary or middle school.  For younger students, in fact, there isn’t even a correlation between whether children do homework (or how much they do) and any meaningful measure of achievement.  At the high school level, the correlation is weak and tends to disappear when more sophisticated statistical measures are applied.  Meanwhile, no study has ever substantiated the belief that homework builds character or teaches good study habits.

                  3.  More homework is being piled on children despite the absence of its value.  Over the last quarter-century the burden has increased most for the youngest children, for whom the evidence of positive effects isn’t just dubious; it’s nonexistent.

                  It’s not as though most teachers decide now and then that a certain lesson really ought to continue after school is over because meaningful learning is so likely to result from such an assignment that it warrants the intrusion on family time.   Homework in most schools isn’t limited to those occasions when it seems appropriate and important.  Rather, the point of departure seems to be:  “We’ve decided ahead of time that children will have to do something every night (or several times a week).  Later on we’ll figure out what to make them do....”

                  •  Can't learn math and science by inspection (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    It takes hard work and repetition.  It means doing lots and lots of problems and studying. Can't just go to a few classes and learn it all.

                    Now if you want your kids to get some fluffy headed liberal arts major that isn't hiring, then go ahead and tell yourself that doing odd jobs is the same thing as doing math problems.  But it isn't.  Odd jobs don't require the quiet concentration (no cheating with Adderall please) and intense thought that doing math and science does.  Can't just odd job your way into an engineering job or invention.  

                    You mentioned Thomas Edison in a previous post.  He had a laboratory and conducted careful experiments and tediously took careful notes.  Because that's how lab work is.  He may have hated school, he may have left early, but he didn't just sit down one day and start filling out lab books and start conducting real experiments.  

                    I think you may be confusing the quality of the homework with the quantity of the homework.  Yes, there is good homework and bad homework.  But the replacement for bad homework isn't no homework, it's better homework.

                    And the trivial nonsense homework is trivial, and doesn't take time.  I could tear through some fluffy history lesson in minutes, then spend hours on physics.

                    •  Norm, you are an educated guy. The research (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Norm in Chicago, dicentra

                      on HW is pretty clear. I suggest you look into it further and see if you don't change your mind. HW must be meaningful and relevant when given, and should not take up the bulk of the child's evening. I have 2 master's degrees, grew up in the 70's and NEVER had anywhere near 4 hours of HW, Never had HW on weekends or holidays either, and this was Catholic school! There is a place for HW, but before middle school, it really shouldn't be too long.

                      •  Why does meaningless homework take long? (0+ / 0-)

                        I'm confused.  If the subject is trivial, if it's not meaningful or relevant, then why does it take 4 hours?  It can't be difficult if it's meaningless.

                        And even for subjects with meaning, they're not all equal.  History was rote memorization, takes very little time.  1776, 1812, blah, blah blah.

                        Geography?  I had the globe memorized by 6.

                        English is a bunch of reading and spitting it back out.  I didn't like book reports, found them quite boring, but they didn't take much time.  And at the root level, an opinion on a book is completely arbitrary, there's no wrong answer, no real critical thought.  You like it or you don't.

                        Math and science is where I spent all my time because that's where I needed to spend all of my time, to delve into all of that material, to get to cold hard truth across disciplines.  You don't learn calculus without doing hours and hours of homework.  You just don't.

                        You know, I once overheard on an airplane someone saying that military radio signals travel faster than civilian ones!
                        There's no way to correct that level of scientific dysfunction in 5 minutes or even 5 days.  There was a person with absolutely no concept of the basic laws of physics, just out there wandering about.  Because he never studied.

                        I agree that homework must always be meaningful.  But homework took up the bulk of my time, because I pushed myself.  And now I'm an engineer making a good living.  But my brother wouldn't push himself, didn't want to study, just wanted to play sports.  So he does back breaking labor for $14/hr.  Just sayin'.

                        •  Kids are given pages of work sometimes. (0+ / 0-)

                          It may not be difficult, but it can still be time consuming. Furthermore, special needs students, many of whom are mainstreamed, still struggle with it due to focusing issues. In fact I often have to write into the IEP specifically that a child must get less HW than others because he just can't maintain that kind of focus without getting frustrated. Caclulus isn't taught in elementary school; the issue of the benefits of HW is less clear in upper grades. Finally doingmore HW will not make a kid who is struggling a  better student. By the way as a former English teacher, it sounds like you really missed the boat on English classes. No real critical thought? Ever hear of literary criticism? Which extends to drama and cinema as well. Important issues can be gleaned even from minor literature like King Solomon's mine series ( colonial attitudes toward Africa for one ). I know successful people in life who never did their HW. That's anecdotal and doesn't mean much.

                          No offense  ( and I mean this in all sincerity, out of respect for your achievements )but your statement on literature is every bit as ignorant as the comment you overheard about physics, a subject I know almost nothing about. And that hasn't stopped me from making a very good living as a practicing social worker. But I recognize my ignorance of physics as a deficiency of myself, because I found math boring, impenetrable and a waste of my time, and no matter how many hours I spent on it, I never became good at it. I could spend hours reading about the long collapse of Rome though. I could spend days reading Faulkner and Dostoyevsky. I have a son just like you. he hates reading literature or doing book reports, but could sit for hours doing physics and algebra, almost without effort. We used to say, back in the day, that's why Howard Johnson's had so many flavors of ice the way I have a BIL who struggled to even get through vocational school. He wouldn't know a physics equation to save his life. Wouldn't get Faulkner either. But he built his own house from scratch and it was key ready when done and up to code. He's now selling it for close to half a mil, and he'll get it, because someone like me will want a house that needs very little maintenance. Never did HW in his life.

                    •  Okay (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Now if you want your kids to get some fluffy headed liberal arts major that isn't hiring
                      Now I know I can cross you off the list of people whose opinions interest me. What an asinine thing to say.
                      •  Look up millenial unemployment (0+ / 0-)

                        You can live in denial if you like, fine by me.

                        •  okay (0+ / 0-)

                          Critics of the Liberal Arts are Wrong "'Major in a subject designed to get you a job' seems the obvious answer to some, though this ignores the fact that many disciplines in the humanities characterized as “soft” often, in fact, lead to employment and success in the long run. Indeed, according to surveys, employers have expressed a preference for students who have received a broadly based education that has taught them to write well, think critically, research creatively and communicate easily."

                          Majoring in Liberal Arts Does Pay, Eventually"A new report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems examined whether liberal arts majors really do fare poorly over the course of their careers. They found some stereotypes don’t hold up to scrutiny."

                          Employers Target Liberal Arts Majors "Of all the things employers look for when hiring entry-level talent," said Jennifer Floren, Founder and CEO, Experience, Inc., "it's the so-called 'soft skills' that are valued most: communication, teamwork, flexibility and positive attitude are by far the most sought-after skills. Employers understand that everything else can be taught, so they look for the most promising raw material to work with.”

                          Want a Job? Major in Liberal Arts "'Technology alone is not enough,' Jobs said this spring, in response to his old pal Bill Gates' call for more science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) training. 'It's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.'"

                          What Employers Want in College Grads "The persistent drumbeat against the liberal arts has prompted many students to embrace business as a major -- it is the most popular one among U.S. colleges and universities. What this survey of employers and others have suggested is that the major isn't nearly as important as what college students do in and out of the classroom."

                          Survey: More Employers Plan to Hire New College Grads "35% say their company needs a blend of technical skills as well as soft skills from a Liberal Arts degree"

          •  No, it's production for THEIR gain (0+ / 0-)

            Are you seriously going to sit there and say that homework exists only to make corporations richer?  That being smart and learned is of no benefit to the child?
            Is this why unemployment among millennials is so high?  They never studied, because it's mean to make kids study?

            Look, my wife's younger brother was given free reign like you want.  He wasn't forced to do homework or learn anything.  He was allowed to play all he wanted.  And shockingly, play is all he's ever wanted to do.

            My mother-in-law blamed the schools when he'd flunk out.  Then blame the next school, then the next.  Finally she found a worthless Christian school willing to pass him, but his head is empty, and all he wants to do is play.

            They tried to send him to community college, but he has no clue how to study and no desire to.  He flunked out, thousands of dollars down the drain.  

            He now works a menial minimum wage job, because his dad drives him to work and picks him up.  He lives at home with mom and dad and will never move out.  He isn't competent to pay a phone bill, let alone rent month after month.  

            I have no idea what will happen to him when mom and dad get old, but it won't be pretty.  My son will never be like that.  He won't grow up thinking that homework is optional, or a joke.  It's not.

            •  ? (0+ / 0-)

              I didn't say any of those things.

              I can't comment on your brother-in-law.  That's personal.  Unfortunately, the schools are often a one-size-fits-all expectation and they don't fit everyone.   Thomas Edison is one example of the type of person who was just not cut out for the schoolroom, and succeeded in spite of it.

    •  It's a way to save money (0+ / 0-)

      "Flipped classrooms" are a fad in higher education as well. The idea is that the professor (though usually a lecturer or PTI for these classes) will give a lecture and then the students will download/listen to it on their own time.

      It "almost" works in college, in that many courses are best taught with an expert lecturer and breakout or lab sessions. The students do miss the ability to ask questions, the professor the ability to see if they're getting it (you really can see puzzled looks when you're snowing them), and unless the recording is done well it is less than fully intelligable.

      But it is high tech and cheap. Our administrators love it.

  •  As I sit here getting ready for work on a week (9+ / 0-)

    I am usually off ( we're making up snow days ) I  am cringing. Why? As a social worker I am not burdened with lesson plans or common core, but I do have students that must be seen each week for counseling, 30 minutes each. Problem is, in December the district decided not to replace a retiring social worker. I was given her kids along with the ones I have, moved out of a high school to 2 elelmentary schools, and not given space where I could work for more than a few sessions in each school. Because of the increased number of kids I am forced to do group sessions with 5 or 6 kids. this does not always work, to say the least. Some kids are different grades. Some have more problems than others. We end up playing games of scrabble or UNO because there's no way to do real counseling with this many kids. I have complained, only to be told that we really shouldn't be providing these services to kids anyway, their parents can go to Catholic Charities or Jewish Family Services if they need help. In other words, be happy you have a job. Also, I am now doing case manager duties for the kids, setting up IEP meetings and writing the IEP's. 70 kids, 8 different schools. Pay has been cut by the Christie administration; more work, less pay, the conservative playbook....I also handle crisis situations that can take a whole day, the kids then are not all seen that week and that is in violation of their IEP's. And people wonder why we want to retire before 65....

    •  That's terrible, leftangler. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RJDixon74135, FloridaSNMOM, mmacdDE

      I feel sorry for those kids. There is little you can do to remedy the situation. You must be quite frustrated.

      All the best!

      The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. ~ John F. Kennedy

      by 4Freedom on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 06:24:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When do they expect the kids to sleep? (6+ / 0-)

    I remember coming home from high school, I got home about 4:30, 5 oclock if the weather was bad. Then I had to do my chores, eat dinner... help with the dishes. Then I had 4-5 hours of homework to do. I was finishing up around 11pm and falling into bed because I had to be up at 5:30 in the morning to do it all over again (granted I lived in a rural area and had a LONG bus ride to and from school in the mountains of PA). Add another almost hour of 'class time at home' and I would have been a walking zombie most of the time. I managed it when I was in college, but I don't think that's good for any growing child and it certainly isn't the way to improve their grades or 'test scores'.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 04:21:48 AM PDT

    •  They don't. My guess is that they heard about (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, Mostel26

      a drug called Modafinil that can (temporarily) eliminate the need for sleep.  The catch is that the tests they did on it only lasted for 5 days and they have no idea what the long term effects of using it that way would be.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:07:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  if you can go see Race to Nowhere (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, 4Freedom, dicentra, Mostel26

      the film by my good friend Vicki Abeles.  If you google it, there is a website that will give you a real sense

      "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

      by teacherken on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:51:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wish I could go see it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But the theater is all the way on the other side of town, it would cost almost $30 just for the cab there and back lol. Don't have that kind of money just to go see a movie. Not to mention the price of the ticket...

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:54:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I wish (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        they would get this film online somewhere so people could see it in their homes.   I saw it at a showing at a school, but it really needs wider distribution.

  •  They take 8 courses? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, RJDixon74135, FloridaSNMOM

    My son takes four courses, 90 minutes, every day, for one semester. Then takes four different ones in the second semester. We had a lot of winter weather days(ice) that put some pressure on him, but he is managing okay with two "hard"(honors geometry and honors biology) and two electives(gym and Spanish). I feel like the kids are just guinea pigs for every new idea that non-educators throw at them, but I had the same decades ago, with new math and reading programs I forget(SRA?).
    Best of luck teacherken!

    The words of House Republican: We do not care.

    by Chun Yang on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 06:15:35 AM PDT

  •  It's a poorly administered system that (4+ / 0-)

    won't let a teacher with your qualifications teach as he sees fit, teacherken.

    Teachers may have a union, but it appears that politics have undone union power throughout the country. So you have little recourse than to do what you have chosen to do and still live with your conscience.

    The students are the losers here, because they will be deprived of the benefit of your teaching.

    The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. ~ John F. Kennedy

    by 4Freedom on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 06:30:35 AM PDT

  •  But not ceasing to teach (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, tmservo433, Mostel26

    You are one of our best teachers here, teacherken. Best wishes.

  •  You are most fortunate. (0+ / 0-)

    Most people today cannot afford to quit their job for their ideals.

    Best Scientist Ever Predicts Bacon Will Be Element 119 On The Periodic Table

    by dov12348 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:29:44 AM PDT

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