I was reading my favorite blog today Beyond the Rhetoric and part of the topic was a documentary on Education in America and Charter Schools. Here is my edited response to Michael and some additional thoughts.
Charter Schools Aren’t For Everyone Yet
My take on charter schools is mixed. Charter schools cost money, and the poor children don’t have the money to go to a charter school. There are some really good charter schools, one in Atlanta that gets it’s money from private funding so that it can cater to the lower income families to help them. It is one of the better charter schools in the country. Unfortunately, I can’t remember it’s name. But, most charter schools have an upper class population, so I don’t think that you can take their grades and student progress as the norm.
Problems, Problems –Teaching to the Test
There are 2 real problems with the school system. One is that we have to teach to a test and the flawed Federal No Child Left Behind law. If we continue to try to assess our children on how well they do on standardized tests we are going to produce inadequate graduates. We are taking away creativity and differing experiences for cut out teaching methods so that the kids can pass the test. This is an extremely flawed way to teach children that is doomed to fail over and over again. It is a waste of money that could be better served in encouraging our children to be creative, to choose their own path to success. not the cookie cutter method.
Parents Can’t Abdicate Responsibility
Second is that the lower income students on a whole really have a disadvantage in not having the proper tools to learn at home. Parents are working multiple jobs, they are turnkey children that don’t have the same home influence/involvement that middle to upper income children can get from parents that can either spend more time with them or get the people or tutors that can. The middle to upper income children also have the no home involvement from parents too, but not to the same degree. I have heard students at a school that I know has a more upper income demographic say that their parents tell them to study, and look it up if they have a question.
The whole thing comes down to parents being involved. A prefect example is my daughter, who is in Kindergarten and in the top reading group of her class. She has been started on a computer program that we use in the district called “Reading Counts”. The object is to read a Reading Counts book at home, then take a computer 10 question quiz at school about the book.
My daughter read her first book and took the quiz without me explaining how it works to my wife; I have intimate knowledge of the program from administrating it at an Elementary school. She got 6 out of 10 correct, which gets zero points and isn’t real good. My wife was not happy that this wasn’t a good experience for Camille, but I explained that my wife didn’t understand the nature of Reading Counts and Camille didn’t really understand the book or the quiz. She read it perfectly, but didn’t understand it. I told my wife what she needed to ask Camille as she read the book and told her to have Camille get another book.
The next book came home, they sat on the couch, Camille read the book two times to my wife. After the first reading my wife asked Camille questions about the book that made Camille stop to think about the book as she read it the next time. She went to school the next day and took the quiz. I was not surprised when my daughter proudly announced to me when I got home that she got 10 out of 10 correct. She understood the book, just not the words because my wife asked her about the story, making her think about it.
The key to education? Understanding what needs to be learned, and spending the time to relate that to our children. We cannot abdicate our responsibility as parents to the schools, they are our children, we are responsible for them and are part of their learning.
Those are my views and as a disclaimer, I work 3 jobs and I am still involved in my children’s growth, development and education. I took on that responsibility when I made the choice to bring them into the world.