Honor Roll Doesn’t Mean Children Are Learning

I’m posting this column from one of my favorite conservative columnists on the internet. I enjoy reading Mychal Massie’s Daily Rant because he speaks the truth without making any apologies for what he says. Read on!

I have long held that American children are academically dumb and getting dumber, and I’ve held that the reasons for same are the intrusion of the federal government into our education system, illiterate teachers full of elaborate teaching methods that do not work, and parents.

Parents do not like to hear that their children aren’t getting a marketable education. It is easier to live in denial than face the reality that their children are being poorly educated, despite a stint or two on the honor roll. I hate to be the skunk at the picnic, but more times than not, it does not mean your child has learned anything substantive. Plus, I am unapologetic in my condemnation of parents who do not provide consistent learning environments for their children. Children are the future of our nation.

So-called educators have gone to great lengths to dumb down the children of America, and most parents don’t give a rat’s tail about it as long as they can say their child made the honor roll. But my position is that making the honor roll in most public schools means less than nothing. It, at best, means little if the parents aren’t providing a consistent learning environment outside of the classroom.

With the above-referenced always in my mind, this morning the first news that caught my attention was an article written by Kala Rama “Passing Score Lowered For FCAT Writing Exam” in Florida. (http://www.clickorlando.com/news/Passing-score-lowered-for-FCAT-Writing-exam/-/1637132/13396234/-/k1ckc2z/-/index.html) Rama reported: “The Board of Education decided in an emergency meeting Tuesday to lower the passing grade on the writing portion of Florida’s standardized test after preliminary results showed a drastic drop in student passing scores.”

FCAT is the acronym for Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test exam. Rather than being resolved to the expectation that children are in school to learn and those charged with ensuring that happens are teachers–Florida, like many other school systems, found it easier to lower the requisites for passing.

I would hope that it is glaringly obvious that lowering the score needed to pass an exam does not increase the students‘ learning capacity. Parents need to understand that. A poorly educated child who has been the beneficiary of lowered expectations and lowered grades necessary for passing may graduate from high school on the honor roll–but then what? What will the child do with their “I graduated on the honor roll, and I’m going to college, graduate and get a good job.”

The truth, however, is must less optimistic. They may graduate from college, but it won’t be with the requisite marketable employment skills to even give them a chance of landing a high-paying good job. They will, however, leave college in debt from student loans, and with an education that hasn’t prepared them for the future.

It is a variant form of socialism that believes lowering scores required for passing gives everyone a better opportunity to succeed. What it does, in reality, is ensure that there will be another generation of unemployed and underemployed.

In 2003, I wrote “No Foundations, No Future” in which I addressed this very problem. I wrote:

“In Florida, minority students are accepted into college, but are unable to pass the multiple choiceFCAT test that requires only a 40 percent score and can be taken five times to pass.”

In Pennsylvania, between one-third and one-half of prospective math and science teachers failed their certification tests. About one-third of applicants flunked special-education certification. Nearly 50 percent of prospective Spanish teachers failed their tests. More than one-third of the applicants failed both the pre-professional skills test in writing and social studies. On the “content knowledge” portion of the math test, 43 percent of the teachers failed. (Jane Elizabeth /John M.R. Bull, Post-Gazette – “Up to half of teacher candidates failing tests,” Jan. 17, 2002)

In Illinois, 5,243 teachers failed key exams. The New York Times asked the question: “What to do about [New York] teachers who chronically fail their certification exams? Some in New York have failed 10 times – 3,000 have never passed.”

Parents may not like what I am saying, but the truth is my defense. It doesn’t take money to ensure children are educated; it takes commitment from the parents and teachers. My family set the bar high when it came toeducation, and the expectations that my cousins and I would achieve and exceed them were as much an absolute as sunshine. My teachers didn’t care about our color–they cared that we learned. Our parents didn’t demand teachers of color, and diversity was the number of different books we read, not a color-coded faculty.

I’ve had conversations with editors who tell me how ill-equipped and unprepared many of the young people they interview are. I personally observe the lack of professional skills in young people today. Sadly, many parents today are more concerned about themselves than they are their children. And they are willing to turn to those who will validate (for a price) whatever excuse they feel will absolve them of guilt and/or responsibility.

Parents need to open their eyes and see what they are allowing to happen to their children. Many children today have no interest in learning, their interests lie in X-Box, the latest electronic gadget, worthless television programming, and the latest song. Unfortunately, that doesn’t ensure capable contributors to our free-market; it ensures that, at some point, we will see the further erosion of skilled employees.

I concluded the 2003 piece referenced above saying: “The foundations of America are being destroyed: A watered down, diluted god of convenience; moral decay within the family; poorly educated teachers andstudents; and a government that governs for the posterity of itself is – agree or not – the death knell of our nation.”

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SUMMER!

Today my daughter came up to me and said the dreadful words,” I’m bored.” School is out for the summer and the season looms ahead of us. She explained that she had done everything to avert the “boredom monster” as I used to perceive it. “Mama, I have danced, I read, I did some art and now, I’m bored.” So I took a closer look at her statement and then I came up with an idea…me had a thought…or a chain of them any way.

I remember being a kid out of school for the summer and it never occurred to me to utter the “I’m bored” mantra of every school age kid. No way, I had to keep my mouth shut because if I ever dared make such a declaration, my aunt would have found me more work to do. As it is I had to help her shine her collection of sterling silver which she kept in a china cabinet that went from floor to ceiling and it was full of beautiful silver artifacts. Then if that wasn’t enough to keep my little hands busy, she expected me to do some kind of needle work. So you see, I became an expert at biting my tongue and not letting those 2 little words escape my lips.

                                                                                                                

So as I came back to the present and I studied my daughter laying on the couch in the living room; I told her what I had always wanted to hear from my aunt’s mouth but it never came,” It’s ok to not always be doing something .” My girl looked at me and I saw her relax right away as I continued,” I don’t think you’re bored,I think you might feel like you always have to be doing something…just enjoy yourself..it’s still good to day dream ok?” She smiled as she settled on the couch to continue doing absolutely NOTHING!

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR THE SUMMER!                                  

I enjoy summer vacation because I believe something special happens to me as a teacher and to my kids that I teach;just as life reflects nature;summer is a season of growing in ways that won’t be apparent until the following fall when school begins anew. During this season of rest and growth;we get rejuvenated and our roots tend to go deeper. I live out in the desert and nature hibernates when the weather is scorching;likewise I believe that as we rest from all school work and pressures that accompany the lives of teachers and their students;summer is when we “marinade” in all the knowledge that was acquired in the previous school year

I have seen it personally year after year;every time school starts back up for us,my kids come in eager to start. Also ,skills that may not have come easy to some of them,somehow after summer vacation,they grasp them . Being that I run a small school I have the privilege of seeing up close changes that perhaps might be missed if my kids swam in a bigger pond..

So go ahead,kick off your shoes,buy a new bathing suit,grill out,plan a vacation some where far away or maybe stay close by;but whatever you choose to do, whether it’s a lot, a little or maybe nothing at all..ENJOY yourself and live!  See you next Fall young people :)!!!

                                                                        

                                                     Eva Santiago copyright 2010