I went to the Helena School Board planning meeting where they were ostensibly gearing up to plan for the next 10 or maybe even 20 years! The room always gets so quiet when they begin talking about the future. After all, they must be pretty smart to know what the future is!
The question is, do they really know what the future is or have they just been to a bunch of workshops and come back with a bunch of new made up education words to mess around with our schools and continue to degrade the academic environment and lower scores as they have since 2001? In The statistics we could get from the Office of Public Instruction- as reported on this blog earlier, Helena High has fewer students in the 11th grade who are proficient or advanced in every single academic area tested in 2010 as compared to 2001. Capital High had fewer proficient and advanced 11th graders in Reading, Math and Social Studies.
I've been around the schools for a long time and I remember when the Montessori students were going to be so smart that when they entered the middle school they would be way above everyone else and all the parents would decide to put their students in Montessori. That just never materialized . I remember when open classrooms were the answer and then they had to quickly put up temporary walls at Rossiter, 4 Georgians, Broadwater and Ray Bjork. Other experiments go on but they produce bad results such as combined classes and project learning(formerly called cooperative learning).
Anyone who has had their children in project learning knows that time is wasted, capable students are responsible for those not as capable and overall learning becomes narrowly focused and not complete if there is any at all. At the planning meeting the bad guy in the room was apparently "the industrial model",in other words, the teaching that built the country is the bad guy. Teachers teaching and kids respecting teachers, doing their work and learning is- believe it or not the bad guy!
Here's some of the new ideas, the "good guy". Competency graduation rather than Carnegie Standards (that's math,english, science etc.). What are competency standards? Well if you are aware of yourself and relate to other students, participate in class and generally get along with others you should be able to graduate. Oh- it would be nice if you joined some clubs or activities too. Notice I didn't say show up or get there on time- this is apparently an old industrial idea too-an idea made up by greedy capitalists who just wanted workers to show up to work on time. They are now wiser however and will be understanding if their employee just can't do those sorts of things.
If you think I'm joking I'm not- I certainly wish I was. So in my view we've got some pretty misdirected people here who think going to a workshop and regurgitating all the nonsense they dish out makes them an education expert and a soothsayer about the future. If it wasn't so damaging to our children(especially those at risk)and to our country it wouldn't be such a tragedy. But it really is. I only hope parents will wake up, or the board will.
The saddest thing about the whole day was this though- everyone talked about federal direction but not one single person noticed that education is a states right in our constitution. NO ONE. They live and breathe any direction and all grants from the federal government(except of course No Child Left Behind which requires accountability). DO THEY EVEN KNOW THAT OUR TENTH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION GIVES AUTHORITY OVER SCHOOLS TO THE STATES? DO THEY CARE?
As they talked I could see the future creeping up behind them unnoticed. Our country is almost 15 trillion dollars in debt. These grants will go away and schools will not be filling peoples tanks with gas or giving free private lessons of all sorts to anyone. The rugged individual will stand up and take back America as they talk.