This is a photo that I found and kept from an education textbook that I used while attending Western Washington University back in 1990. I first attended college with the intention of becoming a teacher. I believed then, as I believe now, that this photo sums up many children's educational experience. I know it did for me. Memories of sitting in a class thinking what a total joke it was, both in terms of my time, as well as the teacher's.
It was experiences like this early on that led me to take 7am classes during my sophomore and junior year so I could take late arrival and early dismissal during my senior year. This allowed me the freedom to get the freak out school during the day sooner than later. Back in the day, I did not know about options such as getting your GED or homeschooling. They simply were not options.
You might wonder why I would want to become a teacher when I often times despised school. Well, I do have to say that there were a few, but very few, teachers who did inspire me to do what they did and that was not only teach, but to do it in such a way that the kids in their class knew that they cared. My problem in being a teacher was that I ended up having to work side by side those teachers who only showed up for the paycheck.
The story I am going to share was obtained when I called the local high school where a student that I tutor in math attends full-time. He came in as a sophomore needing to satisfy his freshman math credits and because of his entrance exams, he was placed in a lower level math that the school calls, integrated math. In tutoring him in this subject I have found myself frustrated over and over because of the books reliance on story based problems, lack of examples, and vague applications. This student is weak in his reading as well as his math concepts so to give him a story problem to learn a concept has created a very frustrating situation for him. I have been very impressed with a math curriculum called, Math-U-See, which would be a perfect fit for this student.
So, I called the school and asked a very simple question; can a full-time student take a home-study course on their own to satisfy missing credits? In response they asked me the student's name, I told them, then they transferred me to his counselor. It was at this point the counselor began telling me all of the student's personal information, such as test scores. I was shocked but by that point I didn't want to tell him who I was, although, I didn't call with the intention of impersonating anyone. I later called his mother, explained what happened, and apologized. She was shocked as well at this lack of security. They never once asked me my name!
Anyway, I think the most shocking comment made during this conversation was when I was asking about the student's need to meet various requirements as a senior in order to graduate and I asked about what grade he would need to pass his math class with. I asked if he would need to receive at least a C. "Oh, no, he needs to get a D...D's for done!" This is a direct quote. I was incredulous, a D?! How does that even come close to preparing that student for anything beyond high school? It's a joke and this happens to be at the most respected high school in our county.
Our local papers have had a barrage of stories, as of late, explaining the huge cuts that will need to be made in local school budgets that will impact teachers and programs. As I see these stories day after day, I cringe for the kids who have to continue to attend these schools where it's not A for excellent but D for done. I hope that in light of stories like this more and more families will one day choose to homeschool.