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Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

Sad times in education

Posted Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at 6:30 AM

I originally wrote this blog late one night on December 3, 2007. Of the 368 blog entries I've written over the years, this is my favorite, because of the comments it elicited from readers. The blog was so negative and depressing that I never intended to leave it up, but the discussion was so good that I did. Today, the topic we discussed is SO relevant, in light of the Nov. 4, 2014 election coming up. If you think amendment 3 is a good idea, read all the teacher and parent comments that followed my blog. I think you'll change your mind.

Tonight I got a sad call from a teacher friend of mine, and I'm feeling a little blue about it. I won't keep this blog on here long, since it'll really be a downer at this time of year.

I feel helpless at times like this, when they call to talk with me like we used to when we taught together. Get together at lunch and share our problems. Things always seem better when you talk with a good friend. I hate that I can't be there for them, but I'm so much happier now that those years are behind me.

I used to be able to give them advice: Just hang on - It'll get better. You go through times like this, but they don't last. Now that advice doesn't seem to work anymore - what with the way things are going in the classroom.

She wants to quit teaching after only 12 years. It's all getting her down, and I don't know what to tell her. Her school didn't make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), and some of the counselors and administrators are in a panic, telling them that if they don't make it next year, some of them could lose their jobs. She's wondering if she should get out now, move on, do something else, at least for a few years. The classroom will lose a talented, creative teacher if she does. I hate to see a gifted teacher go into another field.

Teaching is no fun anymore. They can't teach - They just get ready for tests, tests, and more tests. Where's the joy of learning? Surely this is not what's in store for the future.

They used to be able to rely on the older teachers, go to them for advice, for stability. Now those teachers are leaving, fed up with all the new rules and the constant pressure.

I don't know where we're going, and I fear for what lies ahead for all those bright young teachers, who entered the field of education with such hopes and dreams.

From the dark and gloomy hills of Tillman, this is your local rural journalist, Madeline, signing off...


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Madeline,

I fear that your sentiments are all too well-founded. I have witnessed the best of the best in the education arena, even within the realm of administration, give into this No Child Left Behind mentality. You're right...they test and they test and all their efforts are placed toward appeasing those from above who have never spent one day in the classroom, rather than facing a classroom and being allowed to "TEACH" in the truest form of the word. There is so much time meeting pre-set objectives, by which they are judged and evaluated, that there is little time to teach. Teachers are encouraged only to abide by the rules. And the rules are becoming just downright laughable in retrospect, all done in the name of looking better on paper.

You're so right, the best are leaving the profession because the profession is not what they dreamed it would be. The real teachers are hardly allowed to instill their enthusiasm in their students. There's no time. They're too busy teaching how to test or spending weeks on silly objectives that in the long run mean nothing.

Teachers are in fear of the parents who threaten lawsuits and usually win. That's the society in which we live. So, it's easier to give in. Handicapped students are mainstreamed into classrooms in an effort to make them feel acceptable and a part of the school society, which is a good thing for that student, but not for the 25 others who are held back while the teacher is mandated to teach the same objectives to a student with an inferior IQ, all again in the name of looking good on paper. How sad, and how frustrating for not only the teacher, but the special needs student as well. It's defeating the purpose of mainstreaming.

So, Madeline, I sympathize with you on this issue. I have seen the best in the field leave also, discouraged with all the nonsensical BS (sorry) that now exists in the name of education. It comes from a higher level than the district and even the state. How does one fight on the federal level? Don't know the answer to that, but I wish I did.

-- Posted by bringwine on Mon, Dec 3, 2007, at 11:04 PM

You are both 100% correct! Try having a "slow" kid in the class,I remember being sooooooo bored while he tried to stay with us. He would be embarrassed,frustrated and very angry.

It was fair to no one,he had outbursts because of all the pressure,and as the years went on,he wound up at alternative school,then he quit.

He was a sweet kid,who was put into a no-win situation.He would be okay,we all had a lot of fun at recess,but when the bell rang,all bets were off.

I always thought if he had been in a real special ed class,he would have thrived, and I don't think he would have had so much pressure.

Nobody wants their kid labeled,but people have to accept the fact that lower IQ kids need more help than you give in a traditional class.

Just what was the original purpose of Special Ed anyway?

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 7:31 AM

You hit the nail right on the old proverbial head. So true. I'm one of those who left. And it looks like the Bush administration truly believes they have created a wonderful tool, this "No Child Left Behind" weirdness. I see third grade teachers, especially, leaving in droves because that class/grade is so chocked full of GET READY FOR THE TEST! mentality. We need good teachers so badly, and all we're doing is pushing them out the door.

-- Posted by lovebooks on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 7:55 AM

Our very wise, very perceptive local superintendent has told his school board that - as the years go by - more and more Missouri schools (and those across the nation) will be put on the list as not making their AYP. Each year, the standards go up, and in small schools, even one student's score can wreak havoc on the whole school's percentages.

If schools don't make their AYP for two years in a row, all h--- breaks loose! The ramifications are serious!

Political correctness can be carried too far - If a child is not capable of taking the M.A.P. test by him/herself (without someone reading it to him), it is not fair to expect him to do so!

It all goes to show what happens when the political process is applied to education.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 7:55 AM

Looks as if we had the same idea at the same time, lovebooks!

Yes, I'm one of the ones who left, too, and I should have retired two years before I did.

It's so sad that we retired teachers can't recommend the profession to young people coming up - but, as long as things are the way they are, I do not recommend that young people become teachers. I never thought I would EVER say that, because I loved the profession so MUCH!

I truly felt CALLED to teach, and whenever I had to take time off for a family, I swear I heard voices calling me back!

It's heart-wrenching to sit back and watch what's happened to teaching now.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 8:07 AM

I am the mother of a "special needs" child. It isn't apparent when looking at or speaking to her, but it is painfully obvious when it comes to "book work."

I understand that she cannot participate in her "regular" class full time. She is only in there for the few subjects she excels in. The rest of her day is spent with a "special ed" teacher.

I have no complaints about this. It isn't fair for her to have to deal with the frustration of a curriculum beyond her understanding. It also isn't fair to the other students who would otherwise be expected to "carry" her.

I am thankful for the IEP and all the help the school has provided. That being said....

You could not pay me enough to be a teacher in some of these small town schools!

-- Posted by Lady on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 11:25 AM

We had special ed classes when we were in school,and many of the kids I remember have gone on to be productive,self reliant,employed people.

I think they were given an attendance certificate,not a real hs diploma,but from what I hear,they have gone backwards towards these special ed needs kids.I bet with modern medicine being able to save more kids,there has to be more special needs kids these days.

I never understood why they didn't have state schools for the disabled,special ed with the regular school system,but not in the regular classes. Seems there would be more funding,less duplication of some services,less bus travel time,more help for the parents,yet special needs kids could still be as much a part of the local system,as much as they can participate. I thought special ed was to help disabled kids be all they could be,without holding the regular classes back.How unfair to pressure these kids,and not allow them to get the help they deserve.

Everybody deserves a shot in life,you are right goatlady,it gets screwed up by putting politics to it!

-- Posted by AngelinaJolie on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 12:10 PM

The only thing wrong with the small schools is the politicians who meddle in education.

I've taught in both large and small, and I heartily prefer the small. The kids are usually better mannered and the working conditions USED to be better.

It was always a trade-off: poor salary in the small schools, but better sanity.

Now there's no sanity anywhere.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 5:59 PM

My oldest son, who is in first grade, has ADHD. He is a VERY intelligent child...but if any of you have heard anything a/b the disease, it makes it so hard to pay attention, it takes them a couple years to catch up w/ their peers. That being said, he is also one of the few that got to start before he turned 6. So he was behind the others to begin w/. But you can bet I didn't have the option to keep him out til the next year.

He has done fair. The first grade curriculum (sp?), especially in reading, is gruelling (sp?). I remember first grade, and I don't remember all that pressure. And ADHD wasn't near as wide spread as now. Either that, or it wasn't as commonly diagnosed.

Anywho-my point is...he spends all but around an hour in his usual class everyday. That other hour he spends in a special reading class. And I am told he has to meet these guidelines, or he gets held back. Yet I couldn't hold him back myself so his age would catch up w/ everyone elses. How is this fair??? Now, if he fails, it will be NOTICED, by him and others, that he failed. If they had given me the option of holding him back myself, this could have been avoided. I don't try to sugar coat life for my kids...it's too bad out there to do that...but why make the kids who give their all and still don't succeed feel like failures when it could be avoided in so many ways?

I know that these children feeling like failures also makes the teachers feel like failures...which is probably another thing that makes them want to give up. My childs teacher this year goes above and beyond any teacher I have ever seen. She is fantastic! I wish we had more out there like her. I am in no way looking forward to my child moving on in his school life w/ the way things are. And that is sad!

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Dec 4, 2007, at 7:35 PM

This has been an excellent thread of comments. Legislators? Are ya listenin'? We need to do our part to let them know that No Child Left Behind needs work if they are going to keep it. Will the Democrats keep it if they win the election?

-- Posted by lovebooks on Wed, Dec 5, 2007, at 8:37 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Well, rumor has it that the M.A.P. is being changed; in fact, they're now talking about using end-of-course tests for high school, instead of M.A.P. tests - and that makes a lot more sense.

However, I haven't heard anything about the dismantling of the No Child Left Behind Debacle. My thinking is that, as more and more schools fail to make their AYP, and the 2014 deadline gets closer, something will have to be done.

Of the 90,430 U.S. schools, 22,873 did not make their AYP in 2005-2006 -- and there were already 10,669 schools who were in "corrective action or restructuring." They had not made their AYP for 2 or more years.

The sad thing is all the fine teachers who will have left the system in frustration before NCLB's failures become obvious even to the people who are implementing it.

Madness!

Another sad thing is that, after NCLB has failed, the "non-teacher" experts will just come up with another cockamamie remedy for what's perceived as the problem with our public schools.

The private schools will continue to go their own way, unfettered by the same rules as the public schools.

Eventually, some politician (who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are PK) will endeavor to funnel public money into the private schools.

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 8:14 AM

Another sad thing is that, after NCLB has failed, the "non-teacher" experts will just come up with another cockamamie remedy for what's perceived as the problem with our public schools.

The private schools will continue to go their own way, unfettered by the same rules as the public schools.

Eventually, some politician (who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are PK) will endeavor to funnel public money into the private schools.

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 8:43 AM

Oops, Ground Hog Day moment! I posted twice! Sorry!

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 8:44 AM

Dog gone I read it twice. Must be my great education or it was just so interesting or maybe my learning disability.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Thu, Dec 6, 2007, at 9:35 PM

Oh, don't get me started on No Child Left Behind! What lamebrain came up with that? Laura Bush was a teacher - I'm amazed she let her husband support such a load of crapola.

It's not that "special needs" children get left behind - they simply cannot come up to the same level as those kids who don't have special needs. They don't have the right abilities and they end up frustrated, confused and hurt. Should be abandon them? Absolutely not. Should we hold back the other children with stupid legislation? Again, absolutely not. Should we help the special needs children become all that they are capable of becoming? Absolutely, and we don't have to jeopardize the other children's education to do it.

What we had before may not have been ideal for the special needs children, but what we have now doesn't benefit anyone, including the idiotic and shortsighted politicians who perpetrated this fraud.

-- Posted by Ducky on Fri, Dec 7, 2007, at 12:59 PM

Wow, good comment, Ducky dear! You should be a political speech writer!

On second thought, why go that route? You should be a high-powered reformer!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Dec 8, 2007, at 5:42 AM

NCLB was not intended to contribute to educating children -- it was designed as a money making machine for the companies that provide the tests and preparatory materials. The more "failure," the more there is a need for the services of those companies. Ideally, there would be a 100% "failure" rate. I recently read an article that the companies view the tests as a loss leader to get their foot in the door to sell the preparation materials at a big profit. So they bid low on the tests -- and then clean-up on the back-end.

NCLB is functioning exactly as it was intended, so their is nothing to "fix" about it. Repeal is the only option for those who don't like NCLB and the multi-billion $ industry it supports. The full true story of NCLB won't be told until an enterprising investigative reporter who isn't afraid to be offed follows the sleazy sordid trail of money and familial ties that underlies its introduction, passage, and continuing fanatical support by the GB administration.

PS, GB's brother Neil is the founder and controller of one of the companies that provides NCLB products, and the company was financially backed by former President GHWBush. The NCLB legislation was introduced TWO days after GB took office. Less than a month ago there were news stories that the Education Department's inspector general is investigating whether federal money under NCLB has been inappropriately paid to Neil Bush's company. (You get one guess what the result of that investigation will be! Hint: Cover-up.)

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sat, Dec 8, 2007, at 2:27 PM

OK, where is the new bill introduced by the Democratically controlled legislative branch to repeal or replace this program? They have (had enough) time. Lot of people in this conspiracy.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Sat, Dec 8, 2007, at 2:38 PM

I think FJ guy is right on.I believe that so many people are getting a piece of this pie,it won't be repealed for many years,no matter if Dems or Republicans control Congress. People won't change unless Oliver Stone or Mike Moore do a scathing expose, since the networks seem to have lost their "Edward R.Murrow" guts at the bank. (I loved that Clooney movie-Good Night and Good Luck).

It's a shame,but NCLB is one gigantic pork project,and nobody's hands are clean.

So far,in my life,the only difference I can see between the major parties are their symbols,at the actual politician level.Now,the average voter,while spouting "Christian" values says the most horrible,hateful things about the opposite party,that are very UN-Christ like.

Liberal is supposed to be a hippie slur,conservative is uncaring crook,guess they have lost the real definitions along the way.

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Sun, Dec 9, 2007, at 2:38 PM

YRofE, you may appreciate Gore Vidal's remark more than thirty years ago in his essay, "Homage to Daniel Shays," that there is only one major party in the United States: the Property Party, and it has two incestuously intertwined branches -- the Republicans and the Democrats.

"Educational" service providers are now contributing many millions to both branches of the Property Party, so no meaningful changes in NCLB, much less its repeal, can be expected anytime soon.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sun, Dec 9, 2007, at 3:41 PM

Vote.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Sun, Dec 9, 2007, at 8:12 PM

If everyone's hands are dirty, who do you vote for?

Friday's Dec. 7 Southeast Missourian had a front page story entitled "NCLB: Should it be left behind?" Interviews with parents, teachers, and administrators. Lindy Bavolek did a pretty balanced job of reporting.

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Dec 10, 2007, at 9:00 PM

Really GL, do you think everyones hands are dirty?

I am not saying it is a good program. I don't know. I know that what was happening was not good. Everyone knew that supposedly. There was a major uproar over the education system in the United States.

Look what we got as a result. I think it is more along the lines that no one knows what to do or everyone has a fix that is not acceptable to anyone else.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Tue, Dec 11, 2007, at 12:02 AM

You're absolutely right about that, I.B.

I think the problem is that no one simple solution is going to work for every school system. Some of the schools are doing things right - and have been all along - but they get caught up in a simplistic solution that's designed for the school systems that aren't doing things right.

And it doesn't help when the statistics compare our schools (which educate the masses) with schools in foreign countries (which educate only the super bright students).

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Dec 11, 2007, at 7:06 AM

I think you are right and I understand where you come from. I do also know that there were a lot of children in our schools that were being left behind. A good example is the pedastal that athletes are placed upon in schools and the difference in treatment of the children of affluence versus those of lesser means. As a teacher a person may not agree or be able to see that, but as a parent it is obvious. I am not saying it was the fault of the teachers. They perform under the direction of an administrator and school boards and there is only so much time in one day.

I miss the days as it seemed when I went to school when teachers were allowed to teach and parents were allowed to parent and it seemed that boundaries were not crossed. A time when my parents wouldn't have thought of entering a school to correct a teacher and the teachers would not have even considered entering my home to advise my parents.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Tue, Dec 11, 2007, at 7:35 AM

Or a time where I have to send a written letter to my child's school telling them they do not have the right to paddle my child at any time under any circumstance...b/c God forbid I use a paddle on my child at home! I'm lucky that one swat w/ my hand doesn't get my children taken away. It's no wonder the world is getting worse! If you can't discipline, how do you teach wrong from right? And if you cannot teach, how can anyone learn anything?

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Dec 11, 2007, at 9:46 PM

"No Brains Left Behind" was the title of last night's Boston Legal episode. One of the themes was the firm represented a high school girl who made a "political" statement by shredding standardized tests. The general theme was NCLB is hampering kids from learning, it is driving teachers out of the profession, and it is unfixable and must be repealed. During the courtroom scene they played the video of the SC girl who yammered on incoherently about geography during the Miss Teen USA pageant. The YouTube video of is at, http://youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Dec 12, 2007, at 2:27 PM

Yippee! Do we have a sea of discontent flooding No Child Left Behind?

Do we have a ground swell of anger and dissatifaction threatening to overpower the evil forces of governmental tyranny?

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Dec 12, 2007, at 7:23 PM

GL, direct action by students nationwide (shredding tests, refusal to take tests, sit-down strikes, etc.) would be more effective than years of complaining to politicians feeding at the money trough of educational service companies. Actually, parents are taking direct action by enrolling their kids in private schools when possible, or homeschooling them.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Fri, Dec 14, 2007, at 1:31 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
It would be an extremely sad thing if concerned parents moved their children out of the public schools, which I think are the bedrock upon which our democratic society is built. Free public education has been one of the cornerstones of American civilization.

Think of it! Our forefathers had the vision to set up a system of education for every child in America. How sad if we turn our back on that legacy, because some politicians are trying to win brownie points and get themselves re-elected on an educational reform platform.

As for shredding tests and taking part in sit-down strikes, I can't imagine students being so militant as they were in the 60's. Today's students are so much more conservative than their parents, who protested the wars and burned their bras!

Oh, this makes me nostalgic for my era - when we did sit down strikes and bra burnings. Alas. The younger generation must not think that chaining oneself to a nuclear power plant is a fun-filled activity. Our society is diminished by the loss (in my opinion).

-- Posted by Ducky on Fri, Dec 21, 2007, at 2:24 PM

But do we send the wrong lesson to our kids? Yes, we tell them to respect their elders (the parents now-days that actually still give a darn do anyway), but do we stress enough on standing up for what we believe in? I was taught that, if the case at hand was important enough to be discussed in a group of people, then it was important enough to put in my two-cents for what I believed in, if not just to voice an opinion that was shared by others who were too afraid to speak up themselves. I have a child in the 1st grade in the Dexter school district. And though I may support R-XI, I don't support all it's teaching today. They have this thing now called "The 3 R's," which stands for respectful, responsible, and ready to learn. I understand that these children should be all these things, especially to the teachers and other faculty (which falls in the "respect your elders" way of life), but are they trying to brain wash these kids into being scared to voice their opinions in fear they will be breaking these rules? I may be looking at it in the wrong way, which I have a tendency to do from time to time, but back when I went to school, things were much more laid back (way before NCLB), and everything ran just as smoothly, if not more-so, than it does now. Any thoughts on this?

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Fri, Dec 21, 2007, at 3:51 PM

Mmm...I'm browsing back over this - perhaps my favorite - blog, and I notice that our dear 'ole I.B. LeTruth says, "I do know that {under the old method of education} there were a lot of children in our schools being left behind."

I can't imagine that I didn't respond to that statement - but (however belatedly) I'd like to say that, dear I.B., you are naive if you think that the new system will correct this problem!

The cruel reality is that there will always be children "left behind," and no amount of political posturing is going to change that!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Dec 29, 2007, at 3:41 PM

GL, When I was in school the curriculum seemed to be basic enough that everyone could handle it. It was a rare kid who flunked any class. The kids who were better a subject did additional reports and projects for extra credit.

An educational model that seems to work very well, is the one used by the two private Delphi schools. It is designed after the old one room school house. Grades one through twelve are in one huge room, and the library is adjacent. If a first grader has a problem, he/she goes to a second grader for help. If the second grader doesn't know the answer, the first grader goes to a third grader, and on and on. Only after a twelfth grader can't help is a "teacher" consulted. The students have a very high degree of independence in completing their assignments. I toured one of the Delphi schools about ten years ago and I was very impressed.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sat, Dec 29, 2007, at 10:01 PM

Wow, I've never heard of the Delphi schools. I'll have to google them.

I can tell you right now that the NCLB authorities would not like that method one little bit! Under that system, who would the gov't hold "responsible"??

I can just see the twelfth graders having to attend in-service classes!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Jan 2, 2008, at 8:03 AM

GL, you are probably envious that private schools have a flexibility in teaching methods that public schools don't have, and like home schools they don't have to conform to NCLB. During your past life did you ever consider teaching at a private school?

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Jan 2, 2008, at 9:46 PM

I overheard three teachers talking at the coffee shop about the difficulties NCLB was causing them to teach. One described school administrators as Nazis in the way they were constantly pressuring the teachers to get their student's test scores up. As they were leaving I asked one of them about NCLB, and she said it has to be repealed -- she doesn't think there is any way to "fix it."

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Jan 24, 2008, at 8:31 PM

There seems to be a conspiracy against education in Missouri by certain individuals and organizations. I can't quite comprehend the reasons behind such well sounding amendments until you research what these groups are proposing.

Right to farm, grow Missouri, local school board control, read the fine prints, educate yourself, ask questions, talk to teachers.

This amendment 3 requires a NO vote in November 2014.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Wed, Oct 22, 2014, at 5:24 AM


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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net or by phone at 573-722-5322.
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