16 December 2008

Some Thoughts.

I've been reading this and that in the education blogs and in the news. Just browsing. One thing that really seems to stick with me is this idea of "socioeconomic status" when discussing everything from test scores to who encourages their kids to do homework.

And I find it repugnant.

I might not be the brightest person on the planet, but I know a code word when I see it. If you were to tell me that "test scores vary widely according to socioeconomic status," this is what I'd really hear:

"Poor white trailer trash and black inner-city folks are worthless. They sure do crappy on tests! Especially if they're getting welfare; those lazy parents! It's part of their culture! Ick if you have to go *teach* those people..."

Go read a fair few education blogs written by anonymous teachers and see if I'm not right. Only thing worse than dealing with one of those poor kids is dealing with kids with (double ick) special needs kids.

It bothers me. Maybe I shouldn't "hear" that when I hear the words "socioeconomic status." If you use the term, you know that technically one can have a "socioeconomic status" of really, really rich. Maybe I should just hear the clucking "concern" behind the words "socioeconomic status," and how all differences can be alleviated by a federal program or whatever else is going to de-stupify the masses. Ok, I can't see this attitude as anything but class-ist.

Just keeping track of that stuff is plain old wrong, IMO. Just like keeping track of the different races and who's doing well where on those school test scores. (Note that nowhere do they want WHITE children to catch up with Asians in math... why isn't that seen as racist? Hm?) You can't tell me that when people hear that certain races don't perform as well as others on a test, that it doesn't translate into certain types of schoolchildren feeling a little disenfranchised... Not that I blame anyone for feeling that way. I'm in a lower socioeconomic bracket myself. Duh me ain't smart enough to be rich. AND I've also seen these same statistics on websites asking for donations to ensure "racial purity." Isn't that nice of them to include those for us all? Awwww... that just warms the heart.

Say "socioeconomic status" and I hear people separated into haves and have-nots. The soft bigotry of stupid expectations. Somehow, somebody in an office somewhere drew a dollar line in the sand. People on one side usually do well. People on the other side don't.

At least, that's what they tell us. Not that I'm paranoid that the unions and powerbrokers aren't above manipulating figures to suit their own political agendas. I mean, how many dollars a year do you figure Jesus's parents earned? He was kinda on the low end of the totem pole, but was somehow able to be like, really really smart. One of those "innate ability" things. I'm one of those people who think, generally speaking, that those with determination and innate ability get very far. Well, Jesus just didn't come to earth to retire rich, so you know I don't mean just money.

Have you ever heard of Frederick Douglass? This guy had to be one of the smartest people of his century. Born a slave. He wrote about how he learned to read... how determined he was to get an education for himself. Nowdays, kids like that are stuck in crummy schools and can't wait until they get out. I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I just think maybe labelling people and leaving them in tight little boxes is unhelpful.

I'm starting to think it's just another way of asking for more money, money that the parents who LOVE these children won't get to decide how to use. Meanwhile superintendents make lots of money and tell us to build more of these "state of the art" high-tech schools. Do the parents get direct input into the curriculum? I mean, bring curriculum samples to the tables and then have the parents VOTE at the end of the school year which will be used in September. And give real choices. I dare ya. I'm so sick of hearing about the stupid "show me standards" that I could barf. Teach the kids to read and write, do basic mathematics and not charge too much on the credit card. Just teach the last one and maybe we'd have a lot less heartache in the world.

What do you think? Maybe I'm just reading too much John Adams.

6 comments:

  1. Well I can tell you that I would teach tink totally from another approach if our state didnt require us to test. I teach toward that test all the time and I hate it. It doesnt really show what she can do. I wonder if they will ever get rid of those things.

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  2. The real kicker? If you talk to kids who do REALLY WELL on these tests (like my own girls, for example) the amount of information they don't know is stupefying. How can a kid who gets a "level 5" in reading and math on the state test (our tests are scored on a 1-5 scale), not know who the speaker of the House of Representatives is? Or that she/he is third in line for the Presidency? Or not know that 'crimson' is a shade of red (had this dicussion with one of my kids a couple of weeks ago)?

    Don't get me wrong. My kids aren't stupid. Far from it, but it's because their dad and I spend lots and lots- and lots of time educating them at home. So much time that it seems we may as well homeschool them. So the whole idea of test results as a gauge of useful knowledge is red herring.

    As for the practice of breaking this whole thing down by class/race, that's just a way to keep the money flowing and keep the race baiters in business. These people are NOT interested in educating our children, but rather in political correctness. There is more than enough research on ways to improve learning in schools (uniforms, separation of the sexes, phonics over whole language, etc.) Yet none of these things are implemented. Why? Because the dirty little secret is that the purpose of public school isn't really about education. It's about political correcteness, a mind numbed, consumerist workforce,and liberal indoctrination. Period. Sounds harsh, I know, but what else can one conclude when looking at the facts?

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  3. Mrs. D, I think they never will unless voters force 'em to. It's a good way to keep the testing companies in business and also ensure public schools are pretty much the easiest game in town. I mean, if you have to teach to the test anyway, you almost might as well enroll 'em and not fight. Though I understand the "moral climate" etc. issues, in terms of curriculum... that's what I'm saying.

    Terry, I'm surprised. You don't like the Dick and Jane readers? You like phonics? Well, we used the sounding-out idea, but we also used Dick and Jane. So we had the cat sitting on a mat and then we did some Dick and Jane and then we practiced our letters by copying some words... that's pretty much how all the kids but G did it. G has been "resistant" to learning at home. :]

    PS Based on some of the things you related here and on your blog, I think your girls are very smart and not only that, but they're working out some of those salvation issues in ways my boys do not at this point.

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  4. Funny how putting people in buckets stirs things up. I remember awhile back a bunch of Asians were claiming reverse discrimination because Cal-Berkeley was rejecting Asians with higher test scores than non-Asians that were admitted.

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  5. Malcolm Gladwell: Blink.

    Read it.

    He has a fantastic chapter on how labeling like this actually causes the lower test scores. Brilliant stuff.

    ~Luke

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  6. What do you mean "You may not be the smartest"? I swear, you are one of the smartest mommies I've ever met. Your kids are safe in your hands. You are awesome!

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)