Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Accountability now is just a way to make teachers accountable for things they have no control over. Accountability for teachers has stripped students of their own accountability."

This could be the single most true statement ever made about the status of modern education.

Pissed Off Teacher, a New York City veteran of over thirty years, told a story that most of us are familiar with, and none of the politicians will listen to.

You know the drill.

Harry goes to high school were he was a resource kid.

Harry was basically pandered to and was pushed through the system to graduation.

Harry did what Harry felt like.

Harry went to a community college.

Harry learned that professors could care less about what you feel like doing.

Harry asked Mom to go after the professors.

Harry learned that professors could care less about Mom too.

Harry eventually realized that an enabled, less accountable high school career bit him in the ass later on.

In the end, teachers are blamed for the accountability angle. I'm had my share of Harry's, who have actually failed my class. But my accountability was superseded by sneaky colleagues (not admin by the way) who overruled my grade and allowed the Harry's of the world to walk the stage, thus making the last lesson learned a bad one. I also remember being a sort of Harry, walking into my college career thinking that I could ease into it like high school. I almost didn't get to my dream of being a teacher until my collage advisor, Dale Steiner, basically told me that I was never going to teach if I didn't pull my head out of my ass. I did, and I pulled my act together to reach my goals. Notice, I said that I did both the slacking early on, and the hard work later to become a teacher. It was my own accountability, not the fault of the instructors or "the system".

But that's not the focus any more. The focus is the teachers. Since more and more students are failing high school, and less and less students are prepared for college, it must be the fault of the teachers because who is responsible for educating the Harry's of the world. Well, Harry is for starters. And society hasn't figured out that many of these students aren't being held accountable for the simplest of actions. Showing up should be a given. But time and time again the statistics show that attendance is a huge factor in academic progress. How are teachers supposed to control attendance? I have students moving, cutting, being taken out for cheerleading, sports, FFA, Drama, vacations, blood drives, band concerts, discipline............and I'm supposed to be accountable for this?

I will never take any politician seriously until they have the balls to tell parents "guess what, you are part of the problem", and start to make schools have the power to jack students out of the classroom that don't belong there. Want me to be accountable? Fine, let me hold students accountable without hearing about lawsuits, grade changes, and the importance of a three week Homecomings.

Otherwise, get ready for a lot more Harry's.

blog comments powered by Disqus