My two daughters are wrapping up their first few days of school, one in kindergarten and one in third grade. They are riding the bus for the first time and both making the transition well. The kindergartener has been very impatient for school to start and fairly bounces out of the house each morning to the bus.
I have enjoyed the beginning of school too, for the most part. I am still trying to get over my experience at Open House. There I was nicely chatting with my daughter’s third grade teacher, Mrs. T, when she tells me that the school district got all the third through fifth grade teachers laptops. I could feel my face light up. “Really?” I said. “That is great!” My mind was racing with all the cool things I could suggest – find Web site links for lessons and show them to the class, take part in one of the many online science projects for classrooms, have the kids contact experts in different fields via email to find real world applications for the things they are studying in school. NO.
The district is using the laptops to send daily lesson plans to the teachers. And they are required to follow the lesson plans. You have got to be kidding me. Someone in the central office apparently has a crystal ball and knows the reading level, math knowledge, science aptitude and social studies expertise of each of the 25 kids in Mrs. T’s class. And they are going to custom design lesson plans each day and send them to her. NO. They are taking some ridiculous stab in the dark based on what the Standard Course of Study says the class should know and dictating her lesson. Never mind the two kids who don’t speak English, the five with ADD, the two with learning disabilities. Just teach to the middle. Why not just put all the third graders in the school in one room and teach these lessons to them?
Okay, I know there does need to be some standardization of the curriculum between classrooms. It is not map out the school year so teachers can see when their class is falling behind. I even like the idea of emailing teachers lesson ideas. Heaven knows they don’t have time to go wander around the Web and find the plans Learn NC or other projects have posted. But don’t TELL them what they HAVE to be teaching each day. Show some respect for the professional skills of educators.
From that moment at Open House my head started spinning. Where is public education going? When are we going to stop this all encompassing focus on standards and testing? Is public school becoming a mass production system? Maybe I need to write to the Superintendent. Maybe I need to get on the school board. How is this going to affect the education that my children get? And what am I going to do about it?