The soft bigotry of low expectations strikes again!

via Are high school teachers’ priorities misplaced? | high, school, students – News – The Orange County Register.

Is there a disconnect between what students want out of high school and what teachers focus on?

Accounting giant Deloitte LLP says yes, pointing to the results of a national education survey it released this week comparing teacher, parent and student attitudes about high school's purpose.

The study found just 9 percent of high school teachers say their primary mission is to prepare students for college, versus 48 percent of students and 42 percent of parents who say college preparation should be the chief focus of high school.

Interesting. I can see how tossing a bunch of kids into a hormone-filled environment broiling with conflict leads to teachers focusing away from academics and towards “life skills” (whatever that means).

“It troubles me that teachers who are just teaching life skills and the subject material are often teaching average students, low-income students, minority students – and they think that’s the bar,” said 14-year educator Sal Tinajero, a history teacher and speech coach at Fullerton Union High School and a Santa Ana city councilman.

“That’s not the bar,” said Tinajero, a son of immigrant parents and a parent of two young children. “Our job is to teach students to be successful enough to get to college. The great equalizer in our country is to attend a higher-level learning institution and completely change the direction of your socioeconomic status.”

That’s been the experience we’ve consistently had with all our kids, which is why one is homeschooled and the others might be in the future.  We don’t fit the same demographic as Tinajero by any means, but the “soft bigotry of low expectations” (thank you for the one meaningful phrase of your presidency, GWB) is the “great equalizer” of today’s secondary public education system.  It drags everyone down to the same level and keeps them there.

Because the comments section of most news sites is much more informational than one might assume, I checked the comments. I didn’t have to look far for another legitimate take on the story. The first one I saw said:

User Imageqyitlady wrote:

Another way of looking at the situation is not as a disconnect, but a marketing problem caused by providing what is “needed” rather than “what is wanted”. I am a high school math teacher in southern Arizona (formerly from OC 🙂 ). I would love to teach AP, differential equations, or Calculus. But the average 9th grader entering our school is testing at the 4-5th grade level in math. Same goes for reading. Next semester there will be a mandatory 90 minute reading class for ALL students at the beginning of the day. Our parents may “want” a college education, but our students are neither getting the support from home or the proper foundational skills in elementary or middle school to “prepare them for the rigor of high school or college”. I give these students what they “need” – which are foundational skills. Learning math is like building a house – if the foundation is not properly built, the rest of the house either can’t be built or will collapse.

12/2/2009 12:29 PM PST

That completes this story, IMHO.  Of course there’s a learning gap by the time they get to high school and can’t even begin to take AP courses until their senior year. They’re too busy catching up to the mean standard of intellect doled out in elementary and middle school through 20th century pedagogical theories and as prescribed by standardized testing.

Either way, the DOE has run the public school system into the ground. It’s time to abolish the DOE and let local schools take control of their own curriculum again.  Who knows better what your child needs to succeed…a federal bureaucrat, or a local teacher and you working together?

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