Rants about Schools

I won’t bore you with the full details of our snow day: protracted battle with preschooler over orange peeling techniques, crockpot brownies, burned skillet cornbread (have I mentioned that our oven’s been broken for weeks?), that cabbage soup from the Times, etc.

But instead, I’ll move on to the first of many rants about the state of public education in RI (warning: disjointed rant, cool links at the end).   I was in such a tizzy the other day that I actually read the RI Department of Education Strategic Plan.  It pretty much confirmed my fears by as full of jargon as it was lacking in substance.  As one of my most infamous grad professors would write: “JARGON!!!” “Writing okay, but you don’t say anything.”

These are few things that I would like from my school system:

  • recess
  • school nurse
  • a hello when I walk into a school building
  • a qualified teacher who likes children and is allowed to teach
  • maximum of three days per school year of standardized testing
  • maximum two hours per year of standardized test prep (this is how you fill in a bubble)
  • music
  • art
  • library
  • physical education
  • lots of books
  • acknowledgement that each child is an individual with his/her own strengths, weaknesses, and motivations
  • no rubber room
  • no behaviorist stuff (if I want to go all B.F. Skinner on my kid, I’ll do it on my own time, thank you very much)

The strategic plan offers “success,” “achievement,” “standards,” “assessment,” “data,” and the chilling financial “efficiency.”  What it doesn’t talk about is democracy, ethics, fairness, or any of the other things that I actually care about.  And it’s hard to take the state’s strategic plan seriously when they are not providing certified teachers for the subjects that will be covered in our high-stakes tests.  Check out this interview with a very poised local student activist.  And low-income high school students only get subsidized transportation if they live over 3 miles from school (as the crow flies). I guess walking 6+ miles a day is all Abe Lincoln, but if you want students to attend school help them get there.  Here are more student activists working on the issue.  But it’s all about “personal responsibility” right?  At least when it’s other people’s kids.

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