Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Run up to the end

The end is sort of but not really in sight now that Spring Break is over.

We only have about a month and a half before graduation sets in but AP tests are coming, State testing is next week, and the job of dragging Seniors over the finish line is getting harder and harder than ever.  My wife and I tried to avoid the topic of school on our Spring Break road trip but inevitably it comes up when we are driving from point to point.  How am I feeling about the profession right now based on those discussions?

-I still love teaching.  That hasn’t changed at all.

-But the job is getting harder and harder because our school system (state and local) suffers from it’s own public pressures to symbolically perform.

-The State has told schools to stop suspending so many students so schools are simply not doing anything and calling it good.  Call it Restorative Justice.   Call it Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports.  I’m calling it a joke.

-Attendance at my school is terrible.  Nothing is being done about it.

-Students are looking for the easiest (not necessarily the most effective) way to a high school diploma. This is not new.  What is new is that the school now paves the road down that easy path; whether it is the dozens that are in Independent Study or the grade inflation that helps promote graduation rates.  It’s sad.

-Local doctors are complicit in this.  I’ve now witnessed multiple students simply walk into a doctors office pissed off that they have to go to school and walk out with a diagnosis of social anxiety.  Doctors get patients, students don’t have to show up for school, district gets money for students in the joke that is Independent Study, and graduation rates stay high because students don’t actually have to show up.  The problem is that students are not getting educated and nobody really cares.

Man, it sounds like I really hate my job.  Nope.  It’s the total opposite.  I love my job and I hate watching Education eat away at any standards from the inside.  Whenever I step back and take a long look at the system, I find that we are failing at our jobs not because there aren’t people that want kids to succeed.  Teachers and administrators and parents want kids to succeed.  It’s that the definition of success has now become one of a complacency.  We are really becoming the diploma factory that doesn’t prepare for the next level of life because that’s what is desired by society.  All this conversation about high standards are laughable because the standard is not to let them fail.  Hell, the slogan a few years ago that was hanging in our hallway at Ukiah High School was “Refuse to let them fail!”  Drag them across the finish line and tell them they have done good, even if they didn’t. 

Ok.  Breathe.  Work harder, smarter, and be the high standards that you desire.  Demand excellence and support those that wish to achieve it.  Make the diploma worth something. 

Make education worth something.