Saturday, January 08, 2005

Whereupon I vent on certain types of parents, none of which are any of us.

No Child Left Behind. Doesn't that sound like a wonderful idea? Shouldn't anything with that kind of title and mission statement be just what our country, and our schools, need?

Bollocks. It's nothing but a wishy-washy statement of political correctness that is pushing more and more of our children to drop-out status, and worse. It has cleansed our schools of any semblance of creativity, actual achievement, honor, and fun. I know, I know, school isn't supposed to be fun, but once upon a time, there were things in school that WERE fun. Those things were cherished, too. And who says you can't learn important things while still having some fun? NCLB, that's who.

I'm so old I can remember when we went to school to LEARN THINGS!! Not like now, where we send our children to school to take standardized tests.

Drill. Drill. Drill. Heaven help you if you were smart, because you are in hell for a month before the Big TEST. Heaven also help you if you were not very smart, because all the drill in the world isn't going to help you unless you get it one-on-one, or in a really small group. Most of those test questions are so easy, that to ask for help in a drill session in a large group really opens a kid up to mockery.

I'm old. I can remember when school, tedious as it often was, was also a place that honored achievement, and creativity. Kids who accomplished things were given spots on bulletin boards, and behind glass display cases, so all us kids could see what any of us might hope to accomplish if we worked hard like that kid did.

Nowadays, high-achieving kids are shunted to the back of the room and told to shut the hell up, lest a low-achieving kid find out what others his age are doing and feel bad about it.

Unless, of course, you are talking about sports, in which case you don't even want to get me started. . . . .

Just go to the Walkway of Honor to see the sports stuff. Sigh. From floor to ceiling, and hanging from the rafters. Sports.

But academics? HEAVENS no.

Teachers aren't allowed to put papers on the wall anymore, for fear that a kid with a low score might feel bad. Some schools have done away with honor rolls for fear that a kid who didn't make it might feel bad. Some schools have done away with grades altogether, for fear that a kid who didn't do well might feel bad. These same schools would look at you in horror if you suggested that maybe they shouldn't keep score on the football field, or post stats in the paper, you can bet your life on that.

Do these parents and teachers really think they are fooling the kids, even the low achievers? I wonder if these kinds of thinkers have ever heard huge groups of kids laughing at the efforts of politically correct parents to conceal anything that might possibly make somebody somewhere feel bad?

Don't get me wrong. I love kids, and I wouldn't hurt one for anything. But what's wrong with celebrating a child's success? You all know by now that I celebrate celebrations. I celebrate children. Why can't we celebrate a child's actual honest genuine success? Adults get raises and bonuses, and the ones who didn't earn them don't file complaints, do they? Well, possibly some of them do. Probably the parents of the kids who don't get them in schools.

And nobody and nothing is perfect, and mistakes are made. This is a fact that must be lived with in this very imperfect world.

In my former school, horrible dangerous kids who made it three days in a row without drawing another child's blood were rewarded with fantastic things: limo rides, and Pizza Hut, etc. Pathetic kids who managed to bring a pencil twice in a week's time were given restaurant coupons, and even cd's and movies. What did the average-or-above kid with the sweet disposition and excellent citizenship DAILY ever get? Nothing, that's what. And when they asked why, they were told to be grateful for their brains and upbringing, and to shut up about it.

Why don't nice kids ever get awards for doing what is right, day after day?

I do not mean that decent everyday behavior should be continually rewarded. People of any age and in any circumstance should behave properly and be nice all the time, because it's the right thing to do. I just mean, if the administration and these militant parent groups insist on rewarding a kid for not picking his nose for five minutes on Thursday, then why can't we give a nice kid who never makes trouble and always does his homework, something, too? Like maybe, an education without continuous disruption all around him? Fairy tale, I know.

I've always hated things like Awards Day, because yes, some kids (and especially their parents) do leave with hurt feelings. But do they leave football games, etc, with that same feeling? No, they leave saying things like, "I should have tried harder," or "If only we could have made those free throws, ' etc. They KNOW why they lost, and didn't get a trophy. And in the academic classroom, they know why they didn't get a trophy too. It's an honest, however grudging, acceptance of facts. The kids know. It's their parents who are making the trouble.

I'm a parent. There were times when I made trouble, too. It's our job. I mean, those parents who have horrible kids and who still expect perks for them make trouble, and I think the parents of nice kids who are continually ignored should start making some trouble, too. Not the kind "those" parents make. You all know who I mean when I say that, don't you. . . . I think parents of good kids should start petitioning to have the dangerous kids removed. Where would they go? I don't know. In this mood, I don't care, either. But when my son came home from third grade with a black eye, because a seventh grader with 'anger management problems' found him alone in the restroom one afternoon and 'took it out on him,' I lost any political correctness issues I may formerly have had.

Three-foot-high trophies that say "Way to show up" are a joke, and the lowest of low kids knows it. I think parents want those because their kids sure don't.

No Child Left Behind is a travesty, and it has done away with all the creativity, and whimsy, and actual help for life-skills, in our classrooms. The smart kids make fun of it, and the low kids are being hurt by it. Nobody wins. Nobody learns anything, except how to bubble in their names, and how to guess. There's not a kid anywhere that doesn't choose "B" when in doubt, because it's usually right.

Why can't we celebrate ANYTHING any more? Someone objects to holidays. Someone objects to anything that might put the spotlight on someone else. Shouldn't we all be intent on celebrating good things that others have done? Isn't it possible that there are people out there who honestly do achieve more or higher than others, and shouldn't we be encouraging that, rather than discouraging and even shaming them for possibly hurting someone else who didn't do it?

I've read back over this rant and some of it rambles so badly it doesn't even make any sense. But for some reason, I feel better anyway. I'd change some of it but frankly I can't be arsed right now.

Months ago at a boring teacher's meeting I made up my own version of NCLB. Here it is once again. Get your hackles ready, for it will make some of you humorless types mad. Link.

Let the indignation begin.

(Please vote for me even though I am in a bad mood tonight. Thank you VERY much.)
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:35 PM | |


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